Thursday, August 14, 2008

JFK’s Challenge

On May 5, 1961, about three weeks after the Russians put a man into a single orbit, U.S. Navy commander Alan B. Shephard was launched on a 15-minute suborbital flight into space. Americans were proud of this achievement, to be sure, but the Soviets had clearly upstaged it. Just 20 days later, on May 25, President John F. Kennedy spoke to Congress: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to 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.”

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