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Washington D.C., July 13, 2007 - Throughout the 1960s and most of the 1970s, while the U.S. government conducted its space reconnaissance program under a veil of absolute secrecy,
In its May 2, 1946 report, "Preliminary Design for an Experimental World Circling Spaceship," the Douglas Aircraft Corporation examined the potential value of satellites for scientific and military purposes. Possible military uses included missile guidance, weapons delivery, weather reconnaissance, communications, attack assessment, and "observation." A little less than nine years later, on March 15, 1955, the United States Air Force issued General Operational Requirement No. 80, which established a high-priority requirement for an advanced reconnaissance satellite.
During its first year in office, the Kennedy administration approved the creation of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Reconnaissance Program (NRP), entities whose existence was classified Secret and Top Secret, respectively. The NRP comprised the satellite reconnaissance and aerial overflight programs conducted by the CIA, Air Force, and Navy. For its part, the NRO served as the institutional home for those programs, reviewed proposals for new systems, set common security standards, arranged for launches, and provided other services and forms of oversight.
Established in 1960, the existence of the NRO was not declassified until 1992.
During the Cold War, the NRO's primary concern was tracking the troop, plane, and missile deployments of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. After its formation, the NRO took over administration of CORONA, the world's first photoreconnaissance satellite. The CORONA program, declassified in 1995, operated from August, 1960 until May 1972. During its twelve years, CORONA took over 800,000 images.
Apollo began in earnest after President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 special address to a joint session of Congress declaring a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon" by the end of the decade.
This goal was accomplished with the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969 when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972.
The NRO spacecraft include:
Keyhole series — photo imaging:
KH-1, KH-2, KH-3, KH-4, KH-4A, KH-4B Corona (1959–1972)
KH-5 — Argon (1961–1962)
KH-6— Lanyard (1963)
KH-7 — Gambit (1963–1967)
KH-8 — Gambit (1966–1984)
KH-9 — Hexagon and Big Bird (1971–1986)
KH-10 — Dorian (cancelled)
KH-11 — Crystal and Kennan (1976–1988)
KH-12 — Ikon and Improved Crystal (1990?–)
KH-13 — (1999?)
Samos — photo imaging (1960–1962)
Poppy – ELINT program (1962–1971) continuing Naval Research Laboratory's GRAB (1960–1961)
Jumpseat (1971–1983) and Trumpet (1994–1997) SIGINT
Lacrosse/Onyx — radar imaging (1988–)
Canyon (1968–1977), Vortex/Chalet (1978–1989) and Mercury (1994–1998)—SIGINT including COMINT
Rhyolite/Aquacade (1970–1978), Magnum/Orion (1985–1990), and Mentor (1995–2003)—SIGINT
Quasar, communications relay
Misty/Zirconic – stealth IMINT
NROL-1 through NROL-26 – various secret satellites.
NROL stands for National Reconnaissance Office Launch.
It would not be until 1960 that U.S. efforts to exploit space for intelligence purposes began to yield positive results. In June of that year, a Naval Research Laboratory-designed payload, designated Galactic Radiation and Background (GRAB), was orbited with a secret mission - to intercept the emanations of Soviet radar systems. In August 1960, the first successful CORONA mission, lasting one day and conducted under cover of an alleged scientific satellite program designated DISCOVERER, yielded more imagery of the Soviet Union than was produced in all four years of U-2 missions. The same year, President Eisenhower also approved a program to develop a high-resolution satellite to complement the CORONA satellites, which covered wide swaths of territory but with insufficient resolution to allow imagery interpreters to extract as much intelligence about facilities and weapons as they needed. This program would be designated GAMBIT.
These activities were conducted in as much secrecy as was feasible, particularly after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy were influenced by the May 1960 shoot-down of the U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers - an event which resulted in the termination of U-2 missions over Soviet territory. There was concern that any acknowledgment of U.S. capabilities would serve as a catalyst to the Soviet leadership to go beyond their protests at assumed U.S. space espionage and take more effective political and military measures to interfere with the Americanspy satellites. Thus, each use of the GRAB satellite to intercept Soviet radar signals had to be personally approved by President Eisenhower, just as he had to approve U-2 missions that crossed over Soviet territory.
Hiding OXCART in Plain Sight
The A-12’s unique design and characteristics became the foundation for three other versions of supersonic aircraft that Lockheed built for CIA and the Air Force: the YF-12A, the M-21, and the SR-71.
