This May 25 marks the 60th anniversary of the commitment of the president of the United States Jophn Fitzgerald Kennedy to take human beings to the Moon, a milestone in the space race.
In the middle of the Cold War and just a few weeks after the Soviet Union’s first manned space flight with Yuri Gagarin, Kennedy launched his goal during a speech to Congress:
“I believe this nation should commit to achieving the goal, before the end of this decade, of putting a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. No space program in this period will be more impressive to humanity or more. important in long-term space exploration; and none will be that difficult or expensive to achieve.
We choose to go to the moon. 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 difficult; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and abilities, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we are not willing to postpone, and another that we intend to win, and the others. “
But Kennedy’s interest in getting to the moon was unscientific. A year later, he confessed to the then administrator of NASA, James Webb, that he was not interested in reaching the moon but doing it before the Russians, according to the president himself in some recordings that have been compiled into a book by the Kennedy library .
The main promoter of this project, the director of the library, Thomas Ptnam, explained in 2012 to the New York Times that it is a memoir that the former president of the United States never wrote.
The more than 260 hours of recordings that Kennedy made contained some of the conversations that the president had in his office in the White House. Among them those that he had with Webb and in which he showed his “obsession” with the cold war.
Thus, at a meeting in November 1962, the president told the NASA administrator that putting a man on the moon was his top priority. During the conversation, Webb talks about the importance of this fact in order to understand the environment of space, to which the president replies: “if we reach the Moon seconds it will be fine, but we will be the seconds forever.”
In addition, when Webb insisted on the scientific possibilities of a mission to the Earth satellite and Kennedy noted: “I am not interested in space, only in the battle against the Russians.”
In any case, the American space program received tens of billions of dollars to reach the Apollo spacecraft and make Neil Armstronng the first human to walk on the Moon just eight years after Kennedy’s engagement.