By peaking into the not-so-distant past, we can observe several elements at play. Here are three:
- Political Will. In a 1962 speech, Kennedy declared that "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." Note the clarity of purpose, and deadline. Could the Space Race have occurred without strong political will?
- Competition. The Space Race fostered intense competition between countries, on a massive scale. Competition brings out the best in us.
- Organization. Such a clear goal and purpose sparked collective action, leading to unprecedented increases in spending on education (particularly in math and science), research that contributed to spin-off technologies, as well as (unintentionally) to the birth of the environmental movement.