John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet History German-American rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, once said, “I have learned to use the word “impossible” with the greatest caution.”i For much of history, space exploration was nothing more than an impossible feat—the topic left to the boldest of fiction writers. While the history of space exploration is largely unwritten, recent events illustrate that the possibilities are growing rapidly. Additionally, governments and citizens of developed nations have taken a strong interest in exploring and uncovering the Final Frontier. During World War II, German scientists tested the V-2 rocket, the world’s first long-range combat ballistic missile. Launched on October 3, 1942, the V-2 rocket became the first man-made object in space.ii Shortly after the war, the Allied powers captured the Nazi rockets. Moreover, leading rocket engineers such as Wernher von Braun agreed to surrender and assist the U.S. in developing a rocket of their own. On May 10, 1946, the U.S. launched the first scientific exploration—the cosmic radiation experiment—from space using the V-2 rocket. The U.S. continued to use modified V-2 rockets to conduct suborbital experiments in space for some years, however, the experiments yielded limited results due to the minimal amount of time in space.iii On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union surprised the world when it successfully launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, into the Earth’s orbit.iv The 184-pound satellite was not only a technological first for the Soviet Union, but also uncovered the upper atmospheric layer’s density and could detect meteoroid penetration on the outer hull. Most importantly, Sputnik unleashed a firestorm in the U.S., which lead to the intensification of the American space program.v Two months later, the U.S. unsuccessfully attempted to launch Vanguard 1, a solar-powered satellite.vi Shortly after, the U.S. was able to successfully launch satellite Explorer 1 with the help of von Braun and others.vii Meanwhile, the Sputnik 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sputnik_asm.jpg Soviet Union remained well ahead of the U.S. after putting the first animal, Soviet dog Laika, in orbit in November of 1957.viii Most recently, the Soviet Union unlocked a new era of exploration as cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin completed one orbit around the Earth in less than two hours.ix The advanced Soviet space program shocked the entire world, namely the United States. The question remains: who will write the next chapter on the history of space exploration? John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet Yuri Gagarin http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Gagarin_in_Sweden.jpg Effects The effect of the Soviet Union’s recent success is two-fold. The launch of Sputnik officially marked the beginning of the Space Race, a technological and ideological competition of “firsts” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Following the launch, U.S. government officials accelerated efforts at pioneering space. President Eisenhower’s administration reacted by creating a “Special Committee on Space Technology” under the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The committee led to the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Given an annual budget of $100 million and 8,000 employees, NASA was expected to finally compete in the Space Race. x Fearing that the American students lagged behind their Soviet counterparts, Congress also passed the largest federally sponsored education initiative in history. The National Defense Education Act authorized one billion dollars for new school construction, scholarships, and loans geared towards higher and vocational education.xi Clearly, the government believed that the defense industry could not meet its demands without more manpower. All of this, prompted by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, had the effect of garnering collective interest among Americans and igniting what was a dull space program. The second major effect associated with the Soviet Union’s success resonated around the globe. After cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed the first human space flight, the Soviet Union could flex its muscles at the rest of the world. Suddenly, the world order had shifted—now the USSR had the scientific and technological might to overpower any nation in the world, namely the U.S. This proved extremely troubling for the U.S. as it was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union. An advanced space program only added legitimacy to the USSR and communism in a time when nations throughout of the world fell victim to the ideology. The Space Race could be boiled down to an ideological battle that would define the world order. All in all, while recent Soviet success has prompted a glut of action, we have yet to catch up to the USSR. Past Actions: On the 21st of November in 1957, Hugh Dryden, the director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), established the Special Committee on Space Technology.xii This committee was formed in order to coordinate government branches, private companies, and universities with the goal of forming a national space program. Despite an embarrassing failure in the first American attempt at space, NACA was instrumental in sending the first U.S. satellite into space, Explorer I.xiii NACA, however, ceased to exist on October 1, 1958, as the U.S. formally established its first national space program with John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet the passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act.xiv With an annual budget of $100 million