Apollo was seen as a triumph of, not for, all mankind, argues Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, author of the new book Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Apollo. She joins the show to talk about how this was not an accident, but the outcome of a carefully managed public relations campaign by the United States to promote its interests abroad.
Mat Kaplan: Happy December, everyone, and welcome to the December Space Policy Edition of Planetary Radio. I'm Mat Kaplan, the host of the show, the weekly show more so. I am lucky enough every month to co-host with Casey this Space Policy Edition. Casey Dreier is out there. He is the Senior Space Policy Adviser and Chief Advocate for The Planetary Society. Welcome, Casey.
Casey Dreier: Hey, Mat, always happy to do another one of these. There's certain to pile up.
Mat Kaplan: We've done a few. I guess because you have this wonderful interview that goes a bit, that we're going to forego talking about the current politics.
Casey Dreier: You know what? We're not going to forego it, we're going to just forgive, we'll just take a break. Let's just take a break and not talk about US politics. We'll talk about US politics and international politics from about 50 years ago or 60 years ago.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, I was going to say, we're going to back it up five decades.
Casey Dreier: Yes, yes, to a simpler time. Yeah. No, we have a great guest, Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony. She is a space historian, works in the Apollo collection at Smithsonian Institution, and is also the author of a brand new book, on the international outreach aspect of Apollo, called Operation Moonglow, A Political History of Apollo. Really insightful, nice complementary version or story to tell beyond what happened at the US. This is what happens outside the US and how the international community engaged with this great fete of exploration.
Mat Kaplan: I got to meet Teasel at the National Air and Space Museum once. I was out there interviewing her boss, Ellen Stofan, who right now is chairing the transition group that is looking at space policy for the Biden Administration.
Casey Dreier: Mat, we said we wouldn't talk about that.
Mat Kaplan: You're right. I'm violating the rule, but Ellen is such a good friend of the show and I do want to mention that when we finished recording, Teasel said that she is so busy with chairing this transition group that she's not even checking her email right now. So, go, Ellen, go, lead us into this next administration now. I'm sure that some of the thing that she's working on will probably end up as topics in future Space Policy Editions. The only other thing I want to say, Casey, before we get into this terrific conversation is that, of course, this is offered as a service of The Planetary Society. Many of you out there, something like 50,000 of you, are members. You're already supporting what we do.
Mat Kaplan: If you're not, we sure hope that you will go to planetary.org/membership and join up, and stand behind this show, and everything else that The Planetary Society is up to. We also have a year-end campaign underway and all you have to do to make a one time donation, be a member as well, is go to planetary.org and you will see the details pop up right there. Like all kinds of non-profits, we look to the end of the year for providing a lot of the funding that we depend on throughout the year. This is a great time to let us know and maybe to thank us for the Space Policy Edition and everything else that we're up to. Again, planetary.org is where all the details are.
Casey Dreier: Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't second your plug for The Planetary Society. It's the end of the year, this is a great time to give a donation or to join as a member, or even upgrade your membership. There are higher levels of membership to be on. Everyone says this is important, but I really want to emphasize, this organization lives and dies on its membership. We don't have big corporate partners. We don't take government money. This enables our independence, this enables these really unique shows, like what we're doing now. It's just a special organization to be a part of, and I just cannot emphasize enough. Every member makes a difference and enables us to do these types of things that we do, launch things into space, advocate on your behalf.
Casey Dreier: That's because we have members. That gives us our whole reason to exist. So, first, I just want to say thank you for listening. If you can, if you're able to, it's a tough year for a lot of people, but if you're able to, please consider chipping in and helping us do this better.
Mat Kaplan: I like that description. It makes it sound like the Consumer Reports of Space.
Casey Dreier: That doesn't sound as exciting as I think you want it to be, though it's a very useful magazine. I was a Consumer Reports kids, I think, as a [crosstalk 00:04:44].
Mat Kaplan: Oh, you bet? Yeah.
Casey Dreier: Yup.
Mat Kaplan: I read it cover to cover still. So, there you go, a plug for Consumer Reports as well.
Casey Dreier: Yeah, free, they get a free one.
Mat Kaplan: I think we're ready. Should we get into this conversation with Teasel?
Casey Dreier: Let's talk with Teasel. Teasel, thank you so much for joining me today on the Space Policy Edition.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Thanks so much for having me on.
Casey Dreier: So, Teasel, you have a new book, I'll plug it here, Operation Moonglow, A Political History of Project Apollo. I read through it before our discussion today, and I'll just say, congratulations on writing a very readable, interesting book, that's really complimentary in the sense that it compliments a lot of the story that we talk about in terms of Apollo, particularly in the United States. I want to start with this fundamental rephrasing or rethinking of the idea of Apollo. In the book, you say that Apollo, in order to effectively advance US international political interest, had to be framed as an achievement of and not for all human kind. Why was this distinction important?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Well, in some of the analysis after the first lunar landing on the impact of Apollo on US foreign relations and US position internationally, it was seen that one of the most important impacts was that people around the world felt like participants in the program. They really, not only felt a sense of unity, but that the achievement was an achievement of all human kind, and not just the United States. This was seen as an element in building a global community that the United States was really becoming an effective global leader, because people felt like participants in this American program. So, it's a slight shift from, of and for, the difference is between for all mankind and up all kind.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: But one of the objectives was getting people to really align with the United States, individuals around the world, and then, also, political leaders. Having Apollo viewed as part of all mankind as opposed to just for suggest that it was something that was participated in by everyone. That sense of participation was seen as an important impact politically for the United States.
Casey Dreier: So, let's set some context why this was an important reframing for the United States in the international stage. Maybe even just jump back slightly to pre-Apollo 2, I guess right around Mercury, but coming into the JFK Administration, what did the global stage look like that the United States was operating on? How did that intersect with what is going to be important here about the international framing of Project Apollo?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: There are a few really important currents taking place at that time. So, there's this larger Cold War context, this competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it was in many ways, an ideological competition between the world democracy and communism. It was often taking place in the third world and other nations. So, it was a competition for affecting the political systems of other countries, and this was happening at the same time as decolonization and the establishment of new countries. As countries, we're trying to decide which political system to use and which superpower to align with. The Cold War interest became even more potent.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Then, this was then also combined with this really widespread vision of science and technologies as drivers of progress, and national power, and prestige. So, demonstrations of science and technology were then also associated with the effectiveness of each respective political position. Then, there's the additional element of the existence of nuclear weapons. So, much of the Cold War was taking place on the psychological battlefield, so that competition was fought through symbolic gestures and then also public diplomacy programming.
