My earliest space-related memory was in 1960, gathering with neighbors at the end of our cul-de-sac and looking up at the bright Echo-1 satellite passing overhead. I guess there was a notice in the newspaper to go out and see it. Memorable, although at age 5 I didn't really grasp the significance.
The Gemini program and the space race with the USSR was a different story that totally captured my imagination, to the point of staying home from school to watch the launches. It was very frustrating in the beginning because the Soviets were first in every measure: first to orbit, longest in orbit, first spacewalk, etc.
Finally in 1965 on Gemini 4 Ed White made a spacewalk and he stayed out longer than expected. Headlines proclaimed it was the longest spacewalk on record! That was huge. It was onward and upward to the Moon from there.
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