- Advocacy & Policy
- Research Center
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.
The decision involved much consideration before making it public, as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures to make what became Project Apollo a reality by 1969. Only the construction of the peacetime Panama Canal and the World War II Manhattan Project were comparable in scope.
NASA's subsequent exploration efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech; Gemini, and Apollo – including the Saturn V moon rocket as were all designed to execute Kennedy's goal as were a number of robotic precursor missions such as Lunar Orbiter and Lunar Surveyor.
Kennedy’s goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface.
Fifty years later, the U.S. is now at a critical juncture for human spaceflight.
“Cutting exploration budgets any further threatens our economic growth potential and risks our leadership in space,” AIA Vice President for Space Frank Slazer said in testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Science and Space. “As a nation we can choose to continue our leadership in manned exploration and innovation or inevitably fall behind.”
U.S. space technology and its many spin-offs have fueled our economy and made us an unquestioned world leader. However, with the retirement of the space shuttle, the United States will have to pay more than $60 million per seat to Russia to transport crews to the International Space Station.
“While cutting the federal deficit is essential to assuring our economic future,” Slazer said, “cutting back on exploration investments is a penny-wise but pound-foolish approach that will have an infinitesimal impact on the budget deficit.”