Landing a Man on the Moon: President Nixon and the Apollo Program
- Nixon Presidential Library Education Team
- Making Connections
- Historical Era:
- Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
- Primary Historical Thinking Skill:
- Historical Analysis & Interpretation
- Bloom's Taxonomy:
This activity chronicles the Space Race from President Kennedy’s call to land on the Moon until Apollo 17—the last lunar Mission, placing particular emphasis on President Nixon’s role in the space program.
- Analyze primary documents
- Analyze photographs
- Better understand the Apollo program, the Moon landing, and the Space Race.
This activity is appropriate during a unit about the Cold War. For grades 8-12. Approximate time needed is 45 minutes.
Launch the activity with all of the documents on screen at once for the entire class to see. Encourage students to look at each document’s Details section for further information when they begin their own analysis.
Choose a document or photograph from the activity to model effective document analysis with your class. Introduce or review the term “Space Race” with students, reminding them that it was seen as a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.).
After modeling document analysis, as a class, individually, or in small groups ask the students to complete the activity on their own. Instruct the students to use the artifacts to answer the questions. Ask them to record their answers.
After they’ve completed the activity, ask the students to consider the importance of the Moon landing. Lead a class discussion with the following questions, reflected in the I’m Done section of the activity:
- Why was the Space Race important?
- Why did it end?
- Was there a winner?
- Do you think the space program is still important?
- Do you think an American will walk on the Moon again in your lifetime?
Follow the links below to learn more about the documents in this activity. To learn more about President Richard Nixon visit www.nixonlibrary.gov.
Documents in this activity:
- Photograph of Astronaut Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. Posing on the Moon Next to the U.S. Flag
- Letter from Thaddeus A. Zagorewicz to President Richard Nixon
- Presidential Daily Diary Entry
- Apollo 11 Target of Opportunity Flight Chart
- Postcard with Apollo 11 Commemorative First Day Issue Stamp and Signatures
- S. 2709 Authorizing the Erection of a Statue to Commemorate the Manned Lunar Landing and the Placing of the United States Flag on the Moon
- Earth, as Seen by Astronauts Eugen Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmidt from Apollo 17
- Photograph of Apollo 8’s View of the Moon
- Memorandum from Jim Jones to President Johnson about the Fire on Apollo 1
- Rice University Speech September 12, 1962
- Debrief: Apollo 8
- Memoranduam for President Subject: Evaluation of Space Program April 28, 1961
- Richard M. Nixon on the phone in the oval office talking to Astronaunts on the moon
- Map of the Lunar Surface
- Apollo 11 Flight Plan