Friday, September 7, 2012
Based on his award winning 2010 book with the same title, John Logsdon will review the factors that led President John F. Kennedy, just four months after his inauguration, on May 25, 1961, to set as a national goal sending Americans to the Moon "before this decade is out." The story of Kennedy's Cold War decision to go to the Moon is relatively well-known; less understood are JFK's actions and second thoughts with respect to the lunar landing goal during the remaining thirty months of his presidency. These will be explored in some depth, including Kennedy's little-remembered September 1963 proposal to turn Project Apollo into a cooperative U.S-U.S.S.R. undertaking and the existence of a sweeping review of the U.S. space effort underway as Kennedy was assassinated that considered, among other options, cancelling Apollo or slipping the date for the first lunar landing.
After reviewing this history, Logsdon will present his views on the question: "Was Apollo worth its costs and risks?" He will also relate the experience and evaluation of Apollo to current controversies regarding the character of future U.S. space efforts. His talk will be supplemented by video and audio clips of Kennedy's speeches and White House meetings on the lunar project.