NASA was established in 1958. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been responsible for overseeing the development and missions accomplished in space for over half a century. Even before that, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, from Dayton, Ohio, successfully invented the first airplane and soared above the Earth in 1903. The dream of President John F. Kennedy took flight into a new perspective and provided the way to lunar possibilities. NASA, JFK and the Ohio connection in history has created a strong bond.
Dreams and fortitude were formed. Good men were found and trained beyond their already extensive careers as pilots. Intricate space craft, proper equipment, hard work and details all played a part in bringing an idea to reality. The United States was in a space race with the Soviets during that era, but only a few steps behind.
NASA pulled out all the stops to catch up, with the support and backing of President’s Kennedy’s dream. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. He did it three times in the space capsule named Friendship and was greeted by President Kennedy upon his safe return. The event was just the beginning of more great things to come.
NASA was on cloud nine and set to the task, using the congress approved money to make it all happen. President Kennedy asked congress for $7 billion to $9 billion dollars specifically designed for the development of the space program and his long range goal. In one of JFK’s most famous speeches his words set forth the quest.
“First, 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.”
Ohio was the home of the great inventers, the Wright brothers, and also was the home state of John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. The Ohio connection in the world of space has remained a vital part of history. Tragically, JFK was assassinated in 1963 and sadly never witnessed the account of the moon landing. Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.
NASA has served the nation well, but is currently on hold for future endeavors. The tie that JFK established in Ohio while campaigning for president was quite prominent, especially in September of 1959. The relationships he formed were long lasting including John Glenn, who became a close personal friend. In this case, Friendship was much more than a space capsule. John Glenn, from New Concord, Ohio, went on to be a long-standing Senator. His tenure is well recognized beyond his achievement in space. He is still doing well at age 92.
Neil Armstrong is from Wapakoneta, Ohio and after his moonwalk, he served as a professor of Aerospace Engineering at The University of Cincinnati. He passed away on August 25, 2012 at the age of 82 and left a legacy of admiration and awe. Ohio is home to Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base. Ohio, the first in flight state, also boasts several international airports along with airfields in most of their counties.
On a sidenote, JFK, Jr. was also a pilot and coincidentally perished in a crash near Martha’s Vineyard on July 16, 1999. It was twenty years to the day that the Apollo 11 set off on their mission to the moon, arriving four days later on July 20. John Glenn was to be a guest at the event JFK, Jr. was attending and had recently celebrated his own birthday on July 18. The dates, the connections and the dreams seem to be more than fate as they all tie together with men on the moon looking down from the space of time.
By: Roanne H. FitzGibbon