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The United States dared to go boldly where no one has gone before when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act on this day in history, July 29, 1958.
The legislation established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This act was a direct response to the successful launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, in October 1957.
This achievement raised fears in the United States and Western Europe of ceding control of the final frontier to the Soviets.
Sputnik Moments: Three Space Illumination Events That Amazed Us in 1957
These fears, however real, were short-lived.
The creation of NASA produced American dominance in space and a period of exploration achievement unparalleled in human history.
NASA quickly implemented the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, each building on the success of the other.
NASA enjoyed one of history’s crowning moments when Apollo 11 landed American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon on July 20, 1969—just 11 years after Eisenhower signed the Space Act.
The first man on the moon, a uniquely American achievement, continues to amaze us today
No human has set foot on the Moon since the Apollo program ended in 1972.
The creation of NASA joins the shortlist of Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishments–first general, then president. He is among the most important individuals in American history.
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As commander in chief of the Allies in World War II, Eisenhower tactfully maintained an alliance of American, British, and French leaders despite conflicting self and conflicting personal and national goals.
He orchestrated the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Europe, which is arguably the single greatest logistical and military achievement in human history.
He led the complete defeat and military disintegration of Nazi Germany in less than 3.5 years after America’s entry into the conflict.
His two-term presidency (1953-1961) demonstrated an unprecedented period of peace, prosperity, and American global dominance.
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Notably, he ended America’s involvement in the Korean War in 1953, established the Interstate Highway System in 1956 and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Then, in 1958, he inspired a bold new era of human exploration, this time from the universe.
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