How was NASA formed?

We find out how America’s space agency started out

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in California

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Asked by John Bell

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) formed in October 1958, heavily influenced by the successful launch of Sputnik in 1957 by the Soviet Union.

With the United States engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the pressure to prove the scientific and technological leadership of the United States was paramount. Space exploration was a point of major contest between the two, ultimately leading to the Space Race. For reasons of national defence, it was seen to be necessary for a responsible governing body to be founded. The formation of NASA brought together already existing groups and research facilities, such as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the Langley and the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, to create the beginnings of the NASA we know today.

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