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From our archives: Ranger's moon trip a smashing success

What we thought: 50 years ago

Published: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 9:28 a.m. CST
Caption
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev 1894-1971 Two months after an editorial in the Gazette on Aug. 4, 1964, analyzed the Soviet Union's top leader, Khrushchev was deposed by fellow communists on Oct. 14, 1964.
Caption
(NASA)
Ranger 7 took photos of the moon on its way toward a planned collision with the lunar surface on July 31, 1964. The mission was the first big success of the Ranger project.

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials and articles from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following items appeared in the Gazette on Aug. 3, 4, 5 and 7, 1964.

Lunar scheme gets a boost

Ranger 7's literally smashing success has given a brief new thrust – emotional as well as scientific – toward the goal of a manned moon landing by 1970.

While it is still not at all certain that this target will be met, no one can doubt that man's fantastic dream of space flight to other worlds is steadily nearing reality.

Reaching the moon has been declared a national goal. But despite the national pride in the Ranger flight, the Apollo moon project is far from being a truly mass-supported effort, such as a war would be – especially now that the novelty of rockets and satellites has worn off.

Indeed, it is far from having the wholehearted support of the scientific community.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently sent a questionnaire to 2,000 members selected at random.

To the yes-or-no statement – "The vital national interests of the United States require that a high priority be given to landing a man on the moon by 1970" – 62 percent of the 1,134 scientists who replied said "No."

While 58 percent thought that scientific knowledge was the most important justification for the moon program, only 7 percent could see any military benefit from it. Four percent thought there was not justification at all for going to the moon.

Not surprisingly, only 139 of the respondents were connected either directly or indirectly with government-supported space work – as scientists. As citizens and employees, though, it is probable that the great majority of them live in states and are associated with institutions or companies that derive financial benefits from the space program.

In the early days, space funds were voted out of alarm and enthusiasm and excitement. Today, despite noisy talk in Congress about sharp scrutiny of the space budget, NASA will again get just about what it asked for – $5.2 billion in fiscal 1964-65.

This is because space research is definitely one of the economic-political facts of life today. The glamor of moon glow has dimmed, but a lot of constituents of a lot of congressmen now have a down-to-earth personal interest in the $20-billion-plus moon project.

It will not be the first time this has happened. The monarchs who financed the explorers of the new World were more interested in riches than in geographical knowledge. Sheer curiosity and love of adventure inspired the Wright Brothers, but the fruit of their invention – commercial air travel – is strictly business.

Space is, as John F. Kennedy said, the new ocean upon which we must sail, sooner or later. The moon is but an offshore island, the first port of call on a voyage that will occupy the imagination and energies of generations to come.

The space sailors of tomorrow will remember only that we set sail for the moon around 1970. They won't particularly care why we went. – Aug. 7, 1964

Khrushchev to behave until after election?

Despite Khrushchev's recent chest thumping, U.S. government Soviet analysts have quietly assured the White House that the Soviet Union is not likely to take on any major adventures in the ticklish months between now and election day.

Says one expert privately, "We're convinced Khrushchev's even going to go easy on the Cuba situation until after November."

These men who specialize in predicting what Khrushchev will do next expect him to hedge and haw in Southeastern Asia, but end up doing nothing for new. Says one: "He'll keep telling the United States to get out of South Viet Nam. But we think he'd be somewhat embarrassed if we did get out. It would be too much of a gain for Red China. He wants things kept balanced in Laos with neither side winning."

Little action is expected in Berlin or the Middle East.

There are signs, State Department men claim, that Khrushchev is worried and that he would like to influence the U.S. presidential election, But he had his fingers burned back in 1952 when Adlai Stevenson ran against Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. [Nikolai] Bulganin spoke out for Stevenson. The praise boomeranged [and] helped the Eisenhower campaign.

A Khrushchev-instigated, hotter cold war during the election campaign would bring demands from the U.S. public for a stronger policy against the Soviet Union. It would be impossible for either candidate to take any stand that appeared soft.

This puts Khrushchev on the spot for now.

Things may not heat up much after the election. U.S. analysts think Khrushchev must do something about Cuba because Castro's regime is becoming too much of an economic drain. The Soviet Union needs the goods and the funds it's spending on Cuba for higher-priority projects at home. 

For international political reasons, the Soviet Union can't just walk out and leave Cuba. Khrushchev's problem is to find a solution that will embarrass the United States.

U.S. diplomats think Khrushchev has plans in mind for splitting President Charles de Gaulle of France and the United States farther apart.

They expect Khrushchev sooner or later to find some formula for meddling with greater vigor in South Viet Nam.

The analysts expect these Khrushchev plots to be troublesome. They don't expect them to lead to crises comparable to the Cuban missile showdown, the Berlin Wall build-up, the Berlin airlift or to the Korean War.

As they see it, Khrushchev is faced with greater shortages at home. Soviet productivity is increasing at a slower rate. Manufacturing and agriculture are not meeting their goals. Influential consumers of the privileged classes are demanding more.

The Russian military is protesting the cutbacks in military manpower. The Kremlin is in the midst of a quiet, strong power struggle in the ruling Presidium.

Russia is continuing to strengthen itself, but it's running into administrative problems Khrushchev is finding hard to cope with.

As one U.S. official puts it: "Even without the election, it's unlikely Khrushchev would do anything now to stir up a crisis." – Aug. 4, 1964

Air Force vs. Navy in 1964

Ex-Cmdr. Lyndon Baines Johnson of the U.S. Naval Reserves may not realize it yet, but he's practically a dead duck politically.

If the Republican convention at San Francisco proved anything at all, it was the obvious fact that you have no business in politics if you didn't serve in the Air Force.

The GOP nominee, Maj. Gen. Barry Goldwater, commands the 9999th Capitol Hill Air Force Reserve Squadron. Two other Republican nominees, Gov. William Scranton of Pennsylvania and Hawaii's Sen. Hiram Fong, are members of the outfit.

Another GOP nominee, Maine's Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, is a lieutenant colonel in the Women's Air Force Reserve.

And Sen. Peter Dominick, R-Colo., and Rep. Ed Foreman, R-Tex., who played prominent roles in Goldwater's victory, are also members of the 9999th Squadron.

When the Democrats catch on, it may be curtains for Navy man Johnson. Only politically redeeming factor in the President's war record is that he was awarded the Silver Star for heroism in the air over New Guinea.

But hard-core Democratic realists are already talking up Nevada's Sen Howard Cannon, a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserves. – Aug. 3, 1964

Mr. Tall-Spear runs for office

It may come as a surprise to Americans to learn that it is not Mr. Goldwater who is the Republican presidential nominee but one Mr. Tall, sometimes known as Mr. Spear.

That's how the Chinese, who transliterate Western names in an inscrutably Oriental fashion, refer to the senator from Arizona.

According to Takashi Oka, Asian correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, the popular version of Barry Goldwater on Taiwan is "Kao Hua Te" – Tall Flower Virtue.

On the Communist mainland it is "Ke Te Kua Te" – Spear Virtue Flower Special.

In both versions, the first character – tall or spear – is used as an abbreviation.

Admirers of the candidate will not think the names inappropriate. – Aug. 5, 1964

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