An Annotated Bibliography of the Apollo Program/Decision
Ad Hoc Committee on Space (Jerome B. Wiesner, Chair), "Report to the President-Elect of the Ad Hoc Committee on Space," 10 January 1961. Available in the NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. John F. Kennedy was the first president-elect to set up high-level "transition teams" to advise him on issues that he would face upon assuming the presidency. This is one of 29 task forces that studied national policy for the president-elect. Chaired by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jerome Wiesner, a member of President Eisenhower's President's Science Advisory Committee (and thus familiar with discussions inside the Eisenhower administration on space policy and programs), this report was very critical of the management of the human space flight program and urged Kennedy to distance himself from potential failures. It asserted that the U.S. holds "a position of leadership in space sciences," but not in piloted space flight, which the committee nonetheless holds to be inevitable for "the same motives that have compelled [man] to travel to the poles and to climb the highest mountains of the earth." It specifically suggested shying away from an aggressive project such as Apollo.
Divine, Robert A. "Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Space." In The Johnson Years: Vietnam, The Environment, and Science. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987. Pp. 217-53. This excellent article traces the political leadership of Senator-Vice President-President Johnson concerning the space program from the Sputnik crisis of 1957 through January 1969. It emphasizes the role he played as chair of the National Aeronautics and Space Council in 1961 in investigating the option for the United States in Space and presenting to the president a well-crafted decision-package in favor of the Apollo commitment. It emphasizes his political acumen and ability to construct a coalition of interests supporting the lunar landing.
Dryden, Hugh L. "The Exploration of Space." Cosmos Club Lecture, 13 April 1959. Copy in NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquar- ters, Washington, DC. The nation's post World War II scientific elite, nurtured by the unprecedented federal investment in scientific research during the war, had as its Washington gathering place the Cosmos Club, located in one of the elegant Renais- sance revival mansions that line Massachusetts Avenue. NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden, who had spent most of his career at the National Bureau of Standards before his appointment in 1947 as Director of Research of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), was a Cosmos Club member and had served a term as its president. The Club was a fitting location for a lecture that laid out in some detail the broad agenda of space science and exploration envisioned for NASA in 1959. Interestingly, Dryden's view of NASA's long range objectives projected an orbiting space station as a prerequisite for the first human journey to the Moon.
_____. "Exploring the New Frontiers of Space." An address to the Western Space Age Conference, Los Angeles, California, 5 March 1959. Copy in NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. Very similar to Dryden's Cosmos Club speech, this address sets out NASA's "inevitable" long-range plan and compares it to other exploits of discovery. He calls for human exploration of the Moon.
_____. "The Next Fifty Years." Aero Digest. July 1953. In this article, the author, Director of the NACA wrote: "If there is any Twentieth Century aspiration which corresponds to that of the Nineteenth Century for the conquest of the air, it is perhaps that of the conquest of space with the early goal, travel to the moon. Like the conquest of flight during the Nineteenth Century, these concepts of space travel are the results of imaginative men to apply the technology of their day to the problem of interplanetary flight."
_____. "Space Technology and the NACA." An address to the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, New York, NY, January 27, 1958. Copy in NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. In this speech Dryden forecasts the long-range goal as "development of manned satellites and the travel of man to the moon and nearby planets."
Hechler, Ken. Toward the Endless Frontier: History of the Committee on Science and Technology, 1959-1979. Washington, DC: U.S. House of Representa- tives, 1980. Contains the best account to date of Congressional wrangling over Project Apollo and demonstrates the bipartisan nature of both Apollo support and opposition.
Holmes, Jay. America on the Moon: The Enterprise of the Sixties. Philadel- phia: J.B. Lippincott, 1962. A journalistic account of the early history of Project Apollo, this book also has a lengthy discussion of the Kennedy commitment to begin an accelerated lunar landing program to beat the Soviets to the Moon and demon- strate U.S. technological superiority.
Logsdon, John M. The Apollo Decision and its Lessons for Policy-Makers. Washington, DC: Program of Policy Studies in Science and Technology Occasional Paper no. 7, George Washington University, 1970. This study is an analysis of what the author considers rational policy-making in a national context. Logsdon describes the major events of the period between Kennedy's election and the 25 May 1961 announcement of the Apollo goal. He concludes that the Apollo commitment was made only after a lengthy decision-making process in which alternatives were rationally considered and political consensus reached.
