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Six Things We Learned From Chasing the Moon
By Matt Schoch
While the Space Race is Often Remembered as a Galvanizing Event in America, it was Not Without Controversy
Rev. Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (center), the Rev. W.C. Wales of Cocoa (L), and Walter e. Fauntroy (R) announced plans for demonstrations to coincide with the launch of Apollo 11. July 14. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Image)
The truth, however, is that there were many Americans who felt that NASA was a waste of resources that could have been applied to other pressing issues of the time. In "Raised Fists and Lunar Rockets," author and professor Neil M. Maher dives into the various civil rights-style protests centered on the Apollo launches. He writes:
Along with sitting in, civil rights activists also took to their feet and organized marches to highlight the discrepancy between federal funds spent on America’s space effort versus those used to better the urban environment. In a protest intended to mirror the Selma-to-Montgomery demonstrations of 1965, civil rights activists from the SCLC and the Daytona Beach Citizens Coordinating Committee organized a three-day, seventy- five-mile “March against Moon Rocks” from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Cape Canaveral to coincide with the January 31, 1971, Apollo 14 launch.
American Experience also has created original comics for Chasing the Moon, including a two-part series called One Small Step, which covers the protests.
Women Played an Important, Yet Under Appreciated Role
Computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, including Janez Lawson and Barbara Paulson. Credit: NASA/JPL
NASA Had to Sell America on the Trip to the Moon, Culminating in the Historic TV Broadcast
Much of the success of the Apollo missions came from the incredible TV access. American Experience created a two-part comic on the iconic CBS coverage called Broadcasting the Moon.
A Former Nazi was Highly Influential in Building NASA's Rocket Program
In an American Experience article titled "Wernher von Braun and the Nazis," Michael J. Neufeld, a Senior Curator at the National Air and Space Museum, detailed von Braun's career in Nazi Germany and his transition to the United States. In summary, he writes:
Von Braun was indeed driven by a dream of spaceflight, but he was also a German nationalist who almost effortlessly became an American patriot. In both cases he had no problem building missiles for his country. He was doubtlessly an opportunist, although not one, as Tom Lehrer’s song parody would have it, completely without principles. He was, in my view, the most important rocket engineer and space promoter of the twentieth century, but his legacy will forever be tarnished by his service to a murderous regime.
Apollo 8 Paved the Way to the Moon, But Very Nearly was a Disaster
NOVA's Apollo's Daring Mission explores the mission, as Apollo astronauts and engineers share their experiences in preparing for the first human flight around the moon and the groundbreaking technologies that laid the groundwork for Apollo 11.
Watch the full film above and don't miss this special feature which outlines a number of the important technological advancements that resulted from Apollo 8.
We Absolutely Cannot Wait for 8 Days: To the Moon and Back
Using rare mission audio, this film takes you inside the Apollo spacecraft during its historic journey to the moon. The film seamlessly blends this authentic mission audio, featuring candid conversations between Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins with newly shot studio footage, NASA and news archives, and a stunning CGI recreation of the journey and landing to tell this amazing story in a riveting new way.
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