NASA 60th: How It All Began

NASA 60th: How It All Began
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    The United States wanted to make clear that our space program was a civil effort
    and scientific effort.
    President Eisenhower was concerned that our
    efforts in space exploration and research would be consolidated and made more effective.
    NACA is to become part of a new agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    You can be justly proud of the fact that your past achievements
    have made NACA the choice of all governmental agencies out of which to build the new agency.
    The NACA starts taking a look at particularly high speed
    flight as part of Aeronautics but that quickly blends into Space Research.
    They start using rockets to do high-speed research on airplanes and eventually on re-entry vehicles.
    The NACA is a repository of aerospace scientific skill
    and aerospace geekdom as well I suppose to some extent.
    They were people very interested in flight and quite
    and of course naturally space as well but it sort of
    sets them up to become the core of NASA.
    So the transition between the two
    organizations was like seamless in that sense.
    The technicians were superb the
    people that you had mentoring you were just superb. So in the early days,
    the attitude was still let's get the job done.
    NASA must be like NACA
    in the qualities of strength and character that make an organization great.
    Today a new moon is in the sky,
    a 23 inch metal sphere placed in orbit by a Russian rocket.
    Political pressure builds rapidly in the United States.
    There's hearings in Congress.
    There's calls for the United States to do something dramatic.
    A lot of pressure gets put on Vanguard.
    The first American attempt
    with a Vanguard rocket was a failure.
    We were having mostly explosions with our rockets.
    It seemed like 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blow up more than
    liftoff back in those days.
    We've been assigned the mission and launching a
    scientific earth center.
    I promised the Secretary of the Army
    that we would be ready in 90 days or less.
    The news media have found out about
    the fact that we're gonna launch a satellite
    and I heard there was something like 200 news media came in.
    At one time, they measured
    the jet stream wind at 227 miles an hour
    over the Cape.
    Well, of course, it would have driven the rocket off course,
    Range Safety would have blown it up immediately.
    The next day my calculation showed there was
    a wave in the jet stream.
    By evening there would be a
    window of opportunity. I convinced him that probably would do it.
    And so he said okay, we'll listen to the kid go a fuel the rocket.
    And things went well.
    5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
    A project like firing a satellite
    into orbit is only possible if
    there is splendid teamwork all the way through.
    There were scientists all around
    the world that were dedicated to trying to understand the planet better
    and this is what Explorer 1 was really designed for.
    One of the things that I find very noble about NASA
    and I think it's really useful to remember is
    it started with science.
    We wanted to observe the Earth from space
    and we wanted to see what the environment
    right up above the earth was like
    and this is the incredible thing
    the first time we venture up there
    we discover something completely unexpected,
    the Van Allen radiation belts.
    And there were these radiation belts of particles
    from the Sun trapped in our magnetic field.
    We hadn't even guessed that they were there yet.
    The purpose of the work is a scientific one and it's very nearly
    pure scientific experimentation.
    The more we understand about the nature of
    our astronomical environment
    and about our own earth is quite likely the more
    we'll be able to do about it and do with it.
    We have one of the most challenging assignments
    that has ever been given to modern man
    expansion of human knowledge about space
    development and operation of vehicles
    capable of carrying instruments and man through space
    long-range studies of the benefits of using
    aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes
    preservation of the role of the United States
    as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology.
    We have a mighty big job to do.
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