National Space Policy

December 9, 1959

Report Outline
Soviet Lead in Exploration of Space
Development of U.S. Space Effort
Strengthening of U.S. Space Policy

Soviet Lead in Exploration of Space

Cocern Over Lag in Space Race With Russia

The policy of the United States on exploration of A outer space has been the target of more widespread criticism in the past few months than at any time since the Soviet Union sent Sputniks I and II circling the earth more than two years ago. Much of the criticism has come from newspapers and magazines which do not make a practice of criticizing policies of the Eisenhower administration, from respected members of Congress, and from scientists and engineers who direct space research programs. Explicit or implicit in nearly all of the unfavorable comment has been mounting anxiety over the failure of this country to go all out in an effort to overcome Russia's head start in space exploration.

The United States has probably pulled even with Russia in development of reliable long-range military missiles. As for rockets for which no pressing military need is currently apparent, it was common until recently to say: “They're ahead in propulsion; we're ahead in instrumentation.” Then Russia hit the moon with Lunik II, launched Sept. 12, and photographed the far side of the moon with Lunik III, launched Oct. 4. In light of these feats, particularly the latter, it is now feared that doubts about the precision and sophistication of Soviet instrumentation were products of wishful thinking. Indeed, some American scientists believe U.S. progress in propulsion has not been as great in the past two years as Soviet progress in instrumentation. This raises the possibility that since Sputnik I the gap between the United States and Russia in the space race has widened rather than narrowed.

Attacks on the American Record and Policy

This country's space program has been criticized on many counts. Commenting on the performance of Lunik III, Donald H. Menzel, director of the Harvard Observatory, called the photographic venture “a remarkable scientific achievement.” He asserted that indifference and indecision had kept the United States from recording a similar achievement, and that the Department of Defense had “tried to degrade the importance of research and put balancing of the budget ahead of any attempts for research.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Space Exploration
Aug. 04, 2017  New Space Race
Jun. 20, 2014  Search for Life On New Planets
Feb. 24, 2012  Space Program
Aug. 16, 2011  Weapons in Space
Oct. 16, 2009  Human Spaceflight
May 23, 2003  NASA's Future
Jul. 23, 1999  New Challenges in Space
Apr. 25, 1997  Space Program's Future
Dec. 24, 1993  Space Program's Future
Mar. 29, 1991  Uncertain Future for Man in Space
Jul. 31, 1987  Space Race
Feb. 07, 1986  Space Decisions after Challenger
Feb. 18, 1983  American Options in Space
Nov. 10, 1978  Changing U.S. Space Policy
Jul. 04, 1975  Cooperation in Space
Mar. 15, 1972  Space Shuttle Controversy
Oct. 01, 1969  Mission to Mars: Benefits Vs. Costs
Nov. 13, 1968  Goals in Space
Jun. 29, 1966  Future of Space Exploration
May 08, 1963  Moon Race Controversy
Jun. 27, 1962  Peaceful Use of Outer Space
Nov. 01, 1961  Space Exploration
Dec. 09, 1959  National Space Policy
Feb. 19, 1958  Control of Outer Space
Space Sciences and Exploration