President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman
Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb. Mr.
Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and
I appreciate your president having made me an honorary
visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first
lecture will be very brief. I am delighted to be here and I'm
particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.
We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for
progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need
of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge,
in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and
ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater
our ignorance unfolds.
Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that
the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite
the fact that this Nation's own scientific manpower is
doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three
times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the
vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the
unfinished still far out-strip our collective comprehension.
No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but
condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded
history in a time span of but a half century. Stated in these
terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except
at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins
of animals to cover them. Then about to years ago, under this
standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds
of shelter. Only 5 years ago man learned to write and use a
cart with wheels. Christianity began less than 2 years ago.
The printing press came this year, and then less than 2
months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history,
the steam engine provided a new source of power.
Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric
lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became
available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and
television and nuclear power, and now if America's new
spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally
reached the stars before midnight tonight.
This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but
create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new
problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space
promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.
So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we
are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of
Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United
States was not built by those who waited and rested and
wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by
those who moved forward-and so will space.
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the
Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable
actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both
must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.
If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything,
it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is
determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space
will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of
the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects
to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind
in this race for space.
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode
the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first
waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear
power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the
backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of
it-we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look
into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we
have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile
flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We
have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of
mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in
this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first.
In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our
hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as
well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve
these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and
to become the world's leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to
be gained, and new rights to he won, and they must be won and
used for the progress of all people. For space science, like
nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its
own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends
on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of
pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will
be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do
not say that we should or will go unprotected against the
hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected
against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that
space can he explored and mastered without feeding the fires
of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in
extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in
outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its
conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its
opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again.
But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And
they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35
years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
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 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.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year
to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among
the most important decisions that will be made during my
incumbency in the Office of the Presidency.
In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being
created for the greatest and most complex exploration in
man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air
shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many
times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn,
generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their
accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five
F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines
of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make
the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to
be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48-story structure,
as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this
Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have
circled the earth. Some 40 of them were "made in the United
States of America" and they were far more sophisticated and
supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than
those of the Soviet Union.
The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most
intricate instrument in the history of space science. The
accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from
Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the
Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a
safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented
warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for
forest fires and icebergs.
We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do
not admit them. And they may be less public.
To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time
in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in
this decade we shall make up and move ahead.
The growth of our science and education will be enriched by
new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new
techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new
tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well
as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will
reap the harvest of these gains.
And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its
infancy, has already created a great number of new companies,
and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related
industries arc generating new demands in investment and
skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this
region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the
furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the
furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space.
Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft
Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and
engineering community. During the next 5 years the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the
number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase
its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year;
to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory
facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts
over $1 billion from this Center in this City.
To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This
year's space budget is three times what it was in January
1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous
8 years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a
year-a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for
cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will
soon rise some more from 40 cents per person per week to more
than 50 cents a week for every man, woman, and child in the
United States, for we have given this program a high national
priority even though I realize that this is in some measure
an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what
benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens,
that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the
control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet
tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal
alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of
standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever
been experienced, fitted together with a precision better
than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for
propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and
survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial
body, and then return it safely to earth, reentering the
atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing
heat about half that of the temperature of the sun almost as
hot as it is here today-and do all this, and do it right, and
do it first before this decade is out, then we must be bold.
I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to
stay cool for a minute. [Laughter]
However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we
must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to
waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this
will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done
while some of you are still here at school at this college
and university. It will be done during the terms of office of
some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will
be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.
I am delighted that this university is playing a part in
putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort
of the United States of America.
Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who
was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to
climb it. He said, "Because it is there."
Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the
moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge
and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask
God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and
greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.
NOTE: The President spoke in the Riee University Stadium at
10 a.m. In his opening words he referred to Dr. K. S. Pitzer,
President of the University, Vice President Lyndon B.
Johnson, Governor Price Daniel of Texas, Representative
Albert Thomas of Texas, Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin,
Representative George P. Miller of California, James E. Webb,
Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration., David E. Bell, Director of the Bureau of the