On October 1, 1958 – days short of the first anniversary of Sputnik – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially came into being. After months of study and debate in the wake of the launching of the first Soviet satellites, the US government reached a consensus on how the country should proceed into the Space Age when on July 29 President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.
President Eisenhower presents NASA’s commissions to Dr. T. Keith Glennan (right) as the first administrator for NASA and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden (left) as deputy administrator. (NASA)
NASA was formed around the existing NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) which had been under the direction of Hugh L. Dryden. Appointed as NASA’s first administrator was T. Keith Glennan with Dryden becoming his deputy. While the military would continue to run space projects related to the needs of national security, all purely scientific space programs under military control would eventually be transferred to NASA. This included, much to the chagrin of some officials in the Department of Defense, America’s nascent man-in-space effort.
The genesis of what would become America’s first manned space programs ...