NASA at 60
Celebrating the many milestones of the American space agency
When NASA first opened its doors on 1 October 1958, humans had never been to space. We had no idea what most of the other planets really looked like, we’d never even seen a comet or asteroid up close, and setting foot on another world was the stuff of dreams. Fast forward to today and our knowledge of space – thanks to NASA – is unlike anything we had thought possible. The agency was born out of a battle to decide whether the American space agency should serve the military or civilians. Facing a growing threat from the Soviet Union, the US saw space as an opportunity to flex its considerable muscle and show off its envious technological prowess. However, numerous scientists argued in favour of NASA being used for strictly peaceful purposes, highlighting some of the grand questions about our universe that it could potentially answer and some of the fantastic locales that could be explored. Thankfully, they won out – NASA was set up with science at its core, and we’re all the better for it. NASA’S primary goals were to expand human knowledge about space and develop vehicles that could take us to the stars. They tackled these challenges with aplomb, and today we’ve been treated to an endless cavalcade of science, from Moon landings to images of strange alien worlds. The agency isn’t going anywhere yet, and the future promises even more groundbreaking milestones. NASA’S achievements of the past 60 years are incredible, but the best might be yet to come.