It was fifty years ago today that JFK asked us the great question: "Why does Rice play Texas?" Oops, not that question. He challenged us: "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 the earth." Politicians today say, "commit ourselves to achieving no goal, because that might be hard, except for that of landing a bugdet on the Capital and returning the money safely to my state or district."
Yes, JFK was initially unenthusiastic about the whole thing. But, helped by key advisers, he came to the conclusion that an ambitious space goal was, in modern parlance, a win-win" It would boost national morale, enhance national prestige, make the USSR look like the second-place power in the Cold War, and give a major boost to high-tech industries at home. He turned out to be right on all counts.