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NASA Commemorates Moonshot Moment's Golden Anniversary Agency Looks to the Future and Beyond Low-Earth Orbit

May 25, 2011

David S. Weaver 
Headquarters, Washington 

RELEASE: 11-166


WASHINGTON -- Fifty years ago, a young president struggling with 
deepening international issues set a fledgling space agency on a 
course that would change the history of human exploration. NASA 
commemorates President John F. Kennedy's historic speech that sent 
humans safely to the moon with a series of activities and a 
commitment to continue the journey of discovery and exploration that 
started with a desperate race into space. 

"We are moving into a bright new future that builds on a challenge 
presented to us 50 years ago," said NASA Administrator Charles 
Bolden. "It is important that we remember our history but we must 
always look forward toward a brighter future. Our advantage now is 
that we have five decades of accomplishment and world leadership in 
space on which to build. The dreams President Kennedy helped make 
real for our world, and the dreams we still hold, may appear to be 
just out of reach but they are not out of our grasp." 

On this date in 1961, Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress, 
with a worldwide television audience, and announced, "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 Earth." This was seen as a bold mandate because America's 
experience up to this point was Alan Shepard's suborbital Freedom 7 
mission, which launched just a few weeks earlier and lasted about 15 

"Today, we have another young and vibrant president who has outlined 
an urgent national need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build 
our competitors and create new capabilities that will take us farther 
into the solar system, and help us learn even more about our place in 
the universe," Bolden added. "We stand at a moonshot moment once 
again, where we have a chance to make great leaps forward to new 
destinations, develop new vehicles and technologies, and new ways of 

To commemorate the address that launched NASA into history, the agency 
has scheduled several events and historic multimedia perspectives, 

-- A special concert at 7 p.m. EDT tonight at the John F. Kennedy 
Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The one-hour concert 
will feature the Space Philharmonic, Administrator Bolden, 
astronauts, Kennedy family representatives and special guests. There 
are a limited number of tickets available for the public. For more 
information, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/jTOKZt 
-- Video and other multimedia material from President Kennedy's speech 
are available on NASA Television and on the agency's Internet 
homepage http://www.nasa.gov along with information about the 
agency's future exploration initiatives. 
-- A message from the administrator about NASA's next moonshot moment 
and moving beyond Earth orbit is available on his blog at: 
-- An announcement later today that represents an important step in 
executing the president's exploration objectives and could pave the 
way for extending humanity's reach beyond low-Earth orbit and further 
into space 
-- NASA and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in 
Washington present "NASA | ART," from May 28 to Oct. 9. The exhibit 
features more than 70 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, 
and other forms of art illustrating the agency's mission. Admission 
is free, and the exhibit is located at the Air and Space Museum's 
building at Sixth Street and Independence Ave. SW. 

For more information about NASA and its missions, connect with the 
agency online at: 





For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: 



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