On this day in 1961, NASA launched SA-1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first rocket test of the Apollo program. President Kennedy had announced the creation of the program in an address to Congress that May, saying, "I believe we should go to the moon." By the end of the decade, four Americans would walk on the moon: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the Apollo 11 mission and Charles "Pete" Conrad and Alan L. Bean in Apollo 12.

The SA-1 rocket test was mostly a success, proving the vehicle's structure and aerodynamics. The rocket reached an altitude of 137 kilometers and landed in the Atlantic Ocean later that same day.