Goals in Space

November 13, 1968

Report Outline
Stocktaking of U. S. Space Programs
Gains in Decade of Space Exploration
Alternatives in Further Space Activity
Special Focus

Stocktaking of U. S. Space Programs

Coming U. S. Manned Flight Around the Moon

Three american astronauts will attempt the first manned flight around the moon during the coming Christmas season. If they are successful, it will give the United States its greatest space feat at a time when the country's $32 billion space effort has been losing momentum. It will mark man's most distant and dangerous venture into space, barring a prior Soviet move, and bring nearer a future descent to the moon's surface.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Nov. 12 that the Apollo 8 spacecraft will be sent aloft Dec. 21 or soon afterward. The timing will depend on conditions for launching at Cape Kennedy and recovery in the Pacific, plus the moon's position. The flight is intended to last at least six days and take the astronauts within 70 miles of the moon as they circle it 10 times. “We take some additional risks operating in a low lunar orbit,” it was acknowledged by Apollo's program director. But Samuel C. Phillips added it was only a “normal progression of risks” in moving closer to a moon landing—an event NASA hopes to engineer next year.

A possibility that the Soviet Union also may soon rocket men around the moon has led to new predictions of a photo finish in the race to a lunar landing. Only a year remains until the 1970 target date set by President Kennedy in 1961 for a manned landing on the moon. The approaching climax finds Americans divided over their big space program, its goals beyond the moon, and its priority on a national agenda overshadowed by war and by problems in the cities.

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