While the A-12 was being tested and refined, US officials mulled over two major issues concerning it. The first was whether to publicly disclose the OXCART program. The Department of Defense had grown concerned that it could not overtly explain all the money the Air Force was spending on its versions of the A-12. At the same time, some CIA and Pentagon officials recognized that crashes or sightings of test flights could compromise the project.
Soon after the first flights in April 1962, CIA and the Air Force changed the program’s cover story from involving an interceptor aircraft to a multipurpose satellite launch system
In late 1962 and early 1963 the Department of Defense considered surfacing the YF-12A to provide a cover, reasoning that divulging the existence of a purely tactical aircraft would not reveal any clandestine collection capabilities. Voiced principally by CIA officials and James Killian and Edwin Land of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), the contrary argument—disclosing any version of the A-12 would compromise its design innovations, enable the Soviets to develop countermeasures, and destroy its value for reconnaissance—prevailed for the time being. The surfacing issue lingered, however, because OXCART technology would be useful for the Air Force’s supersonic B-70 bomber then under development, and for the proposed commercial supersonic transport that Congress was thinking about subsidizing. President Kennedy told CIA and the Pentagon to develop a plan for surfacing the OXCART program but to wait further instructions before proceeding.
By early 1964 the argument for disclosure had become persuasive. More A-12s were arriving at the test site and making more flights. The aircraft’s existence probably would be revealed eventually under circumstances the US government could not control, such as a training accident or equipment malfunction, or through a news leak. Commercial airline crews had sighted the A-12 in flight, and the editor of Aviation Week indicated that he knew about highly secret activities at the Skunk Works and would not let another publication scoop him. A key factor was that the Soviets’ TALL KING radar would be able to identify and track the A-12 despite its small, nonpersistent radar return. Finally, the White House’s reluctance to resume flights over Soviet territory would soon force a change in the A-12’s mission. Instead of flying over denied areas to collect strategic intelligence, it would most likely be used as a quick-reaction surveillance platform in fast-moving conflicts—a tactical function the Air Force should carry out, not CIA
On 29 February 1964, the National Security Council decided to surface OXCART. Later that day, the White House announced the successful development of an advanced experimental aircraft, the A‑11, which has been tested in sustained flight at more than 2,000 miles per hour and at altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet.
For security reasons, the Air Force’s YF-12A interceptor was surfaced, not the A-12, and it was referred to as the A-11, at Kelly Johnson’s suggestion. None of the aircraft were already at Edwards, so two had to be rushed from the test site to support the cover story. Johnson recalled that “the aircraft were so hot that when they were moved into the new hanger the fire extinguishing nozzles came on and gave us a free wash job." Testing of the A-12s continued at the secret facility; CIA’s involvement in the project remained classified, although it was widely assumed.
Surfacing the “A-11” unexpectedly embroiled program managers and technicians in a debate over using an OXCART aircraft to publicly set a world speed record. The presidential announcement stated that “[t]he world record for aircraft speed, currently held by the Soviets [1,665 mph], has been repeatedly broken in secrecy by the…A-11. The President has instructed the Department of Defense to demonstrate this capability with the procedure which, according to international rules, will permit the result of the test to be entered as a new world record.” CIA leaders strongly opposed using any of the A-12s to attempt this aeronautical feat. Of the four aircraft usedin test flights, only Article 121 had reached the cited speed. Using itin the record trials would set back the testing schedule, jeopardize the aircraft, and undermine the security of the program because the differences between the CIA and Air Force versions would be noticed, and the record would have to be set under the auspices of an uncleared international aviation organization
To silence any further doubt about the A-11's role, the Air Force gave out a brief performance profile of the A11 as interceptor: the two-man (pilot and fire-control officer) plane, for example, can fly from Minneapolis to the northern tip of Hudson's Bay in an hour, and still have enough fuel to return to base. On target, the A11 is all killer, can make a second pass at an enemy bomber in one-fourth the time needed by a more maneuverable but slower F-106. Plans are now to use the plane for an assault on the Russian-held world speed record (1,665.89 m.p.h.), and the big black bird has already been redesignated the YF-12A (Y for prototype, F for fighter), which means it may soon go into production as a tactical U.S. Air Force fighter.
early in the design phase of what eventually became the Space Shuttle, there were plans for the U.S. military to purchase some of the vehicles for its own purposes (mainly the servicing and crewing of proposed 'surveillance space stations'). The design requirements that thus emerged (in particular, the need for a longer-range glide capability, enabling the shuttle to land at specific U.S. Air Force bases), affected the eventual design of the vehicle, increasing its complexity. However, none of these 'Blue Shuttles' were ever built, and the U.S. military turned to increasingly sophisticated unmanned satellites as a more viable alternative.
