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What year did NASA start?

I really enjoy the stars. I'm a head-in-the-clouds, often looking up kind of gal. I also enjoyed being smart. Growing up I was good at math, Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride has already worked for NASA, so I didn't think it wasn't unreasonable that myself and a fellow student would go on to be NASA employees. Well, he reached 6' in about 7th grade and quickly grew beyond the height limit and I discovered art, so neither of us applied at NASA, but I'm still fond of space.

This day in history, July 29, 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have provided vital information regarding the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites which have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.

NASA was created in response to the Soviet Union’s October 4, 1957 launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I. The 183-pound, basketball-sized satellite orbited the earth in 98 minutes. The Sputnik launch caught America by surprise and sparked fears the Soviets might also be capable of sending missiles with nuclear weapons to America. The United States prided itself on being at the forefront of technology, and, embarrassed, immediately began developing a response, signaling the start of the U.S.-Soviet space race.

On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik II, which carried a dog named Laika. In December, America attempted to launch a satellite of its own, called Vanguard, but it exploded shortly after takeoff. On January 31, 1958, things went better with Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite to successfully orbit the earth.

In July of 1958, Congress passed legislation officially establishing NASA from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and other government agencies, and confirming the country’s commitment to winning the space race. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared that America should put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11mission achieved that goal and made history when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, famously declaring “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

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