On July 20, 1969, hundreds of millions tuned in to witness Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon. The most expensive civilian scientific and technological program in U.S. history, Project Apollo symbolized the caliber of America’s capability in space exploration. Yet, according to Smithsonian curator Teasel Muir-Harmony, the project wasn’t only about advancing science. It was part of a political strategy to foster a global community aligned with America’s Cold War interests.
In 1961, President Kennedy proposed sending Americans to the Moon as a way of restoring the nation’s tarnished geopolitical standing in the wake of the Soviet Union’s launch of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and a humiliating defeat in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The success of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was touted as an accomplishment for the U.S. and the world—and helped President Nixon and Henry Kissinger to advance their new foreign policy agenda.
On the 60th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, Muir-Harmony draws on her new book, Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo, to explore how and why the Moon landing became one of the 20th century’s most decisive geopolitical events.
Copies of Operation Moonglow (Basic Books) are available for purchase.
Book Sale Information
- If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
- Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
- Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
- Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
- View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.