On May 25, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon within the decade. How the hell were we going to do that? Neither Kennedy nor anyone else could really answer that question.
For Kennedy, the how-to was not as important as the why. The Soviet Union was showing us up in the space race – and therefore in the struggle for military supremacy. We all saw it as an issue of national survival, beyond the obvious matter of national pride.
This unprecedented monster of a project was driven by that very pressing need. We would find a way. Actually, we would find countless new ways to accomplish things never before attempted, or even seriously considered.
Eight years and 56 days later – on July 20, 1969 – Neil Armstrong stepped from the lunar module onto that dusty lunar surface. Between the two events, there was an immense expenditure of funds and effort, fueled by relentless inventions to do what had never been done before.
The commitment never wavered, although Kennedy himself was assassinated two years after his announcement.