The astronaut who didn’t want to walk on the moon

If ever there was an example of how deeply ingrained the Cold War was on the American psyche, Frank Borman’s quote in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is it.

Borman, the commander of the first spacecraft to orbit the moon, is appearing this weekend at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wis., celebrating America’s fascination with space back in the day.

Apollo 8 wasn’t a moon-landing mission; it was a test of whether the spacecraft could get there. So Borman never got a chance on that trip to do what only 12 humans have ever done: walk on the moon.

Here’s the thing. He didn’t want to.

“I may have been different from others. My goal wasn’t to be the first man or the 10th man to step on the moon. My goal was to beat the Russians,” Borman told the paper.

He was given the opportunity to be on a subsequent moon mission, but he retired instead.

“The space program was essentially a battle in the Cold War. Vietnam — we lost. Korea — we tied. And the space business — we won,” Borman said.