HOUSTON – Rice University and NASA partnered Monday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s landmark “We choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice Stadium.
The main event featured a reading from the president’s speech, a message from astronauts on board the International Space Station, and talks by NASA administrator Bill Nelson, Rice President Reginald DesRoches, Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, Rice alumna and astronaut Shannon Walker, French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien and elected officials.
“To me, the speech is a metaphor for doing the impossible... what many people thought was impossible,” said DesRoches.
The program capped a three-day celebration of free events and exhibitions open to the public, including a “space selfie” of a crowd gathered in the stadium photographed by a satellite passing over the Rice campus.
Ronnie Cervenaa was a sophomore at Rice when he heard President Kennedy’s speech from the bleachers. He said he believed then that Americans would walk on the moon, which happened seven years later with the Apollo 11 mission.
“Everything’s possible and we will go further,” Cervenaa said.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said a new generation of astronauts equipped with new technology will return back to the moon very soon with Artemis.
“It’s time for the new generation of astronauts,” Nelson said.” It’s the Artemis generation and it’s a different kind of astronaut.”
That uncrewed mission is set to attempt for a third time later this month due to technological setbacks.