Today we mark the birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A man with unique vision and determination.
Thanks to him, humanity got to the moon and back. Admittedly, it was a reaction to the challenge of the advancing Russian Aerospace program. But rising up to meet challenges is what it takes to advance technology and reach the pinnacle of human endeavours.
I’m older than John F. Kennedy was when he died. That’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around. He was only 46 when he was shot in Dallas, yet he had accomplished so much by then.
What’s more, he encouraged others to accomplish the impossible.
JFK was not perfect. He was human. He has critics as well as admirers, but there’s no way to deny that he helped the space program take off. I’m not an American, but I am a space junkie–and proud of it.
JFK gave NASA a mission that changed the history of the world.
Not Because It Is Easy
“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.” — John Fitzgerald Kennedy
These are powerful words and a revolutionary concept. In a time when we are so careful of getting it wrong, it’s important to remember what JFK meant with all of this.
Yes, the race for space was driven by an urgency to beat Russia during a time when a collaboration with Russia on these programs was unimaginable. But it was far more than that.
When people question whether we should bother with space while we still have so much to accomplish on Earth, I despair. It shows a profound lack of understanding of the contributions of the aerospace industry to those who will never step foot in a rocket.
Advancements in unique materials, new manufacturing processes, a better understanding of the limits of the human body, nutrition, medicine, science, mathematics, computing–and so much more–owe their origins to the space program then and today.
The best chance we have to save Earth is to push ourselves to the limits of endeavour, to reach for Mars and beyond.
Science is hard. Making it a priority is harder. But we must do the difficult things because only the difficult things can teach us to make the impossible easy.