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  National Archives: Nixon and the Space Program

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Author Topic:   National Archives: Nixon and the Space Program
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-07-2013 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Richard M. Nixon, the National Archives is debuting a special display and online teaching activities themed around the milestones in manned spaceflight from Nixon's administration.
Nixon and the U.S. Space Program

"Nixon and the U.S. Space Program" features rarely seen documents, photographs, and objects that represent milestones in manned spaceflight during President Nixon's administration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully put man on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 and followed with five more Apollo missions over the next three years. Visitors will learn about Nixon's support for the lunar program and his efforts to improve adversarial Cold War relations through a cooperative space exploration program.

The new "Nixon and the U.S. Space Program" display will be officially opened to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2013. The ribbon-cutting will be hosted by the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, who will be joined by Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries and Museum Services.

Highlights of the Nixon display include:

  • the telephone used by President Nixon to talk to the Apollo 11 astronauts after the moon landing (1969);

  • tongs used by Apollo 12 astronauts to collect moon rock samples (1969); and

  • a contingency statement drafted by speechwriter William Safire in case of disaster during the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission (1969) [Safire would later earn a Pulitzer Prize as a columnist with the New York Times.];
The materials on exhibit are courtesy of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, CA, one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives.

"Nixon and the U.S. Space Program" will be on exhibit through June 2013, when the display will feature items from the administration of President Ford.

The case display is located within the Public Vaults exhibit in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, located on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. Admission to the museum is free. Winter hours (though March 14) are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Summer hours (March 15 through Labor Day) are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fra Mauro

Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 01-10-2013 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This exhibit doesn't look like much of a balanced view — Nixon wasn't exactly Neil DeGrasse Tyson when it comes to space exploration.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-10-2013 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The exhibit is more than just the three featured pieces so it would be interesting to hear the full scope of the display from someone who goes sees it.

In the interim, it is interesting that Nixon's speeches about space exploration are rarely quoted. At most, people may remember his call to the moon as it occurred during a very high profile event in history, but he delivered other addresses:

  • We should move ahead with bold exploration of the planets and the universe. In the next few years, scientific satellites of many types will be launched into earth orbit to bring us new information about the universe, the solar system, and even our own planet. During the next decade, we will also launch unmanned spacecraft to all the planets of our solar system, including an unmanned vehicle which will be sent to land on Mars and to investigate its surface. In the late 1970's, the "Grand Tour" missions will study the mysterious outer planets of the solar system-Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The positions of the planets at that time will give us a unique opportunity to launch missions which can visit several of them on a single flight of over 3 billion miles. Preparations for this program will begin in 1972.

    There is one major but longer-range goal we should keep in mind as we proceed with our exploration of the planets. As a part of this program we will eventually send men to explore the planet Mars. — 1970 statement about the future of the United States space program

  • 'We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it', said Oliver Wendell Holmes, 'but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor'. So with man's epic voyage into space - a voyage the United States of America has led and still shall lead. — 1972 announcement on the space shuttle

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