NASA CREATED BY LAW 55 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The Congress of the United States passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act 55 years ago today, July 29, 1958, creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA.
The act, signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, set up NASA as a civilian agency to operate the space program of the United States.
President John F. Kennedy would make the space effort an integral part of his New Frontier program and set the goal in 1961 to land a man on the moon before decade's end.
Dr. William H. Pickering^ and JFK
Mariner Spacecraft Model
White House Oval Office
NASA Photo (1961)
^William H. Pickering was Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The agency, which would begin operations on October 1, 1958, was created in the aftermath of the October 4, 1957 launch of the world's 1st man-made satellite, Sputnik, by the Soviet Union.
Earlier, on January 1, 1958, the United States launched Explorer I, our 1st successful space satellite.
Vehicle Assembly Building
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Photo by MrMiscellanious (2005)
Today NASA has a budget of $17.8 billion and more than 18,000 employees. It has directed the Apollo missions to the moon as well as Skylab, the Space Station and the Space Shuttle.
JFK CALLED GUS GRISSOM FOLLOWING HIS SUCCESSFUL SPACEFLIGHT
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy placed a call by radio telephone from the White House 52 years ago today, July 29, 1961, to the Randolph and congratulated Air Force Captain Virgil "Gus" Grissom* on his successful spaceflight.
The flight, aboard the Liberty Bell 7, lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds.
Gus Grissom and Liberty Bell 7
July 21, 1961
*Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom (1926-1967) was born in Mitchell, Indiana. The 2nd American astronaut to fly in space, GG joined the USAF in 1944. After WWII, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.
Gus served in the Korean War and was chosen as one of the original 7 Mercury astronauts by NASA.
Gus Grissom died along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee in a fire which broke out during a pre launch test in 1967.
101st AIRBORNE TO VIETNAM 48 YEARS AGO
Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam (JFK+50) 4000 paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army arrived here in South Vietnam 48 years ago today, July 29, 1965.
Most of the operations conducted by the 101st were in the Central Highlands and the A Shau Valley.*
*During its time of service in Vietnam, the 101st earned 17 Medals of Honor for bravery in combat.
101st Airborne Soldiers in Vietnam
DIANA AND CHARLES WED 32 YEARS AGO
London, England (JFK+50) Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, married Lady Diana Spencer 32 years ago today, July 29, 1981, in a lavish ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral.
A television audience estimated at 750 million people watched the wedding around the world.
The service was a traditional Church of England ceremony which was presided over by the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The royal couple would honeymoon aboard the royal yacht Britannia which would take them on an 11 day cruise on the Mediterranean Sea.
Prince Charles, Lady Diana,
Nancy and Ronald Reagan
Reagan Library Photo (1985)