JFK pushed lunar landing but was "not that interested in space."

from the historical-ironies dept.
(No, this isnít about nanotech. Itís an item in an occasional series of off-topic news and information for Fridays.)

United Press International reports that, according to White House tapes released by the Kennedy Library archives, President John F. Kennedy clashed with NASA's top officials over his desire to gain political points by landing a man on the moon before the Soviet Union ("Tapes: JFK pushed for lunar landing", 23 August 2001). According to UPIís transcription, Kennedy made the following comments during a White House meeting over spending for the space program on Nov. 21, 1962 (about a month after the Cuban Missile Crisis):

"This is important for political reasons, international political reasons, and this is, whether we like it or not, in a sense, a race," Kennedy said. "Everything that we do ought to really be tied to getting onto the moon ahead of the Russians."
"I do think we ought to get it really clear that the policy ought to be that this is the top priority program of the agency and one … of the top priorities of the United States government," Kennedy said. "Otherwise, we shouldn't be spending this kind of money because I'm not that interested in space."

On the same day the Kennedy tapes were released, UPI also reported that a Russian Progress M-45 cargo ship docked safely with the International Space Station, the day after the U.S. space shuttle Discovery departed for landing, carrying the crew of three who had staffed the station for over five months. That crew was commanded by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev and included American astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms. They were launched into orbit on 8 March 2001 as the ISS's second permanent crew and logged almost 70 million miles during 5 ½ months aboard the orbital complex. The Progress cargo craft, which lifted off Tuesday from Kazkahstan's Baikonur cosmodrome, was carrying supplies to the current ISS crew that includes Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin and their commander, U.S. astronaut Frank Calbertson.

The shuttle Discovery landed at the Kennedy Space Center on 22 August 2001.

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