Regular space shuttles have on occasion carried out missions for the military. It is noteworthy that NASA and the DoD agreed on delivering Discovery to Vandenberg AFB, first in May 1985 and then in September of that year. Discovery would have been dedicated for military and civilian flights from Vandenberg's SLC-6 launch complex. The schedule slipped until the Challenger Disaster in January 1986. In the wake of Challenger, on December 26, 1989 the Space Shuttle Program at Vandenberg was terminated by the USAF. Military Shuttle flights were conducted from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the last dedicated mission being STS-53 in late 1992, deploying a military SDS B-3 communication satellite. Some military payloads have been flown on regular civilian Shuttle missions afterwards.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions' lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon's surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules' locations evident.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks.
The satellite reached lunar orbit June 23 and captured the Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. Though it had been expected that LRO would be able to resolve the remnants of the Apollo mission, these first images came before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. Future LROC images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.
This image from LRO shows the spacecraft's first look at the Apollo 12 landing site. The Intrepid lunar module descent stage, experiment package (ALSEP) and Surveyor 3 spacecraft are all visible. Astronaut footpaths are marked with unlabeled arrows. This image is 824 meters (about 900 yards) wide. The top of the image faces North. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Most scientists currently belive the earth is around 3.8 billion years old.. Mainly, we get this date from radiometric dating of rocks (sometimes called radiocactive dating). All based on the never-changing decay rates of radioactive isotopes.
It now appears that MOST of the moon rocks retrieved during the apollo missions are, indeed, around 4.5 billion years old. Wikipedia sais some of basaltic type samples retrived from the lunar Maria have been dated to around 3.16 billion years.
Originally posted by dragnet53
LOL I love this thread. I now know why it continues on. It is so a certain clique can get stars in each post they make. What an easy way to "earn" stars.
M asks James Bond to investigate the multi-millionaire businessman Sir Hugo Drax, who is winning a lot of money playing bridge at M's favorite club, Blades. M suspects Drax of cheating, but although claiming indifference, he is concerned why a multi-millionaire and national hero, such as Sir Hugo, would cheat at a card game. Bond confirms Drax's deception and manages to "cheat the cheater" — aided by a cocktail of powdered Benzedrine mixed with non-vintage champagne and a deck of stacked cards — winning £15,000 and infuriating the out-smarted Drax.
Drax is the product of a mysterious background, unknown even to himself (allegedly). As a supposed British soldier in WWII, he was badly injured, and stricken with amnesia, in the explosion of a bomb planted by a German saboteur at his field headquarters. After extensive rehabilitation in an army hospital, however, he would eventually return home to become a major aerospace industrialist.
Now, Drax and his firm are building the "Moonraker", Britain's first nuclear missile project, intended to defend the United Kingdom against its Cold War enemies (c.f. the real Blue Streak missile). Essentially, the Moonraker rocket is an upgraded V-2 rocket using liquid hydrogenand fluorine as propellants. It can withstand the ultra-high combustion temperatures in its engine thanks to the use of columbite, of which Drax has a monopoly. Therefore, because the rocket's engine can withstand higher heat, the Moonraker can use more powerful fuels, greatly expanding its effective range.
After a Ministry of Supply security officer working at the project is shot dead, M assigns Bond to replace him, and also to investigate what may be going on at the missile-building base, which is located between Dover and Deal on the coast of England. Oddly, all of the rocket scientists working on the project seem to be German.
It turns out that Drax was never a British soldier and has never suffered from amnesia. In fact, he was a German commander of a Skorzeny commando unit and the saboteur (in British uniform) Graf Hugo von der Drache who set the bomb at the army field headquarters, only to be injured, himself, in the detonation. The amnesia story was simply a cover he used while recovering in hospital, in order to avoid allied retribution - though it would lead to a whole new British identity. Drax, however, remains a dedicated Nazi, bent on revenge against England for the wartime defeat of his Third Reich Fatherland and his prior history of social slights he suffered as a youth growing up in England before the war. He now means to destroy London with the very missile he has constructed for Britain, by means of a Soviet supplied nuclear warhead that has been secretly fitted to the "Moonraker". He also plays the stock market the day before to make a huge profit from the planned disaster.
The Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) under General Eisenhower issued a directive to create T-Forces soon after the Normandy Landings. T-Forces were ordered to "identify, secure, guard and exploit valuable and special information, including documents, equipment and persons of value to the Allied armies". T-Force units were attached to the three army groups on the western front; the Sixth United States Army Group, 21st Army Group and 12th Army Group. The targets of the T-Force were selected and recommended by the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (CIOS). T-Force units were lightly armed and highly mobile.
The success of 30 Assault Unit, a unit that had been created by Ian Fleming whilst working in Royal Navy intelligence was a key factor in the decision to create 'Target Force', normally referred to as T-Force. Fleming sat on the committee that selected targets for the unit, helping to create what were known as the 'Black Books' which were issued to officers of the unit. The infantry component of T-Force was formed by the 5th Battalion of the King's Regiment to support 2nd British Army and Bucks Battalion of 1st Ox and Bucks to support the 1st Canadian Army. It was responsible for securing targets of interest to the British military and included nuclear laboratories, gas research centres and rocket scientists. The unit's most notable coup was the advance on the German port of Kiel where it captured the research centre where the engines for German rockets, missiles, jet fighters and high speed U Boats had been designed. Ian Fleming used elements of this story in his 1955 James Bond novel Moonraker. The story of T-Force and Fleming's connection to its work remained unknown until revealed in Sean Longden's book on the subject.
The Saturn series, however, was specifically designed for the requirements of Project Apollo. To the best of my knowledge,
The original impetus for Saturn envisioned a brawny booster to launch Department of Defense payloads. The von Braun team at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) received money from the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency to demonstrate the concept. Furthermore, von Braun's group eventually became the nucleus of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).
The Saturn family of American rocket boosters was developed by a team of mostly German rocket scientists led by Wernher von Braun to launch heavy payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. Originally proposed as a military satellite launcher, they were adopted as the launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program.
The transfer of ABMA, Saturn, and the von Braun team was phased over a period of nearly six months. NASA's technical direction of Saturn dated from a memorandum signed by Glennan on 21 October 1959 and by the acting Secretary of Defense, Thomas Gates, on 30 October, and approved by Eisenhower on 2 November. The document affirmed continuing joint efforts of NASA and the Department of Defense in the development and utilization of ICBM and IRBM missiles as space vehicles. Pointing out that there was "no clear military requirement for super boosters," the memorandum stated that "there is a definite need for super boosters for civilian space exploration purposes, both manned and unmanned. Accordingly, it is agreed that the responsibility for the super booster program should be vested in NASA."
The working group conjectured that the United States might put into operation a four-man space station in 1961 with the use of the ICBM boosters. By using clustered boosters, with first flights beginning in 1961, the committee estimated a manned lunar landing in 1965-1966. The clustered vehicles would also support the deployment of a 50-man space station in 1967, and the fifth generation of boosters would support sizable moon exploration expeditions in 1972, set up a permanent moon base in 1973-1974, and launch manned interplanetary trips in 1977. "The milestones listed... are considered feasible and obtainable as indicated by the supporting information presented in the body of the report," the working group concluded
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. A number of political factors affected Kennedy's decision and the timing of it. In general, Kennedy felt great pressure to have the United States "catch up to and overtake" the Soviet Union in the "space race." Four years after the Sputnik shock of 1957, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space on April 12, 1961, greatly embarrassing the U.S. While Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, he only flew on a short suborbital flight instead of orbiting the Earth, as Gagarin had done. In addition, the Bay of Pigs fiasco in mid-April put unquantifiable pressure on Kennedy. He wanted to announce a program that the U.S. had a strong chance at achieving before the Soviet Union. After consulting with Vice President Johnson, NASA Administrator James Webb, and other officials, he concluded that landing an American on the Moon would be a very challenging technological feat, but an area of space exploration in which the U.S. actually had a potential lead. Thus the cold war is the primary contextual lens through which many historians now view Kennedy's speech.
The decision involved much consideration before making it public, as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures to make what became Project Apollo a reality by 1969. Only the construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope. NASA's overall human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini, and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy's goal. His goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface.
The Saturn program eventually included three basic vehicles: Saturn I, Saturn IB, and Saturn V. Chapter 3 describes the events that led to these three separate rockets, whose configuration evolved out of the choice to go the moon by means of the lunar orbit rendezvous technique. MSFC began development of facilities to develop and test the mammoth boosters. Chapter 3 concludes with a discussion of the design and manufacture of lower-stage boosters for the Saturn I and Saturn IB.
Senator Lyndon Johnson remembered a “pro- found shock of realizing that it might be possible for another nation to achieve technological superiority over this great country of ours. Most Americans shared my sense of shock that October night. . . . [Sputnik] plunged the America of 1957 into spiritual depression [and] depreciated our prestige. Russia’s image as a technological leader suddenly increased to alarming proportions and our own image diminished, especially among the people of the developing nations.” One congressman, also a historian, summarized, “The prairie fire of demands for action swept across the Nation. The clamor rose to a roar.
This was not merely partisan posturing as Killian also sensed a “climate of near hysteria” among many people, “some of whom should have known better.” He concluded that Sputnik had created “a crisis of confidence that swept the country like a windblown forest fire. Overnight there developed a wide- spread fear that the country lay at the mercy of the Russian military machine and that our own government and its mili- tary arm had abruptly lost the power to defend the homeland itself.” The tone shown in a Washington Post article repre- sented that taken by most major media outlets: “Not even the most dim-witted State Department official needed more than a second glance at those news bulletins on Sputnik to realize that the United States had suffered the worst psychological licking in the history of its relations and struggle with the So- viet Union and the Communist World. The United States could no longer proclaim the supremacy of its industrial machine or of the capitalist free system of economics.”
T. Keith Glennan, NASA’s first and only administrator during the Eisenhower administration, commented on the cata- lyst for NASA’s creation: “I think you ought to realize first that NASA was born out of a state of hysteria; that, indeed, if Sputnik number one had not been put into orbit, it is highly improbable that there would be a NASA.” Eisenhower himself concurred, later saying NASA’s “whole program was based on psychological values. . . . The furor produced by Sputnik was really the reason for the creation of NASA.” Eisenhower did not like being forced to react to the nation’s unmerited panic. His son recalled, “I think the public became hysterical, and he couldn’t figure out why they were,” which caused his father to question, “What the hell are they [the public] worried about?” Eisenhower believed his challenge was “to find [a] way of af- fording perspective to our people and so relieve the wave of near -hysteria.
First, space exploration must not endanger—in any way—the process of gathering intelligence on the Soviet Union through the use of reconnaissance satellites, and second, space exploration was not to be regarded as a prestige-oriented race with the Soviet Union. NASA’s creation supported both of these objectives.
Such declarations led historians to conclude that Eisenhower ignored the clear warning in NSC 5520 of a potentially negative psychological impact on the nation if the Soviets were to launch a satellite first. Nor was he swayed by similar NSC and OCB’s entreaties to mitigate those likely prestige ramifications when determining Vanguard’s schedule. Although the words were present in the pre-Sputnik-policy documents, his presidential commitment was lacking. Eisenhower acknowledged this during a press conference on 9 October 1957 as he recounted some of the Vanguard program deliberations: “More than once we would say, well, there is going to be a great psychological advantage in world politics to putting this thing up. But that didn’t seem to be a reason, in view of the scientific character of our development, there didn’t seem to be a reason for just trying to grow hysterical about it.” The written statement distributed to the press stated, “Our satellite program has never been conducted as a race with other nations.” The same pattern continued—even after NASA’s creation. The Eisenhower administration understood that great prestige would accrue to the nation that first flew a human in space, but its efforts continued to be conducted as though it was not a race.
under no circumstances did we want to make the thing a competition, because a race always implies urgency and special progress regardless of cost or need. . . . Neither then nor since have I ever agreed that it was wise to base any of these projects on an openly and announced com- petition with any country. This kind of thing is unnecessary, wasteful and violates the basic tenets of common sense.”
Quarles testified to Congress on 18 November 1957: “We must not be panicked or pushed into any sudden dispersion of effort. . . . We must not be talked into ‘hitting the moon with a rocket,’ for example, just to be first,
unless by doing so we stand to gain something of real scientific or military significance.”
Eisenhower had to accept—to a small degree— the legitimacy of the prestige factor to help justify NASA.