Casey Dreier: Right, yeah. You don't want to have a direct confrontation anymore, the cost of that in a sense is far too high. So, people or nations, I should say, are more incentivized to look for other, almost like plumage or some sort of symbolic statement of capability without direct confrontation.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Exactly, and there were a number of different approaches at this time. From anything like setting up exhibits in other countries, to covertly backed coups. So, the range was broad but there was this awareness that we don't want to resort to nuclear warfare. The risks of that are too great, so the competition played out in a lot of new arenas.
Casey Dreier: Your book is packed with lots of really nice small details that add color to the situations. That's an aspect I really liked and enjoyed about reading your book. Something you said really struck with me, and I think to emphasize one of the points you made was I think the year that John F. Kennedy was sworn in, off the top of my head, something like 16 new countries came into existence, is that the right number?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Off the top of my head I think it's 18, but yeah, it's very close. It's a big number.
Casey Dreier: Yeah. A lot of new countries came into existence through this process of decolonization, a lot of reasons for it, but after World War II a lot of European nations didn't have the means and then you have this revolution of international rights and self-determination. I always think of this in the sense of why Apollo happened and why it's different now when we talk about current efforts in space and going to the moon, is that our borders are far more fixed. Our political situations around the world seemed far more established. But here, that's an incredible amount of chairing, so when we talk about this symbolic behaviors or statements, and using science and technology, between the Soviet Union and the United States, I feel like the key here is that there was an audience for it.
Casey Dreier: There was an active audience that they were competing for as these new countries were coming into existence.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Exactly. Whenever I talk about the space race, I always emphasize that it wasn't just between the US and Soviet Union, it wasn't just the two superpowers competing with each other. It was really competing for and in front of a global audience, on a global stage. That's an essential part of the competition, and there wouldn't have been a space race without that larger global audience, and without that very unique geopolitical context where there was so much happening and so much evolution. So many new countries trying to decide about which political system to pursue and which superpower to align with. So, it's such an important part of explaining why the space race happened in the first place.
Casey Dreier: This is something I struggled with, too, just in terms of my understanding of history. Is this a story that was real, for lack of a better term, but were countries really sitting around saying, "Boy, I don't know what system is better for my country, but wow, the Soviet just sent Yuri Gagarin into space. Well, I guess I'll become a communist country now." Or, was that really a perception, do you think, of the US and the Soviet Union? How effective were these in terms of driving this kind of outcome that they wanted to see at this real politic level?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: As you suggest, it was a much more complicated process than that, and it wasn't like a light switch just on and off, or aligning with the US, or aligning with the Soviet Union. There was a lot of nuance within each of these individual countries and a lot of contingent factors. So, I think that the way we talk about it and the way that US policymakers were talking about it had a lot to do with this larger grand strategy and fears about what might be possible. So, this idea that the Soviet Union was going to spread influence, and US had to contain it, and that it would be of US interest to lead the world and to have as many countries as possible with political systems that complimented our interest.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, some of this conversation about it, it makes it sound much more simple than it is, and I think that's part of the reason I wanted to look at some of the on the ground exchanges. What this actually meant in terms of individual examples, situations in individual countries, how was this larger strategy playing out.
Casey Dreier: Right, you start the book with the anecdote of coming or stumbling across this piece of information about, was it in Japan, how many people came to see, was it the Mercury capsule that was on display in Tokyo?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Yeah, exactly. John Glenn's Friendship 7 capsule.
Casey Dreier: This use of space, it wasn't also for nothing. It's not like they weren't just completely making it up. People really did respond to this type of outreach. So, maybe just set that stage in Tokyo, so, the US would send some of the hardware around the world, and what kind of response would it get?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: It was absolutely extraordinary. So, this is how the project started. I was in the National Archives looking through some material and I came across these documents about this exhibit in Tokyo of the Friendship 7 spacecraft. So, this was John Glenn's spacecraft. This is the first American orbital flight. The US decided to send it on an international tour. So, it circled the world one more time and stopped in many locations. In Japan, it drew a huge audience and people would wait in line up to eight hours just to walk by it, which I found absolutely stunning. It gives you a sense with the level of enthusiasm and how brand new spaceflight was at this time.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, this was 1962, and Sputnik, the first satellite was launched in '57, so just a few years later. Human spaceflight was just one-year old, it was brand new, very, very exciting, but it's hard to think about, you wait in line eight hours to see, it gives you a real sense of the excitement and 500,000 people saw it in just a few days. Everywhere it went, it drew just record crowds. It was an incredibly popular tour.
Casey Dreier: I forget if it was this particular capsule, but you work at the Smithsonian and I believe it was them who wrote this plea to the State Department that said, "Please don't let people touch the spacecraft because that will degrade this fragile, historical, important," not really a relic at that point, but item. But they said, "No, people have to touch this." So, people were able to just file by and they would just want this tactile engagement with something that had been into space, which I found really interesting aspect of all of this, to make it real in a sense.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Sending the hardware abroad, I think, was a great way of making it feel more real. As I was mentioning, spaceflight going from science fiction to science fact within a few years, and seeing the spacecraft in person, and you can see its experience when you look at it. You can see its charred surface that it went to experience the atmospheric reentry. That's an important part of not only recognizing that it was real, it was really happening, but also what spaceflight might be like and that it was a human was also helpful for relating to the mission. Yeah, the Smithsonian was quite worried at that time what was happening to these artifacts.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: But people within the State Department and the US Information Agency thought that it was really important for people to connect with these spacecraft and connect with the American Space Program. That sense of connection was really something, they found, important to build.
