Burns: A JFK Moon Race Stunner

By James H. Burns: Having read extensively about John F. Kennedy, I think it’s safe to say that he would have been dismayed by the attention given his tragic end.

Would it not be better, after all to mark his birthday?

Although surely he would have wanted his killer(s) brought to justice, I’m reminded today of the words of his brother, Robert, when he said (paraphrasing, here), that it’s too easy for people to get caught up in the minutia of possible conspiracies, instead of engaging in the much tougher task of trying to build a robust and just society.

Of course, there are also many compelling and fascinating developments to learn from fresh studies and revelations of history!

Here’s an element generally ignored about fifty years ago, one I associate with family lore. I was a BABY on that dark day, and my parents coincidentally were taking one of their first afternoons out, since my birth. My Dad was a very bright guy, an engineer, someone who could have qualified for First Fandom (having been reared on Amazing, Astounding, Alex Raymond, The Witch’s Tale, Kong and Things To Come…); a decorated WW2 infantry vet who later worked once or twice on classified projects.

When news came over the car radio from Dallas, my Dad told my Mom they should head back to the house, with me and my sitter. He knew — as others did, but which is generally not remembered as a concern of that moment — that a military coup might be about to unfold….

More to the point of this note:

Maybe your readers already know this, but I was stunned to learn recently that President Kennedy seemed to be on the verge of making our first manned mission to the moon a JOINT venture, with the Soviets. 

History, of course, could have been changed greatly, as this 1997 article suggests, along with some other recent writings…

Headlined “Soviets Planned To Accept JFK’s Joint Lunar Mission Offer”, a SpaceDaily article published October 2, 1997 reported —

Soviet Premiere Nikita S. Khrushchev reversed himself in early November, 1963 and had at the time, decided to accept U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s offer to convert the Apollo lunar landing program into a joint project to explore the Moon with Soviet and U.S. astronauts, SpaceCast learned Wednesday from one of the last remaining participants in the decision still alive.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the world’s first space satellite, the Soviet Sputnik 1, Sergei Khrushchev, eldest son of the former Premiere and Soviet Union Communist Party General Secretary said that his father made the decision in November 1963 following a renewed Kennedy initiative to sell the Soviets on a joint manned lunar program.

“My father decided that maybe he should accept (Kennedy’s) offer, given the state of the space programs of the two countries (in 1963)”, Khrushchev told SpaceCast following a talk before a NASA conference in Washington on the effects of the historic Sputnik launch on Oct. 4, 1957. Sputnik was the world’s first artificial satellite of the Earth, and its autumn 1957 launch into orbit is widely credited with starting the superpower space race that lasted until the end of the Cold War in 1991.

…Kennedy had made the offer of a joint manned lunar program to the Russians on several occasions, but his most aggressive effort was made in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20, 1963 in New York.

At the end of that address, Kennedy said: “In a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity – space – there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts.”