"The Apollo program was primarily motivated by psycho-political considerations, in response to persistent perceptions of American inferiority in space technology vis-a-vis the Soviets, in the context of the Cold War. In this respect it succeeded brilliantly. In fact, American superiority in manned spaceflight was achieved in the precursory Gemini program, even before the first Apollo flight." needless and unjustified bias? --drj
Yes, I think so. The Apollo 1 tragedy hardly left NASA feeling overly superior.
No, actually, I believe you're wrong. The Gemini program accomplished ten successful mannned flights in 22 months. It achieved the first rendezvous and docking of spacecraft in orbit, widely regarded as the next and most crucial step in the development of manned spaceflight (both for earth orbital and lunar mission operations), and repeatedly demonstrated this capability. The Gemini flights set impressive records for mission duration, orbital altitude and extra-vehicular activity. During this period the Soviet Union did not launch a single manned spaceflight. When the Soviets did resume flight a few months after the Apollo 1 fire, they failed to achieve a planned docking, and the mission ended in disaster with the death of the cosmonaut. Yes, the Apollo 1 fire was a serious setback. But despite the fire, American superiority in manned spaceflight achievement was clear.