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The one statistic that shows that going to the Moon is the hardest thing we’ve ever done

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This is the 17th in an exclusive series of 50 articles, one published each day until July 20, exploring the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Moon landing. You can check out 50 Days to the Moon here every day.

The U.S. effort to land astronauts on the Moon in the 1960s was extraordinary by any measure.

In 1961, in the year when President Kennedy unleashed the race to the Moon, NASA spent $1 million on Apollo. Four years later, NASA was spending $1 million every three hours on Apollo, 24 hours a day. NASA went from being the federal agency with the 10th largest budget to the one with the 3rd largest (tied with Agriculture).

Apollo was 10 times the scale required to build the Panama Canal. It was three times the size of the Manhattan Project that created the first atomic bomb.

At its peak in 1965, more 410,000 Americans were working on getting astronauts to the Moon. For four years in a row—1964 to 1967—Apollo required more than 300,000 people and in three of those years, more people worked on the race to the Moon than fought in the Vietnam war.

Apollo was........

© Fast Company