Established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been a mainstay of modern scientific research as well as a pioneer in space exploration. Originally created as a civilian outfit responsible for space science and research, it has grown to become the largest space agency in the world.
NASA saw its first action on the global stage during the Space Race that pitted the United States against Cold War rivals the Soviet Union, to be the first nation to send a manned mission to space and to the moon. Between 1958 and 1975 both countries launched innumerable amounts of missions aimed at expanding their knowledge about space flight, in 1961, the USSR successfully achieved the first human spaceflight, with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s name being set into history.
NASA then sent several Apollo missions, culminating in Apollo 11’s crew being the first humans to set foot on the Moon. This helped solidify the United States as well as NASA as world leaders in space exploration and scientific advancement. Since the golden age of the Space Race, NASA has continued its’ research, helping set up our current satellite infrastructure and its’ associated benefits, whilst continuing to explore our universe thanks to various probes, telescopes and other spacecraft.
Together with their Russian and European counterparts, NASA has also helped set up the International Space Station (ISS), which serves as a strong symbol of scientific collaboration between nations. On top of this, NASA has broadened its’ scientific horizon, having been involved in several research projects based in various fields, from microbiology to climate change, the Agency has helped advance our understanding in numerous scientific fields.
Today, NASA has partnered with private companies like SpaceX to help improve ours odds of further space travel and exploration, with recent collaborations showing that the Space Age may not be over just yet. Along with its’ counterparts and other private ventures, NASA’s eyes are now set on a manned mission to Mars, where they have already sent several rovers. A tentative mission has been pencilled in for quite some time now, with preparations for an eventual mission already underway.
The previous generation watched in awe as the Soviet Union and the United States battled each other for space supremacy, both eventually making ground-breaking advancements. Our generation will more than likely see the benefits of old foes and long-time allies working together towards a common goal.