Was the Space Program Worth the Cost?

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By Mark Atwood Lawrence

MERCURY RISING

John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War

By Jeff Shesol

Hyperbole shrouds few topics in history so much as the human encounter with outer space. Astronauts are heroic pioneers, their missions testament to humanity’s “hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths,” as Ronald Reagan put it in 1986. At the dawn of the American space program 25 years before that, John F. Kennedy had gone so far as to declare exploration of the heavens no less than “the key to our future on Earth.” Through the rhetorical haze, it can be hard to see just how contingent and contentious the whole endeavor to send Americans into space really was, especially at its inception in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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