Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cold Warriors on the Moon

NASA's Apollo Program ran from 1960 to 1975. In May 1961 it was announced that the objective of the program was to land human beings on the Earth's moon and return them safely to the Earth before the end of the decade. This goal, set during the height of the Space Race with the Soviet Union, was accomplished on July 20, 1969. Six missions successfully landed on the Moon, with the last one taking place in December 1972. The missions to the Moon were ended in 1973 due to budget cutbacks. However, before the program was officially terminated there were four manned missions to the Skylab orbital space station, from May 1973 to July 1975, involving cooperation with the Soviet Union. As such, what began as a Space Race during the height of the the Cold War ended in peaceful cooperation as Détente, or easing of relations, was sought. This shift in foreign policy emphasis is clearly seen in the major periods of the SAMVA USA chart. This authentic horoscope for the USA is allowing us to examine US history at a fundamental or causative level.

Historical and astrological background
The Apollo program was conceived during the Saturn major period in the SAMVA USA chart. Saturn is 8th lord of obstacles and endings. This period lasted from April 19, 1953 to April 19, 1972 and can be characterized as the peak of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Cold War (1945–1991) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939–1945), between the USSR and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States.[1] During this period, technical and economic competition to a large extent replaced direct conflict between the major parties.

During the onset of the Cold War, the SAMVA USA chart was running the Jupiter major period from April 19, 1937 to April 19, 1953. As Jupiter is 6th lord in the chart, it rules over conflict and is placed in the 5th house of creativity. Moreover, as Jupiter mutually aspects the Moon as 1st lord of self located in the 11th house of ideals, the USA will never back down from a challenge. WW II is generally considered to have been a just war, with the USA fighting against the evils of totalitarianism, both Nazi fascism and Soviet Communism. Although the military forces of the primary participants in the Cold War never officially clashed directly, the conflict was expressed through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, e.g. the space race.[1] During the Saturn period the US fought in increasingly unpopular wars in the Korean War (June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953) and Vietnam War (August 7, 1964 – April 30, 1975). In October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out as a confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union over Soviet missiles in Cuba. A sense of total destruction in a nuclear war pervaded the USA during the Cold War period. It was this sense of “mutually assured destruction” that led to reforms in relations with the Soviets and Chinese in the Mercury major period, from April 19, 1972 to April 19, 1989, which resulted in the fall of Soviet communism.

In relation to the Saturn period and the lunar landings, we should note the aspect of Saturn to Sun as 2nd lord of status and wealth. This aspect gives an impetus to gain status and legitimacy through death-defying acts. As a side note, it it interesting that the huge missile carrying the astronauts into space was called the Saturn rocket.

Planning stage (early 1960- early 1966)
The Apollo program was conceived early in 1960, during the Dwight Eisenhower administration, as a follow-up to America's Mercury program. While the Mercury capsule could only support one astronaut on a limited earth orbital mission, the Apollo spacecraft was to be able to carry three astronauts on a circumlunar flight and perhaps even on a lunar landing. While NASA went ahead with planning for Apollo, funding for the program was far from certain, particularly given Eisenhower's equivocal attitude to manned spaceflight. In November 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected President after a campaign that promised American superiority over the Soviet Union in the fields of space exploration and missile defense. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly in space, reinforcing American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. After considerable prevarication, the Decision to go to the Moon was announced by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961 in a speech before a Joint Session of Congress:

“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.[2]”

Astrology of Kennedy's speech
The Saturn-Venus period was operating, emphasising the importance of communal harmony, undermined by the serious conflict with the Soviets. Transit Venus at 28° Pisces was exalted in the 9th house, which suggests a higher purpose for this sense of collective harmony. The prominent placement of Mars, the planet of courage and technical ability, is important for such events. In this regard we can note that transit 10th lord Mars at 17° Cancer was conjunct the most effective point (MEP) of the 1st house, placing this issue into the forefront. Moreover, transit Sun as 2nd lord of status and the leader was in exact opposition to natal Mars, reflecting the Presidential call for this unrivaled human technical achievement, but also rallying American's around their strengths which have enabled them in their history to push forward and master their environment. Sun Transit Mars was also opposite transit 6th lord Jupiter at 13° 50’ Capricorn and 7th house, signifying the competitive aspect of the enterprise. While both Mars and Jupiter were debilitated in transit, they were well placed and influencing also Mercury as 3rd lord of inititive at 12° 05’ Capricorn. Moreover, Jupiter was natally aspecting 1st lord Moon in the 3rd house, linking the competitive situation to the sense of self. We must in this regard, recall that at this time the USA was at a disadvantage in the Space Race and was trying to boost its fortunes in the wider context of the Cold War.

Astrology of the planning phase
The planning efforts in the years that followed were associated with phenomenal advances in space technology. These advances took place during the sub-periods of strong planets, the Sun, Moon and Mars, in the chart. The results of these advances became clear in the following years. However, the risks were also real and phenomenal in the Saturn major period. Moreover, the most dangerous phase of the program took place during the Saturn-Rahu period, a dual malefic period, which ran from December 1, 1966 to October 7, 1969. As Rahu natally afflicts the 10th, 2nd, 4th and 6th houses, this sub-period carried with it the greatest risks during the Apollo program. The Saturn-Jupiter period, which ran from October 7, 1969 to April 19, 1972, was also risky, but less so.

Unmanned space flights (February 26, 1966 – April 4, 1968)
From February 26 - August 25, 1966, there were three successful unmanned test flights. The first manned space flight was scheduled to take place with Apollo 1 on February 21, 1967. On January 27, 1967, however, the crew died when a fire broke out in the cockpit of their spacecraft. From November 9, 1967 to April 4, 1968 there were three more successful unmanned flights. The transit and period influences during the tragedy of Apollo 1 has been well explained in terms of the SAMVA USA chart.

