On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
A brief excerpt of the speech:
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 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 a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
What a thrill it was of living through those years of incredible innovation, splendid courage and diligent work by so many people. As President Kennedy said, it was not just one man going to the moon, it was a nation united in effort to get that astronauts there and bring them back.
P.S. I think the look on Lyndon Johnson’s face is priceless. It is as if he were thinking, “What in the world has that guy been smoking? We’ll never do that!”
Fifty four years ago today, on May 5, 1961, a long time before I knew anything about Cinco de Mayo, Mercury Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. blasted off in his Freedom 7 capsule atop a Mercury-Redstone rocket. His 15-minute sub-orbital flight made him the first American in space.
His flight further fueled my love for space travel that had been building since the Sputnik and Vanguard satellites were launched a few years previously.
Forty five years ago today, the embattled crew of Apollo 13 safely returned home. Against great odds, aided by terrific ingenuity from crews on the ground and undoubtedly by divine providence, the Apollo 13 crew survived an oxygen tank explosion and resultant failure of other systems through improvisation, steely dedication and pure grit.
I was just finishing my junior year of high school when this occurred. Apollo 13 has been an inspiration to me ever since.
Photo: Astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise are shown soon after their rescue still unshaven and wearing space overalls.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts, wearing a replica Jackie Robinson jersey in the cupola of the orbiting International Space Station, is celebrating Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, with a weightless baseball.
April 15th (Baseball’s opening day in 1947) has now come to commemorate Jackie Robinson’s memorable career and his place in history as the first black major league baseball player in the modern era. He made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Congratulations, Jackie, for your courage! Thank you, Terry, for a memorable celebration!