Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of the Congress of the United States calling for an "ambitious space exploration program" which would include a Rover nuclear rocket* and weather satellites.
The President said...
"Now it is time...for a great new American enterprise, a time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement. 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 earth."
JFK did not sugar coat the cost of this proposal. He said that nothing else would be "so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
The President saw this effort as truly national. He said...
"It will not be one man going to the moon, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there."
U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 fulfilling the first part of President Kennedy's goal. Following close behind was Buzz Aldrin. Michael Collins, the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, remained in lunar orbit.
*Project Rover (1955-1972) was conducted at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory by the Atomic Energy Commission & NASA. The 1st phase of the project, known as "Kiwi", involved the building & testing of 8 nuclear reactors between 1959 & 1964.
"May 25, 1961: JFK's Moon Shot Speech to Congress", by space.com staff, May 25, 2011, www.space.com/
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
July 20, 1969
Photo by Neil Armstrong