Space Exploration

November 1, 1961

Report Outline
Efforts to oyertake soviet space Lead
Initial Steps in Exploration of Space
Technical Difficulties in Space Travel

Efforts to oyertake soviet space Lead

American Decision to Eanter Rase to the Moon

Four years after launching of the first Russian sputnik, Oct. 4, 1957, the rocket program of the United States finally is hitting its stride. Ever-larger payloads are being projected into outer space in fairly rapid succession. Speed-up of the program in the past few months has been due not only to the challenge of Soviet successes in manned flight but also to President Kennedy's dedication of the nation to an all-out effort to launch a manned expedition to the moon before the end of the decade.

In a special message to Congress on May 25, the President said he believed “we should go to the moon” even though “the lead obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines” would not be easy to overcome. James E. Webb, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has said that while the Russians at present surpass the United States in rocket power, neither country yet has “rockets capable of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely.” In consequence, this country has a nearly even start.

Webb explained that the time required by the United States to overtake the Russian lead in rocket thrust will depend on what the Soviet Union is doing. The U.S.S.R., whose rocket program is kept under tight wraps, is thought now to have a two-to-one advantage in rocket power. However, the American Saturn booster, which had its first and highly successful test firing at Cape Canaveral on Oct. 27, is expected to develop more power than anything yet revealed by the Russians. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson said, Oct. 2, that America's “future as a free nation is at stake” and that “we dare not lose” the race with the Soviet Union.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Space Exploration
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Feb. 24, 2012  Space Program
Aug. 16, 2011  Weapons in Space
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May 23, 2003  NASA's Future
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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
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