Casey Dreier: You just mentioned something that I wanted to bring up, the US Information Agency, this plays a really prominent role in your book, and really I don't recall really having seen that in the story of Apollo before. What is the US Information Agency, the USIA, and how did it fit into this concept of this so-called new diplomacy of the Cold War that emerged during the 50s and 60s?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, the USIA was established by President Eisenhower, and it was part of an effort to centralize the United State's overseas information activities. Its mission was sharing information about the United States with the world. There was a fair amount of propaganda and public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy involved in that. At that time, for Eisenhower, and later, Kennedy, and Johnson, and even Nixon, seen as an important effort of the US Government. So, it was the largest full service public relations, organization in the world. One of the directors, Edward R. Murrow, like to compare it to the cost of a Polaris Missile, which I thought was very effective way to do it. That the whole agency has been working, which included libraries around the world, and press offices at embassies.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Programs to teach English, and distribution and production of documentary films, and the Voice of America Program, and the distribution of books, and magazines, and exhibitions. So, all sorts of activities cost less than one single Polaris Missile. It was this large effort to win the hearts and minds of the world public, spread American culture and values around the world. It was part of the larger Cold War competition for hearts and minds and larger geopolitical influence. The USIA was responsible for sharing the information about the American Space Program abroad, and they work closely with the State Department to do that. But one of the reasons, I think, that that material hasn't been drawn on or hasn't been part of the story is that it's a different archival collection.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: It's not as much represented in the NASA archival material, but there's a rich, rich wealth of sources in the US Information archives about these overseas activities, especially relating to spaceflight.
Casey Dreier: I think we'll get into this in a bit, but something that strikes me about the USIA is that it's not just a place that's producing content. It's a distribution system, right? It's in placed around the world to provide information to local newspapers, to local press, to provide translations of various things. So, it's not just up there in Washington, D.C cranking out propaganda films or something like that, but they have a distribution system. I think that becomes really important later on in the story. But before we get there, I still want to dwell a little bit in the early 1960s.
Casey Dreier: When this concept of space as a national prestige and symbolic demonstration of capability was in its most influential peak of understanding between the two superpowers. You've talked about this concept of the new diplomacy, I think, is that the right term?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Casey Dreier: How that drives this broader idea of what it means to compete non-militaristically, but for national security. Why don't we just touch on that a little bit, because again, I think it sets the context for why the USIA, and then Apollo, and the other space efforts in the 60s becomes so critical to that effort.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Sure, yeah. So, this concept about new diplomacy was articulated by Henry Kissinger in 1955, but it was part of a larger conversation that was being had among many people who are thinking about power at that time. So, Kissinger had been invited to discuss the future of US strategy with a group that was organized by Nelson Rockefeller, who was advising Eisenhower at that time, when it came to basically public information abroad and psychological strategy. He articulated it really well, and so I like to use this as a way to set up this understanding of this context that the US decided just to pursue satellite development within. So, basically, it's a recognition that this combination of factors as a sort of new international environment with nuclear weapons and the Cold War really heightened the importance of psychological strategy.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: In particular, things like symbols, and rhetoric, and ideas, and images had a new political potency. It was also very, very important to engage with international publics, especially because of mass media and how that revolutionized the influence of the public on international politics.
Casey Dreier: This is like the hearts and minds of concept begins to form. Would you say that's an accurate way to summarize that?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Exactly. Yeah, and a clear articulation of some of the tools that are involved in it. Especially the importance of the media revolution, and you'll see that with something like the moon landing, that it's televised and that's really an important part of that history. So, it ties into that as well.
Casey Dreier: So, as space age begins, the Soviet Union, I'd say, probably takes the lead then in using this almost the same idea. This kind of new diplomacy to promote itself through the Sputniks, and then, of course, with Gagarin's first flight. It's not like this is a US only attitude. This is a purposeful propagandistic opportunity from the Soviet Union to say, "This is how great our capabilities are."
Teasel Muir-Harmony: I don't know if it's right to call it a great irony of this moment, but I do find it interesting that both the US and the Soviet Union decide to differentiate each respective political system with the same types of demonstrations. They both turned to space flight to demonstrate what's great about their respective political systems. It's an interesting approach, but starting out with the Soviet Union, there was this incredible sensitivity and awareness to the political power of prestige and the role of spaceflight within impacting the USSR's standing in the world at that time.
Casey Dreier: You point to it. There's real public polling behind this, this wasn't just a perception on the US side. There was a real slip, and this goes back to, Walter McDougall talked about this in his books, there was a real increase and understanding, I should say, of the Soviet Union's technological superiority, or perception thereof broadly throughout the public in Europe and other countries. So, this had a real effect, the symbolism, and while being a symbol, was really effective, or it seemed to be at the beginning of the space age. It's interesting, as you point out, how space temporarily occupied this place of this universally accepted signifier of capability that was so effective.
Casey Dreier: Maybe it had something to do with that these are individual missions. There's a thing that we could wrap our heads around, or that it's visible, you can listen to it or see it going overhead in satellite, but this idea that everyone agrees is important. Then, that was the big debate I recall among Eisenhower and then JFK, was do you engage the Soviets on their own terms in the space race, or is there something else they can do to compete and demonstrate another way of technological superiority? It seems like there wasn't. I remember JFK talked about, can we do desalination as a way to one up the Soviets in space? Nothing else at that time seemed to be able offer that same punch as space exploration.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: One of the reasons, I think, that they settled on that idea is public opinion polling, and the USIA was instrumental in that. Testing the temperature of global public opinion, both through individual polling as well the collection of newspapers from around the world, and compiling that, and that was submitted to both Eisenhower and Kennedy regularly. It became very, very clear that this was going to be the measuring stick for the efficacy of political systems. This was going to be the way that a lot of people were going to judge, whether or not the Soviet Union was both technologically and scientifically powerful, but then also, even more broadly than that, whether or not communism was an effective political system.
