owls in space
Nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a bold declaration to the crowd of 40,000 gathered at Rice University’s football stadium — and to the world. America, said the young president, would land a man on the moon before the decade’s end.
“Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon,” Kennedy said in the now-iconic speech on September 12, 1962. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Indeed, heading back to the moon is hard, but the Ivy League of the South has just formalized a deal to assist NASA in doing so in the agency’s new lunar Artemis program. Rice University and NASA have extended their historic collaboration and partnership in which the two entities share research and develop educational outreach programs and opportunities.
Specifically, the new umbrella Space Act Agreement (SAA) covers participation by Rice and NASA personnel in joint research opportunities, STEM engagement, and educational activities, according to a Rice press announcement. This deal follows a decade of collaboration (starting with the 2012 SAA) and a previous extension in 2017.
And in a nod to the late president, the agreement also makes official NASA’s co-host participation in the upcoming Rice campus celebration that celebrates Kennedy’s legendary “We choose to go to the moon” speech. Rice will host public events from September 10-12.
This partnership invites the university to host and attend presentations at Johnson Space Center, including its Gateway to Space lecture series, and to NASA personnel to present at and attend the Rice Space Institute’s Space Frontiers lecture series, the Professional Science Masters in Space Studies seminar series, and other events, per a release.
The university will also seek ways to involve NASA researchers as visiting scholars, share information that could lead to collaborations, encourage Rice students to seek NASA internships, and pursue opportunities to engage in bioscience and human health and performance research.
Vanessa Wyche presents a special plaque to Rice University. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
Rice has collaborated with NASA since the agency’s inception, including donating land for what’s now Johnson Space Center, as well as founding the first space science department in an academic institution. Rice alums in space include Shannon Walker, who holds three Rice degrees; Peggy Whitson, who holds the American record for the most time in space; and Nichole Ayers, who joined the space corps last year, Rice notes.
In July 2019, veterans of the Apollo program reunited at Rice Stadium to toast the anniversary of the first moon landing (Apollo 11) and take part in a NASA video to mark the 50-year milestone.
“NASA’s Johnson Space Center has a long history of working with colleges and universities since the early days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs to help us achieve our human spaceflight missions,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of Johnson Space Center, in a statement. “We are eager to extend our partnership with Rice University to collaborate in vital research and technology development initiatives that will enable us to meet our nation’s exploration goals and advance human spaceflight as we work to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon under Artemis.”
This article originally ran on CultureMap.