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Monday, September 12, 2022

We choose to go to Moon - lecture, Sixty years ago !

A giant leap for the mankind .. .. on July 20, 1969 -  Armstrong and his crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were  launched to the Moon,  on their return, the three astronauts were invited to Buckingham Palace for a meeting with the Queen on October 15 later that year.

More than 5 decades later, United States is about to launch the first mission of its return program to the Moon, Artemis.  Criticism has risen in recent years, advocating  America to go directly to Mars. But NASA argues re-conquering the Moon is a must before a trip to the Red Planet.  Moon has enamoured mankind and landing on moon was a great accomplishment.  The first human-made object to touch the moon was Soviet Union’s Luna-2 on 13th Sept 1959.  

The United States' Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969.  There were six crewed U.S. landings between 1969 and 1972, and numerous uncrewed landings, with no soft landings happening between 22 August 1976 and 14 December 2013. The United States is the only country to have successfully conducted crewed missions to the Moon, with the last departing the lunar surface in December 1972. All soft landings took place on the near side of the Moon until 3 January 2019, when the Chinese Chang'e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side of the Moon.

William Marsh Rice University (Rice University) is a private research university in Houston, Texas. It is on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.  The university   is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology.  Given the university's close links to NASA, it has produced a significant number of astronauts and space scientists. 

Rice Stadium is an American football stadium located on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas. It has been the home of the Rice Owls football team since its completion in 1950,  and hosted John F. Kennedy's "We choose to go to the Moon" speech in 1962 and Super Bowl VIII in early 1974.     

"We choose to go to the Moon", officially titled the Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, is a September 12, 1962, speech by United States President John F. Kennedy to further inform the public about his plan to land a man on the Moon before 1970. Kennedy gave the speech, largely written by presidential advisor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen, to a large crowd at Rice University Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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 Apollo program's successful Apollo 11 mission.

When John F. Kennedy became President of the United States in January 1961, many Americans perceived that the United States was losing the Space Race with the Soviet Union, which had successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, almost four years earlier. The perception increased when, on April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space before the U.S. could launch its first Project Mercury astronaut.  American prestige was further damaged by the Bay of Pigs fiasco five days later.  Convinced of the political need for an achievement which would decisively demonstrate America's space superiority, Kennedy asked his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, in his role as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, to identify such an achievement.  Though perceived to be too costly, Kennedy stood before Congress on May 25, 1961, and proposed that the US "should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

That famous address of John F Kennedy - "We choose to go to the Moon” was made this day 60 years ago.

William Marsh Rice (1816 – 1900)  was an American businessman who made his fortune by investing in land, real estate, lumber, railroads, cotton, and other prospects in Texas and Louisiana. In 1860, his total property, which included fifteen slaves, was worth $750,000.   Rice bequeathed his fortune to found Rice University in Houston, Texas. Rice was murdered by his valet Charles F. Jones while sleeping. The murder was part of a plot to forge Rice's will. The instigator of the murder, attorney Albert T. Patrick, was sentenced to death.

If you remember reading the Astronauts meeting Queen in 1969 – it has something more.  The Queen’s  goodwill message to Neil Armstrong and his crew was also carried to the lunar surface during NASA's Apollo 11 mission and was placed at the landing site as a sign of humanity's expansion beyond the low-Earth orbit. The Queen’s message was etched on a silicon disk that was just slightly bigger than a half-dollar coin (1.2 inches across). With best wishes from over 70 heads of state, the messages were engraved as dots about 100 times smaller than the head of a needle. "On behalf of the British people I salute the skills and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavour increase the knowledge and well-being of mankind," the Queen's message read.  

When Armstrong and his crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched to the Moon, they carried the silicon disk and placed it at the 'Tranquility Base', the site where man first stepped on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Following their splashdown on July 24, the three astronauts were invited to Buckingham Palace for a meeting with the Queen on October 15 later that year.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Sept. 2022 

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