We are just a few days from what those of us in the NASA family refer to as "dark week," that span from January 27 through February 1 that marks the anniversaries of Apollo1, Challenger, and Columbia. And this afternoon, the President will outline his vision for the future of NASA. He will most likely suggest a trip to Mars and the construction of a manned Moon base.
If done well--and I hope, I hope it will be--this could be the new-millennium equivalent of JFK's1962 Rice University speech, at which he challenged the United States to break Earth's orbit: "We choose to go to the moon," he said. "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...."
I quoted that speech all the time when I worked in education at Kennedy Space Center. Twenty years from now, you might visit the Cape and hear what the President will say today echoed back to you. Maybe.
Listen, and dream. Then do.
"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."
-JFK, May 25, 1962
January 14, 2004