John F. Kennedy Assigns Lyndon Johnson The Task Of Unifying The U.S. Satellite Programs

On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy declared to a joint session of Congress his belief that the nation should commit itself to landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

This mission was accomplished on July 20, 1969.

On June 24, 1961, the public learned of President John Kennedy's letter assigning Vice President Lyndon Johnson the high priority task of unifying the U.S. satellite programs. Twenty-two years later, on the same day, astronaut Sally Kirsten Ride landed at Edwards Air Force Base aboard the 100-ton space shuttle Challenger, completing her voyage as the first American woman in space. These two events evidence the nation's leap from an age of earth-bound methods of communication and travel into the space age.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969 after his service as the Vice President of the United States from 1961 to 1963.

Johnson, a Democrat, succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, completed Kennedy's term and was elected President in his own right, winning by a large margin in the 1964 Presidential election. Johnson was greatly supported by the Democratic Party and, as President, was responsible for designing the "Great Society" legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, and his attempt to help the poor in his "War on Poverty." Simultaneously, he greatly escalated direct American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Johnson served as a United States Representative from Texas, from 1937–1949 and as United States Senator (as his grandfather foretold when LBJ was just an infant) from 1949–1961, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. After campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1960, Johnson was selected by John F. Kennedy to be his running-mate for the 1960 presidential election. Johnson's popularity as President steadily declined after the 1966 Congressional elections, and his re-election bid in the 1968 United States presidential election collapsed as a result of turmoil within the Democratic party related to opposition to the Vietnam War. He withdrew from the race to concentrate on peacemaking.

I will appreciate your having the Space Council undertake to make the necessary studies… for bringing into optimum use at the earliest practicable time operational communications satellites.”

— President John F. Kennedy to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson