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									                          John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet

        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
          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

         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

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

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

An analysis of the U.S. space program during the Cold War

A history of the establishment of NASA

An overview of the NACA

An in depth look at the early stages of the U.S. space program

Soviet space history

A look at JFK’s impact on the U.S. space program

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    "Chronology of Space Exploration." Views of the Solar System. Web. 30 July 2010.
                     John F. Kennedy Presidential Cabinet

    McDougall, Walter. "Shooting the Moon." Editorial. American Heritage Winter 2010.
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   Jorden, William. "Soviet Fires Earth Satellite Into Space." New York Times. 1997. Web. 29 July
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       "The Saturn Building Blocks." NASA History Division. <http://history.nasa.gov/SP-
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     “U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)” – Bureau of Economic Analysis. Web.

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