Casey Dreier: John F. Kennedy addresses Congress in 1961 on the topic of urgent national needs. Of course, this is where he first publicly calls to pursue moon landing, through the US Space Program. But you make a point that these are needs, plural, what were the other national needs that he articulated in the context of Apollo?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: This was a long addressed, and if you've heard any of it, you've probably less than five minutes of it. It was actually about 30 minutes long. So, it was a much broader address, and the way he set it up was very much with this Cold War context and the importance of the third world within his understanding of what the United States had to do, and what the nation's urgent national needs were. So, he talked about the lands of the rising people, he was referring to Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. There was a battle taking place and the US had to steer the global revolution. It was setting up this context that it was very, very important for the US to be somewhat interventionalist, and to engage with the world.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Then, he also talked about the importance of things like this information program's public diplomacy, some national security, some domestic as well as international programs helping support the economies of other countries, and support against communism. He runs through this whole list of initiatives that the US had to undertake in order to not only secure the country, but then also to secure the position of the United States internationally. Then, at the very end, then, he introduces Apollo. When you look at Apollo in that context, it really makes it clear that it was part of Kennedy's larger grand strategy at that time, and that it wasn't something that was pursued in isolation, or just because of interest. But it was part of this larger strategy that Kennedy was pursuing, that he thought was essential for the US's position within the world at that moment.
Casey Dreier: I think this is one of those critical takeaways from your book, and I think just about Apollo in general, is that from the beginning Apollo was seen as a tool of this international competition for global influence, or against communism, however exactly you want to frame it. You have a nice quote in your book saying that human space flight wasn't done for the innate human thirst of exploration, or an economic incentive. It was politics, or precisely you said, "The particular geopolitical moment where global superpowers competed for global leadership through demonstrations of technological superiority." I think we just can't emphasize that enough, maybe, that we can't get away from that as being the insighting role of what became a very inspirational human exploration endeavor.
Casey Dreier: But it was done for this very practical, and at that time, very immediate purposes. Again, in that context of national needs, Apollo was the capper to these other areas of interests. The book that you're, again, you're addressing this as a fundamental issue, do you feel like that part of the story has been forgotten, particularly in the United States? That ironically, even though it was pitched as this international success, we all did something, it's actually been now seen as more of a triumph by the United States?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: I think so often when I speak to people, they're sometimes surprised that the United States sent humans to the moon for reasons beyond science. I think there's a lot of expectation that it was primarily about scientific exploration. There's a lot of emphasis on how we got to the moon, I would say, as opposed to why. Although, some of the fundamentals of the politics have been established. There are some great work on that. John Logsdon's work is really fantastic in that, and Walter McDougall as well. Other people have touched on this, too. There has been less done on looking at how it played out on the ground and evaluating Apollo throughout the decade in terms of foreign relations and its role within foreign relations.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, not only is it important, I think, to recognize and to remember what inspired Kennedy, or what the initial rationale for lunar expedition was in 1961, but then also understand how it impacted foreign relations and how that played out, and the evolution of its role throughout the 1960s.
Casey Dreier: Do you think people tend to downplay that now? Because the world is just so much different now, when we look back. It's almost hard to place yourself in that situation, but do you think maybe there's this idea that that [inaudible 00:28:43] what should be seen as some grand pure scientifically motivated piece of exploration? Why do you think this gets downplayed?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Sometimes, I do hear this concern like, "Oh, it's just empty. It's just a symbolic gesture." It would take away from some of the meaning of Apollo, but I would really counter that, because I think there's a lot of to be said for a program that is focused on peaceful exploration, that's about demonstrating values of a country in a peaceful way. Also, the prioritization of the international community, the US's relationship with the world, and a lot of what motivated this program was improving the United State's relationship with the world. I think there's great value in that as well. So, just because Apollo was, in many ways, a political program, it had the other elements to it as well.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: That's important, but I don't think the politics or even this connection to symbolism diminish in any ways the significance, the meaning, the importance of that program. Either at that moment, or even how we remember it today.
Casey Dreier: Yeah, I think it's important to have that part of the story because if we don't understand where it came from, people may just be constantly disappointed that we don't have Apollo again. People always want very badly to see, "Why don't we just do it again?" The fundamental conditions were just so different. We have to understand why did it happen in the first place? Governments of any nation, generally, don't open their pocketbook to that extent just for feelgood stuff. It has to be meeting some very intense and urgent national need, as JFK would say. I'd like to move forward now that we've established that Apollo was happening in this context of this new diplomacy, this outreach to the world, this competition in a sense for these nations that are forming.
Casey Dreier: Throughout the 1960s and going back to what the USIA is doing around the world, there is then a concerted and very intensive effort to share successes in space with people around the world. You highlight in your book a couple of examples of this starting with, where you talked about what was it, the fourth orbit of John Glenn's Mercury capsule. But then, they start sending astronauts around the world in Gemini, with the Gemini astronauts, and then, obviously, the astronauts of Apollo and so forth. What was driving these efforts and what were they trying to get out of them? Why did they pursue these where they did, but also, how did they contrast to what the Soviet Union was doing at the same time, who also was launching cosmonauts into space and doing success at space first throughout the, particularly the early 1960s?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Initially, there was some weariness about sending American astronauts abroad, and there was concern that it would be seen as just an empty propaganda gesture. So, it wasn't until the mid-1960s that they changed that policy and decided to send the astronauts around the world. They were seen as great embodiments of Americans as ideal ambassadors for the United States at that time. They were encouraged to be scientific representative. So, there's a lot of concern that they would be seen as far too political, or that they would just be traveling for propaganda. So, the emphasis was placed on sharing scientific information and having less scripted speeches and things like that.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: There was a lot of hope that the astronauts would be able to connect with the audiences, which they tended to be quite successful at. They did a great job of also finding ways to connect local cultures, local history to space exploration to their missions, and to the larger American effort in space, which did a lot to increase the sense of participation of people around the world in the American Space Program.
Mat Kaplan: Got to take a quick break. Casey and his guest, Teasel Muir-Harmony, will be back in moments.
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Casey Dreier: You discussed a few examples of the United States needed to place tracking stations all around the world in order to be in constant communication, or relatively constant communication with assets in orbit. That brought up a number of issues with the nations that had just decolonized, or been freed from colonization. That was an interesting aspect where you said that US was able to use this more peaceful aspect of the space program to establish physical presence in a lot of these new nations, under the guise of, again, this peaceful scientific exploration. Did that specifically drive the decisions of how and where they place tracking stations, or was it just a useful tool based on the actual physical need of where they needed to put those?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: The tracking stations are these fascinating combination of factors, because there are the technical reasons for the locations of the tracking stations around the world, just to service the missions, right? Then, there's also this interest in having presence in these countries around the world. But then, there's a push back and because the US needed to have tracking stations located around the world, beyond its own territory, there had to be a lot of negotiation and work done. So, public relations work done to ensure that these stations would be accepted and not perceived as sort of an informal attempt at empire.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: There are fascinating stories from each of these individual locations, with the effort, and a lot of effort that had to go into ensuring that they would be welcomed at the various locations around the world.
