On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress, “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 Earth.”
According to blogger Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo, NASA didn’t have a concrete plan to do that. Scientists had a general idea that they could get someone to the moon, but no real method in place. So why did Kennedy give the speech, which Diaz says was “crazy?”
The rhetoric, he says, was intended to show the U.S. wouldn’t just compete with the Soviets. They could beat them in the space race.
“The United States couldn’t afford a Red Moon,” Diaz wrote. “Even worse, Kennedy was also feeling the pressure from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which happened about a month earlier. He needed a big announcement like this, even if it was something completely crazy in retrospect.”