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约翰·肯尼迪演讲:我们选择登月We choose to go to the Moon

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2015年01月20日

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The greater our knowledge increases, the greater ourignorance unfolds.我们学到的知识越多,认识到的无知就越多。-----肯尼迪

In this 1962 speech given at Rice University inHouston, Texas, President John F. Kennedyreaffirmed America's commitment to landing a manon the moon before the end of the 1960s. ThePresident spoke in philosophical terms about theneed to solve the mysteries of space and alsodefended the enormous expense of the spaceprogram.

President pitzer Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, andCongressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies andgentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assureyou that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted forstrength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, ina decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater ourknowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are aliveand working today, despite the fact that this Nation's own scientific manpower is doubling every12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despitethat, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still faroutstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in theseterms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced manhad learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under thisstandard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years agoman learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago.The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newtonexplored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobilesand airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television andnuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will haveliterally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old,new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise highcosts and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait.But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built bythose who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered bythose who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that allgreat and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must beenterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest forknowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space willgo ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and nonation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race forspace.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrialrevolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and thisgeneration does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We meanto be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to themoon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by ahostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shallnot see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge andunderstanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, weintend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace andsecurity, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, tosolve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world'sleading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to bewon, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, likenuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a forcefor good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifyingtheater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuseof space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do saythat space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating themistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards arehostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity forpeaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choosethis as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago,fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the otherthings, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve toorganize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one thatwe are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win,and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from lowto high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency inthe office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and mostcomplex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shatteredby the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas whichlaunched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with theiraccelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one aspowerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make theadvanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them weremade in the United States of America and they were far more sophisticated and supplied farmore knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in thehistory of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile fromCape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have givenus unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest firesand icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may beless public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do notintend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universeand environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new toolsand computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions,such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number ofnew companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries aregenerating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this state, andthis region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the oldfrontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space.Houston, your city of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of alarge scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronauticsand Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area,to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1billion from this center in this city.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year's space budget is three timeswhat it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eightyears combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum, thoughsomewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soonrise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for everyman, woman and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high nationalpriority--even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for wedo not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shallsend to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocketmore than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some ofwhich have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times morethan have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finestwatch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications,food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return itsafely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causingheat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and doall this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute.

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. Idon't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will bedone in the decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school atthis college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people whosit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

And I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part ofa great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest,was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, andnew hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God'sblessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man hasever embarked.

Thank you.


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