Metro (Lesotho)

On This Day in History



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, on July 29, 1958. NASA has since sponsored space expedition­s, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital informatio­n about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that 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 Americans by surprise and sparked fears that the Soviets might also be capable of sending missiles with nuclear weapons from Europe to America. The United States prided itself on being at the forefront of technology, and, embarrasse­d, immediatel­y began developing a response, signalling 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.

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