Were Apollo Missions and The Moon Landing One Giant PR Stunt?

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice University, where he said that America has to go to the moon, and that mankind cannot be deterred “in his quest for knowledge and progress.”

However, in reality, he actually didn’t care much about either knowledge or progress. According to reports, Kennedy had very little interest in space. He allegedly told an MIT professor that rockets were a waste of money.

Despite that, in 1961, he suddenly invested $25 billion in the “most ambitious space program in national history.”

“Kennedy didn’t propose it for the sake of science,” author and curator of the Smithsonian’s Apollo collection Teasel Muir-Harmony said. “It was really a demonstration of what the American industry was capable of and a demonstration of American values.”

Muir-Harmony has a new book out, “Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo.” In it, she references recently dug up government documents that bring light to how media, propaganda, and foreign affairs influenced the space program.

The Apollo program was first created by the Eisenhower administration as a way to “contain Communism, align the world with the United States and shore up America’s power.”

However, America seemed to be losing the space race. The success of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik made the world view the USSR in a “very different light,” according to the United States Information Agency (USIA). A front-page New York Times headline in 1960 read, “US Survey Finds Others Consider Soviets Mightiest.” In 1961, the Soviets were the first to put a man in space.

Kennedy took office in 1961, and the government cranked up its public relations. Kennedy was “a man who perhaps better than any other president in our history, understood how foreign opinion worked, what molded it, what shaped it and how to shape it,” USIA Acting Director Donald Wilson says in Muir-Harmony’s book.

“The Soviet Union was relatively closed about what they were launching, when they were launching it and their technology,” says Muir-Harmony. “The US took a different tack, inviting the press to cover launches and sending spacecraft around the world.”

For example, in 1961, Freedom 7, the capsule that carried the first American into space, was exhibited in Paris and Rome. It attracted over a million visitors.

“Two young men soared into space early this year,” a USIA report to Congress said. “The Russian was the first one up, but the American’s achievement was more widely heard and even more widely believed.”

After John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth in 1962, the USIA and the State Department chose cities that would best exhibit his capsule, Friendship 7.

Its first showing was in London, and thousands of people were turned away due to overcrowding. In Paris, people waited 5 hours, and the museum was forced to stay open until midnight.

In 1965, the astronauts themselves went on tour. Lyndon Johnson sent two Gemini astronauts to Paris.

In the summer of 1969, Apollo 11’s moon landing gave the world “one giant leap for mankind,” not to mention President Nixon a big opportunity.

Nixon timed a “diplomatic tour explicitly to take advantage of the international popularity of the moon landing,” Muir-Harmony wrote. His eight-country trip, named Operation Moonglow, showcased a concern for Asia and Eastern Europe and a commitment to achieve peace in Vietnam with the message that “if mankind can send men to the moon, then we can bring peace to the Earth.”

With Operation Moonglow as a distraction, Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, were able to have secret, back-channel meetings with the North Vietnamese that helped pave the way to ending the war.

As Kennedy had hoped, the space program went a long way toward improving America’s image and creating “a sense of goodwill.”

“The message that resonated with people around the world was not of US greatness and strength; it was of sharing and community and openness,” Muir-Harmoney said. “It required forgoing the message of nationalism in favor of global connectedness. For Apollo to ‘win hearts and minds,’ to advance US national interests, it had to be an achievement of and not for all humankind.”

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Comments

  1. We never went to the moon. Nobody has ever gone to the moon. The moon is not 1/4 million miles away, it is so very much closer and is not a solid object. It is below the firmament. We have never been able to get thru the firmament. NASA is nothing more than a money grab. Plain and simple.

    • Gary, how far is it to the moon? Is it made of green cheese? Do you believe in a flat earth? A guy in my high school class did not believe in the space program and said the space walks were shot in water tanks. He also loved marijuana and was probably high every day. Was he believable? Are you? What is the proof of your statements? NASA is a money grab when it tries to prove the unprovable theory of evolution, but much usuable technology has filtered down from the space program.

  2. What did you expect from a Democrat? . . . John Kennedy was NO real hero, but was IDOLIZED through assassination. He did NOTHING of ANY value except the CUBAN missile crisis, and in TRUE Democrat FASHION, SCREWED UP the CUBAN invasion at the Bay Of Pigs. He ALSO was instrumental in the Viet Nam crisis (not a war – it was never declared), ANOTHER miserable FAILURE. One Enlightened Patriot. team Trump and His Allies 2020.

  3. The trouble with America is that we are ruled by politicians not leaders. They spend most of their time and money on getting elected and then getting re-elected. They don’t care about space. They don’t care about Christians being killed in Muslim countries. All they care about is money and power.

  4. Sad ! I knew most of the Apollo Astronauts who walked not he Moon and i know ow huh hey all put into the program. Of course there are still people who maintain that the world is flat and that hey know everything because someone told them ! So here’s a question for these people ? Who had the greatest reason to prove that this was all fake ? Russia ! Did you ever hear them even whimper about it being faked ? The reason is that they also went to the Moon and THEY returned with their own Moon Rocks. Quietly the US and USSR traded samples and each verified that the other’s specimens were real ! Thousands of scientists all over the world have had access to the Apollo samples and not one has proclaimed them fake ! The unique chemistry stands apart from all other rocks on Earth. And when I showed Al Bean ( before his passing ) the most recent lunar images from our LRO spacecraft ( which are good enough you can make out the footprint tracks ) I remember him recalling in detail what they did at each point and you could see the tears of remembrance in his eyes. Of course I am sure these same deniers don’t think man has flown in aircraft or that people sail around the world in ships. I’m so tired of ignorance I could dream, but no amount of proof will ever be enough for these people – so I can only tell you that I was there during Apollo and know what happened ! Oh, and I also have a Moon Rock, and one from Mars as well – they are called meteorites and we now know they are from those worlds because we have been there to prove it.

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