September 20, 1963: In an address before the United Nations, JFK proposes a joint space venture with the USSR, a bold move during the height of the Cold War.
As President Kennedy proposes the joint expedition to the moon between Americans and Soviets, he famously asks, “Space offers no problems of sovereignty . . . Why, therefore, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition?”
Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity – in the field of space – there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries – indeed of all the world – cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.
Tragically, President Kennedy would be struck down by sniper bullets two months later. Lee Harvey Oswald would be condemned as the lone assassin.
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