According to the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), Eisenhower approved this project because the bal- loon’s “psychological value from the standpoint of free use for every nation,” and of the options available, it “appears to be the best psychological-scientific experiment.” Similarly, in December 1958, he authorized Project SCORE (Signal Com- munication Orbit Relay Experiment) that launched a payload made up of a stripped-down Atlas booster, weighing 9,000 lbs.— 100 lbs. of which was communications equipment. That payload played, for eight days, a tape-recorded message from Eisenhower stating, “I convey to you and to all mankind America’s wish for peace on earth and good will toward men everywhere.” It also allowed the United States to boast that it had orbited a “satellite” of over four tons—even though most of the weight was an expended booster. Said one historian, “Technically, it was all a stunt.
Kennedy as president had little direct interest in the U.S. space program. He was not a visionary enraptured with the romantic image of the last American frontier in space and consumed by the adventure of exploring the unknown. He was, on the other hand, a Cold Warrior with a keen sense of Realpolitik in foreign affairs, and worked hard to maintain balance of power and spheres of influence in American/Soviet relations. The Soviet Union's non-military accomplishments in space, therefore, forced Kennedy to respond and to serve notice that the U.S. was every bit as capable in the space arena as the Soviets. Of course, to prove this fact, Kennedy had to be willing to commit national resources to NASA and the civil space program. The Cold War realities of the time, therefore, served as the primary vehicle for an expansion of NASA's activities and for the definition of Project Apollo as the premier civil space effort of the nation. Even more significant, from Kennedy's perspective the Cold War necessitated the expansion of the military space program, especially the development of ICBMs and satellite reconnaissance systems.
Kennedy decided to pursue a lunar goal in the spring of 1961 after the Soviet Union orbited Yuri Gagarin. One unknown question for historians is how much Kennedy’s decision was influenced by the near simultaneous failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The two events happened very close together and created the perception that the United States was in technological and political crisis, if not decline.
25 April 1961 - Vice President Johnson made head of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.. President Kennedy signed legislation making the Vice President of the United States the presiding officer of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.
In an interim report to the president on 28 April 1961, Johnson concluded that "The U.S. can, if it will, firm up its objectives and employ its resources with a reasonable chance of attaining world leadership in space during this decade," and recommended committing the nation to a lunar landing.25 In this exercise Johnson had built, as Kennedy had wanted, a strong justification for undertaking Project Apollo but he had also moved on to develop a greater consensus for the objective among key government and business leaders.
Perhaps the strongest indication that Kennedy was having doubts about Apollo, though, came in the fall of 1963, when he made a bold proposal for “a joint expedition to the Moon” during an address before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations.
The day after Kennedy’s speech, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Independent Offices, congressman Albert Thomas, wrote Kennedy asking if he had changed his position on the need for a strong US space program. Kennedy replied in a letter that the United States could only cooperate in space from a position of strength.
There is one other bit of data to add to the few others that we have. Shortly before his death, Kennedy asked his Bureau of the Budget to prepare a report on the NASA budget for him. That report was never completed in final form, and only a draft produced after Kennedy’s assassination exists. However, that draft evaluated the question of “backing off from the manned lunar landing goal”—presumably this was what Kennedy had asked them to consider. The report’s conclusion was that “in the absence of clear changes in the present technical or international situations, the only basis for backing off from the Manned Lunar Landing objective at this time would be an overriding fiscal decision.”
With so few data points to go by, it is difficult to determine if Kennedy’s UN proposal represented an evolution in his thinking. Could Kennedy have been considering changing the lunar landing goal, or even canceling Apollo entirely? The latter possibility was even mentioned in Oliver Stone’s 1993 paranoid conspiracy thriller JFK; a mysterious informant explained that Kennedy’s plan to cancelApollo was one of the reasons why the military industrial complex had him assassinated.
We in the old NACA were I think mentally circumscribed, to the extent that we never could have realized the potential of growing not six times but sixty times bigger in a short period of time, because we had fought very hard each year in order to get the little increases that we needed in order to build up over a period of a great many years to $100 million a year. . . . It was only that we began to take quantum steps when we began to get quantum bucks. . . . NACA, like every other govern- mental agency, had to fight every year for its appropriations. It never got what it wanted to do its job, and frequently it got appropriations on the basis of “You will use it for this and nothing else.”
It turns out, though, that there are other possibilities besides the assumption that Kennedy was slowly backing away from the decision he had made in 1961, and some of them are hard to believe, but may nevertheless be true.