Kennedy Addresses Congress on Going to the Moon

Today is the fifty-second anniversary of President Kennedy addressing a joint session of Congress and inaugurating our program to get to the moon:

I prefer his “We choose to go to the moon” speech that he gave at Rice University the next year, however:

A very inspiring speech.

FILED UNDER: Education
Robert Prather
About Robert Prather
Robert Prather contributed over 80 posts to OTB between October 2005 and July 2013. He previously blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished. Follow him on Twitter @RobPrather.


  1. superdestroyer says:

    When reading the article in the Atlantic about the desire of political parties for more female candidates, link, I thought about how rare it will be for all of those future women politicians to be proposing big projects or want to change the country.

    The U.S. is going to be changing from a country of the future with big ideas and big changes to the mommy state where the main purpose of the government will be paying for education, health care, and pensions. A country that spends all of its resources in care giver mode will having nothing left to repair bridges, let alone return men to space.

    The space race, the interstate highway system, the Panama Canal, or the state university systems are relics of the past. The future of the U.S. is being a nanny state for the irresponsible while punishing those who can plan for the future.

  2. The problem is that if you actually are interested in space travel, the Apollo program basically set us back 50 years. Right now, only one thing is going to make space available to humanity as a whole: technology that great lower the cost per pound of getting things into orbit. But that’s boring, and so the program that was working on this, the X-plane program, got more or less cancelled in favor of dramatically exploding things into orbit in a manner only available to a handful of people chosen by the two largest governments on earth. And even then it wasn’t sustainable. Apollo was basically just a publicity stunt, and after half a century of running down that dead end, we’re only just now finally getting back to where we were in the 1960s, thanks to organizations like SpaceX and Scaled Composites.

    The X Prize Foundation accomplished more for human space travel with just $10 million than NASA did with the $20.4 billion ($109 billion in today’s dollars!) we spent on Apollo.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Part of the issue is that space has turned out to be a much harsher environment that was thought in 1961. Also, the government in the form of NASA turned the agency into just another pork program that was more interested in maintain current contractors and rewarding the appropriate amount of diversity contracts.

    It would probably be better if the U.S. got out of the space program since every dollar spent on NASA is a dollar that cannot be spent on entitlements and social programs.

  4. rudderpedals says:

    The shuttle program had some bad aspects and a few very unfortunate “features” shoved onto it for vendor happiness (why oh why did Morton Thiokol have to be pleasured…) but keep in mind that much of the planned shared funding that should have happened, and half the justification for the program with it, went away with the Challenger response. Pre-Challenger shuttles were expected to replace our heaviest launchers like Atlas and carry the big Centaur upper stage while doing other stuff but post Challenger, no more Centaur and no way to get to polar orbits because the Air Force doesn’t want to fly it much anyway and definitely not from the brand new Vandenberg pad.

    The funding was siphoned back to the military a la Reagan, expendables, etc.

  5. Tyrell says:

    @superdestroyer:I agree with much of what you say except the last sentence about more money on entitlements and social programs. The private sector can be more effective in space exploration and colonization, including ventures to the moon, Mars, Venus, and the moons of Jupiter. Money saved from NASA should be returned to the tax payers in the form of a tax cut and I do not care if it is just one cent. We spend enough of the working people’s hard earned money on these so-called entitlements. No one should be entitled to anything except our veterans who fight and work to keep us free. Entitlement and other programs need to be looked at in terms of eliminating the waste and fraud.
    It is a known fact that other agencies of the government, including the military, are engaged in top secret projects involving time travel, hyper-speed spacecraft, parallel travel, anti-gravity generators, invisibility, de-materializing, and other top secret prototypes, so there will always be on going efforts regarding space exploration. We cannot fall behind other countries in this area. That happened before when the Russians got ahead.

  6. stonetools says:

    I find it curious that libertarians oppose government spending of all kinds-except the space program… Then the libertarians are for unlimited spending.

    Space exploration and colonization will not happen without massive government support. That’s just how it is. In history, most exploration and colonization efforts are government-supported, and space will be the same.Its also clear it will be much more difficult than was imagined in the 1940s and 50s, when we thought that Venus was just a warmer Earth, Mars a colder one, and that those worlds might be inhabited by interesting natives. The Solar system is just a much tougher place to live in and get to than we thought. And that’s to say nothing of the difficulties of interstellar exploration.

  7. superdestroyer says:


    Do you have a cite that shows that libertarisns support unlimited spending for NASA for is that just another cliche that progressive use to convince themselves that they are the cool kids in politics?

  8. anjin-san says:

    I’m pretty excited about what NASA has in the pipeline. Combine that with private sector players like Elon Musk, and I think the next decade will be an interesting one for space exploration.

    Space Launch System