May 25, 2011

50 Years Ago Today: "Urgent National Needs"



President John F. Kennedy: "Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take."

"Now it is time to take longer strides. Time for a great new American enterprise. Time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth."

"I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals: First, I believe 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 for the long-range exploration of space. And none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

"In conclusion, let me emphasize one point. It is not a pleasure for any President of the United States, as I am sure it was not a pleasure for my predecessors, to come before the Congress and ask for new appropriations which place burdens on our people. I came to this conclusion with some reluctance. But in my judgment, this is a most serious time in the life of our country and in the life of freedom around the globe, and it is the obligation, I believe, of the President of the United States to at least make his recommendations to the Members of the Congress, so that they can reach their own conclusions with that judgment before them. You must decide yourselves, as I have decided. and I am confident that whether you finally decide in the way that I have decided or not, that your judgment—as my judgment—is reached on what is in the best interests of our country."

Full Speech (Full Transcript), 9-Minute Excerpt Video and Transcript

Urgent national needs: then and now?


This Week in Space:
Fifty years ago this week, President Kennedy challenged the nation to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth” before the end of the decade. The goal was especially bold considering America’s total spaceflight experience at the time consisted of Alan Shepard’s fifteen-minute suborbital flight.

Five years to the day after Kennedy’s challenge, NASA unveiled the rocket that would ultimately take astronauts to the Moon. Although not intended to fly, the AS-500-F full-scale Saturn V test vehicle was used to verify the launch facilities, train launch crews, and develop pre-launch checkout procedures. Seen here leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time, the Saturn V rollout confirmed the incredible progress that had been made in just five short years.

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