In the summer of 1969, two seminal events of the sixties happened within a few weeks of each other: the first man walked on the moon and the Woodstock music festival was held in upstate New York. At first glance, these two events might appear to have little to do with one another. But in his new book, Apollo in the Age of Aquarius (Harvard University Press, 2017), Neil Maher examines the often contentious relationship between the NASA-led space program and the social movements of the era.
Maher shows that civil rights activists questioned why the U.S. federal government spent billions on space exploration while many African Americans suffered in poverty and lived in dilapidated housing in the nation's cities. He explains why New Left activists and environmentalists opposed NASA's emphasis on big technology and the agency's involvement with the military in Vietnam. And he describes how hippies with the counterculture rejected NASA's techno-optimism and moved to communes to practice simpler living using smaller, appropriate technology.
Neil Maher is associate professor of history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of a previous book, Nature's New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Rise of the American Environmental Movement (Oxford University Press).
Bob Wilson is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His research interests include historical geography and environmental history, animal studies, and climate change politics and activism. Wilson also teaches Writing Geography, a graduate seminar that introduces students to storytelling, creative nonfiction, and how to employ these techniques in theses, articles, and books.