Jfk Men Into Space Analysis

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Arguably, Kennedy’s most influential legacy for the emerging American space program was his portrayal of space as the final frontier. The continuation of Turner’s Frontier Thesis through a national space effort appealed to America’s nostalgic pioneering heritage and provided the country with a revived sense of identity and national unity through a new era of exploration. In his address at Rice University, Kennedy utilized frontier imagery to invoke a parallel between conquering the wilderness and exploring outer space: “Space is there, and we 're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And therefore, as we set sail we ask God 's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous…show more content…
The CBS Television Series Men Into Space, for example, glorified the ingenuity of man’s technological capabilities and the pioneering spirit of American astronauts. In the first episode, colonel Edward McCauley, leader of the fictional American space program, famously stated that “if a mountain exists, somebody has to climb it. The mountains on the Moon just happen to be a few hundred thousand miles higher” (Neufeld 17). Like Kennedy, McCauley alludes to George Mallory’s famous response about climbing Mount Everest “because it was there” (Jordan). In doing so, both Kennedy and the show Men Into Space led Americans to believe that the nation’s prestige was rooted in exploration and that space was a necessary continuation of that vision. Television also romanticized the heroism of space pilots, as seen in 1959 NBC’s television series The Man and the Challenge. In the show, fictional Dr. Glenn Barton described what kind of person should become an astronaut, which surprisingly resembled a western explorer: “We need highly specialized men, who will one day land on the Moon and neighboring planets. Who can withstand pain, terror, cold, heat, hunger, sleeplessness, weightlessness, and isolation” (Neufeld…show more content…
Open television coverage of America’s space program promoted the country’s image as a transparent democracy relative to the closed nature of the Soviet Union, but this strategy proved to be both high risk and high reward. Indeed, the 1957 Vanguard launch failure still haunted the public’s perception of the national space program until Mercury 1 launched off on May 5, 1961, and Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space. The Mercury-redstone rocket was significantly less powerful than the Vostok N-7, but unlike its Soviet counterpart, the Mercury 1 mission was done in full view of the world from liftoff to splashdown (Allen 81). That in itself took a degree of courage on behalf of the United States that far surpassed that of the Soviet Union. CBS anchor Walter Cronkite summarized the American victory on the Eyewitness to History television broadcast that evening: “There is high drama in the risks a free nation is asked to take to publicize that effort. Today, America took a gamble and America won” (Allen 82). Cronkite highlighted the inherent danger of broadcasting space missions on television, but emphasized the importance of open coverage in America. Performing these space feats in full view of the world not only established America’s technological and military supremacy over the Soviet

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