Casey Dreier: Do I remember correctly, they sent astronauts to some of those countries again, like almost as, not as a payback, but as an acknowledgement that they were trying to do additional outreach to the population there, to demonstrate the scientific aspects of this, the outreach aspects of these?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Exactly. So, countries that had tracking stations would be first in the list of priorities for all sorts of information activities. So, the astronaut tours, definitely, as well as exhibits. So, they were a high priority. It would seem as really important to foster these relationships, as you might guess. Places like Africa, for instance, Nigeria, or Madagascar, those were top priority for all sorts information activities related to space flight, because they hosted American tracking stations in their countries.
Casey Dreier: So, what was the Soviet Union doing as their own version of this, at the same time? We know that they were sending Yuri Gagarin, did a tour around the world, so what was the contrast between their approach to international outreach with their space program versus what the US was doing?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, there is a concerted effort by the US Government to differentiate the presentation of the space program internationally with what the Soviet Union was doing. So, especially early on, there was quite a difference. The Soviet Union was not sending their spacecraft around the world. They were not showing details about the hardware, and instead, focus on sending astronauts on tours. But they had a similar type of communications information infrastructure and efforts with radio programming and placing of newspaper articles and things like that. So, it was a similar type of efforts in those regards, but the emphasis was much more on focusing on humans, like Gagarin, as opposed to spacecraft.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Part of that comes from this concern about sharing engineering information of a Soviet spacecraft with the world, especially because the early designs of spacecraft, the astronaut had to eject and the craft itself crashed into the ground. So, there were some concern that that might not count as a successful spaceflight. That information was concealed for quite some time and turn the information about the design of the spacecraft. So, the US leaned much more into sharing technical information with the world. It was a demonstration, at least the way people thought about it, as being open, focusing on the science, and the engineering, seen more apolitical, so therefore could serve the political interest of the country much more.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: At least that's how it was interpreted by members of the US Information Agency. So, that was one of the major differences. It is interesting though because both the US and the Soviet Union were also doing counter-propaganda of each other's programs, and so Soviet news sources would downplay American accomplishments and vice versa.
Casey Dreier: As this was happening throughout the 1960s culminating, of course, in the Apollo flights, this type of space outrage, again, it seemed to be very popular that we're getting huge crowds for both the astronauts and the hardware going around the world, but it was also seen as a useful counter-narrative for some really significant issues that were happening at the US in the same time. Notably, the Civil Rights Movement, and the perception of the United States in particularly countries in Africa. Then, also, of course, the growing calamity happening in Vietnam. So, how was space used in a sense to try to purposefully, not necessarily cover up and change the subject away from these issues?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Space was used a few different ways. One sort of straightforward way was that this idea that in space mission, that it would make the front page of the newspaper. So, that covered the Vietnam War, for instance, so just displacing other news, more negative news.
Casey Dreier: Yeah, straightforward, yeah.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: It was seen as quite positive. They kept track of that. For Africa, in particular, the US sent African-American trained space lecturers around the different countries to lecture about space, and to also demonstrate some of the opportunities within the United States. There was a lot of concern that American Civil Rights were painting a very bad picture of the United States, especially in Africa. Africa was a continent with many, many new nations at that period in time. So, it was a priority region for the United States. So, sending these African-American lecturers there was part of that programming. Edward R. Murrow, who was the head of the US Information Agency during the Kennedy Administration even pushed to have NASA include African-American astronauts.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: But there was a bit of pushback on that, but as the head of the USIA, he really saw it as an important part of demonstrating the values of the United States to the world, and that in places like Africa it was important to demonstrate that the United States was an inclusive nation with opportunities for everyone.
Casey Dreier: Yeah, I found that unintentionally very revealing on their part, that they would say, "Oh, we need to send this scientific ambassadors out to these African nations." While at the same time having zero diversity in the astronaut core. There were some at NASA as we began to learn, I think in the last few years, and more of those stories, but in terms of the astronaut core, that was ... It was like, "Was that even a level of awareness in terms of what Edward R. Murrow was talking about?" I know there are significant pushback within NASA itself, but it just seems like the fundamental irony of this is that there were serious problems that they didn't even try to deal with.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Yeah, so in exhibits in Africa they also wanted to show pictures of African-American working at NASA, and I think that was a challenge in the early 1960s, because of the makeup of the workforce. I think there's a lot to this idea that the astronauts were talked about as ideal Americans, or these group of men represent America, but they're all, first of all, they're all men, they're all white, they're all about the same age. There were so many characteristics about them that were very, very similar, so much so that with the Mercury astronauts, they actually have them take the pictures in alphabetical order, lined up, because there was concern that it would be hard to tell them apart.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Newspapers would label their names incorrectly. So, they made sure to take pictures of them in alphabetical order. So, there was a lot of similarity between them. So, the idea that they embody an American or what we think of as an American, I think is really problematic and it points to a lot of, some of the tensions existent in trying to portray a country in this type of way, or pursuing this type of symbolism. The image of the country that the United States was trying to project abroad through the Apollo program, and what was happening domestically, they weren't exactly a match. I think that explains some of the limitations of the impact of Apollo on US foreign relations long term.
