President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice University


(Cheers) President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen: I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief. I am delighted to be here, and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion. We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds. Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation¹s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension. No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man¹s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America’s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight. This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward. So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. (Applause) This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so will space. William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space. Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. (applause) For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding. Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation. We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours. There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. 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, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency. In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man’s history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where the F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field. Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were “made in the United States of America” and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union. The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines. Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs. We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public. To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead. The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains. And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City. To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year¹s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at five billion, four hundred million dollars a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority– even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today– and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold. I’m the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter] However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade. I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America. (applause) Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.” Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked. Thank you. (applause)


  1. A man like Kennedy is what America needs today, not an inept and ignorant liar we have today. Wake up America.

  2. 9:42 Damn look at all those white people. America was truly great back then. That's not how Houston looks today, at all..

  3. 6:20 They sent a nuke into space about a month after this speech, in total 4 successful detonations occurred in the months after this speech. What vow is he talking about?

  4. The communists are disliking this video because they hate progress and the advancement of Western Civilisation/ any civilisation

  5. The degrading sixties was about to kick off, and all America had was this mans vision to hold its course.
    Yes he had many faults, a questionable family history, and some of the most corrupt human trash discarded by nations pitted against one another during her formation. A uphill battle that has tested mankind everywhere to be better, to improve for a brighter future.

  6. We stand 50 years since the greatest achievement in the history of mankind, spurred by one man’s dream and vision. What a wonderful world to live in.

  7. And now in 2019 we have a disgusting, racist president. Coward Trump is imbecile-in-chief. What has happened to America?

  8. All I have to say coming from 2019 is what happened to the Democrat Party poor JFK killed by his own party such a shame

  9. Barry Obama talked about hope but left a record of unemployment and yes we can Barry filled his bank accounts and the Iranian regime and his friends

  10. This is about America. A President chosen by the people and working for the people, not like the racist, ignorant dumbass who dirtied the WH. What a difference!

  11. From the day Barry Obama and big Mike was ellected America went back from the moon 1000 steps behind and four years of Barry Obama and big Mike and USA could have been like Somalia but Thank God for Trump he changed direction and not to forget his Pence and his team that wants to make America great

  12. And If a person is not born in the US he shouldn’t run for nothing not even in Gongress because there’s no love and respect towards the people and the nation ,people that come from outside to run the country will only be there to fill there bank books and see what to gain for them selves ,like what Barry did and he liked it so much he bought his friend O Mars to continue ripping the US system ,US must change laws for voting before its to late and never again for abortions 60 million has perished in 8 years of Barry Soritho

  13. JFK was a great president even if he was a Democrat, I supported and moan him when he was assassinated. I now support Donald J Trump because he has the same vision of America as JFK. The Democrat Party of today is not the Party of JFK, it has been hi-jacked by Hitler and Stalin but this young generation is to blind to see it, and the Media is brain washing everyone with their bias and hated against Trump. Wake up America before it is to late.

  14. i understand why a lot of people want the president to not "ACT" as a politician but more like an everyday person that can just say any random thing but i MISS the days where America had a TRUE leader and acted not just as the commander of the ARMED forces but as the symbolic face of america where they could give such inspirational speeches that inspire others like me. R.I.P to President John F. Kennedy the last GREAT liberal democrat.

  15. America you once had A man like Kennedy as ur president but today you got Trump. Whom can Trump inspire, Motivate or unite as this guy.

  16. LBJ sits in the background having ordered the assassination of JFK.
    The world is a worst place without Kennedy.

  17. I am so angered 😡that they took this man from us 🇺🇸, From his family damn it!!😪🙏💞🇺🇸

    Don't you just love his Bostonian accent??
    Well with alot of Cape Cod twist right John Kennedy jr 😉😎😆👍💞

  18. The Mossad killed JFK, Robert Kennedy and Justice Scalia! They have infiltrated every aspect of our government! Our funding fathers must be rolling on their graves!

  19. 75 people dislike this video. I will bet you that they are zionists . America will never again see a president like JFK and also a senator like his brother . Love from Iran .
    Fight zionism.

  20. And Nixon got to telephone the moon.

    I wonder if JFK had still been around, would Nixon have shared the call with Armstrong?

