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[i]At the meeting, the President and his staff were discussing a supplemental budget for NASA and the effect the increased money would have on expediting the scheduled orbital flights and the Apollo Space Program. There is a disagreement among the staff over whether or not the increased budget will change the target dates for the Apollo Program, including the lunar landing scheduled for 1967.
James Webb, Administrator of NASA, and Robert Seamans, Deputy Administrator for NASA, explain to the President that they do not believe that the timetable for Apollo can be expedited. NASA’s Apollo Space Program sought to develop man’s capability to work in the lunar environment, to carry out a program of scientific exploration of the moon, and to establish the technology to meet other national interests in space.
In the course of the discussion, an animated exchange between the President and Webb took place over the priority of the lunar landing program. Webb, in a spirited and fearless exchange with President Kennedy, argued that the lunar program was “one” of the top priority programs of NASA. The President wanted it made clear that it was “the” priority program — not only for NASA but for the entire government — with the desired result being that the United States would beat the Russians to the moon.[/i]
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