The United States Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space, on July 29, 1958. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human as mechanical, which provided vital information about the solar system and the universe. It has also launched many satellites into Earth orbit that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting and navigation to global communications.
NASA was created in response to the launch by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957 of its first satellite, Sputnik I. The 183-pound basketball-sized satellite circled the Earth in 98 minutes. the Sputnik The launch surprised the Americans and raised concerns that the Soviets might also be able to send nuclear-weapon missiles from Europe to America. The United States took pride in being at the forefront of technology, and in embarrassment immediately began to craft a response, signaling the start of the US-Soviet space race.
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On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik II, who carried a dog named Laika. In December, America attempted to launch its own satellite, called Avant-garde, but it exploded shortly after takeoff. On January 31, 1958, things got better with Explorer I, the first American satellite to successfully orbit the Earth. In July of that year, Congress passed a law formally establishing NASA by the National Aeronautical Advisory Committee 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 Apollo 11 The mission achieved this goal and made history when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, famously declaring, “It’s a small step for man, a giant leaps for humanity ”.
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NASA has continued to make great strides in space exploration since the first moonwalk, including playing a major role in the construction of the International Space Station. However, the agency also suffered tragic setbacks, such as the disasters that killed the crews of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 and the Columbia space shuttle in 2003.