National Aeronautics and
The era of space exploration began in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first
satellite, Sputnik, into Earth orbit October 4, 1957. The Soviet also were the first to launch a
manned spacecraft when Yuri Gagarni, made one orbit around the Earth in 1961. Americans
were electrified by the news. A year later the Soviets issued an ultimatum that the Western
Allies evacuate Berlin. Next came a proposal that Berlin become a free city. There waere fears
that the Cold War of coexistence could turn into a world war.
America also had goals they wanted to fulfil. A year later the United States Congress
passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act to promote and coordinate the United States
space program. In 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established,
commonly referred to NASA. Shortly after NASA's founding, the launching site at Cape
Canaveral, Florida, and the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas were planned and built.
According to the 1958 act, NASA's functions are: to conduct research on problems of
flight within and outside the Earth's atmosphere; to develop, construct, tests and operate space
vehicles; to explore space with manned and unmanned vehicles; to cooperate with other nations
on projects for the peaceful uses of space; and to publish the results of its work.
The planning and control of NASA's activities take place at the agency's headquarters in
Washington, D.C. There are four program offices that have been set up to develop and direct the
activities of NASA's several field installation: Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology,
Office of Space Science and Applications, Office of Space Flight, and Office of Space Tracking
The Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology is responsible for the continu...