The Historical Causes of the US Lunar Projects
The United States and the Soviet Unions at this period in history were the world Super Powers. The two countries were engaged in the Cold War trying to dominate each other. There were three events that occurred that caused the United States to launch into lunar projects. In the year 157, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 which was the first artificial satellite in the outer space. The launch of the satellite caused quite uproar in the United States as it felt that the Soviet Union was advancing in technology at a higher speed (Spudis, 2010). The event was the onset of the Space War. The Russian Premier, Nikita Krushvech embarked on a mission of propaganda where he circulated information especially in the Third World countries that the Soviet Union was superior to the US when it came to space technology and inventions.
The Americans felt that they were vulnerable and questioned their status and ability to defend their territory. In 1962, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy gave a speech in which he communicated the agenda of the government concerning outer space. His administration aimed to lead in the exploration of outer space and have a banner of freedom and peace instead of a flag that represented hostility (Gorman, 2005).
The US government felt that the country should increase its budget allocation for space and missiles activity. Majority leader and chairman of the preparedness subcommittee of the Senate Services Armed Committee recommended an increase in the budget. The administration immediately increased ballistic missile missions. The Space War led the country to form (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which was the body that oversaw the implementation of the Apollo project. The country also formed the National Aeronautics Space Council (NASC). These bodies were formed in the fall of 1958.
In April, 1961, after the Sputnik 1 project, the Soviet Union announced that it had lunar expedition plans. It succeeded in putting Yuri Gagarin in the Vostok 1 and she was able to travel in the earth’s orbit. The third shock that the US administration experienced was the breakout of the Cuba revolution in 1959. Fidel Castro became the president. He was against the American administration. He got into agreements with the Soviet Union angering the United States even more. The US instituted policies that restricted trade with the region. The Eisenhower administration at that time commanded the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to begin to draw plans on how the Castro presidency could be overthrown. Before the plans were implemented, Kennedy came into power.
The CIA director pressed the Kennedy administration to go ahead with the plans however they were opposed to it. Kennedy decided to implement the plans but in the process to conceal the identity of the United States. There were Cuban refugees that had been given military training in the US. They began to invade the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. However, the mission was defeated. The Cuban administration had adequately prepared itself for the invasion. The country’s political ties with the Soviet Union were deepened by the event. These three events led the Kennedy administration to embark with a lot of energy on space exploration projects (Watanabe, 2009).
As the United States strategized, the United Nations also moved into action. United Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UCPUOS). In 1959, it recommended that the UN Charter especially the Bill of Rights should also cover the outer space.
There was a treaty on the activities of the different states in the outer states which was adopted for use in 1967. The treaty in essence declared that the outer space could not be controlled by any country and that it was the common territory of all mankind.
The Kennedy administration circulated widely the idea that if the country succeeded in going to the moon then the same technology and knowledge could be used to address societal, environmental and economic challenges in the country.
The Apollo II project
The mission of the United States to take their astronauts to the moon came to be known as the Apollo project. The Apollo project took several years from the year 1960 to 1973. The goals of the mission were several. First of all the country aimed to land their men on the moon and bring them back safely to the earth. Secondly, to establish superiority or pre-eminence when it came to matters of space (Steinberg, 1987). The project would also equip the country with the important technological skills to address any other national interests in the outer space domain (Stine, 2008)
A scientific exploration of the moon was to be carried out by the men on the moon. The government also hoped to develop man’s capability to conduct work on the moon. The mission was successful and in July, 1969, the US succeeded in taking two astronauts to the moon and returning them safely to the earth. The last lunar landing occurred in 1972. When the astronauts landed on the moon, they put the American flag signifying the conquest of the country in space activities (Platoff, 1993). This was the first time that human beings had stepped on another celestial body. It therefore had a huge international significance.
The Positive and Negative Effects of the Apollo Project
The Apollo project had a huge impact in the world and especially in the Western world. It exhibited the technological and economic prowess of the United States of America. It showed dominance over the Soviet Union.
There were numerous scientific benefits achieved by the Apollo II project The US government was able to use the earth’s space for national defense. The scientists were also able to study the earth and conduct environmental monitoring. In the minds of the people the space stopped being an imaginary concept. The people felt confident that a lot was achievable by the government in the outer space. At this point of time there was a lot of curiosity concerning the outer space. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the project for mainly political reasons. However it faced challenges.
The country was already facing high budget deficits caused by the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The first attempt failed. The Apollo 1 mission was unsuccessful. It crashed killing three astronauts. The American public felt like the project had been rushed too quickly.
The project continued however the budget on the Apollo project declined in 1967 as a result of the crash. There was a higher level of cooperation between the United States and the European nations. The US transferred their knowledge on systems management which had they gathered activities (Logsdon, 1984). It is speculated that the US increased its level of cooperation with the European countries in order to regain its lost prestige after the Sputnik 1 project. European countries accepted the preferential treatment in order to gain systems management knowledge and technological capabilities.
