CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. --
Becoming the World’s Premier Gateway to Space does not happen overnight. It takes decades of dedication by men and women around the United States.
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan visited the men and women at the 45th Space Wing and attended the 50th anniversary event of NASA’s historical Apollo 11, July 19-22.
Since former President John F. Kennedy’s revered ‘moon speech,’ the race to establish dominance in space has been apparent. When the United States put man on the moon on July 20, 1969, the world held its breath.
Now, 50 years later, Acting Secretary Donovan – along with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, NASA employees and thousands watching across the world – reflected on that historic moment at the Apollo 11 anniversary event at Kennedy Space Center.
“I was 10 years old and my mom let me stay up late to watch the landing on television,” Donovan said, recalling the moment he watched the first man walk on the moon. “I remember the previous Christmas, I received and built the Apollo Saturn V model moon rocket. The moon landing captured the imagination of everyone, young and old. It was really an amazing time. It’s hard to believe that was 50 years ago.”
During his visit, Donovan met Airmen at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, who deliver assured access to space for the warfighter and the nation. Donovan also visited Space Launch Complex-37 to see United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV rocket and learn more about the Airmen’s critical roles within the space mission.
Former President John F. Kennedy said, “The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.”
“These Airmen and the space mission are absolutely critical,” said Donovan. “Over the years, whether it be a global positioning system, communications or intelligence and reconnaissance mission, our foothold in space is critical. It’s so critical that our adversaries have noticed that and gone to school on the American way of war. From that, we now look forward to the development of the United States Space Force.”
“I wish I could go back and do it all over again as to be on the ground floor of such a historical event as standing up a sixth service. I think it’s very exciting – the role that our Airmen are going to play,” said Donovan.
Donovan also anticipates the increasing synergy between the government and the space launch industry.
“Through different space pioneers, we’re able to lower the cost of space launch and pack more capabilities into a smaller package. Just imagine the possibilities that will come from that. I’m excited to see, in the years to come, our space capabilities taken to the next level for the nation.”