NASA Honors JFK with Moon Rock
On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, NASA honored President John F. Kennedy with an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his vision and leadership in landing a man on the moon. The Kennedy family has selected Rice University to house and publicly display the award, a lunar sample, at Fondren Library. Kennedy called for a national initiative to go to the moon during a speech given at Rice University on September 12, 1962.
Michael Coats, a former astronaut and director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, presented the moon rock to Rice University President David Leebron on Saturday, October 10, 2009, during a halftime ceremony at the Rice versus Navy football game. NASA astronauts George Zamka, a graduate of the Naval Academy, and Danny Olivas, a graduate of Rice, served as honorary captains for their alma maters during the game’s coin toss.
NASA is giving the Ambassador of Exploration Award to the first generation of explorers in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs for realizing America’s goal of going to the moon. The award is a moon rock encased in Lucite, mounted for public display. The rock is part of the 842 pounds of lunar samples collected during six Apollo expeditions from 1969 to 1972.
For a transcript, video and audio of Kennedy’s historic speech, visit: http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm