NASA's Apollo Program had one of the toughest goals in mankind's history: To land US astronauts on the lunar surface in the 60's. After the Apollo 1 fire disaster, Apollo 7 was the first flight with a crew of three to low earth orbit. The Apollo 8 flight on Christmas 1968 became the first mission to leave the earth orbit and fly around the Moon. After successful tests of the Lunar Module in earth and Moon orbit (Apollo 9 and Apollo 10), Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the historic steps on July 20th, 1969. After the Apollo 13 "successful failure" the Apollo Program ended with Gene Gernan's last steps on the Moon during Apollo 17. From 1969-1972 only 12 people ever walked on the lunar surface.