In December 1968, only weeks after Richard Nixon’s election, Apollo 8 orbited the moon, followed by the lunar landing of Apollo 11 in July 1969. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union experienced a series of failures in its manned lunar program. The opportunity for using dramatic space cooperation efforts as a means of reducing the .-Soviet Cold War rivalry had passed. As painful as it was for the Soviet leadership, the time of their country’s dominance in heavy rocket launching technology was over. Cooperation in space now would have to come at more modest levels. The triumph of the Apollo program signified a crucial benchmark in the superpower space race by ending Soviet leadership in space exploration. The Soviet Union was simply unable to match such large-scale . efforts. Nor did the Soviets have an institutional structure like NASA that was capable of running a program like Apollo in an open and transparent way. While not ready to publicly admit their defeat, the Soviets argued that scientific work on the moon could be better achieved robotically. Unmanned Soviet lunar missions, initially introduced as a shadow program with a much smaller budget than the manned version, occurred at the same time as the Apollo program. The Lunokhod moon rovers and sample return probes earned a great deal of admiration from international scientists. However, inside their close circle, the Soviet leaders, in a rude awakening, conceded that the era of Soviet dominance in space was gone forever. Cynics in the Soviet space community added an insult to the injury in the form of a “bad news, good news” joke drawing on a growing irritant for Kremlin – rapidly deteriorating relations with China. According to the joke, the bad news was, “The Chinese have landed on the moon. So what is the good news? It’s all of them.”
According to the WSWA’s Executive Director, Dr. Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty, “This year’s theme will enable the debates surrounding where we explore next, be it on Moon, Mars or even beyond, to inspire event organizers to set up exciting space exploration events at schools, universities, science centres, planetaria, astronomy clubs, companies, and even museums. By appealing to our human nature, which loves exploration and adventure, World Space Week 2017 could be the biggest ever.” Anyone, from anywhere in the world, can create a World Space Week event. “Our 2017 theme is to be used as a guideline for creating events, however, WSWA accepts the registration of any space-related events, held between 4-10th October as an official World Space Week event” said Goran Nikolasevic, WSWA’s Operations Manager.