The lasting legacy of Apollo and humankind’s reach for the Moon was made possible thanks to a visionary U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. He understood what the perilous undertaking would involve. Even now, Kennedy’s provocative “moon speech,” given in September 1962 at Rice University in Texas, is exhilarating. What challenges were overcome? What sacrifices were made? What have we learned? What accomplishments are celebrated even today? Most importantly, who were the people that made it happen?
Humans look up at the sky in wonder every day. Who is indifferent to the delight of the bright, warm Sun, the glowing Moon, and the spectacular array of sparkling lights in the nighttime sky? Today’s astronomers provide us with even more wondrous views of the sky using the eyes of technology. Our views and understanding of our place in space have inspired our stories, music, and art across history. How have we come to know our place in space? What new unexpected things will we learn from astronomers and astronauts today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come?
Earth’s Moon hangs there hovering like a celestial nightlight, visible most nights of the year. It is our companion in gravitational lock. Our Moon is often one of the first astronomical objects that we notice in our lives, and the questions and wonder it evokes offer a lifetime of inspiration. What is the relationship between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun? Where did the Moon come from? What is the Moon really made of? And when we return to the Moon, where should we set up residence?
Thanks to a cadre of robotic craft, Mars has been flown by, orbited, crashed into, radar inspected, rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked, and even laser blasted. We have learned so much, and yet there is much more to learn about the Red Planet. Yet to come… being stepped on. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is championing a plan to create a sustainable path to permanent inhabitation of Mars.
Driven by our insatiable desire to explore, imagine, and create, humans continue to develop technology to visit the Moon, explore our Universe, and plan for a life off of our home planet Earth. Why is it important to invest in this exploration? How might the space program help us better understand and even improve life here on Earth? How have technologies created by those in the space industry changed our daily lives forever?