For a large number of people living in the United States, it seems as though NASA has always been in existence, leading the way in space travel as the rest of the world follows in their footsteps. However, as we acknowledge the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo, we remember that this powerful force has only been around for a handful of decades. This makes it all the more impressive that NASA has managed to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.
Over the decades, many groundbreaking space discoveries have been made, and many explorations have taken place that have inspired the entire world. Of course, NASA’s evolution over the last half-century directly correlates to the technology that has evolved over the last fifty years.
In order to honor the 50th anniversary of NASA’s most groundbreaking mission, let’s examine the ways in which the organization has grown since its birth.
How it All Began: NASA’s Humble Origins
When we look back on the origin of NASA, we’re reminded of the fact that the world was a much, much different place during the years following the second world war. America was in fierce competition with the Soviet Union in an effort to remain as the superpower of the world. The Soviet Union was developing highly advanced technology at the time, and America felt just a bit threatened, considering the fact that technology was and still is one of the things that determines a country’s dominance over the rest of the world.
At the time, the Soviet Union had developed military technology that was considered the most powerful in existence. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were developed for war times, but it quickly became clear that this profoundly impactful technology could be used for the first space travel missions as well. This allowed the Soviet Union to launch Sputnik into space in 1957, resulting in the first space object to orbit Earth in human history.
You can understand that at the time, the United States felt a bit inferior. The response was the development of NASA, a space travel organization that would directly compete with the Soviet Union during the bitter years of the Cold War. President Eisenhower eagerly signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958, thus birthing NASA by allocating national funds for space research and travel. At the time, the annual budget was $100 million, and it was clear that the President himself supported NASA’s dreams of surpassing the space technology of the Soviet Union. It didn’t take long for NASA to complete a series of small space missions.
The Moon Landing and its Impact on the World
NASA’s greatest achievement in its early years was the legendary moon landing that took place in 1969. The achievement was more than a technological feat. During the years leading up to the mission, the Soviet Union was eager to land the first man on the moon. But, NASA wanted to beat them to it, and they had the funds and technology to back up their dreams. As we know, that single event changed the course of history, and it established the United States as the leader in space exploration.
Since then, NASA has successfully sent many people into space, and doing so has allowed for new discoveries that have changed our relationship with the universe. Sadly, not all of these missions have been successful, however. In 1986, for example, the Challenger exploded merely minutes into its launch, instantly killing all passengers aboard.
We must remember that space technology is relatively new, and this means that a lot of trial and error has taken place over the years. Throughout NASA’s existence, many technological feats have been accomplished, while many promising innovations have proven to be disappointments. Fortunately, NASA continues to have the funding necessary to test cutting-edge technology so that it may always accomplish more while keeping passengers safe.
The Evolution of Space Exploration
Because of the fast-evolving technology that has fueled NASA since the beginning, our understanding of space is richer with each passing decade. By now, countless missions have been accomplished by NASA that have allowed us to develop greater understandings of planets, asteroids, comets, stars and other space bodies. These missions and discoveries have not only captivated our imaginations, but they’ve made us feel safer here on Earth. For instance, NASA has managed to develop technology that can detect asteroids headed for our planet. Therefore, it’s important to remember that NASA does serve a crucial function in our country, and that studying space has kept us safer here at home.
The Future of NASA
Today, NASA is developing new technology that will help us develop deeper understandings of what lies beyond our home planet. Much attention is being paid to Mars, a planet that has the potential to be habitable by humans. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that NASA isn’t planning to slow down any time in the near future.
Their True Impact
No one can argue that NASA has accomplished more than we ever thought possible in its short time of existence. As technology has advanced over the decades, the organization has managed to do things that we never thought we would have the pleasure of witnessing in our lifetimes. With many new missions in development, we can assume that over the next fifty years, we’ll see a whole lot more.