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Contending Modes

1959 to Mid-1962

Politically setting a goal of manned lunar landing during the 1960s meant little technologically until somebody decided on the best way to fly there and back. Numerous suggestions had been made as to how to make the trip. Some sounded logical, some read like science fiction, and each proposal had vocal and persistent champions. All had been listened to with interest, but with no compelling need to choose among them. When President Kennedy introduced a deadline, however, it was time to pick one of the two basic mission modes - direct ascent or rendezvous - and, further, one of the variations of that mode. The story of Apollo told here thus far has only touched on the technical issues encountered along the tangled path to selecting the route.

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