By John M. Logsdon
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Extra info for After Apollo?: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program
On July 13, three days before the Apollo launch, the Soviet Union launched the Luna-15 robotic probe, with the intent of first orbiting, then landing on, the Moon, scooping up some lunar soil, and bringing it back to Earth. There was some concern that the trajectory of the Soviet mission might intersect with Apollo 11 while both were in lunar orbit, resulting in a collision. At NASA’s request, Borman used the White House–Kremlin “hot line” to send a message to Keldysh requesting the orbital parameters of the Soviet probe.
Never before had the Soviet Union provided such detailed information on one of its ongoing space missions. 22 By July 14, Borman was back from his trip to the Soviet Union; he would stay involved with President Nixon until the Apollo 11 astronauts were safely back on Earth on July 24. One action Borman took at the president’s request was to prepare brief profiles of the Apollo 11 crew for Nixon and similar profiles of the crew’s wives for Mrs. Nixon. ”23 NASA had sent to the White House proposed remarks for President Nixon to use as he spoke with the astronauts on the Moon.
Given this lack of future large missions, Webb on August 1, 1968, refused to approve a request to begin procurement of “long-lead-time” items for the Saturn V Moon rocket, beginning the process of shutting down the booster’s production line. This decision was deeply disappointing to Webb. ” Webb had for some time planned to retire from NASA before the 1968 presidential election. On September 16, 1968, he went to the White House to discuss the timing of his resignation with President Johnson. Given Webb’s unhappiness with S e t t i n g t h e P o s t- A p o l l o S tag e 35 Johnson’s recent lack of support for NASA, it is likely that he made his disappointment known to the president.