Obama to Proclaim Now is the Nation's Sputnik Moment

President Obama will talk about his vision for the future in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, while using a relic of the past to illustrate it.

"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist," the president will say, according to excerpts released.

"But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment."

The analagy is a familiar one, having been used by Obama himself at least once before. In a Winston-Salem speech to students at a technical community college last year, the president said, "[Fifty] years later, our generation's Sputnik moment is back. This is our moment."

At the time, he was talking about deficits and spending; which is also expected to be a central theme of Tuesday's State of the Union speech.

"If the recession has taught us anything," Obama said back in December, "it's that we cannot go back to an economy that's driven by too much spending, too much borrowing, running up credit cards, taking out a lot of home equity loans, paper profits that are built on financial speculation."