PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND THE MOON DECISION
President Kennedy spent several weeks assessing America's options for competing with the Soviets in space. On May 25, 1961, he announced the goal of landing a man on the Moon before a joint session of Congress. At that point, the total time spent in space by an American was barely 15 minutes.
"...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 all of us, as did Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere... Now it is time to take longer strides-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. ...we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule... Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share...
I believe that 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...will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind, or more important...and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish...".
President John F. Kennedy, May 1961
TO REACH THE MOON
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