When the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed the first humans – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – on the Moon five decades ago today, the lunar mission was very much part of a sweeping political rivalry with the Soviet Union on Earth.

Yet, despite the Cold War competition, the Moon mission and, more broadly, the United States’ space adventure in the 20th century were both tempered by a sense of scientific internationalism, an awareness of man’s cosmic insignificance and the belief that outer space will eventually be a stage for human cooperation, rather than competition.

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