  21. 🙏JFK🙏God I do wish he had lived. What could have been. Great man. Great President. RIP Sir🇺🇲🇺🇲

  22. John F. Kennedy was a real American president, John F. Kennedy was not a bigot, Like drama Queen tramp the biggest bigot

  23. Lyndon Johnson is more fidgety than a 2 year old sitting in church. Yet…in church he is. Preach on John…preach on.

  24. It has brought mankind together before.
    Even the then Soviet Union was determined inadvertently to propel mankind to our next level of consciousness and exploration.
    If the human race can spend what’s left of its natural recourses to show what the individual has obtained then why not use that material that is left to show what we as a people can push ourselves to be

  25. @16:20, President Kennedy said, the spaceship re-entering the atmosphere causing heat about half that of the temp of the sun almost as hot as it is here today. That must be a really hot day and President Kennedy instinctively added that sentence into the speech.

  26. Yeeaaa alot of millions of dallers for what for what all the money for rockets to broke the firmament. Supposlly they whent to the moon 50 years ago and they havent go again jajaja because they lost the tegnallyge thats alie jfk he got killed cause he found out the evil plan of goberments. And all that millions of the dallors supposlly for rockets to go to espace thats a big lie what about the people in africa astrailia the kids with canser all these poor people no water no food. And the world beleaving in the lies of espace going to the moon the moon is not even a planet

  27. Remember when speeches were written, practiced, and well delivered? Where are those skills now? I can't think of any given by the last several presidents.


  29. My fellow Americans. There is an imposter, an evil far greater than any evil the United States has ever seen before who presides inside the white house. Who pretends to care about individual citicens weather they be black, white ,Asian, Hispanic or other. This imposter pretends to have the best interests of the success and advancement of this nation yet proposes and impliments destructive and disastrous policys.This so called leader pretends to have no self serving interests, yet spends all of his waking hours tweeting and talking only about himself. My fellow Americans, this so called president, who calls himself "the chosen one", is chosen only by Satan himself. I propose that we put an end to Donald Trump by November of 2020. We choose to rid this world of this evil. Not because it is easy, but because it is morally right for the survival of this nation!

  30. The beginning of the worlds biggest lie
    anyone know what “the other things”
    were??? and the others too???

  31. Meanwhile … Dropping chemical weapons in Operation Hades or Ranch Hand in South pretty US democracy .. nevermind Central America and South America.. Piece of garbage Clown… The rest is history…🇺🇸💩🇺🇸💀🔫

  32. He choosed to go the Moon because… It was impossible just to boost the MIC( Military Industrial Complex)…This idiot went to Berlin to lecture the Germans about "Democracy while their government under Eisenhower overthrow Mossadeq , in Guatemala and this asseissin created " The school of America's" … Under the ( Paper Clip Nazis War criminals).

  33. Banned from the Moon for landing without permission.
    The US government is banned from Mars.
    Humans are not.
    But if you land without permission will be instantly banned.
    Please, get in contact first, share the contact, and be granted total access and support just as you will support your new contact.
    You will never ever be able to explore if you don't let yourself be explored.

  34. My Father is Speaking about an imaginary Time Capsule … condensing the past 50,000 years into 50 years, or 1 year for every thousand years. This is taking us through the time since Lemuria was obliterated by these alien raider races in what was called the Eiyani Massacre. We were the Eiyani, D-12-48 Template "Humans". That means 12 to 48 strands of DNA, rather than the current 2 strands, functioning at only 2-5% b/c of the genetic mutations, manipulations, etc. by these evil alien freaks. Lemuria was a Matriarchal Society, which lived in Peace and Prosperity, and is the original Camelot, or Khem~alo~hatea. EshU~ra Khemalohatea. I LUV you, dad. Ra~Ka on! 🙏🏽😘 Sweet Caroline …

  35. ANY I MAKE NOTE REMEMBER Russia has different system not only alternatíve but very logical and poweful and perhaps in future can even help Unites states you now reaching talk with Tálban you ignored the killing of journalist just because of gain instrultrian gains . Many speech can be made based on this speech like Thomas Jefferson but i warn you do not know anything of great RUSSIA you all again underestimating your so called enemy who are in real not your enemy but sure we never we surrend to any force you we make under arrest just as you like to make our people but we will not do like that yet not because you are stronger maybe you think about the history is very complicated no white or Black but based on princiiple or not history not only based on money or praxticism why i came here but usa never should feel better than Ussr or Russia never as they made át least as much with much less money


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