Kennedy Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy Administration discussed on Moonrise
Less than a week later the newspaper headlines turned even grimmer for the Kennedy Administration in the Bay of Pigs invasion went horribly wrong. It was supposed to be a covert. CIA operation to overthrow Fidel Castro's astros communist government in Cuba. It ended up being a very overt cold war failure for the United States. We intend the profit from this lesson. Community has to stand up and take the blame for it publicly. We intend to intensify our efforts for a struggle in in many ways more difficult than war disappointment will often accompany us and that Soviet success with Garin and that American failure at the Bay of pigs creates an environment where Kennedy says in essence. I have to change the subject. How can I get out of this mess mm-hmm and at that point he signals to his vice president Lyndon Johnson? What can we do in space that we can beat the Russians served? Let's first or foremost thing Eisenhower had rolled his eyes that what he saw as the false hysteria over Soviet space spectaculars there's and dramatic headlines Not Kennedy Kennedy didn't personally know a lot or care a lot about space but he understood understood that images mattered that they were possibly even more powerful than the reality behind them and that lead suspect to the moon in most telling of the space race. This is where the story begins Kennedy's decision to go to the moon is the opening line but there is a narrative track classic mythology calm in media race. That's Latin for in the middle of things it's when you start a story right in the midst of the action. The ILIAD starts in the middle of the Trojan war. The Odyssey's starts with Odysseus held captive partway through his voyage and now perhaps we realized that our American myth the the Apollo story starts in medias race to Kennedy's Moonshot decision looks like the beginning but it's actually Salihi the very middle of the moon tail so much has led to this moment so much that often gets obscured and not talked about going to the moon was not a foregone conclusion. It wasn't obvious it wasn't inevitable up until this point in the story. No one in power not even Kennedy was thinking of moon travel as a real option at all so why when Kennedy is battered heard by the Bay of Pigs and by jury guarantee flight is the idea of going to the moon the thing that gets into his head. Why did Kennedy decide that should be the goal well? He didn't at first on April twenty first nineteen sixty one so a week after guarantees flayed and in the midst of the fallout from the Bay of Pigs Fiasco Kennedy gave a news conference he had to answer reporters questions about the space race and Kennedy actually came off as surprisingly pessimistic the president's don't you agree. We should try to get to the moment before there. I suppose if we can if we can get to the moon before the Russians that we should doesn't it your responsibility to apply the the vigorous leadership to spark up this program. When you say the program I have to make a judgment based on the best information when we can get whether we can be ahead of the Russians to we're now talking about a program which may be which many years away and I just say to you regardless of how much much money we spend on the sat and the sat going to put us we still going to be second? Question is whether the nuclear rocket or other kinds of chemical rockets offer us a better hope nope of making a jump forward but we are second in the and this added will not put us first so in other other words. JFK wasn't sure there was any point investing further in a space program at all and yet something was happening behind the scenes scenes that would change his mind in private. He sent a letter to Vice President Lyndon Johnson. He said pulled together immediately a recommendation of what we could do in space that would actually give us a win on the world stage now. I really wanted to see this letter letter. JFK sent to Johnson firsthand so I went up to Boston to the Kennedy Library and archives so this is actually the letter that John Kennedy sent so you can see his signature here. I met there with Jamie. Roth Madonna di director so this is what he sent to the vice president. Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets associates by putting a laboratory space whereby a trip around the moon or by rockets to land on the moon or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man is is there any other space program which promises dramatic results in which we could win and that right there is I think a very he idea for the president a dramatic result which we could win and then Johnson had weep to find that information out and report back to the President.