Space Quest: Become A Kennedy Era Space Expert

Your mission is to become an expert on early space exploration. Examine each source to discover key information about the space program during the Kennedy administration. For an extra challenge, answer the bonus question (words in bold give clues to the answers.) 

Online Space Exhibit

Freedom 7 Launch

Visit our online space exhibit. Find out about the first US astronauts. Learn about the Freedom 7 and the Friendship 7 flights, the first two US human space missions. View the exhibit highlights slideshow to discover key events in the Kennedy administration's space program.

Bonus question: How was the Freedom 7 spacecraft and Alan Shepard recovered after the flight?

1961 NASA Film on Alan Shepard and the Freedom 7

Alan Shepard in Freedom 7 Space Capsule

Watch a re-release of a 1961 NASA educational film on the flight of Freedom 7 when Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space. The video takes you into the moment as you observe Shepard and the other six original astronauts train, study, and prepare for the historic flight. Wait patiently with Shepard when the launch is delayed and join him as he soars into space on May 5, 1961. (The launch of the rocket starts at 18:00 and a summary of the flight information starts at 25:55.)

Bonus question: How long was the flight? 

Space Media Gallery

JFKNSF-307-005-p0007 USAF Space Plan

Explore the Space media gallery. View photographs and documents from the early years of space exploration, including a folder which contained secret information about a possible lunar mission and weather satellites.

Bonus question: Who is Pushinka and why were her parents so important?

Watch JFK's Historic Speech on the Space Program

JFKWHP-KN-C23643. President John F. Kennedy Speaks at Rice University, 12 September 1962

On September 12, 1962, President Kennedy spoke at Rice University in Texas and announced a goal for the United States.  Watch this historic speech and complete the excerpt below. You can read the transcript and listen carefully starting at 8:30 on the video.

We choose to go to the ___________. We choose to go to the ____________in this decade and do the other things, not because they are ___________, but because they are _____________, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the ___________of our energies and skills, because that _____________________is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to _________, and the others, too.

Bonus challenge: Memorize the excerpt!

To complete your mission, check the answers to the bonus questions.