and 8,000 employees, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began its task of competing with the USSR in the Space Race. Since its inception, NASA has shown some promise. In just its first three years, it has begun to make significant steps towards a cohesive and centralized space program. Moreover, NASA has already made notable strides in hopes to compete in the Space Race. Only ten days after opening its doors with a new name, it launched the nation’s first space probe, Pioneer I.xv The space probe’s successors continued to venture farther into space, culminating in the first lunar flyby for the U.S. NASA has also successfully launched three key satellites into orbit, Projects SCORE, TIROS I, and Echo I.xvi Perhaps most important, however, has been the development of Project Mercury. With the declared goals to: “1) place manned space capsule into orbital flight around the earth; 2) investigate man’s reactions to and capabilities in this environment; and 3) recover capsule and pilot safely,” this was the first large undertaking by the fledgling organization.xvii Despite the remarkable progress over the course of three short years, there is still much to be done, a fact realized most explicitly by NASA itself. It has since crafted a 10-year plan with the final goal of a manned lunar landing.xviii While NASA has been putting forward its first steps, the Soviet space program has made leaps and bounds, placing it consistently ahead of the U.S. in terms of space exploration. Now we can only hope that NASA will live up to the expectations upon which it was founded. Possible Solutions: The 10-year program put forth by NASA is a worthy pursuit in our attempts to surpass the USSR space program in space exploration. However, judging by the frantic pace that the Soviet space program is moving, it may not be the correct timeline with which NASA should work with. Therefore, a possible solution to the U.S. inferiority in space is to become the first nation to have a manned lunar landing. As stated by Vice President Johnson, this achievement would demonstrate America’s superiority, given that the USSR has already proved victorious in several pioneering efforts. In order to achieve such a lofty goal, other steps must be fulfilled first, as outlined in the 10-year program. On the other hand, rushing the proposed timeline could be risky. Taking time to perfect the technologies necessary for such an undertaking is essential, as failure would be a major blow to the U.S. space program. However, assuming the 10-year timeline stays intact, it is critical we find a more immediate achievement by which the U.S. could prove its abilities in space. The Soviet Union has already achieved several “firsts” in space exploration. Therefore, in order to reverse the perceived inferiority of the U.S. space program, NASA must provide an even more groundbreaking “first” in space aviation. Hence, it is the responsibility of this administration to collaborate with the NASA engineers and staff in order to brainstorm feasible achievements that would boost the perception of the U.S. space program. Bloc and Important Positions: In order to compete with the USSR space program, fundamental changes are necessary within NASA. As a member of President Kennedy’s Cabinet, it is important that prior to discussing what these changes may entail, you consider a few questions. 1) What type of changes must be made to make NASA competitive? Is it more important to rework NASA’s structure or simply its mission plan? John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet 2) How will these changes be implemented? 3) Are these changes (to either mission or organization) even feasible with the current technology and budget? 4) It is important to keep in mind that space exploration is extremely risky. The chance of failure is much higher than success. Thus, is space even worth it, or is it more efficient to allocate resources elsewhere? With the second question, however, come more complicating factors. As a cabinet, the NASA program is not the sole focus of this administration, and hence there will always be other priorities for each cabinet member. It is important not to forget a very simple fact of life: money spent in one place is no longer available for use in other areas. With this in mind, this guide will refrain from laying out specific positions of the cabinet members. Rather, it is important for you to craft your own position based upon your formal cabinet position. With the earlier questions in mind, take a look at the following facets that must be considered when determining whether or not to compete with the USSR in the Space Race. Considerations For Increased Space Exploration: Defense: Considering the U.S. is in the midst of conflict with the USSR, it is important to gain as much of a militaristic advantage as possible. If the USSR is given free reign over space, we could be handing them an overwhelming advantage if conflict turns to war. Moreover, given the current state of affairs, the world has mostly solidified itself into a deadlock of factions. Dominance in space could tilt the balance and shift the world order in our favor. Science: Space has mystified us for millennia, and now is the beginning of what could be the Space Age. Science has always explored the unknown, always with benefits for mankind. Logically space is the largest unknown, with the most mysteries to be explored and the most potential for uncovering something extraordinary. Morale: As stated earlier, there is a general perception that the U.S. lags far behind the USSR in terms of space pioneering. The current realities are hurting the U.S.’s standings in the eyes of the international community, as space is our glaring weakness. Considerations Against Increased Space