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Hubble's achievements only a beginning

Hubble is a testament to the spirit of discovery that marked the century behind us, and a challenge for us in the century ahead. President John F. Kennedy once said of space, "[T]his is the new ocean, and I believe the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none." In the decades that followed, largely because of Kennedy's vision, Americans united to sail on that ocean, and to record together some of the greatest achievements in human history.

Our own generation, standing on the shoulders of those before us, can reach farther, dare greater and explore deeper into space than anyone could have dreamed 100 years ago. From Mars to the planets beyond, from distant moons to orbiting asteroids, humanity will inch farther into the horizon that Hubble revealed, and the American flag will be planted in places untouched since the beginning of time.

In the new American Century, space will be reached by the genius of private enterprise. Government will play an important role, but the American people will be at the helm of discovery. We already see it happening. Every month reveals a new rocket launched, technology developed or idea advanced through the power of public and private partnership, and every day — perhaps every hour — brings quiet advancements that push us closer to the cosmic ocean President Kennedy once described.

The images Hubble has captured in its 25 years are many things — inspiring, humbling, even startling. But they are also a stirring call to action — a challenge to keep discovering, keep launching, keep dreaming.

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