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When We Chose to Go to the Moon

How did a bunch of Houston high school students help President Kennedy drive the United States towards putting a man on the Moon?

In September 1962, Bob Salling, one of our docents, was pulled out of school along with tens of thousands of other Houston high school students to hear a speech by President Kennedy at Rice University. Salling remembers that “a lot of people didn’t like Kennedy, a lot of parents didn’t like Kennedy, and by extension their children didn’t like Kennedy”; but, Kennedy’s words about space exploration got Salling and his peers so excited about the possibility of going to space that they forgot their prejudices. The speech would become a rallying call for the space program in the United States, and in it Kennedy explains that “we choose to go to the Moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” "This speech set a deadline for walking on the Moon before the end of the decade, and the excitement it generated kept the space program momentum going through the turbulent '60s."

Get a taste of what it took to put a man on the Moon in our Apollo exhibit (https://www.museumofflight.org/Exhibits/Apollo) and stay tuned for info about Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. This traveling exhibit comes to our Museum in 2019.



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