Casey Dreier: We're starting to get to the end of the 60s and we hit the two big successes, the international, in terms of international awareness. Apollo 8 for circumnavigation of the moon and Apollo 11, of course. I'd like you to discuss a little bit about Apollo 8, focusing on the famous Christmas broadcast from the crew. Obviously, we're all familiar with that because we experienced it, but that didn't just happened by accident. There was this enormous effort and amount of planning that had gone into making sure the world could follow what was happening on Apollo live by organizations like the USIA. What went into this, and what was that public reaction like? Starting with Apollo 8, then, we'll move on to 11.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Part of the planning involved making people aware that the mission was coming up. This was true also of Apollo 11. Increasing awareness, working with journalists around the world, even training journalists, bringing them to the United States, so that they could go to their respective country and speak about Apollo. There were the creation of exhibits and pamphlets. So, all sorts of efforts on the ground, around the world to make people aware that it was going to happen, and to get people excited and engaged. There was also effort to ensure that there would be a live television broadcast to quite a lot of the world. So, Apollo 8 was a little more limited in 1968, but the satellite importantly went up, I'm sure before it, which allowed more coverage.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Then, the USIA also made sure that people could listen to the broadcast on radio. So, through the voice of America and the translation of that coverage in many, many languages so people could follow along. So, there was this huge communications infrastructure side of it. Then, also, astronauts were made aware that their mission would be followed by a huge portion of the world population, the largest ever at that time. So, they had to think through what they were going to do in space that would be historically significant and to really mark that moment. Part of that included bringing television equipment with them aboard, so that people could follow along. Then, Frank Borman was told that he was going to be up there doing that television broadcast in Christmas, and so he should say something appropriate.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, he consulted with the science adviser from the USIA who consulted with another friend. They came up with this idea of reading from Genesis, in large part, because it was seen as having universal relevance as much as possible, that it would connect with people who weren't just Christian, but beyond that because Genesis was more representative of more people around the world.
Casey Dreier: I'm still struck by how little guidance the astronauts get. It's like you'll be up there, say something good, and we live it up to them. It was not like a highly scripted or controlled process. They really gave a significant amount of freedom to these astronauts to be themselves, really, in that situation.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: That was interpreted as more effective. With the Soviet Union, a lot of what the astronaut said was very scripted, and actually Yuri Gagarin's first report on his mission was entirely scripted by someone else and he memorized it. It was a very different approach by USIA and NASA, and the State Department really encouraged the astronauts to say things in their own words, because they saw that as potentially more effective. So, Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, he could have actually said anything at that moment that he wanted to. He decided to approach the science adviser because he wanted guidance, but I think Neil Armstrong's words on the moon are a great example of that.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: I think it is sort of surprising when you think about it, that that wasn't scripted, but that's an important part of the larger strategy to the role of Apollo within US foreign relations, is that the astronauts are going to be most effective when it comes to its contribution to US foreign relations, if they speak for themselves, if they are themselves, if they really represent these American values of openness and freedom.
Casey Dreier: I just want to emphasize again this aspect of this ground game in a sense, of this really basic levels of getting the word out throughout the world through the USIA. I think you said something like hundreds of thousands of things were printed, and maps distributed, and press releases written, and used the local press, and used the local customs and try to put Apollo in that context to try to be relevant. This seemed like there's this massive undertaking. Something, again, that really struck me from your book was that going back to this first question that I ask in terms of this interview, which was this framing of the Apollo program and landing on the moon ultimately with the Apollo 11 as being an everybody success.
Casey Dreier: As the success of humankind versus the success of the United States. That was very intentional. Can you talk a little bit, where did this come from, this idea of intentionality, of downplaying the nationalistic aspect of this to the broader world. I almost kind of imagine that happening today, where this idea of people should thump their chest about doing a nationalistic thing. Why did that come out and how did that end up setting, in the sense, the successful framing of this? Because that was the framing ultimately embraced by everybody.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, part of that came from the experience overseas of many of the public affairs officers, who were working to promote the US Space Program abroad, and observing how people reacted to different types of programming. Whenever programs like documentary films that were being showed really champion the United States, or show the American flag. The response in many locations was, people rolled their eyes or just thinking it was too much. So, one of the important elements of public diplomacy is listening. As I mentioned before, that includes polls, public opinion polls, which were an important part of the USIA's work. But also, sort of reporting back on how effective this programming is.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: What are people interested in is this tone off what is going to resonate with people. So, the approach, the tone, the framing was refined overtime, and a lot of it had to do with observing what was effective and what was not effective internationally. Public Affairs officers really realized that whenever the space program was put in this context of American exceptionalism, American accomplishment, it didn't resonate as well. They made it very clear that everyone knows the Apollo program as an American program. We don't need to emphasize that part. When we downplay it, and when we're more inclusive with our language, and our images, and when we talk about the meaning and the significance, and using phrases like, for all mankind, at that time were a way to demonstrate that inclusivity.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: That was much more effective. People were much more receptive to that message. So, the presentation of Apollo in this programming evolved overtime because of that listening and that observing by a Public Affairs officer.
Casey Dreier: Ironically, then more effective as US propaganda, and propaganda is too strong of a word, but it more effectively did the job of what that international new diplomacy wanted it to do by lowering, by being less obviously jingoistic, it became then more receptive, received, I guess more effectively received. So, it's an interesting lesson in terms of the maturity of that effort at that time, of how they were putting this together. Then, of course, again, the immense amount of work to just get the word out and I liked that there's a little story in there about how they had to move, I think, an old communication satellite into position because a new one failed, so they could get this live coverage around the world.
Casey Dreier: So, there's this whole infrastructure that was set up to enable the live following of ultimately Apollo 11. After Apollo, I think we get to the kind of ... The title of your book, Operation Moonglow comes from, at that time, President Richard Nixon leaving on this global diplomacy tour, literally right after splash down of Apollo 11, right after the astronauts got back safe. Obviously, it's important you consider it like this key aspect of the book, if you name the book after this tour. So, what was Nixon's tour, Moonglow, what was it trying to do and how did Apollo enabled that to occur versus just a normal diplomatic tour by a US President?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Nixon's tour is so appropriately named and the expectation was that the enthusiasm for the moon landing, the wonderful glow that it lent the United States at that time would be effective for him to advance some of his new foreign policy initiatives. When Nixon entered office, he was really concerned about the US's role in the Vietnam War, and then also its relationship to China. These are two areas that he really wanted to affect and change. So, he saw lunar exploration as a great opportunity to help him advance his interest. So, he named this diplomatic tour that he want on after the moon landing, Operation Moonglow, but I think it applies well more generally to how spaceflight, how the Apollo program, the reflective glory of that, how it boosted other areas of the US interest, how it contributed to US foreign relations, and added a glow to the country, I guess you could say.
