Neil Maher

Jan 24, 2020

Apollo in the Age of Aquarius

Harvard University Press 2017

purchase at bookshop.org Neil Maher talks about the social forces that shaped NASA in the 1960s and 70s, connecting the space race with the radical upheavals of the counterculture. Maher is a professor of history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark. He is the author of Apollo in the Age of Aquarius (Harvard University Press, 2017). The summer of 1969 saw astronauts land on the moon for the first time and hippie hordes descend on Woodstock. This lively and original account of the space race makes the case that the conjunction of these two era-defining events was not entirely coincidental. With its lavishly funded mandate to put a man on the moon, the Apollo mission promised to reinvigorate a country that had lost its way. But a new breed of activists denounced it as a colossal waste of resources needed to solve pressing problems at home. Neil Maher reveals that there were actually unexpected synergies between the space program and the budding environmental, feminist and civil rights movements as photos from space galvanized environmentalists, women challenged the astronauts’ boys club and NASA’s engineers helped tackle inner city housing problems. Against a backdrop of Saturn V moonshots and Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind, Apollo in the Age of Aquarius brings the cultural politics of the space race back down to planet Earth.
Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer College, University of Hartford. He's the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and The Lost White Tribe: Scientists, Explorers, and the Theory that Changed a Continent (Oxford University Press, 2016). He's also the host of the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs, a weekly podcast about science, history, and exploration.

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Michael F. Robinson