Was there opposition to the Space Race? If so, why? 

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the golden age of the US space program, there was significant opposition among academics, scientists, and the general population. The general reason for this was that the space program was enormously expensive. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, polls during the 1960s almost invariably reflected a majority against increased expeditures on the race to the moon, and many black newspapers in particular questioned the wisdom of such spending when so much was needed to improve the condition of America's inner cities:

It would appear that the fathers of our nation would allow a few thousand hungry people to die for the lack of a few thousand dollars while they would contaminate the moon and its sterility for the sake of 'progress' and spend billions of dollars in the process, while people are hungry, ill-clothed, poorly educated (if at all)."

Civil rights groups even organized protests at Apollo program launches at Cape Canaveral, arguing along the same lines as the excerpt from the Los Angeles Sentinel above. Their opposition has received some scholarly attention, with historians noting that supporters of the program tended to be affluent, middle-class whites. Other critics, especially academics, questioned the wisdom of devoting so many talented minds to a single project. It should be noted, of course, that this opposition did not stop millions of Americans from following the achievements of the space program, and in fact Americans who lived through the era remember the space race in far more positive terms than polls showed they did when it was actually happening.

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