Let's 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 hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” – President John F. Kennedy, 1962
Wow! Fifty years later and that speech is still being celebrated. Read news that came out this week on the anniversary.
President Kennedy saw space exploration as a Cold War competition, but he also recognized that it was so much more. It helped define us as a nation. He had such a vision, having first proposed landing on the Moon in a speech to Congress in 1961 when he said, “I believe that this nation 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.”
President Kennedy emphasized doing the mission, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. The Google Lunar X PRIZE mission is not easy either. The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational (501c3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, thereby inspiring the formation of new industries and the revitalization of markets that are currently stuck due to existing failures or a commonly held belief that a solution is not possible. The foundation addresses the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. It motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital. That doesn’t sound easy to me.
We need to reflect on President Kennedy’s vision for space exploration and its contributions to our world. We always hear about what great accomplishments have resulted from space exploration, but I don’t think we hear enough about them. Technologies which have come out of NASA’s work have benefited society in the areas of health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, environmental and agricultural resources, computer technology, and industrial productivity.
An article on NASA’s website lists many specific benefits that have resulted from space study and exploration.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE serves many purposes, one is the all-important mission of educating and inspiring young people to study math, science, and engineering. We need bright minds to do the hard things in the future.
Many of the teams have goals far beyond landing on the Moon and sending back images and video. We want to make a difference. That would be just the beginning.
Let’s choose to go to the Moon. And then let’s choose to do more.