We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

- President John F. Kennedy, from a speech at Rice University, September 12, 1962

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Throughout the 1960s, America and the Soviet Union vied with each other to lead the field of space science. In this case study, we will follow the story of the space race up to the first manned moon landing using various archives from Gale Primary Sources, and see how our fully-searchable digitized primary sources can add extra depth to a research piece by adding reactions and opinions that are rarely included in reference works.

By using these primary sources, we can see the questions that were being asked by commentators and experts in space science, explore government documents to see what was happening behind the scenes, and how information and opinion around the space race was presented to the public through the press. Was space exploration really motivated by scientific exploration and discovery, or was it a political show of strength to boost national pride? Was it worth it, especially if it meant people losing their lives? Was it realistic to put a man on the moon, or would it be the first step in a journey deeper into space?


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