“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” John F Kennedy, September 12, 1962
In 1950, few Americans would have believed that several of their fellow citizens would step onto the lunar surface within two decades. What started us down the road to lunar travel? On July 29, 1955, the Eisenhower Administration announced that the United States would celebrate the International Geophysical Year by launching “small Earth circling satellites” into space. The International Geophysical Year was a cooperative international effort to collaborate in eleven different areas of the Earth Sciences. The project lasted from July, 1957 until December 1958. Four days after the United States’ announcement, the Soviet Union also announced their intention to launch a satellite. Much to the surprise of many Americans, the Russians were the first nation to successfully launch a satellite into orbit. Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957, and Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957. Using a modified military missile, the United States responded by launching Explorer 1 on February 1, 1958. Determined that it would win the “space race,” the House and Senate formed special committes focused on space exploration. President Eisenhower created a President’s Advisory Committee chaired by Nelson Rockefeller. On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act. NASA was born.
President Kennedy’s challenge to the nation was met on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Please take a moment to consider how we, as Americans, can work together to meet the challenges set before us. Our history of doing so is What IS Right With America.