A NASA rocket is on its way to the moon carrying an unmanned Orion capsule on a 25-day test flight to orbit the Moon.
The mission represents a huge leap forward in NASA’s Artemis Project, which plans to return humans to our celestial neighbor by 2025. But, it also represents an opportunity for Americans to set aside their differences and celebrate a truly remarkable achievement.
America’s history of space exploration has long united Americans across the political spectrum.
On May 25, 1961, fewer than three weeks after Alan Shepard became the first American in space, President John Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress and called on members to work together to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade.
“But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon,” said Kennedy. “If we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
Congress responded to this call, authorizing billions in spending with bipartisan support to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. In 1965 and 1966, Congressional spending on NASA accounted for more than 4% of the national budget.
And when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon in 1969, 93% of the American population, Republican and Democrat alike, huddled around TVs to watch one of the most significant moments in history.
Then-House Republican leader, and future president, Gerald Ford spoke on what the moon mission represented:
“I believe our moon journey has kindled a new feeling of pride in country in all our citizens – a new and much-needed patriotism, if you will.”
Officials hope returning to the moon for the first time since 1972 won’t just be a landmark accomplishment for NASA, but an achievement the country and the world can celebrate. Said NASA administrator Bill Nelson: “Artemis I shows that we can do big things, things that unite people.”