In this May 25, 1961 file photo, President John F. Kennedy speaks in the House of Representatives before a joint session of Congress in Washington. In the background are Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, left, and House Speaker Sam Rayburn. During that speech, Kennedy issued the challenge for NASA to send a man to the moon. (AP Photo)
UPDATED 11:09 AM PT – Tuesday, May 25, 2021
On May 25, 1961, a newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy dropped a bombshell on the congressional floor when he challenged the U.S.S.R. in race to the Moon.
During his speech, he outlined America’s ambitions in the Space Race, which included a nuclear rocket called Rover and new weather satellites. However, Kennedy’s announcement of a race to the Moon added an entirely new dynamic to America’s endeavors among the stars.
This announcement set the sage for a unified America, which rallied behind three astronauts eight years later as they boarded the Apollo 11 rocket on their way to take the first steps on the Moon.