...for man, one giant leap for mankind.
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Those iconic words uttered by Neil Armstrong 50 years ago today, still mark one of the biggest moments of humanity. The step onto the dusty surface of the moon was proof that if there is a will there is a way. The space race had started in earnest fifteen months earlier when Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth. He never got to see the man on the moon as he died in a plane crash four months before Armstrong’s step. Before him squirrels, mice, dogs and primates had all suffered the same fate in the name of space research.
Kennedy spelt it out seventeen months on the day after Yuri Gagarin’s orbital flight.
"We choose to go to the Moon! 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 we intend to win, and the others, too." - John F Kennedy, 12 September 1962
Barely a year later in a speech at the UN General Assembly on September 20 1963 Kennedy proposed (again) a joint effort to Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who never took him up on the offer….. Instead the US launched Skylab in 1973 and the Soviet Union MIR in 1986. The International Space Station became the first multinational space project in 2010.
One lesser quoted sentence out of the JFK 1962 speech was...
“We avow that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
Fifty-seven years later the United States Space Force (USSF) is in the works…
All images are from the the US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama a part of the Redstone Arsenal where Werner von Braun started the US Space program
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