The NERVA test engine being put through the paces. It was to be the centerpiece of a nuclear-powered space program.
is a truth universally acknowledged that a popular new technology in
possession of a good fortune must be in want of a government agency. And
this was the problem with space travel.
On this day in 1958, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration opened for business a
mere two months after President Eisenhower signed its existence into
law. The new agency was created largely out of people and infrastructure
inherited from the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which
had been the government's civilian vehicle for aviation research.
before NASA became a sure thing, it was only one of several prospective
bureaucracies that might have been put in charge of space exploration.
And though I love our space agency, a couple of the other alternatives
that the government considered may have been more exciting.