I WANT to say a word before we leave. This has been a very thrilling and inspiring experience for me. To be in the company of you men is always stimulating. I feel that the Nation and the peoples of the world have a deep debt to you people who selflessly sacrifice so much in order that we might see so far ahead and build for our future.
I came over here this morning because I wanted to see you before you left. I wanted to review your pictures. But most of all, I wanted to express the appreciation of myself and the Vice President, who is vitally interested in this program as Chairman of the Space Council, but more particularly, the understanding and appreciation of all Americans for this great agency that has just recently been born and has made such a success of the Nation's space program.
I think it is characteristic of NASA and of Jim Webb and of our American science community that you haven't dwelled much on the achievements of last Saturday of Ranger-8. Instead, you have looked ahead to the future and to the great success that you think is down the road, that you can anticipate with the Mariner mission to Mars. I feel somewhat close to this agency and this program. The Space Act of 1958 was one of the measures that I authored during my 25 years in Congress, and I expect is one of my proudest legislative accomplishments. I think it is really incredible that we have come so far. It was only 7 years ago this month that we were deliberating and debating and still seeking to come to grips with the realities of the space age.
I need not recall some of the comments made during that period about the follies that we were about to embark upon. But from that beginning we have moved in these years to realities of accomplishments far beyond our greatest expectations.
I think a great deal of that is due to the quality and the character and the morale of the people who man the ramparts here in the Space Agency. I doubt that I have ever known a more genuine or competent or dedicated administrator than Jim Webb. How he could come in here with his bare hands and lead this group to the achievements that have come to pass is nothing less than phenomenal.
I remember the morning when he started out in my office with Dr. Dryden and they made a contract that the two of them together, and later Dr. Schneiderman joined them and others, would see this thing to a conclusion.
I told Dr. Dryden and Mr. Webb as they left the office that I wouldn't be bothering them. I had made a suggestion or two before Mr. Webb had been appointed. But I wouldn't recommend any contractors, I wouldn't suggest any personnel, I wouldn't try to pass any of my kinfolks down the line to him or recommend any brother-in-law. But that if he got in trouble to come to see me, I would be ready and willing. And he hasn't been back.
That is a tribute not only to the personnel that roans this shop but to the Congress and to the scientific community and to the great industrial genius that is America.
Now I want to say a word about the space feats last week, the continuing Mariner probe, the forthcoming Gemini flights. I think they are indications of the rapid advances that we are making and that we are going, in the name of this country, to continue to make in the exploration of space.
Our purpose is not, and I think all of you realize never will be, just national prestige. Our purpose remains firmly fixed on the fixed objective of peace. The frontier of space is a ...
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