RICE UNIVERSITY 1962 – A Short Course

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 11.43.02 AM.pngGiving Buzz Aldrin one of my Kennedy silver half-dollars saved from 1964 at the 2017 Apollo 11 Gala. Buzz, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts to fulfill the promise.


Everything we love of America is here in JFK’s speech.  See LBJ in the front right with sunglasses on – pen in hand – thinking and taking notes as his President speaks after minute 10:00?

Hear the tribute to Science and Scientists?  To the Republic and The Tax-Payers and the honesty with the folks paying for it?

So many of us. So many from this generation of scientists took our first steps thanking those who saw – like us – the need for a strong American Science program and then paid for it.

Here is what the 2017 Noble Laureate in Physics wrote in 1973 for his book GRAVITATION as an acknowledgment…


Finally, JFK’s speech inspired a new era of American Re-assessment in all avenues of our social life as a people, here summarized by his daughter, the Ambassador to Japan in May, 2017:

As you can see from the recollections of  JFK’s daughter and grandkids, my generation took The Moon Challenge deadly serious.

We also saw the internal logic of JFK’s speech:

We are behind. Humans will be explore space with, or without, Americans.  We need to explore space for our own good and that of Humankind. Our commitment to do so mean we must be in the leadership as a free people.

JFK explains,

(1) Only a free people, representing all ethic backgrounds and cultures can explore space without prejudices to the scientific discoveries and to our own ignorance, bringing the BEST of Humankind.

(2) “We do it, not because it is easy, but because it is HARD.”  Because it is HARD, it brings out and fortifies our strength, and exposes our weaknesses. This is friendly competition to make us into teams. Because it is HARD, it unites us in the challenge.

(3) So, if we explore space, “WE MUST LEAD IT”, because to fulfill our commitments to ourselves and to humankind in general and all nations in particular the USA must lead.  “ONLY A FREE PEOPLE CAN DO THAT.”

(4) And right now, we have a glimmer of a chance to keep space clear of,  “weapons of mass destruction” and, “in a state of peace and freedom” for all humankind.

(5) “Some say, this is too much…We should bide our time.  No, we are not sprung from a people that bided its time and waited,”  for a King 3,000 miles to make up his mind and grant us our freedom. Who took it!  As we plan to take space and space exploration. Not for ourselves alone, but for all free people, and nations, and future generations.



An Astronaut friend in 2017 confounded me by confiding,  “Some in the Administration think JFK was wrong in setting The Moon as our goal in 10 years.”

This was not some musical or mythical Camelot.  This was a 20th Century highpoint of this American Republic.  I was 12.  Everything we have from PCs and Tang, to internet and carbon fiber and high tech flow from the fact we took up that challenge JFK laid down, and succeeded.


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