President John F. Kennedy’s Message to Congress, May 25, 1961
A few weeks after Commander Alan Shepard, Jr., became the first American to travel into space, President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress, requesting its commitment to the space program and additional funds to develop rockets and weather and communication satellites.
Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration
Sending Americans Into Space - 2
In the 1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union began programs for manned and unmanned scientific missions into space. The Soviets’ successful launch of the unmanned Sputnik I satellite in 1957 made Congress determined to jolt the U.S. space program into action. Winning the race to space became a political, scientific, and security priority. The United States intensified its efforts to be the first nation to send a man to the moon.