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Activity Kit - Founding of the U.S. Space Observance and Space Exploration Day Concepts

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JULY 16TH - 24TH 1969

During the period of July 16th - July 24th 1969, a dream of the ages was fulfilled, as man actually set foot onto the surface of the Moon. What had once been a topic for science fiction stories had become an awe inspiring reality. Much of mankind responded in a spirit of great joy and celebration.

The Apollo 11 Moon Mission brought out the higher values of the mind and spirit. On July 20th 1969 there was peace in Vietnam. The New York City crime rate dropped dramatically. The brotherhood of mankind shared in this symbol for peace and progress.

Besides advancing science and technology, landing men on the Moon increased mankind's sense of dignity and self worth. People started to realize that if we could put a man on the Moon, we could do many things of benefit to all humanity. Where the conflicts of the world revealed man's destructive tendencies; landing men on the Moon revealed his creative nature. Apollo 11 represented mankind's tendencies for progress, discovery, and good will, as the astronauts came in peace for all mankind. (Traditionally, women are also included in the definition of "mankind".)

On October 3, 1969, David O. McKay, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stated the following in a general conference address:

Men all over the world were hushed with awe, and world-renowned television commentators were speechless as they watched and tried to explain the activities and easy strides of the astronauts on the lunar surface. Millions said, "I cannot believe it!", "Fantastic," "Impossible". One commentator on television said, "How can young people withdraw from a world of this kind".

JULY 16TH – 24TH 1970

On the first anniversary of Apollo 11, the television networks commemorated the event, but there was no formal national celebration. The central Florida space coast community started the nation’s first Apollo 11 commemorative celebration, known as the International Moonwalk Festival.


In 1971, the future of the Space Program was threatened by budget cutbacks. Three Apollo Moon Missions were cancelled. Plans for a Moon Base, and Manned Mission to Mars, were put off indefinitely.

The nation's news media was both friend and foe of the Space Program. It was through the news media, that mankind experienced the wonder of manned Moonwalks and their related scientific discoveries.

However, much of the news media, was also spreading false dilemma /either or paradox propaganda, pitting spending on the Space Program, against social progress. In the song, "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love", a hateful undercurrent stated, "We don't need another mountain; there are plenty of mountains for us to climb". The song writer stated that, men walking on the Moon were a good example of the other mountains the song speaks of. By depicting the other mountains as competition to love for humanity, he effectively villainized everyone who made the Apollo Moon Program possible, as well as their supporters.

Public opinion turned against the Space Program. Budget cutbacks led to massive unemployment, and compromised NASA employees' safety. It should also be pointed out that according to a freedom of information act document; President Nixon cancelled the last three Apollo Moon Missions, out of a fear that an accident on the Moon could hurt his chances for re-election. However, President Nixon was in favor of a manned mission to Mars by the end of the 20th century; which unfortunately failed to blossom. America had lost its space related vision for the future.

To counter the threat of the NASA cutbacks, I first sent letters to NASA public affairs officers, suggesting ways to increase public interest. Nothing significant happened with the ideas. In answer to prayer, I felt inspiration to promote a special day, where the benefits of the Space Program would be stressed to the public, and the nation's vision for the future would be vastly improved. The week including the July 20th Moon landing Anniversary, was the obvious choice. I named the effort U.S. Space Program Week.

The Ad Astra Astronomy Club, in Salt Lake City, agreed to sponsor the 1971 activities at the Hansen Planetarium. NASA Public Affairs people supported our local space promotion activities. Public attendance was low, but we reached an eight state area mass audience through appearances on a KCPX Television children's program.


In 1972, I sent correspondence to 350 astronomy clubs, and 150 planetariums, throughout the United States, encouraging them to have U.S. Space Program Week activities in their communities. We got direct favorable response from two clubs in California, and one on Long Island New York. NASA Research Centers' Public Affairs Offices throughout the nation got bombarded with requests from astronomy clubs asking for help with their U.S. Space Program Week activities.

