NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will discuss the legacy of one of JFK’s famous space exploration speeches on Monday (Sept. 12), and you can watch it live.
Nelson will speak at Rice University in Houston at noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Monday, 60 years to the day after President John F. Kennedy gave a historic speech there about the United States’ quest to put boots on the moon. You can watch Nelson’s address live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency (opens in new tab).
During a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, JFK announced that the United States would work to land astronauts on the moon before the end of the 1960s. On Sept. 12, 1962, he reiterated that bold goal during a speech at Rice University, stressing the need for the United States to be a leader in space exploration. Such leadership was a high priority during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, when both superpowers were battling for technological supremacy as well as ideological reach.
“We choose to go to the moon,” Kennedy said at Rice. “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.”
NASA made good on JFK’s promise with the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, delivering Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and then bringing them safely back to Earth. (Only Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon during that mission; Collins stayed in lunar orbit, in the Apollo 11 command module Columbia.)
JFK didn’t live to see that milestone moment, of course; he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.
During his remarks on Monday, Nelson is sure to mention a NASA program that’s following in Apollo’s footsteps: Artemis, which aims to establish a long-term, sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s.
NASA is gearing up for the first-ever mission of the Artemis program, Artemis 1, which will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a long journey to lunar orbit and back. Artemis 1 was supposed to launch on Aug. 29 and then on Sept. 3 but was thwarted by glitches both times. NASA is now eyeing Sept. 23 or Sept. 27 for the mission’s launch.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).