Casey Dreier: How long did that glow last? You had goodwill in general, like everyone. Then, there was a follow up tour by the astronauts themselves, the giant step tour, I guess, they were all around the world in this rapid succession. Did it fade, or is there a quantifiable metric by which the US felt like it benefited from this? So, beyond just feeling good, was it just temporary, or did something really happen from the international beneficiary of this Moonglow?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, one of the problematic things about public diplomacy is it's really hard to evaluate impact. That's been just one of the issues all along, [inaudible 00:52:19] with that. Also, that people who worked at the USIA were well aware that the moon landing, the impact of it would fade with time, that it wasn't going to entirely change everyone in the world's perception of the United States. It wasn't going to win the Cold War. There were, I think, very sober expectations for the potential impact of the moon landing, but there was a lot of excitement about how much impact it did have. The USIA put in a lot of effort in the weeks following the moon landing to ensure that the effect would last as long as possible.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Part of the effect that they saw to be the most potent, or most important was the sense of vicarious participation in the moon landing, that the sense that it was of all mankind and not for all mankind. I will say that when I travel, when I get to meet with people around the world, there is quite a bit of enthusiasm still for the moon landing. A lot of people who are over the age of say 55 or so have a story to tell. I've heard some incredible stories in other countries of people's experience with the first lunar landing. There are still a lot of excitement and goodwill because of that. Now, Apollo was competing with other things, and there was a lot of criticism at that time of the Vietnam War in particular, US race relations, all sorts of other things.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, I don't think that it completely dominated everyone's view of the United States, or of their world democracy in relationship to communism, but it did offer something that most people saw as quite positive. So, in that way, it was an important contributor long term to US image around the world.
Casey Dreier: You did have a quote from Richard Nixon at dinner with the Apollo 11 astronauts, and he may have been a sheet or two to the wind when he said this, but he made some claim of meeting with some other head of state he hadn't been able to get a meeting with was worth the cost of the moon program. Did it open doors diplomatically previous that there weren't before?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Richard Nixon believed that it did, and I think that all the presidents who served over the course of the Apollo program really focused on its role within foreign relations, and how it could help their administration's respective interest. So, I think there are lots of ways to talk about Apollo and its role on foreign relations, but this was a major emphasis. So, for Nixon, it was so important for him to get this meeting with Ceausescu from Romania because he saw that as an opportunity to open up communication channels with China and North Vietnam. He thought Apollo really helped him do that. Meeting with Ceausescu was part of his Operation Moonglow tour.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: It helped advanced these other interests, but I think when he says, "This meeting was worth everything we paid for Apollo." It's a bit dramatic to say that. But it tells you a lot about how he was evaluating spaceflight and why a president might invest in that scale of a program.
Casey Dreier: A fascinating detail that I had not known was that the first direct discussions with the North Vietnamese at a high level with the US diplomacy happened during the Moonglow program in France, with Henry Kissinger.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Yeah, it's an interesting connection and a great story. It seems like it's out of a novel or something. But part of timing Operation Moonglow, when they timed it, this diplomatic tour, Nixon and Kissinger weren't really aware that it would provide an opportunity for Kissinger to go to Paris to officially report on Nixon's tour. But while he was in Paris then he can meet in secret with a representative from North Vietnam. So, he was able to do that. That particular meeting didn't end the war or anything like that, but it did open this important line of communication, which really did impact then the trajectory of the Cold War and US relations with Vietnam.
Casey Dreier: You paint this picture of Richard Nixon just really raveling in this moon glow of Apollo 11, loving meeting the astronauts, sending them around the world, benefiting politically, doing his victory lap around the world, but then, they just stopped effectively. This doesn't enable more great fetes of human exploration to keep happening. As you well know, Nixon went and did the Apollo program under his watch, and only would fund a much more minimal human spaceflight program after that. So, I was left with this question about, if Apollo was such this international hit, if it was so effective in representing US soft power, and prestige, and influence, how could that then not be used to justify a continued program at that level, to continue making these firsts? Or, was it just really seen as a useful temporary tool of foreign policy and not much more than that?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: One important factor is that over the course of the 1960s and into the Nixon Administration, or even more beyond that, public diplomacy was receiving less and less priority within presidential administrations. So, during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, it was prioritized quite a lot and seen as quite critical to larger US grand strategy, public diplomacy's role within foreign relations was beginning to wane. So, that's one of the factors. I think it's also hard to see what type of follow-on program you could do to Apollo that was in any way fit within the budget. So, there was a lot of hope that we would be going to Mars next. That is on such a larger scale than lunar exploration as we know well, especially in conversations today.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: It would have required a huge, huge investment, and this was at a time when the US was already spending a huge amount on the Vietnam War and other huge issues at that time, as well as this interest in pursuing detente and improved relations with the Soviet Union made the space race a less appealing thing to invest in. So, space on its own terms, although it could have had an impact I think in terms of foreign relations even without a space competition like a space race, that was an important part of motivating Kennedy, at least initially, to pursue that lunar objective. There wasn't that similar kind of motivation for something like Mars exploration, which I think would have been the most clear next step.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: What do you do after landing humans on the moon that has that kind of same impressive resonance with people? I think it would have had to be something like Mars.
Casey Dreier: Right, what happened when they followed up landing humans on the moon with landing humans on the moon again? Was there a similar operation moonglow or a giant step tour of Apollo 12, or 14, or 15, 16, 17? Was there diminishing returns from follow-on missions in terms of foreign outreach?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: International interest in the Apollo program was more sustained than it was domestically. There was more enthusiasm for 12, and 13, 14 internationally than there was in the United States. There were more diplomatic tours. So, after Apollo 12 it was the bulls eye tour, because this was the mission with a pinpoint landing. After 13, there was a tour. So, there was still quite a bit of interest, but doing something for the first time, that really attracted a different degree of attention. The first moon landing changed human experience, humans for the first landed on another celestial body, and half the world stopped what they were doing to follow that flight. Those are unique events, or a unique event.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: The next time you do it, it's obviously not going to have the same kind of resonance even if there are variations from mission to mission. So, there was interest, the interest was more sustained, but it still didn't have that level of impact of the first moon landing.
