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BOSTON (AP) -- After setting a soaring vision to land a man on the moon, President John F. Kennedy struggled with how to sell the public on a costly space program he worried had "lost its glamour" and had scant political benefits, according to a newly released White House tape. Kennedy and NASA Administrator James Webb hashed out how to strengthen public backing for the mission, such as by highlighting its technological benefits and military uses.
And in a scenario that echoes today, the two worried about preserving funding amid what Webb calls a "driving desire to cut the budget," according to the tape recorded two months before Kennedy was assassinated.
"It's become a political struggle now," Kennedy says, near the end of the 46-minute tape. "We've got to hold this thing, goddamn it."
Its release Wednesday comes on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's May 25, 1961, speech in which he made his famous call to reach the moon by decade's end. While that speech is remembered for its ambition, it also included a caveat that "no single space project in this period ... will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
In the tape recorded more than two years later, Kennedy and Webb are heard dealing with that reality. With the 1964 election approaching, Kennedy frets a massive program that's not making obvious advances will prove a liability. "I don't think the space program has much political positives," Kennedy tells Webb.
The president seems to lament that the rival Russians haven't made the progress in their half of the space race that could bring needed attention to America's program. "I mean if the Russians do some tremendous feat, then it would stimulate interest again, but right now space has lost a lot of its glamour," Kennedy said
At one point, Kennedy challenges Webb to answer, "Do you think the lunar, manned landing on the moon is a good idea?" The president also asks for and receives assurances from Webb that sending a man to the moon isn't just a "stunt" that will yield the same advances as sending scientific instruments to the moon's surface for billions less.
Kennedy and Webb then agree it's crucial to emphasize the space program's importance to the military and national security, or risk it being considered wasteful. "The heat's going to go on unless we can say this has got some military justification and not just prestige," Kennedy says. "I think it's the only way we're going to be able to defend it before the public in the next 12 months," Kennedy says. "I want to get the military shield over this thing."
Yes, I do like the things you found and pit in the thread, S&F, and thanks!
Originally posted by anon72
Any of you old timers remember anything JFK did to convice the public-conviced you etc?
I put a few things I found in the thread-I think you'll like them
What a difference the death of one man can make.
On 20 September 1963, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Kennedy proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union join forces in their efforts to reach the moon. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev initially rejected Kennedy's proposal, however during the next few weeks he concluded that both nations might realize cost benefits and technological gains from a joint venture. Khrushchev was poised to accept Kennedy's proposal at the time of Kennedy's assassination in November, 1963.
Khrushchev and Kennedy had developed a measure of rapport during their years as leaders of the world's two superpowers, especially during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. That trust was lacking with Vice President Johnson; when Johnson assumed the Presidency after Kennedy's assassination, Khrushchev dropped the idea of a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. moon program.
Soviet N-1 - US Saturn V
Inside the Soviets’ Secret Failed Moon Program
Getting to the moon requires launching a command module and a lander. Both are heavy objects and require massive amounts of thrust to get into orbit. The Soviet’s planned to use their N-1 rocket, but two failed launches in 1971 and 1972 destroyed dummy landing and control modules, as well as the rockets themselves, and led to the program being shelved for lack of a proper launch vehicle.
The Soviets developed a similar multi-step approach to NASA, involving a module used to orbit the moon and one for landing. Their version was decidedly less complex and lighter to account for inferior rockets. These photos show the LK “Lunar Craft” lander, which has a similar pod-over-landing gear structure but numerous key differences.
All the activities done by two astronauts is done by one. To make the craft lighter, the LK only fits the one cosmonaut, who was supposed to peer through a tiny window on the side of the craft to land it. After landing the vehicle the pod separates from the landing gear, as with the Apollo Lunar Module, but uses the same engine for landing as it does for take off as another weight savings.
The L2 Lunar Orbit Module designed to transport the LK into orbit around the moon was similarly stripped down. There’s no internal connection between the two craft so the cosmonaut had to space walk outside to get into the LK and head towards the surface. When the LK rejoined the L2 for the return trip home, the now likely exhausted would then climb back out into the abyss of space. The LK would then be thrown away.
There were numerous political, scientific and financial reasons why the Soviets didn’t make it to the moon first, including a space agency with split priorities and therefore not single-mindedly dedicated to this goal. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon first on July 20, 1969, besting the Russians, who were still planning to visit the moon in the upcoming years.