The Apollo project was a risky and costly project that required high financial funding. In 1962, the US succeeded in sending its astronaut John H. Glenn in the first orbital flight in space aboard the Mercury spacecraft known as Mercury 7. The Russian premier, Nikita Krushvech sent a congratulatory message to President Kennedy. Kennedy saw this as an opportunity to request Russia to join the US in joint space explorations. President Kennedy met with the Russian Premier and suggested that the two countries should do a joint lunar exploration together. The Russian Premier agreed. The US president told the United Nations Assembly of the joint lunar project.
The plans continued even during the Cuban crisis that was going on at that time. The president felt that more efforts should be put to ease the tensions between the US and the Soviet Union. In 1963, a British astronomer visited the Soviet Union Lunar Space facilities and reported to President Kennedy that the country had made no plans on lunar programs. This made Kennedy angry since he had already informed the world on the joint effort. Later the Russian Premier withdrew support and the United States was left to pursue the project alone.
The president decided to continue supporting the Apollo project. When there were tax cuts in the country in 1963, he shielded the space project budget from being reduced. He also diverted funds from other NASA projects into the Apollo project. He believed that the scientific breakthroughs the country achieved would be worth the finances and the risk associated with the project. There was also the fuel of the Soviet Union dominance that made the public support his decision. The NASA expenditure on research and development activities was $40 Billion dollars. This formed 25% of the federal budget in R & D activities. During the Apollo project the R & D costs would fluctuate between 20% of the country’s budget and 30% of the federal budget in research and development. In the 1980’s after the project, the R & D costs reduced to 3% of the US R & D budget costs. The NASA expenditure on the project Apollo was $19.4 Billion dollars. The space activities that had the highest costs were the Saturn V Rockets, the Command and Service Modules, the Lunar Modules and the Manned Flight Space Operations which cost $6.4 Billion, $3.7 Billion, $2.2 Billion and $1.6 Billion respectively (Stine, 2008). At the beginning the project started with high number of employees of 8,000 employees. The annual budget in the beginning was $100 Million dollars. There were many contractors working on the project. President Kennedy signed eighteen contractors to the project.
The North American Aviation Inc signed a contract that was worth $900 Million dollars for the year 1962. The total amount that was given to contractors for the project amounted to $1.5 Billion dollars over the same period. The Apollo project had employed over 400,000 employees. Employees in the market place are deemed to be a positive factor however for the employees in the government projects they present a cost to the US economy (Macauley, 2002). All these people were being paid by government taxes on the public. The project also required a lot of support from hundreds of universities and over 20,000 industrial organizations (Sornette & Gisler, 2009)
The impact and significance of the Apollo project was highly felt. There were tourists who went to the NASA center to view the space launches. The restaurants and hotels that were located in the area started recording higher profits. It also led to increased spending that contributed to higher taxes for the county of Florida. There were also other adverse effects such as the increased traffic in the area and the higher prices of products in the area due to increased demand. There was also enhanced economic development in the region. Field centers had to be located in the region and the government entered into contractual partnerships in the industry to enable the large-scale technological development of the projects. This increased the jobs to the people. The regions gained a lot since the Southern-States had less income and were less industrialized than the Northern States.
The Apollo project made the NASA a source of government contracts. There were aircraft companies that gained from these contracts such as the Grumman which won a contract for the Apollo Lunar Module. In the area of information technology, North American Inc which was the contractor for the project spacecraft entered into a contract with International Business Machines which was to design an automated system to manage the bills of the materials for the aircrafts. The company came up with the Information Control System and Data Language/Interphase. In 1970 the system started being used by the companies in the information technology industry.
The Apollo project had a significant impact on the space education levels of the country. The National Science Foundation used to promote science fairs and clubs among the students and the teachers prior to Sputnik 1. However during the Apollo II project the government increased its budget allocation on space technology education. The education reform took place during the Apollo project however after the project the investment in space technology education reduced. During the Apollo project it was noted that the number of students who took up the space related courses dramatically increased and unfortunately decreased after the project came to an end. NASA played an important role in inspiring the youth to engage more in space education. It supplemented training in the colleges and provided work-study programs, grants and assistantships (Sadeh, 2006).
The Apollo project was implemented for the United States to make a political and technological statement in the world. It was in the period of the Cold War where the United States was in opposition to the communism way of life and the Soviet Union. Both countries were the only Super Powers at that time and they were gathering support for their point of view from other countries in the world. It was successful and it established the scientific prowess of the United States. It had great impact in the country. It was a highly expensive and risky project. Three astronauts were killed. However, it also accelerated the pace of space scientific explorations and breakthroughs. It increased employment and also proved to be a great source of income for contracting companies. It had a multiplier effect in that there were also developments in the information technology industry.
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