On May 25, 1961, 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. A number of political factors affected Kennedy’s decision and the timing of it. In general, Kennedy felt great pressure to have the United States “catch up to and overtake” the Soviet Union in the “space race.“
He establish these national goals:
- Landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth – All of us must work to get him there
- Asking the congress and the country to make a firm commitment to a new course of action
- Defined reality – Outlined the tremendous cost necessary to achieve this goal
- Outlined the danger of not going all the way – If we are not committed to do so I would rather not have us go at all
- We should all be willing to do the work necessary – if not we shouldn’t do it
A series of incremental goals were needed to create and test the equipment and technology to achieve the ultimate goal
- Design, create and test rockets powerful enough for the mission
- Design a satellite system for essential communication with the astronaunts
- The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs created and tested all of the necessary technology and equipment to land men on the moon.
This was accomplished on July 20, 1969
It involved 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costi 24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars)
The challenge by Pres Kennedy created an “Overarching Vision” and every contemplated action was evaluated by asking if this action will contribute to putting a man on the moon and safely returning him.