I meant to post this when it was actually 50 years to the day, but now it's after midnight. Oh well, it's still cool. Fifty years ago yesterday, September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in Texas in which he stated the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of decade. The famous part of the speech is this:
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.Guess what? Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, fulfilling JFK's pledge. There's a lot more to the story of course. But it's still a pretty good story. 1962 was right around when I started to get crazy about space and all the associated technology. It's pretty amazing that when he made this speech, only four Mercury astronauts had flown in space, two very quick suborbital flights (Shepard and Grissom) and two brief orbital flights (Glenn and Carpenter), three orbits each. Wally Schirra would fly six orbits a few weeks after this speech. It's a long way from three orbits to the moon.
There's a video here. The text of the speech and other links can be found here.