_____. "An Apollo Perspective." Astronautics & Aeronautics. 17 (December 1979): 112-16. This brief article analyzes the situation facing the U. S. space program in 1979 in the light of Apollo and concludes that the base of support for a major national investment in space, such as the one that existed for Apollo in 1961 simply did not exist 18 years later and was unlikely to emerge again for a considerable time in the future. Logsdon noted that for Kennedy the Moon landing program, conducted in the tense Cold War environment of the early 1960s, was a strategic decision directed toward advancing the far-flung interests of the United States in the international arena. It aimed toward recapturing the prestige that the nation had lost as a result of Soviet successes and U.S. failures. Like most political decisions, at least in the U.S. experience, the decision to carry out Project Apollo was an effort to deal with an unsatisfactory situation (world perception of Soviet leadership in space and technology). As such Apollo was a remedial action ministering to a variety of political and emotional needs floating in the ether of world opinion. According to Logsdon, Apollo addressed these problems very well and was a worthwhile program if measured only in those terms. In announcing Project Apollo Kennedy put the world on notice that the U.S. would not take a back seat to its superpower rival. Logsdon concluded: "By entering the race with such a visible and dramatic commitment, the United States effectively undercut Soviet space spectaculars without doing much except announcing its intention to join the contest" (p. 115).
_____, et al. Apollo in its Historical Context. Washington, DC: The George Washington University Space Policy Institute, 1990. This edited version of remarks presented at a 1989 symposium includes articles by Logsdon on "Evaluating Apollo"; Walter A. McDougall on "Apollo and Technocracy"; Daniel J. Boorstin on "The Rise of Public Discovery"; and Frank White on "Apollo in a Millennial Perspective." Concludes with a discussion based on questions from the audience at the symposium. Useful for the perspectives offered by the four eminent participants.
_____. The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Inter- est. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1970. This book describes in detail the political issue of how the United States decided to go to the Moon in 1961. Logsdon pulls together most of the publicly available data and commentary on the events surrounding President Kennedy's May 1961 announcement committing the United States to an accelerated lunar landing program. The author touts the decision to press Project Apollo as the political process at its best. It was consensus-building and consensus-maintaining, and finally accomplishment of the ideal. While the detailed discussion of how all this took place is exemplary, this conclusion is questionable. The more interesting question is how could Apollo have been decided and carried out while the political process was unable to reach agreement and carry out objectives on a broad range of other federal priorities ranging from urban decay and crime to health care and economic recession?
_____. "The Policy Process and Large-Scale Space Efforts." Space Humanization Series. Institute for the Social Science Study of Space, 1979. This study reviews the other Apollo and Space Shuttle decisions, largely rehashing other work by the author, and concludes that large-scale technological endeavors can be undertaken in the public arena only by winning the support of a wide range of political groups, each supporting the effort for different reasons.
NASA Office of Program Planning and Evaluation. "The Long Range Plan of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration," NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 16 December 1959. Copy in NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. This initial ten-year plan for NASA was developed during the agency's first year of operation, and although issued by NASA headquarters it did not become offical U.S. government policy. Because it contained both target dates for various accomplishments and budget estimates for the decade, it received a "Secret" security classification and was later declassified. For the development of Project Apollo, the plan is significant because it advocated a human flight to the Moon only sometime after 1970.
President's Science Advisory Committee (James R. Killian, Chair). Introduction to Outer Space. Washington, DC: The White House, 26 March 1958. This short brochure contains the best description of Eisenhower's "alternative" space program to what had been advocated by those wanting to land on the Moon. While the report stresses scientific goals in space, it nonetheless is unable to frame an alternative to the romantic public interest in lunar and planetary exploration.
Rosholt, Robert L. An Administrative History of NASA, 1958-1963. Washington, DC: NASA SP-4101, 1966. This history contains a detailed discussion of the internal NASA efforts to support the decision-making process among senior government officials that led to Kennedy's lunar landing objective by the end of the 1960s. It presents an interpretation suggesting that while NASA's leaders were generally pleased with the course Kennedy chose with Apollo--they recognized and mostly agreed with the political reasons for adopting an aggressive lunar landing program-- they wanted to shape it as much as possible to the agency's particular priorities. It shows that NASA Administrator James E. Webb, well known as a skilled political operator who could seize an opportunity, organized a short-term effort to accelerate and expand a long-range NASA master plan for space exploration. A fundamental part of this effort addressed a legitimate concern that the scientific and technological advancements for which NASA had been created not be eclipsed by the political necessities of international rivalries that led to the Apollo decision.
Sidey, Hugh. "Pioneers in Love with the Frontier." Time. 10 February 1986, pp. 46-47. This thoughtful discussion of the development of the U.S. space program emphasizes the role of the frontier and the exploration imperative in the United States. Sidey, an extremely articulate commentator, suggests that nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. This was a response to the naysayers of the space program after the January 1986 Challenger accident but emphasizes the 1961 Apollo decision of President Kennedy as the quintessential statement of a vision favoring exploration of the unknown.