NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space

NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space
  • Author: John Krige
    Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
    Genres: Technical
    Publish Date: August 21, 2013
    ISBN-10: 1137340924
    Pages: 372
    File Type: PDF
    Language: English

Book Preface

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” These “eternally famous words,” as James Hansen calls them in his biography of Neil Armstrong, expressed both a NASA and an American triumph. 1 They also reached out to the millions watching the spectacle on television screens all over the world, allowing them to make it their own. About 30 minutes into the mission, and shortly after having been joined by Buzz Aldrin, Armstrong read the words on a plaque attached to one of the ladder legs of the lunar module. The Eagle— a name deliberately chosen by the astronauts as the symbol of America—had no territorial ambitions: as Armstrong said, “We came in peace for all mankind.” 2 “For one priceless moment in the history of man,” President Nixon told the astronauts as they explored the lunar surface, “all the people on this earth are truly one . . . ” 3 The spectacles of the moon landing and the moonwalk are suffused with quintessentially American tropes: white, athletic males burst the grip of gravity to conquer a new frontier. 4 All the same, we should not be overwhelmed by the political and ideological staging of Apollo 11 as an American-led achievement in the context of Cold War competition. For the mission also had genuine international components. Beginning with Apollo 11, NASA astronauts collected over 840 pounds of moon rock, and distributed hundreds of samples for public viewing and scientific research all over the world. 5 The first video images of Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s steps on the moon were picked up, not in the United States, but by antennae at Honeysuckle Creek and the Parkes Observatory near Canberra in Australia, a tribute to the vast global data and tracking network that supports NASA’s missions. 6 And one of the few scientific experiments conducted on the lunar surface during Armstrong and Aldrin’s 160-odd minutes of surface activity on the night of July 20, 1969, had a foreign principal investigator.

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