WASHINGTON — Fifty years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy renewed America's vow to put a man on the moon within a decade. Now it's been almost 40 years since the last manned moon mission, and more than a year since the last U.S. manned spaceflight.
The Cold War rivalry with the old Soviet Union motivated America to get to the moon first, and it did. Neil Armstrong's footprints remain a symbol of man's capacity to wonder, and to achieve. But the Soviet Union is no more. And America isn't the space leader it once was.
"He represents the vision and curiosity that put us on the moon, and reminds us of what we can do if we choose to do it," said George W.S. Abbey, who joined NASA in 1967. "That's a startling contrast between where we were and where we are."