70. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow) to President Kennedy1


  • Overseas Exhibition of “Friendship 7” Space Capsule

We can make a terrific impact abroad by exhibiting Colonel Glenn’s “Friendship 7” space capsule in key countries.2 I understand NASA is prepared to make it available for such showings. USIA is prepared to manage all aspects of the tour if the Air Force can make a plane available to transport the capsule.

(The Russians have sent Gagarin and Titov3 to various foreign countries but I do not believe we should exhibit Glenn like a trained seal. He should go back to work with his fellow astronauts; his flight was only one step in our advancing space program.)

We propose to fly the capsule to some or all of the following cities for one to three days showing:

1. Moscow. (If the Soviets agree, the world will note their failure to show their capsules even to their own people, whereas we are willing to show ours even to the Russians.) Ambassador Thompson has already requested it be included in our “Medicine USA” exhibit.4

2. Belgrade. Our man there has asked that the capsule be included in the “Transportation USA” exhibit at the Belgrade Fair in May.5

[Page 187]
3. Paris 11. Bangkok
4. London 12. Djakarta
5. Lagos 13. Manila
6. Accra 14. Tokyo
7. Abidjan (or Rabat) 15. Buenos Aires
8. Cairo 16. Rio de Janeiro
9. Karachi 17. Santiago
10. New Delhi 18. Mexico City

Purpose of this memorandum is to obtain your approval of the project, and your support of our request for the capsule and an Air Force plane.6

Edward R. Murrow
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Box 91, USIA 1/62–6/62. No classification marking. A stamped notation indicates that it was received in the White House on February 27 at 10:35 a.m.
  2. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7, on February 20. On February 21, Khrushchev sent the President a letter congratulating him and the American people. The letter is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. VI, KennedyKhrushchev Exchanges, Document 35.
  3. Titov orbited the Earth in August 1961.
  4. Soviet officials rejected the American proposal to include the capsule as part of the “Medicine USA” exhibit in Leningrad in June 1962. (Max Frankel, “Soviet Bars Exhibit of Glenn Capsule,” The New York Times, May 9, 1962, p. 10)
  5. Friendship 7 arrived in Belgrade on May 21. (“Glenn Capsule in Belgrade,” The New York Times, May 22, 1962, p. 34) On May 22, Tito opened the “Transportation USA” exhibit and viewed the capsule. According to The New York Times: “Marshal Tito peppered the technicians accompanying the capsule with questions. Where was the heat shield? Where was the parachute? How did Colonel Glenn see out? After demonstrating how the capsule worked, the technicians presented him with a model of the vehicle.” (“Tito Views Glenn Capsule And Becomes Space Buff,” May 23, 1962, p. 9)
  6. According to a memorandum prepared in the USIA Office of Public Information on October 28, 1963, which summarized changes in USIA since March 1961, the capsule toured 23 countries between April and August 1962 and garnered record crowds. The memorandum is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters, Document 156.