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Apollo 10: The dress rehearsal that paved the way for mankind's 'giant leap'

Before Neil Armstrong could walk on the moon on Apollo 11, the crew of Apollo 10 had to make sure the lunar module could safely land on the moon.

Matthew Copeland

NASA

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, it became one of the greatest technological achievement in the history of civilization. That "giant leap for mankind" was a one of the rare moments in history where Western World stood together in awe of man's accomplishment. 

Comparable only to the engineering achievement of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the Apollo 11 moon landing demonstrated the ingenuity of the United States when given the challenge. 

Like the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad a century earlier, the moon landing was only the visible celebration of a decade-long struggle to conquer the unknown. Like the railroad passing through the Sierra Nevada, Apollo 10 represented the last sprint toward the ultimate prize.

So important was the mission, one could argue Apollo 10 is the most important dress rehearsal in the history of mankind.