Exploration: Budget: Money is not limitless, and a primary issue with space research and exploration is the massive amount of money that is required to achieve small amounts of progress. Stagnant Economy: The country you are now governing is one that is all too familiar with both recession and stagnation. With a 4% increase in unemployment in just the past 8 years and a 1% contraction of the economy to start the new decade, many citizens believe there is little money to be spared on pet projects such as NASA.xix,xx It may be more important to reverse the recent economic trends now if anything is to be achieved in the future. International Issues: There are a multitude of affairs currently occupying the international realm, allowing little time to be distracted by the intricacies of space exploration. With heightened tensions with the USSR, there are other aspects that constantly need attention. Moreover it is important to solidify our alliances, as the spread of Communism has been quick. Substantive Questions: John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet 1) How will the changes enacted inside the NASA organization affect other Federal agencies and activities? 2) What type of changes will most effectively and efficiently put NASA on the right track? 3) What are some of the budgeting concerns that must be taken into account? 4) Will the 10-year program, as put forth by NASA, be sufficient for the US to achieve space exploration superiority over the USSR? 5) What is the future of the NASA organization? What should be its long-term goals? 6) What may be the price/consequence of failure? 7) How will other issues distract from achieving the goals for space exploration? 8) Is militaristic space exploration a viable option that should be looked into? 9) What are the fundamental reasons for ramping up our space exploration efforts? Sources for Further Research: A brief index of space exploration http://www.solarviews.com/eng/history.htm An analysis of the U.S. space program during the Cold War http://www.oah.org/pubs/magazine/coldwar/koman.html A history of the establishment of NASA http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4206/ch2.htm An overview of the NACA http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Evolution_of_Technology/NACA/Tech1.htm An in depth look at the early stages of the U.S. space program http://aupress.au.af.mil/Books/Erickson/erickson.pdf Soviet space history http://www.astronautix.com/articles/sovstory.htm A look at JFK’s impact on the U.S. space program http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/JFK+in+History/Space+Program.htm i Braun, Wernher Von. "Historic Spacecraft." Historic Spacecraft. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://www277.pair.com/rkruse/Space/quotes.html>. ii "The V-2 Rocket - Wernher Von Braun." Inventors. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blrocketv2.htm>. iii "Chronology of Space Exploration." Views of the Solar System. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://www.solarviews.com/eng/craft1.htm>. John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet iv McDougall, Walter. "Shooting the Moon." Editorial. American Heritage Winter 2010. American Heritage Magazine. Web. 29 July 2010. <http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2010/4/2010_4_88.shtml>. v Jorden, William. "Soviet Fires Earth Satellite Into Space." New York Times. 1997. Web. 29 July 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/partners/aol/special/sputnik/sput-01.html>. vi "Vanguard 1 NSSDC ID: 1958-002B." National Space Science Data Center. NASA. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1958-002B>. vii "Explorer 1 First U.S. Satellite - NASA JPL." Space, Stars, Mars, Earth, Planets and More - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/explorer/facts/>. viii "Laika." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika>. ix "Yuri Gagarin." Kosmonaut Polfeldt. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://www.kosmonaut.se/gagarin/>. x "History Timelines." NASA History Division. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://history.nasa.gov/timeline.html>. xi "H.R. 4734 [109th]: 21st Century National Defense Education Act (GovTrack.us)." GovTrack.us: Tracking the U.S. Congress. Web. 30 July 2010. <http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-4734>. xii Erickson, Mark. Into the Unknown Together the DOD, NASA, and Early Spaceflight. Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.: Air UP, 2005. Air University Press. US Air Force. <http://aupress.au.af.mil/Books/Erickson/erickson.pdf>. xiii "Explorer 1 - Milestones of Flight." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. <http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal100/exp1.html>. xiv "The Saturn Building Blocks." NASA History Division. <http://history.nasa.gov/SP- 4206/ch2.htm>. xv "NASA History Timeline." NASA. <http://www.nasa.gov/50th/timeline.html>. xvi "NASA History Timeline." NASA. <http://www.nasa.gov/50th/timeline.html>. xvii Emme, Eugene M., and Hugh L. Dryden. Aeronautics and Astronautics : An American Chronology of Science and Thechnology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960. Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961. 94-105. NASA History Division. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/Timeline/1958.html>. xviii "The Saturn Building Blocks." NASA History Division. <http://history.nasa.gov/SP- 4206/ch2.htm>. xix "Current Population Survey (CPS)." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. <http://www.bls.gov/cps/>. xx “U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)” – Bureau of Economic Analysis. Web. <http://www.bea.gov/index.htm>.
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