Address At Rice University in Housto on the Nation’s Space Effort on September 12, 1962 - History

Address At Rice University in Housto on the Nation’s Space Effort on September 12, 1962 - History

Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb. Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only 5 years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than 2 years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than 2 months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

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.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the Office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48-story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were "made in the United States of America" and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year's space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous 8 years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman, and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high national priority-even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, reentering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun-almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out, then we must be bold.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [Laughter]

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.


We choose to go to the Moon

"We choose to go to the Moon", officially titled as the Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, is a speech delivered by United States President John F. Kennedy about the effort to reach the Moon to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1962. The speech, largely written by Kennedy advisor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen, 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, Kennedy 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 posthumously, in July 1969, with the successful Apollo 11 mission.


John F. Kennedy's Speech: We Choose To Go To The Moon

“We Choose To Go To The Moon”
John F. Kennedy’s Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, or the “We Choose To Go To The Moon” speech was given on September 12, 1962, in the Rice Stadium in Houston Texas. This speech was to inform the general American public of NASA’s plans to land a man on the moon for the first time ever. Russia and the United States of America had just recently cleared up the Cuban missile crisis but then became involved in a space race. They were both trying to beat each other in their space technology, but Russia, who had launched the first artificial satellite: Sputnik four years before the speech was delivered, was winning. This speech was given to address the nation and tell them that America was.

Kennedy first refers to ethos when he says that space is a new frontier and they have “vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction” (Kennedy). When he says this, he makes a promise that the United States of America will honor space as neutral grounds. Because sea, land and air are already places of war, he hopes to prevent space from becoming just another place to fight. This convinced the crowd that they needed to put the first man in space to defend themselves from people who want to use space for weapons. The second use of ethos is when Kennedy said that “we have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them” (Kennedy). This uses ethos because he is saying that the people can trust their government to tell them of any failures and won’t hold back any details that would lower the status of the country, like some other countries did. The third and final use of ethos in the rice moon speech was when Mr. Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon, “before the end of this decade” (Kennedy). This was a huge promise on his part. By saying this, he left just over six years to build a launch site, the rocket, and scrape up the crew members for the launch. It was this sentence that separated the United States of America from Russia in the space race: promises of impossible sounding goals, and.

John F. Kennedy made very valid points in his speech and, along with the use of ethos, pathos and logos, he convinced a nation to send billions of dollars and three extremely smart men to uncharted territory, where anything could happen. His moving speech has made such an impact, that his words still resonate even today, in 2016. Mike Wall says that “without that speech, humanity would still be… wondering when the first human foot would ever settle into the gray lunar dust” (Wall 3). Kennedy was one of the greatest speakers in this country, with countless memorials, including 2 airports, countless streets across the world (including 30 in France), a memorial museum, several schools, and the Cape Canaveral Space Center, NASA’s launch operations center, was renamed the Kennedy Space Center for the huge impact JFK had on space travel through the centuries. His speech changed our world, and will change future worlds that may (hopefully) come thousands of years from.


Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort

In this speech, President John F. Kennedy urged Americans to consider the nation’s investment in the space race as a moral obligation. The outcome of the contest between the United States and the Soviet Union to become the first to “conquer” space was about more than merely prestige or even power, Kennedy argued. It was, instead, a matter of ensuring that the future of human excursions to space was one of exploration and not exploitation, constructive inquiry, not destructive violence.

Source: John F. Kennedy, Address at Rice University , Houston, Texas, 12 September 1962, NARA, JFKPOF-040-001.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man1s recorded history in a time span of but a half a century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America1s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

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.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man’s history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were “made in the United States of America” and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

I’m the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.


Rice University, 12 September 1962

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September 12, 1962 by John F. Kennedy

President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here, and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

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.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where the F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were "made in the United States of America" and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year's space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority--even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

About

United States President John F. Kennedy delivered the speech "We choose to go to the Moon," officially titled as the Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, about the effort to reach the Moon to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1962. 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.


‘We choose to go to the Moon': 9 facts about John F. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University

ORLANDO, Fla. &mdash On a September day nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy addressed thousands at Rice University for Americans to stand behind the Apollo program and the country’s efforts to land a man on the moon.

