Today we recognize the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy as president of the United States. While he is remembered for many things, one of his primary accomplishments was setting our nation on a path of unprecedented achievement. President Kennedy gave our Nation and NASA a great challenge. His vision and direction drove NASA to do what many thought was impossible. And we at NASA accomplished the task. President Kennedy therefore gave NASA its driving force, one that is as important today as it was then — to accomplish the seemingly unattainable using our unique talent, drive, and innovative skills.
It was my pleasure and honor today to travel to the U.S. Capitol with Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin to join with dozens of others in the historic rotunda to commemorate the occasion of President Kennedy’s inauguration. Vice President Biden spoke and there were many members of the Kennedy Administration on hand as well as members of the family. There were speeches and music and a lot of remembrance of the promise of those times.
I think NASA still carries forth the spirit of President Kennedy’s directive. Today, among many initiatives, we’re at the starting gate as we strive to reach an asteroid with humans, and also the moons of Mars and Mars itself. Our science missions are returning incredible amounts of information about destinations we could only dream about in the 1960s, and many more are poised to launch deep into our solar system and to peer beyond it. We have ten more years aboard the International Space Station in which we will make advances in human health research and make use of the unique microgravity environment to uncover the properties of materials that will help technology development on Earth.
Today’s event was a stirring reminder of what we can achieve when we set our sights on a goal that may be just out of reach today but not out of sight if we work hard for it.
Here is a link to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remarks about how President Kennedy helped shape the future of exploration, science and technology in America:
And here’s a photo from this moving ceremony:
Image above: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, third from left, introduces EdwardMoore Kennedy III,
fourth from left, to NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin,left, and former NASA Astronaut Scott
Altman, second from left, asEdward’s mother Kiki Kennedy, wife of Edward M.
Kennedy Jr. and NASADeputy Administrator Lori Garver, right, look on at an event recognizing
the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy asPresident of the United States,
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in the rotundaat the U.S. Capitol. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)