31. Editorial Note

On March 19, 1965, Vice President Humphrey gave his first major speech on space policy at a dinner honoring Robert Goddard, father of the modern space program. Humphrey set out his vision for America’s space program and placed it in the context of the administration’s goals. “Let me assure you that the Great Society envisioned by President Lyndon Johnson is not one limited to the fight against poverty, ignorance, disease, and intolerance,” he said. “The Great Society requires, in addition, an urgent quest for excellence, for intellectual attainment, for crossing new frontiers in science and technology. Let me emphasize that an adequately funded, well-directed space program is an integral part of our nation’s commitment to its future, to its greatness.”

Humphrey argued that the nation’s “strong and prosperous” economy would permit the government to simultaneously address domestic problems while exploring space: “We can put a man on the moon at the same time as we help to put a man on his feet.” He also reminded the audience that the Soviet Union was enjoying great success in its space program. “Our national security alone would suggest reason enough for us to strive for absolute leadership in space exploration,” he said. “Every time we pause, we have had a shock from the Soviet [Page 69] efforts in space,” Humphrey explained, citing the first successful space walk completed by a cosmonaut the previous day. The text of the Vice President’s speech is in the Minnesota Historical Society, Papers of Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice Presidential Files, 1965–68.

On April 13, in his first appearance as Chairman of the Space Council, Humphrey expanded on these themes: “I see benefits flowing from the space program in the furtherance of international cooperation and in laying the groundwork for the creation of world peace. It is my belief that the total of these benefits will greatly exceed our total investment in the entire program. Our activities in space and in aeronautics are important parts of President Johnson’s Great Society.” “I am convinced,” he emphasized, “that international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space is a cornerstone of United States policy.” The text of Humphrey’s speech is ibid., Outer Space General Files, 1964–April 1967.