NASA was founded on this day, 63 years ago!
On July 29, 1958, President Dwight D Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 into law, in order “To provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.”
“The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind. The Congress declares that the general welfare and security of the United States require that adequate provision be made for aeronautical and space activities. The Congress further declares that such activities shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, a civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States, except that activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States.”
The creation of NASA didn’t happen overnight, although it did happen relatively quickly in government time thanks to the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
Sputnik launched on October 4, 1957, and the draft of legislation that Eisenhower submitted to Congress was finished on April 2, 1958.
The hearings in the House and Senate and an Executive Branch advisory committee were able to come up with legislation that transformed NACA National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics into NASA in under a year. The original act has been amended, and the language in it updated over the ensuing decades.
Be sure to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, KS, for everything IKE!
Main image: President Kennedy and President Eisenhower during a meeting in April 1961, roughly two weeks before Alan Shepard launched on America’s first human spaceflight, JFK Archives.
Inset image: President Dwight D. Eisenhower (center) appoints T. Keith Glennan (right) NASA’s first administrator and Hugh L. Dryden its first deputy administrator, NASA
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