Since July 1969, Neil Armstrong's first step on the Moon has represented the pinnacle of space exploration and a grand scientific achievement. Yet, as Smithsonian curator Teasel Muir-Harmony argues here, it above all a political gesture to build a global coalition. Starting with President John F. Kennedy's 1961 decision to send astronauts to the Moon to promote American "freedom" over Soviet "tyranny," Project Apollo was central to foreign relations. After the Moon landing, the astronauts and President Richard Nixon traveled the world, Muir-Harmony suggests, to amplify the sense of global unity shared by billions of people.
Author: Teasel Muir-Harmony.