NASA becomes operational, 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.
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:
- Mission to Mars: NASA engineering and the Red Planet
- NASA: Revealing the unknown to benefit all humankind
- NASA is established, July 29, 1958
- Apollo 11 makes 1st manned landing on the moon, July 20, 1969
- NASA unveils 1st Space Shuttle, September 17, 1976
- Skylab launched into space, May 14, 1973
- International Space Station Unity module is launched, December 4, 1998
- Sputnik 1 launches, October 4, 1957
- Cape Canaveral begins operations, July 24, 1950
- NASA fails: When NASA didn’t get it right
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.