Re “We Lost a Chance to Reach for the Stars,” July 15: Mark R. Whittington’s commentary addresses one of the greatest hidden tragedies of the last 30 years, but while he acknowledges the political complexities of the reasons for the discontinuation of the Apollo program, he does not discuss one of the most important components. Had there not been the perceived military threat, there would have always been, on the part of the public, an emphasis on spending money on more earthbound concerns.
This was why there was agreement by liberals and conservatives in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s to spend the money to go to the moon. With the waning of the capabilities of the Soviets to arrive before us in the late ‘60s, the desire to appropriate the money also faded. Indeed, conservatives could appear to be liberal by arguing that the civilian space program was a boondoggle ... unlike the military potential of high-atmosphere space, which they have funded without limit. It is the approach to space as explorers and not conquerors that keeps manned missions in the purgatory of appropriations.