Casey Dreier: I wonder, too, one of the reasons why maybe from a US foreign outreach or international outreach perspective is that with Apollo 13, it was a reminder that this is a double-edged sword, too. Failure may also have a significant negative consequence in terms of US capability. Did that have an effect? Obviously, Apollo 13 came back successful, and it turned out to be a great, in a sense, PR opportunity for NASA and the United States. But should failure have actually occurred, and Apollo was just extraordinarily risky, do you think that would have undermined their goals in terms of what they're trying to achieve?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: I think failure could have potentially undermined the goals, but if you look at the case of Apollo 1 fire, which was a horrible tragedy, and three people perished. The decision was to be open about that and just share that information with the world. That was interpreted as something positive overall. So, there was a lot of sympathy around the world for that tragedy. People expressed respect for the United States to decide to share that information, not hide flaws, or not hide mistakes, but instead work to fix them. If that's any indication, the failures would have been well-received as long as the country was open about them and work on fixing them.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, it probably was even less of a potential blow to prestige than one might think. Early on, there was a lot of concern about that, but I think it was handled quite well with Apollo 1, and I imagined it would have been handled in a similar way if future mission had failed.
Casey Dreier: Nothing could quite compare with landing on the moon for the first time. But has there been anything, maybe not even in space, has there been anything in the global sphere that has compared to operation moonglow or the giant step in terms of that universal appeal that any country, not just the United States, has been able to use as its own, to its own benefit to extend improved relations with its international partners? I can't imagine going to the International Space Station would generate the same kind of interest even though since ironically there's actual international collaboration.
Casey Dreier: We had all these international feel-good, and this idea that it was all pitched as this, we did this with Apollo, even though it had no international collaboration. Actual international efforts to explore space seemed to receive far less attention for doing so. Has there been anything comparable to this, and then, why do you think that we haven't been able, or people haven't responded to subsequent efforts in the space in the same way even as the doors have been opened to some degree?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: I can't think of anything comparable. It was an unbelievable moment in history when you have half the world's population, every continent, people stopping what they were doing, in the middle of the night, it didn't matter. They were tuned in on their televisions, or listening to the radio to follow that mission. That experience, it's hard to know how anything could inspire that many people to focus on and to pay attention, and also to prioritize experiencing it together. That was a big part of the first lunar landing, is everyone recognizing that this is something we're doing as the world, together we're watching human the moon. I don't think there is anything that has followed that could be similar to that.
Casey Dreier: But it seems strange that the ISS would seem to receive so much less attention from a global audience, despite having so much more global engagement with it. That there are many more avenues for international participation. There's actual astronauts from Europe, and Japan, and other parts of the world that fly on the ISS that you didn't get with Apollo. So, has there been any kind of similar global appreciation of even though it's not as big of a moment of landing on the moon, but the actual contribution is there. Has that ever seen any sort of resonance?
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Well, I think you bring up a great point, and it really points to the important role that the US Information Agency played in Apollo. So, having these huge communications infrastructure that was promoting spaceflight around the world at that time, sharing these stories, ensuring that they were appearing in newspapers, and producing films. The USIA was even in places where there weren't movie theaters. They would have these vans, these trucks with screens and they would project space films for people outside. The level of effort that went into promoting the American Space Program in the 1960s around the world was a huge contributor to this global audience that watched the first lunar landing, and it's an important part of that story.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: So, we don't have that same level of investment in communicating stories about American Space Program, or the International Space Station and a lot of the important work that's going on there. Although there is some infrastructure that does that, or there is public relations, there is coverage of those stories, it's just not on the same scale that it was in the 1960s. Part of that is not only, it's not just a story about spaceflight, it's also a story about US investment in soft power and public diplomacy.
Casey Dreier: Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony is a historian of science and technology, a curator of the Apollo Spacecraft Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and the author of the book we just talked about today, Operation Moonglow, A Political History of Project Apollo. I greatly enjoyed the book, and Teasel, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I thought that was a really interesting discussion.
Teasel Muir-Harmony: Thank you so much for having me.
Mat Kaplan: That was Casey Dreier, the Senior Space Policy Adviser and Chief Advocate for The Planetary Society, with his guest for the December Space Policy Edition, Teasel Muir-Harmony. Great conversation, Casey, thank you very much for that.
Casey Dreier: Oh, of course, and thank you to Teasel for being here. Always fun to dive into the history of the space and Apollo, it just reminds you just how rich and deep that story is, and how much is, I think, really yet to be told. Not just in the US, but globally. I enjoyed that, and I hope everyone else enjoyed listening to it.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, and I suspect that there'll be a few people, and I'm among them, who are now intrigued and will want to take a look through the book, because that conversation was so, not just deep, but broad, about all of these implications of Apollo. Some of which are I'm sure still with us today. Anyway, great conversation. Casey, we'll be talking again in the New Year, in 2021.
Casey Dreier: Let's hope it's a little better of a year for everybody than 2020 was. But lots of exciting things to look forward to. Obviously, we'll have a new administration, new space policy, but James Webb Space Telescope will launch. Well, should I knock on wood, should I cross my fingers?
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, I think so.
Casey Dreier: It's scheduled to launch. The Lucy Mission is scheduled to launch. I believe the dark mission, the impact in asteroids ... There's a ton of missions happening next year. Boeing Starliner should launch humans for the first time, if everything goes to plan. We might see a launch of Starship from SpaceX. Oh, my gosh, it's going to be a great exciting year for space and so many things in terms of politics and policy to discuss. We will dive into that, I guarantee you.
Mat Kaplan: You left out the Red Planet, three new arrivals in February.
Casey Dreier: Oh, yeah, that. The three missions of the flotilla of Mars spacecraft, one of which my wife works on. I should remember that one, particularly, that's coming up in February and throughout the spring. That's going to be incredible. The first of the extended Mars Sample Return universe missions begins its work next February.
Mat Kaplan: Join us therefore on the first Friday in January, and the first Fridays throughout the year, and join us at The Planetary Society. Once again, that pitch at planetary.org/membership and our year-end campaign underway, for those who want to go the extra mile. We hope that you have enjoyed this program and will continue to enjoy it just as we have. Happy holidays, whatever your holidays may be, to all of you, and the very happiest of New Years. As Casey said, we sure hope it will be a better one than 2020. Casey, thanks. I'll be talking to you soon.
Casey Dreier: As always, Mat, I'm happy to be here.
Mat Kaplan: Take care all, best of success, and ad astra.