Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world
has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that
this Nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in
a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a
whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the
unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective
No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but
condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in
a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know
very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them
advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them.
Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his
caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man
learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less
than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less
than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human
history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton
explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and
telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last
week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and
now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will
have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.
This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create
new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new
dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and
hardships, as well as high reward.
So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a
little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state
of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those
who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country
was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth
Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are
accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised
and overcome with answerable courage.
If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is
that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and
cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether
we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all
time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations
can expect to stay behind in this race for space.
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the
first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern
invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation
does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of
space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes
of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets
beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a
hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We
have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass
destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this
Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short,
our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and
security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all
require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve
them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be
gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for
the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science
and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will
become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the
United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide
whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying
theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected
against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected
against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can
be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without
repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ
around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer
space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest
deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful
cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why
choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest
mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this
decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but
because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and
measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge
is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to
postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to
shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most
important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the
office of the Presidency.
In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for
the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have
felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a
Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which
launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000
automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the
site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all
eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to
make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be
built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as
a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.
Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the
earth. Some 40 of them were made in the United States of America and
they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to
the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.
The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate
instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that
shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and
dropping it in this stadium between the 40-yard lines.
Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer
course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of
hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and
We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not
admit them. And they may be less public.
To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in
manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this
decade, we shall make up and move ahead.
The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new
knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of
learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for
industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical
institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.
And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy,
has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of
thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating
new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and
this state, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What
was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will
be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space.
Houston, your city of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center,
will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering
community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and
engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and
expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant
and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space
efforts over $1 billion from this center in this city.
To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year's
space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is
greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined.
That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum,
though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every
year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per
person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman
and child in the United States, for we have given this program a
high national priority--even though I realize that this is in some
measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what
benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we
shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station
in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of
this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have
not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several
times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a
precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment
needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and
survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and
then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds
of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the
temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do
all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is
out--then we must be bold.
I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay
cool for a minute. [laughter]
However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay
what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money,
but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the
decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still
here at school at this college and university. It will be done
during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here on
this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the
end of this decade.
And I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting
a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United
States of America.
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to
die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He
said, "Because it is there."
Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and
the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are
there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the
most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has