Debating Space Priorities

In the immediate aftermath of President Kennedy’s May 25, 1961, decla­ration that “we should go to the Moon,” and for most of the following twenty months, there was very little Congressional or public questioning of pursuing the ambitious lunar landing goal as a high national priority. The Congress, by large bipartisan majorities and after only limited debate, approved increases in NASA appropriations of 89 percent for Fiscal Year 1962 and 101 percent for Fiscal Year 1963. Leading newspapers and other shapers of public attitudes seemed caught up in the excitement of Project Mercury and the initial steps toward the Moon. But as 1963 began, ques­tioning of the lunar landing project began to emerge in various circles; the wisdom of the commitment to Apollo became the focus of a national discus­sion on the best U. S. path forward in space.