On this day - May 25th

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Jfk

John F Kennedy stood before Congress on May 25, 1961, and proposed that the US "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." Not everyone was impressed; a Gallup Poll indicated that 58 percent of Americans were opposed.

Kennedy's goal gave a specific mission to NASA's Apollo program. This required the expansion of NASA's Space Task Group into a Manned Spacecraft Center. Houston, Texas was chosen as the site, and the Humble Oil and Refining Company donated the land during 1961, with Rice University as an intermediary. Kennedy took a two-day visit to Houston in September 1962 to view the new facility. He was escorted by astronauts Scott Carpenter and John Glenn, and shown models of the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft; he also viewed the Mercury spacecraft, in which Glenn had made America's first orbital flight. He took advantage of the opportunity to deliver a speech to drum up support for the nation's space effort.

We choose to go to the Moon

..is the famous tagline of a speech about the effort to reach the Moon delivered by JFK to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The speech was intended to persuade the American people to support the Apollo program, the national effort to land a man on the Moon.

In his speech, Kennedy characterized space as a new frontier, invoking the pioneer spirit that dominated American folklore. He infused the speech with a sense of urgency and destiny, and emphasized the freedom enjoyed by Americans to choose their destiny rather than have it chosen for them. Although he called for competition with the Soviet Union, he also proposed making the Moon landing a joint project.

The speech resonated widely and is still remembered, although at the time there was disquiet about the cost and value of the Moon-landing effort. Kennedy's goal was realized in July 1969, with the successful Apollo 11 mission.

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