Here are nine things to know about Kennedy’s speech as we get closer to NASA’s historic crewed launch on May 30:

1. The speech, known as Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, was made on September 12, 1962 in front of an estimated 40,000 people.

2. Kennedy had a briefing in Cape Canaveral the day before the address. He was joined by Vice President Lyndon Johnson, NASA Launch Center Director Kurt Debus and NASA Administrator James Webb, among others.

3. The line “Why does Rice play Texas?” was well received by the crowd, but was added at the last minute by Kennedy and not initially part of the speech prepared by White House aide and presidential advisor Ted Sorensen.

4. Kennedy’s delivery of the most well-known line from the speech “We choose to go to the moon!” resulted in a huge ovation.

5. Although noted for being a very warm Houston day, some in attendance took notice to Kennedy’s very cool demeanor. At one point during the speech Kennedy made a joke about the weather.

6. The groundwork for the landing was placed by Kennedy in May of 1961 when he stood before Congress to propose the objective.

7. The podium which Kennedy delivered his speech now resides at Space Center Houston after being donated by Rice University.

8. The speech is widely renown as one of the best ever made by a president. Many pundits agreed that the speech was able to successfully drum up support for the mission and unite the nation by inciting the willingness to accept a challenge.

9. Kennedy’s goal of the country reaching the moon came to fruition after his death with the landing of Apollo 11 in 1969.


These 11 Speeches from the Last Two Centuries Changed the World

Why it matters: On the day marking American Independence, Frederick Douglass delivered a cutting speech denouncing American society. In the speech he demands to know how a people who pride themselves on liberty and equality can rightfully celebrate these ideals when millions are enslaved. Douglass chastises every American as a hypocrite, noting the irony in the 4th of July festivities taking place as he spoke.

Memorable quote: “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”

The Gettysburg Address

Who: President Abraham Lincoln

When: November 19, 1863

Why it matters: The famous speech was uttered by President Lincoln amidst America’s Civil War. The famous opening line, “Four score and seven years ago,” calls on the American people to remember the intentions of the founding fathers. In the speech Lincoln never mentions slavery, the Confederacy, or even the Union. Instead, he emphasizes healing, and a return to ideals of the Declaration of Independence. The speech defined the concept of American government as “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Memorable quote: “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Why it matters: Susan B. Anthony was fined for voting in the 1872 election, and so she began to vigorously campaign for women’s suffrage. This speech was given in her defense of women's suffrage. Her work paved the way for the nineteenth amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920. She never did pay the fine.

Memorable quote: “It was we, the people not we, the white male citizens nor yet we, the male citizens but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men.”

Fourteen Points Speech

Who: President Woodrow Wilson

Why it matters: Wilson’s speech formed the foundation of what would become American foreign policy. The speech set forth American goals in the Great War. Perhaps most significant is Wilson’s proposal for an international governing body, which became the basis for the League of Nations. After World War II the League was replaced by the United Nations.

Memorable quote: “All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.”

FDR’s First Inaugural Address

Who: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Why it matters: Amidst one of the most crippling economic crises in history, FDR wanted to forcefully show the American people that he intended to end it. He succeeded by announcing his intention to use the vast powers of the federal government to address the problem. In the speech he acknowledges respect for the Constitution and separation of power, yet notes the necessity of the time and the need for vigorous action. In this speech, FDR effectively declares “war” against the Great Depression.

Memorable quote: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

We Shall Fight on the Beaches

Who: Winston Churchill

Why it matters: The speech was designed to inspire the British people and impress Americans with the resolve of the British government in the face of German aggression. The speech was delivered after British troops had successfully evacuated from Dunkik in one of the most astonishing reversals of fortune in the history of warfare.

Memorable quote: “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Who: Jawaharlal Nehru

Why it matters: In the speech Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, defines what freedom means for the people of India after their long struggle for independence from the British Empire.

Memorable quote: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

The Moon Speech” (Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort)

Who: President John F. Kennedy

When: September 12, 1962

Why it matters: JFK’s moon speech made the compelling case to the American people of the importance of space exploration and funding the Apollo project. The speech and its aftermath and reception ultimately led to the successful moon landing in 1969. JFK established that the United States should be the world leader in Space exploration, and marked the first significant step taken by a President to ensure its possibility.

