Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GOAL

Goal is a four letter word.

50 years ago today, President Kennedy stood before a joint session of Congress and presented an "extraordinary" speech on the issues that were facing America and the goals that he wished to set for the nation.  He broadly set forth eight goals, wide reaching and ambitious.  They ranged from prosperity at home to peace and security abroad.  Most were not goals that were achieved in his lifetime.  Many were not even goals that have been achieved in the 50 years since, although they still remain goals.

Most notable were the goals he presented in terms of space exploration.  First and foremost, he set the nation on a path to go to the moon.  And while this is probably the most well known of his spacefaring goals, it was not the only one... nor even the goal that has the most meaning to us today.  As part of going to the moon, he requested a vigorous research program, whose legacy is still with us, to determine what methods might be the best to accomplish those means.  He proposed that we research ways to explore beyond the moon.  He called for funds to develop and establish communication satellites in space.  And finally, he pushed to create the weather satellites which are now a cornerstone of modern meteorology.  Some of the goals were lofty, some were very practical, but all were goals that he felt could be met with enough leadership, funding, and commitment.

I sit here today and ponder where those goals have brought us today, and where they will bring us in the future.  We have gone to the moon - although we have not stayed.  The research that put those men on the moon now have men and women in orbit, have robots on Mars, are planning new and exciting ventures into space, and have probes to the farthest reaches of the solar system.  It has created the foundation of technology that we enjoy today in the Internet, our GPS units, our computers and our phones.  I can open my browser and watch radar and satellite images of dangerous weather across the nation, and know there are experts who are looking at those same images and trying to keep people out of harms way.

What goals do you set?  Do you provide the leadership, funding, and commitment to meet those goals?  Are they lofty or practical?  What will be their outcome?  What is your legacy?