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Washington Goes To The Moon PART 1

From: Richard Paul
Series: Washington Goes To The Moon
Length: 58:56

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The politics behind the Apollo Program Read the full description.

Moon_small This is Part 1 of two hour-long documentaries called "Washington Goes To The Moon" which examine the behind the scenes, public policy stories leading up to Apollo 11's flight to the moon. Each hour is self-contained and newscast compatible. The stories told in these programs (about NASA management, White House budget politics and Congressional oversight) had as much to do with Apollo 11 reaching the moon as the Saturn 5 rocket, but they have never been told. This program, Part 1: "Washington We Have A Problem" looks at the battle to keep the Apollo space program funded and on deadline. It tells, among other stories: -Within weeks after pledging to send a man to the moon, President Kennedy got cold feet and tried to get out the commitment by bringing the Soviets on-board. -Lyndon Johnson's budget director tried to scrap the goal of getting to the moon by 1969 in order to help Pres. Johnson pay for the Vietnam War. Apollo 11, John F. Kennedy, Howard McCurdy, NASA, May 25th, 1961, Roger Launius, landing a man on the moon, authorization bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Space Council, Robert Dalek, Gus Grissom, Alan Sheppard, Amitai Etzioni, War On Poverty, Vienna Summit, Philip Abelson, Ralph Lapp, The New Priesthood, Lewis Mumford, Walter Cronkite, Stokely Carmichael, Wilbur Mills, Charles Schultze,

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Piece Description

This is Part 1 of two hour-long documentaries called "Washington Goes To The Moon" which examine the behind the scenes, public policy stories leading up to Apollo 11's flight to the moon. Each hour is self-contained and newscast compatible. The stories told in these programs (about NASA management, White House budget politics and Congressional oversight) had as much to do with Apollo 11 reaching the moon as the Saturn 5 rocket, but they have never been told. This program, Part 1: "Washington We Have A Problem" looks at the battle to keep the Apollo space program funded and on deadline. It tells, among other stories: -Within weeks after pledging to send a man to the moon, President Kennedy got cold feet and tried to get out the commitment by bringing the Soviets on-board. -Lyndon Johnson's budget director tried to scrap the goal of getting to the moon by 1969 in order to help Pres. Johnson pay for the Vietnam War. Apollo 11, John F. Kennedy, Howard McCurdy, NASA, May 25th, 1961, Roger Launius, landing a man on the moon, authorization bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Space Council, Robert Dalek, Gus Grissom, Alan Sheppard, Amitai Etzioni, War On Poverty, Vienna Summit, Philip Abelson, Ralph Lapp, The New Priesthood, Lewis Mumford, Walter Cronkite, Stokely Carmichael, Wilbur Mills, Charles Schultze,

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Review of Washington Goes To The Moon

Well thought out, researched, and objective documentary. Very professional. Would appeal to anyone with any interest in the space program whether positive or negative.

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Review of Washington Goes To The Moon

The first episode brings me back to a high school moment: standing in a classroom doorway, the packed room of students and teachers silent, alert, eyes glued to the television, watching the moon become mysteriously concrete. Richard Paul’s nimble narrative of the funding challenges involved in transporting humans from here to there enriches my memory by providing a full banquet of information and experience leading up to that televised landing. I didn’t expect a program on budget funding to be so engaging, but this one is. We hear lively interview material from various historians, and scientists, as well as former White House Budget Director Charles Schultz; also, archival tape of Presidents’ Kennedy and Johnson, and other prominent voices from the sixties. Walter Cronkite offers perspective, and congressional testimony (read by actors) is included. Well-chosen music excerpts help the flow. The moon landing is considered one of our great national achievements. It is fascinating to look at it through the budget lens, as a budget line item in competition for tax dollars with the war on poverty and the war in Vietnam –– and to remember its morale boosting power in the midst of so much national turmoil –– a country divided, serious economic problems, the country at war. Kind of like right now. It’s timely listening all right, especially since Bush, however briefly, has floated a Mars balloon. Perhaps, like JFK, he sees the morale boosting potential, and similarly plans on being long gone when the bill comes due.

The second episode in many ways moves like a page-turner about tragedy and destruction. You’re immediately drawn in by an administrator’s recounting of the 1966 moment when Gemini 8 went out of control. Tape from the space docking gone awry runs alongside and underneath his compelling first-person account. It seems odd that space ships exploding in air no longer come as a shock. What almost shocks is to remember that the first astronauts to die in the space program died on the ground. Somber news reports after the Apollo One flash fire that killed three astronauts, and taut narration lead us into the heart of this piece, the aftermath and investigation into what went wrong. So much sounds familiar: NASA outsourcing work to shoddy contractors, NASA administrators scrambling to keep control of the investigation, congressional committees looking into what went wrong, concern about political influence affecting contractor appointments, investigative reports kept secret, conspiracy theories, a man’s death days after testifying before congress, a corporate culture in chaos, damage control in full force. This is the stuff of the Apollo movie that’s yet to be made. This series is timely now, or near any significant NASA dates. Can be aired as space, science, economics, history programming, or as a historical echo in light of current events today. And what was going on forty years ago, in fact, isn’t all that different: we’re at war afar, and culturally at home, the economy is rocky, poverty growing, privatization increasing. It touches on many issues on many levels.

Transcript

PART 1
(TAPE - Astronauts report it feels good. T-minus 25 seconds. 20 seconds and counting.)

There are few things that seem as tangible as a Saturn 5 rocket on the launch-pad. Three-
hundred sixty four feet tall. ... Giant engines, producing more than 7-point-5 million pounds of
thrust at lift-off. ... Capable of reaching speeds of more than 24-thousand miles per hour. Its
sheer mass -- its vastness -- making it seemingly inevitable. But, remarkably ... it's all pretty
much an illusion.

(TAPE - Lift off! We have a lift off. Thirty-two minutes past the hour. Lift off on Apollo
11)

(McCURDY: The way that the Apollo story is usually told is as a technology race)

American University space historian Howard McCurdy.

(McCURDY: It's the story of the people at Mission Control and Neil Armstrong and the
engineers that accomplished this incredible technological feat....
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

CLOCK:
:00-:01 Billboard IN: I'm Lisa Simeone (music)
OQ: this hour's news (music decay)

:01-:06 (silence)

:06-:21 Program Segment I IN: From Soundprint and WAMU at
American University
OQ: we'll be right back (music decay)

:21-:22 Cutaway (music)

:22-:41:30 Program Segment II IN: You're listening to
'Washington We Have A Problem.'
OQ: we'll be right back (music fade)

:41:30-:42:30 Cutaway (music)

:42:30-:59 Program Segment III IN: You're listening to
'Washington We Have A Problem.'
OQ: for listening. I'm Lisa Simeone (music sting)

Additional Files

Related Website

http://www.wamu.org/programs/special/01/washington_goes_to_the_moon.php