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  What course for NASA if Kennedy had lived?

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Author Topic:   What course for NASA if Kennedy had lived?
carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 01-10-2005 08:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If John F. Kennedy not had been killed in Dallas, and he had won again in 1964 (no President Johnson, no great cost for "great society"), and not had been the Vietnam war, which would have been the consequences for the space program?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-10-2005 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Its all speculation of course, but based on what we know of Kennedy, and the way in which the nation was galvanized by his death, its been suggested that had he not died that fateful day in Dallas, he would have found a way to cancel or at least postpone the decade's end goal of landing a man on the Moon. Even before his untimely passing, Kennedy was seeking alternatives and the political capital that made the Apollo landings possible wasn't the result of Kennedy lobbying Congress during his living years but rather from the hearts and minds of a nation mourning a fallen president.

carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
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posted 01-10-2005 11:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This story about a possible cancellation of Apollo moon landing in Kennedy's second mandate is a falsehood create by Oliver Stone in his movie "JFK" (the "colonnell Prouty" monologue).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-10-2005 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To the contrary, Kennedy was possibly looking for a way out (at least of going it alone) before he died.

On September 20, 1963, Kennedy suggested a joint U.S./U.S.S.R. moon landing during a speech before the UN General Assembly.

From a SpaceDaily article by "New Moon Rising" co-author Frank Sietzen:

Soviet Premiere Nikita S. Khrushchev reversed himself in early November, 1963 and had at the time, decided to accept U.S. President John F. Kennedy's offer to convert the Apollo lunar landing program into a joint project to explore the Moon with Soviet and U.S. astronauts, SpaceCast learned Wednesday from one of the last remaining participants in the decision still alive.
From that same article...
If these newest revelations are correct, the prospects of a visit to the Soviet Union by President Kennedy during the 1964 Presidential campaign, suggested by several former Kennedy administration staffers or a visit to Russia early in a Kennedy second term might well have cemented the joint lunar plan. And such a Kennedy/Khrushchev initiative might have staved off the planning of a coup that eventually removed Khrushchev from office in October, 1964.

"I think," Sergei Khrushchev said, "if Kennedy had lived, we would be living in a completely different world." But a week after the reversal decision was allegedly made, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas and the decision was dropped.

Of course, as the article goes on to point out, any such plan would have had to win support in Congress, a prospect analysts did not find likely...
Some have also suggested that, given the political atmosphere of the time, the U.S. Congress of 1963/64 would not have looked too favorably on dropping a space program sold primarily as "beating the Russians to the Moon" for one that would, in essence, bring them along on a spacecraft and booster paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

But Kennedy fretted over the cost of the Apollo program almost literally until the day he died. A joint plan would have preserved the project while reducing the cost, further shifting its rationale onto foreign relations and superpower stability - goals now identified with the current US-Russian space partnership and a reason often given today for continuing the program. And had the President lived to conduct a 1964 campaign, U.S.-Soviet cooperation following years of tension may well have been a central element to the foreign policy espoused during that election effort. The available documentary evidence suggests that Kennedy was moving towards a new cooperative relationship with the Soviet government that he hoped to expand following a reelection in 1964.

carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
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posted 01-11-2005 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I knew this. But a joint US-USSR mission is not the cancellation of moon landing. Moreover the (rhetoric) Kennedy's proposal unlikely would have been accepted in all implications (open laboratories, inspections, etc.) from Soviet "nomenklatura." And eventually, an ipotetic joint US-USSR mission to the moon would have been a bad think for the US space program, or would have freed funds for space stations, Apollo AAP, Gemini ferry, Moon base, and lots of missions in earth orbit and on the moon in 60s, 70s and 80s? Why not?

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
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posted 01-11-2005 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Robert; there's a large range of possibilities in the scenario you describe, and not all of them good.

As for a joint mission, what would have been the advantages? At the time Kennedy was talking about a joint mission, it was assumed the Moon race was pretty evenly matched, but in the end it proved much less so than believed at the time.

Unlike the ISS today, I'm not sure what equipment or expertise the Soviets had that would have been better than the Apollo technology the U.S. had; certainly I would have rather ridden atop a Saturn than an N1.

The only advantage you get is that of teamwork and split costs. I question how much of an advantage the teamwork would have been. Trying to integrate the two foreign systems would have slowed things down; very possibly more than they would have sped things up. The Soviet program was run with a much higher degree of secrecy than the U.S. program; I strongly question whether entering into a joint operation would have eliminated the Soviet desire for secrecy, and thus dealing with those issues would have also slowed things down.

As for funding issues, one has to question whether the advantages of splitting the costs with the Soviets would have outweighed the increased costs from doing so. And, had their been any financial benefit, one has to question whether it would have done the U.S. space program any good, or whether Congress would have pocketed the difference for other programs.

To be sure, I don't have definitive answers to any of these, but there are a lot of questions.

carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 01-11-2005 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And not forgotten, although LBJ made a similar proposal for a joint moon landing, and the Russians refused it. Moreover the US Congress at this time would never have approved a joint plan. To the maximum would be ended with a Gemini-Voskhod rendezvous (GT-6/GT-7 style) in 65, or a Russian guest on LM of Apollo 12 or 13 in 69-70.

R.Glueck
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posted 01-11-2005 06:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for R.Glueck   Click Here to Email R.Glueck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was national goal, set by a President who had created something wonderful and magical in the public's eye. Kennedy would have continued the program and quite possibly, the Apollo 1 fire would not have happened because of the pressure to get to the moon. Very likely, we would have gotten to the moon, but maybe later in 1969. Kennedy loved the Saturn 1 rocket that he visited at the Cape, shortly before his death. Don't kid yourself, astronauts and rockets into space were the ticket, and Kennedy was the inceptor of the trip. BTW, the after effect might have been a permanent presence on the moon, but on a much restrained production budget, with missions spread farther apart to accomplish that goal.

Everyone assumes that had JFK lived, there would have been no VietNam war. I can't say I can put much stock in that idea, but I think we would have had a nurtured space program, particularly in LBJ acceded to the thrown after the second Kennedy term.

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