Memorable quote: "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.”

Who: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why it matters: King’s powerful and memorable speech is often quoted today. He challenged the American people to live up to their democratic ideals. He insisted on non-violent conflict resolution. His words echo on as a passionate call for freedom.

Memorable quote: "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight 'and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'"

Why it matters: This is the speech thatdefinedNelson Mandela. It was given in the course of a trial of the leaders of the African National Congress, who had been accused of subversion. The trial ended with the imprisonment of eight ANC leaders including Mandela. In the speech Mandela tells his story and expresses his views on apartheid.

Memorable quote: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Who: President Ronald Reagan

Why it matters: In a speech delivered at the Berlin Wall President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall separating East and West Berlin. Reagan's injunction was delivered over the objections of his advisors, who thought it went too far. The speech is considered to have been a major turning point in the Cold War.


Address At Rice University in Housto on the Nation’s Space Effort on September 12, 1962 - History

President John F. Kennedy visited Rice University campus on September 12, 1962, and delivered a speech in the stadium on the Nation's Space Effort. Kennedy cites scientific progress as evidence that exploration of space is inevitable and argues that the United States should lead the space effort in order to retain a position of leadership on earth. He stated that we explore space not because it is easy but because it is difficult, and that the U.S. should "do it right and do it first before this decade is out," inspiring and engaging the nation in the space race.

Although Kennedy was assassinated the following year, on November 22, 1963, his dream of winning the space race was fulfilled on July 20, 1969, when NASA's Apollo XI mission successfully landed the first men on the moon. As astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module, he proclaimed "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." His fellow astronaut Edwin Aldrin Jr. also walked on the moon's surface and the two men gathered 47 pounds of lunar surface material for research purposes.

Scope and Contents

This record group consists of printed material and audio covering John F. Kennedy's visit and speech on the Nation's Space Effort at Rice University on September 12, 1962. Film of President Kennedy at Rice completely deteriorated and has been deaccessioned. See Related Materials below for alternative access to the video.

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored on-site at the Woodson Research Center.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the John F. Kennedy Space Effort Speech at Rice University records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Index Terms

Related Material

Rice University offers a streaming video on-line of JFK's speech on Rice campus, 1962. It is available for viewing at http://webcast.rice.edu/webcast.php?action=details&event=371. This video was captured by Houston's KHOU-TV Channel 11. Anyone seeking a copy of this particular capture of the speech should contact KHOU-TV directly, as Rice does not have the rights to make it available beyond this streaming format.

The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum also has a video copy of the speech and can provide copies. Contact the Library for assistance: http://www.jfklibrary.org/. A written transcript and downloadable audio file of the speech is also available on their website, at http://www.jfklibrary.org/j091262.htm.

See also JFK Information file at Woodson Research Center for photographs of JFK on campus and other information.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

John F. Kennedy Space Effort Speech at Rice University records, 1961-1962, Rice University Archives, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.


In his address at rice university, what does kennedy argue? a. the u. s had devoted too many resources to the space race b. the u. s must spend more money on space exploration c. the u. s must conserve its resources d. the u. s has heather the soviet union into space.

The correct answer is the option B. The U.S must spend more money on space exploration. In his speech John F. Kennedy argues that is very important to gain knowledge as a nation, to prove what they are capable of and what they can do as they start with the space exploration.

In this speech he gave in September 12 of 1962, he talks about spending money that will be for a good purpose in the future, he also makes comparison about the budget in space exploration, he affirms that it's less than the budget they spend in cigarettes and cigars and even if they don't know if it be useful they want to try, to gain knowledge and for the progress of the nation so he believes the best way is to spend more money on space exploration.

One important thing that he mentions in his speech is that he knows that space exploration has very high cost but it will have great rewards, he wants to go further so he didn't say that they devoted too many resources so the option A is not correct, he thinks they need to spend not to conserve so it's not the option B and finally is not the option D because he just compares with the soviet union about the space exploration and he want the U.S to conquer the space.


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