Manned space flights (October 11, 1968-May 26, 1969)
During October 11-22, 1968, Apollo 7 was the first launch of a manned Apollo spacecraft into Earth orbit. During December 21-27, 1968 Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. From March 3-13, 1969 Apollo 9 was an Earth-orbit test of the Apollo command and lunar modules including rendezvous. From May 18-26, 1969 Apollo 10 performed the dress rehearsal for the moon landing. The achievements of these space flights reflect the strengths in the SAMVA USA chart, notably of 10th lord Mars and its aspect to 1st lord Moon, giving great fame for technical achievements based on human courage, as the pen-ultimate stage of the program showed..

Lunar landings (July 16, 1969 – December 19, 1972)
Over a period of three and a half years, six missions landed on the Moon, with twelve astronauts setting foot on the Moon’s surface. During July 16-24, 1969, Apollo 11 the first successful lunar landing took place. From November 14-24, 1969 Apollo 12 made the first pinpoint lunar landing. During April 11-17, 1970, the Apollo 13 mission became a successful failure, with the astronauts returned safely to earth. Between January 31-February 9, 1971 Apollo 14 was the first successful mission devoted entirely to the scientific exploration of the moon. From July 26-August 7, 1971, Apollo 15 was the first extended scientific expedition, also the first to use the Lunar Rover Vehicle. From April 16-27, 1972 Apollo 16 was the first exploration of the moon's central highlands. From December 7-19, 1972, Apollo 17 was the last, and longest lunar mission. The risks of these missions were phenomenal, especially the first lunar landing. Such a mission, to land on another stellar body, had never been attempted before. The death-defying nature of the major period, the risks associated with the Rahu period, but the inherent strengths associated with other planets, resulted in almost unbelievable success. At the personal level, the astronauts risked their lives and literally all earthly attachments. As such, the stress must have been extraordinary while the resultant glory must have been unimaginable.[3]

Skylab missions (May 14, 1973 - July 24, 1975)
During a period of two years, from May 14, 1973 to July 24, 1975, five missions took place involving docking with and resupplying the Space Station and returning astronauts to Earth. During July 15-24, 1975, the joint US-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project took place. With the Mercury major period having begun in April 1972, the focus on American life turned to initiatives in foreign policy, involving increased communication and cooperation with the former hostile parties, the so-called Détente, or easing of relations.[4] The main reasons were that both the US and Soviet leaders felt the economic burden of the nuclear arms race was unsustainable. While the Soviet economy was stagnating, US government finances were drained by the cost of the Vietnam War and a growing welfare state. This brings out another side of the planet Saturn during its major period, namely the increased focus on the conditions of common people and disadvantaged groups and ways to improve their lot in life.

In February 1972, Nixon travelled to China, where he met with Chairman Mao. In May 1972, Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev began talks to reduce tensions over the massive stockpiles of nuclear bombs and long range missiles.[5] Nixon’s greatest achievement is considered to be the improving relations with the Soviet Union and China. In relation to foreign trips and initiatives by the President, it is of interest that on November 5, 1973, the term "Shuttle Diplomacy" first appeared in the media to describe the foreign trips of US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to facilitate the cessation of hostilities following the Yom Kippur War.[6] President Ford, at the behest of the US Congress, ended the Vietnam War in 1975.[7] The phasing down of the risky lunar landings and the increased cooperation with the Soviet Union concerning a joint project to develop and go to an orbital Space Station was associated with this larger picture of a thaw in foreign relations. Mercury, the planet of communication, is 3rd lord in the SAMVA USA chart. As such it rules initiatives and short trips. It is placed in the 7th house of foreign policy. The outcome is that the US would have had inititatives in foreign policy field, involving important trips abroad and communication with others to increase cooperation. The influence of the Mercury major period is thus quite clear in this regard*.

The Apollo program was largely a by-product of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union. As such, it represented a determined effort by the USA to overtake the early successes of the Soviet space program during the Space Race.[8] This state of affairs is perfectly explained by the Saturn period in the SAMVA USA chart with Saturn as 8th lord of death in the Cancer rising chart where it also aspects the 2nd lord Sun, giving an impetus to undertake risky or even death-defying acts to gain the upper hand. Due to many other favorable placements in the chart, the difficult efforts succeeded. The shift to the more benign Mercury major period in April 1972 was accompanied by a thaw in relations between these potentially mortal enemies and the conversion of the Apollo program into a joint effort with the Soviets concerning flights to the orbital Space Station.


[1] The Cold War
[2] The Apollo Program
[3] The Apollo Astronauts
[4] Détente, the easing of relations
[5] Nixon’s visit to China
[6] Shuttle Diplomacy
[7] Nixon/Ford and Leonid Brezhnev
[8] Space Race

*) A side note is the story of Bobby Fischer, who battled the Soviet chess master and reigning World Champion, Boris Spassky, for the title in the summer of 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland. While Fischer felt that the match was a microcosm of the Cold War, the US authorities had moved on with the Mercury major period having begun in the spring of that year. It is likely that he sensed the US government was paying less attention to his achievement for this reason and probably less than he felt warranted. His life-long sense of bitterness over this, which manifested in acts and expressions reflecting outright hostility towards the USA later in his life, may be explained by the fact that he, as a "cold warrior" at a personal level, was not able to reconcile his personal stance to the fundamental geo-political shift that was taking place in the world around him at that time. With the help of the SAMVA USA chart, this dramatic change in the international political climate is now easier to understand.

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