There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit.
So let us continue the journey.
Sputnik: a Soviet blunder?
But then, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union—as part of the “International Geophysical Year”—used one of those big ICBM rockets it had been developing to launch Sputnik 1, an 83-kilogram aluminum sphere that did little more than emit radio beeps. Eisenhower was secretly thrilled! Now the US could go full steam ahead on its top secret spy satellite project, called “Corona”. By being the first to launch a satellite, the Soviets had lost their ability to object diplomatically.
Eisenhower, though, was in an awkward position. He couldn’t very well crow about what he saw as a Soviet blunder because the very idea of spy satellites was still one of America’s biggest secrets. So he just tried to brush off the launch of Sputnik as unimportant. As the New York Times put it on October 13th, (way back on page 181): “President Eisenhower expressed no alarm over the incident” and added that “this country has never been in ‘a race’”. Even the Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev, made light of Sputnik’s significance. The same Times article reported that, when asked if he had witnessed the takeoff, Khrushchev replied:
No, I didn’t see it. When the satellite was launched, they phoned me that the rocket had taken the right course and that the satellite was already revolving around the earth. I congratulated the …engineers and technicians …and calmly went to bed.
The Washington Post, (October 10, 1957, pg A14), ran an article on the President’s position headlined “On Refusing to Race”.
Clearly, both Eisenhower and Khrushchev expected Sputnik to have its 15 minutes of fame and then fade to a footnote in the history books.
You too may be a big hero,
Once you've learned to count backwards to zero.
"In German oder English I know how to count down,
Und I'm learning Chinese, now" says Wernher von Braun.
-- Tom Lehrer
When spinoff products began to emerge from space technologies, NASA considered the possibility of an annual report to present at congressional budget hearings. The result was a black and white “Technology Utilization Program Report,” published in 1973, followed by another one in 1974. The technologies in these reports created interest in the technology transfer concept, its successes, and its use as a public awareness tool. The reports generated such keen interest by the public that NASA decided to make them into an attractive publication. Thus, the first four-color edition of Spinoff was published in 1976.
Each year since, a new issue has highlighted the transfer of NASA technology to the private sector. The Agency distributes copies to politicians, economic decision makers, company CEOs, academics, professionals in technology transfer, the news media, and the general public.
The total number of stories published since 1976 is over 1,700, which does not include approximately 100 stories featured in the 1973 and 1974 reports.
A November 1971 study of NASA released by the Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Missouri ("Technological Progress and Commercialization of Communications Satellites." In: "Economic Impact of Stimulated Technological Activity") concluded that “the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 -- and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent.”
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