In the autumn of 1966, NASA asked President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Bureau of the Budget (BOB) for $100 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 1968 to begin Phase B contractor studies of Earth-orbital space stations. With the Apollo Program’s culmination drawing near, the U.S. civilian space agency was eager to establish post-Apollo goals, and topping its wish-list was a space station – an Earth-orbiting laboratory for testing the effects on men and machines of long-term exposure to space conditions and for performing scientific and technological experiments and Earth and space observations.
NASA had performed internal Phase A space station studies almost since it opened its doors in October 1958. If NASA had had its way, a space station would have preceded Apollo’s reach for the moon. President John F. Kennedy’s May 1961 call for a man on the moon ahead of the Russians and before the end of the 1960s had, however, preempted space station development. The FY 1968 funding request was in some sense a plea to restore NASA’s program to the traditional space station/moon/Mars progression spaceflight thinkers had promoted since the 1920s.