The leadership of the Ad Astra Astronomy Club turned against the effort, in favor of only emphasizing telescope astronomy. But the supporters of U.S. Space Program Week, continued on with their activities, which had gained considerable national momentum.

Ken W. Randle, and the Utah Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, supported the Salt Lake City activities. On July 22, 1972, the Utah Space Association was formed, dedicated to the national advancement of U.S. Space Program Week. Ken W. Randle suggested the name for the organization, and took Utah Space Association members to witness the night launch of Apollo 17, the last Manned Moon Mission of the 20th Century.


I wrote draft congressional resolutions that later passed in Congress, leading to proclamations by Presidents Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. Congressman Olin Teague of Texas, and Senator Frank Moss of Utah, changed the name of the event first to U.S. Space Week, and then finally to U.S. Space Observance. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics sections had activities in their communities. The Congressional resolutions couldn't have passed without Ken Randle coordinating the nationwide support of AIAA.

In 1975, the Utah Space Association, in conjunction with the World Association of Amateur Astronomers, promoted an International Space Week.

In 1975, Christopher Kraft, of NASA Johnson Space Center, sent Utah Space Association a list of local organizations that had supported U.S. Space Week activities in the past.

In 1976, President Ford issued a proclamation for a July 20th Space Exploration Day. This was done without a congressional resolution. This coincided with the Viking Landing on Mars. Jim Brown of Thiokol Corporation was a personal friend of President Ford. He along with Viking Mars Project manager Dr. Stan Martin, Senator Moss, Congressman Teague, and Ken W. Randle urged President Ford to issue the proclamation.

In 1977 the L5 Society and the National Space Institute were encouraged to support Space Exploration Day, and its related U.S. Space Observance. In a 1978 National Space Institute newsletter, increased community activities throughout the nation was encouraged, and a proposal was made for a July 20th Space Exploration Day Holiday. In 1979 NASA established Salt Lake City as their western hub for the 10th anniversary of Apollo 11, still known officially as U.S. Space Observance. "Space Week" was used as a nickname.

In the 1980s, an organization calling itself Spaceweek National Headquarters stole the thunder from AIAA and Utah Space Association efforts of past years, and encouraged all their participants to recognize July 16 – 24, as Spaceweek.

They also snubbed the Space Exploration Day Holiday concept. On the positive side, they did establish public community activities in over 100 cities, and expanded their efforts internationally. They now head an October World Space Week. For five years, in the 80s, the governors of all fifty states, plus Puerto Rico, issued proclamations for U.S. Space Observance, and Space Exploration Day.

L5 Society efforts resulted in permanent recognition of state. Space Observances, and Space Exploration Days, through legislation passed in Arizona, Kansas and Ohio. The state of Ohio officially recognized Space Exploration Day as a Holiday, as a result of the efforts of William R. Avery. A lot still needs to be done to fully popularize the holiday with the general public, in Ohio. President Reagan issued proclamations for Space Exploration Day. A 1984 Congressional Resolution established Space Exploration Day as a non-paid Holiday for that year only. President George H.W. Bush also issued a Space Exploration Day proclamation.

In the 1990s, Salt Lake City only had U.S. Space Observance events on major Apollo 11 anniversaries; every five years. With AIAA, there was considerable burn out from having to get Presidential and state proclamations every year, without official permanent recognition.

In the first decade of the 21st Century, an October World Space Week, and May Space Day, with its related Space Week, and an April Yuri Night was established. World Space Week emphasized the anniversary of Sputnik, and the anniversary of the United Nations Peaceful Uses of Space Treaty. World Space Week and the May Space Day are oriented toward students in the schools. Yuri Night is oriented toward young adults having dance parties.

U.S. Space Observance and Space Exploration Day Holiday deserved a major re-birth of public participation in the 21st Century. Practical Star Travel may even be possible.

Without increased public interest and government support, these goals could be cut back, postponed or even eliminated with future congresses and presidential administrations.

As an example, the supercollider was cancelled, while it was in the process of being built, causing a great waste of the taxpayers' money; not to mention limiting American leadership in physics, and denying mankind the benefits of research in that area. The Space Station was saved by only one vote.