NASA becomes operational, October 1, 1958

-October 01, 2016

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) began managing the United States space exploration program on October 1, 1958.

NASA's stated vision is: To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

When NASA became operational, it replaced the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) agency. NACA had been founded in 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research.

NACA had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the Bell X-2 in the 1950s. However, when the Soviets launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own space efforts.

After President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, establishing NASA, the new agency absorbed NACA in whole, including its 8000 employees, an annual budget of $100 million, three major research laboratories, and two small test facilities.

NACA hangar Lewis Research Center
NASA hangar Glenn Research Center
The C from NACA was replaced with an S in 1958 on this hangar at Ohio's Lewis Research Center (now Glenn Research Center). Source: NASA

NASA has grown tremendously since its inception. NASA offers a look back at its first 50 years here. The agency’s highlights in service include the Apollo missions, which in 1969 put the first men on the moon, Skylab, the United States' first and only independently built space station, the Space Shuttle program, partnership on the International Space Station, and the 2012 landing of the Mars Curiosity rover.

Visit these EDN collections of content on NASA and its work for more:

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on October 1, 2012 and edited on October 1, 2016.

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