May 24, 2011

Race to Space, Through the Lens of Time

John Wilford, New York Times


ap

It was the spring of 1961. President John F. Kennedy, speaking of new frontiers and projecting the vigor of youth, had been in office barely four months, and April had been the cruelest.

On the 12th, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth — one more space triumph for the Soviet Union. Though the flight was not unexpected, it was nonetheless deflating; it would be more than a month before Alan Shepard became the first American in space, and that was on a 15-minute suborbital flight. On the 17th, a force of anti-Castro exiles, trained by the C.I.A., invaded communist Cuba at the Bay of Pigs — a fiasco within 36 hours. Mr. Kennedy’s close aide Theodore Sorensen described him on the 19th as “anguished and fatigued” and “in the most emotional, self-critical...

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TAGGED: Space

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