The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville has been the heart of the U.S. space program since its beginnings in the late 1950s.   Marshall Space Flight Center was designated as the agency’s propulsion center, developing the rockets that would launch NASA’s missions into space.  Marshall helped make history in 1961 when its Mercury-Redstone rocket powered Alan B. Shepard into suborbital flight, making him the first American in space. Marshall’s major task during the 1960s was the development of the Saturn rockets that were used in the Apollo Moon missions. They aimed to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to NASA to execute a Moon landing by the end of the decade. Saturn V rockets powered each of the thirteen Apollo missions launched between 1967 and 1973, including the first Moon landing on July 20, 1969. Marshall also developed the propulsion for the Space Shuttle program and is currently integral to the science and life systems on the International Space Station and the lead center for Space Launch System development.

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Encyclopedia of Alabama