Analyze the December 6, 1968 Time magazine cover "Race for the Moon."

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The cover of Time magazine for December 6, 1968 shows the "race for the moon," as the picture is captioned, as similar to an Olympic competition. The Olympics had occurred earlier that year, so the context would have been immediately apparent.

In this image, a U.S. astronaut, indicated by the...

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The cover of Time magazine for December 6, 1968 shows the "race for the moon," as the picture is captioned, as similar to an Olympic competition. The Olympics had occurred earlier that year, so the context would have been immediately apparent.

In this image, a U.S. astronaut, indicated by the American flag on the right arm of his uniform, is slightly ahead of a Soviet astronaut, identified by the red star on the arm of his uniform. The red star was part of the Soviet flag and also a symbol of international communism. The U.S. astronaut's uniform is gold, suggesting the U.S. will win the race, while the Soviet astronaut's is silver, indicating the USSR will come in second. Both are running hard towards a moon that is looming close. The U.S. astronaut, however, is only a step in the lead, raising the anxiety that the Soviet might overtake him, though the gold uniform suggests the win is inevitable.

The moon race is closely identified with the Olympics, a competition that was a proxy at that time for the military and ideological rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union, and more broadly, between capitalism/democracy and communism/authoritarianism. Taking home the most gold at the Olympics was a very important prestige issue for both the U.S. and the USSR.

The Time magazine cover portrays the moon race as similarly important to U.S. prestige. The cover implies that the U.S. needs to keep the pressure/funding on to win the sprint to the finish line. This shows that the moon shot is less about scientific discovery or economics (the moon is depicted as a dead, cratered gray ball) and more about status than anything else.

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