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President Kennedy apparently proposed working with the USSR on reaching the moon more than once. There is speculation that had he lived it may have happened, with the Soviets coming around to the idea.

Is there any information on exactly what this cooperation would have involved? Were any specific proposals made, or were any reports on what each country could contribute or what a joint mission would look like written?

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    $\begingroup$ There is also speculation that had he not proposed it he might have lived, but that's for a different SE site. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 11 '19 at 9:16
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In an address before the United Nations on September 20, 1963, President Kennedy talked about the many ways in which relationships had warmed between the Soviet Union and the United States in the past two years. He praised very recent developments such as the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the beginnings of what would become the Outer Space Treaty. He finished with a proposal for even more cooperation:

Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity--in the field of space--there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries--indeed of all the world--cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.

The full text of the address can be found online at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The Soviet Union seriously considered the proposal. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was assassinated two months later, and nothing became of the proposal.

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  • $\begingroup$ So was it literally just that speech or did anyone think about what might actually be done? $\endgroup$ – user Jul 13 '19 at 18:27
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In the PBS show American Experience episodes about the Moon programme, a diagram is briefly shown in episode 1 while discussing Kennedy's desire to work with the USSR.

The diagram shows one possible mission configuration for a joint Russian/US moon landing. A 3 man Russian spacecraft is shown in orbit around the moon, being joined by a US craft with an indeterminate crew. The two craft are of different designs.

So it seems that each country would send its own craft, the cooperation presumably being on things like developing the necessary technology needed and surveying the moon for possibly landing spots. At least in that scenario.

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NASA's official answer is in The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology in the entry for 1963 September 20:

During a news conference in Houston that same day, several NASA officials commented on the President's address. Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., stated that Kennedy's proposals came as no great surprise. He said that many "large areas" for cooperation exist, such as exchanges of scientific information and in space tracking, but emphasized that no cosmonauts would be flying in Apollo spacecraft.

Deputy Associate Administrator George E. Mueller shared Seamans' views, comparing future U.S.-U.S.S.R. cooperation in space to joint explorations in Antarctica. Scientists from both nations work together, but "they get there in different ships."

Just three days earlier, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth had told the National Rocket Club that a joint American-Russian space flight -- especially one to the moon -- would present almost insuperable technological difficulties. "I tremble at the thought of the integration problems...," he said. Gilruth cautioned his audience that he was speaking "not as an international politician," but as an engineer. The task of mating American and Russian spacecraft and launch vehicles would make such international cooperation "hard to do in a practical sort of way." And at the September 20 MSC news conference he added that such problems "are very difficult even when they (hardware components) are built by American contractors."

(emphasis and paragraph breaks mine)

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  • $\begingroup$ I saw a slide showing Russian and US ships reaching the moon at the same time but separately. It wasn't clear how they would get down there. Presumably they would insist on landing at the same time and stepping onto the surface at the same time. $\endgroup$ – user Sep 24 '19 at 10:30

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