The Soviets gave the American leaders the reason to go to the moon. The Soviets played their role well. They continually gave mixed signals as to their intentions.
For instance, on Oct. 15, 1968, Russia's top scientists denied Russia was interested in going to the moon. On Nov. 23, 1968 Tass declared that Zond 5 and 6 were test flights to precede a manned flight to the moon and back.
Such statements greatly enhanced NASA's sales pitch, that if we did not go to the moon, the Russians would. Thanks to the Russians, few people in the U.S. opposed the Apollo program.
One day the Russians would deny interest and then the next day would come some statement like, "The Soviet Union is preparing to launch its most spetacular manned space flight by dispatching shortly at least two, and probably three, men on a circumlunar flight,..."
Rocketry is a sophisticated science. The U.S. leaders knew that the Russians were strapping several small rockets together in a hazardess fashion, and that they were not far out in front of us technologically, but inferior. (How could they be ahead of us? We were supplying them with much of the technology, just as we had for years. The examples are endless. One example is the chassis of the feared W.W.II T-34 Tank was American technology.) Going to the moon is such an involved process that it is not believable that our intelligence agencies did not have a fix on where the Russian space program was. Either, they did have a fix on it and our leaders lied, or, they didn't know much if anything about the Russian space program.
Recently, the Russians have displayed a craft they say they built to go to the moon. Only one model of it was built. However, building such a model, and actually having the technology to send men to the moon are two different items.
(The Space Program actually serves purposes that are entirely different from its cover. That is material for another book.)
Next, it is eye-opening, because supposedly according to our President, whoever got their flag and men to the moon first was to be 53 considered the leader of mankind on earth.
The point this Author is making is simply that the Russian threat, which was blown out of proportion, helped NASA sell its space program to the public.
Informed critics of the Apollo program tried to point out how on a scientific basis, unmanned spacecraft are far less expensive and will yield far more scientific information. A case in point, is the relatively inexpensive Surveyor spacecraft series which took thousands of close up lunar pictures and made soil analyses of the lunar soil.
Was this article helpful?