It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
– Arnold Toynbee
During my daily surfing experience I encountered some of the conspiracy theories revolving around the Apollo Project claiming that the whole project was a hoax. After going over several of these arguments it occurred to me that the core issue is not how we put a man on the moon, but why.
The purpose of the Apollo Project was to give the United States military supremacy in space. Kennedy and his advisors both scientific and military knew that this required only orbital supremacy, however to make this supremacy stick technologically they had to shoot higher. They had to get the next leg up on the Soviets–that meant the moon.
The race for the moon was participated in by both sides of the Cold War conflict. The United States suffered many setbacks in the public eye, especially the loss of the astronauts of Apollo 1. However, the losses faced by the Soviets was much greater with the explosion of an entire rocket on the pad that set them back so far as to put them out of the race.
Apollo Project conspiracy theories are an insult not only to the United States, but to Canada as well. The greatest minds in Canada at the time were recruited to work beside America’s best to engineer the accomplishment of this mammoth task. If you are calling Americans liars about Apollo, you are also calling Canada’s brightest and best liars. And if you think Canada a pushover, you should read the history of the battle between American President, John F. Kennedy, and Canada’s Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, over Canada’s refusal to this day to put nuclear weapons on its soil.
Yes, we did put men on the moon. It was done for very pragmatic technological reasons, not simply as a propaganda stunt. It was a crucial step in winning the Cold War.