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In the early 1960s, the Kennedy administration's public campaign to sell Project Apollo met with little opposition from Congress, the media, or the public. Only in the aftermath of space disasters like the Challenger explosion have Americans seriously questioned the primacy - or even the need - for human beings to explore outer space. This book examines the Kennedy administration's rhetoric to understand why Project Apollo received so little opposition.
Although the Kennedy administration advanced a number of political, scientific, military, and economic arguments for a manned moon mission, its rhetoric ultimately "sold" the space project as a great frontier adventure story with deep roots in American history and culture. The administration enticed Congress, the media, and the public to think of Project Apollo not in "logical" terms, but as a reaffirmation of the romantic American frontier myth.
By describing space as the New Frontier, the Kennedy administration shaped the way Americans interpreted and gave meaning to space exploration for years to come. The frontier narrative subsumed arguments about the technology and economics of the program, and it established a presumption in favor of massive commitments of the nation's resources to staffed space flight. The continuing influence of the frontier mythology is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the decision to develop the space shuttle program. Ultimately, the shuttle's attraction may have been the symbolic importance of the fact that the astronauts flew the craft as a plane, thereby reaffirming the rugged individualism and daring of the frontier myth.
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James L. Kauffman is Assistant Professor of Speech Communication at Indiana University Southeast.Review:
"Kauffman's compelling book... examines how the Kennedy administration and the media constructed the space program in ways designed to win congressional and public approval. Kauffman analyzes the construction of the space program as a series of rhetorical moves, raising questions not only about the media, government, and technology but also about how we understand public life." - Journal of American History "A valuable addition to the body of science communication research that examines the tension between expert and public perspectives on such issues as risk and the environment." - Sciphers (Science Communication Interest Group) "Selling Outer Space is a case study of the complex relationship between the government and the media. Anyone interested in public relations, or how the news media operate, should read this book. Every library should own it." - Academic Library Book Review"
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