Project Apollo Annotated Bibliography
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 Available in the NASA Historical Reference Collection,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 Copy in NASA Historical Reference Collection,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
_____. "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.
_____, 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
_____. "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
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.