To Infinity and Beyond
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Professor Steve Marin
Political Science 102
For hundreds, even thousands, of years billions of people have looked to the deep, dark, shimmering sky and wondered what existed up there. In view are stars, constellations, planets, and, of course, the sun and the moon. What about beyond what the human eye can see? How can the universe be explored? There are so many questions to be answered, but by whom?
In the mid to late 20th century, there was a major push to be the first country in space. This was looked upon by the world as being a major scientific and political accomplishment speaking volumes of the first country to successfully launch into space. The science and technology to launch into space would benefit government and society in ways inconceivable at that time. With the use of satellites and other technology, first government, then society as a whole, would be able to communicate instantaneously with opposite ends of the earth and have so many other possibilities open.
In present time, we now have a space telescope that can capture images not possible to capture from earth. The Hubble Space Telescope has been very beneficial in space exploration. There is also under construction an International Space Station. The use of the different space shuttle missions help in the construction to bring equipment and supplies for building the International Space Station. The Space Shuttles have also been used for other various projects and exploration.
Is space flight only for astronauts? There have been ‘non’ astronauts that have flown into space. There is even the beginning of a new industry '' commercial space flights.
The country, and the world, has seen so much growth and so many changes since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created. There is still so much more to come. There can probably be an endless exploration of space.
When NASA was created in 1958, its first priority was to outdo Russia’s Sputnik success. There had been an ongoing race between the two countries to be the first to launch an artificial satellite into space. Russia was first to succeed with Sputnik I on October 4, 1957 (Launius, xviii). America’s reaction to Russia being the first to do so left the country feeling that Russia could be a threat in space that America was not prepared for (Newton, 17). Shortly after NASA’s inception, John F. Kennedy was elected president and there became new focuses for NASA. These were the accelerated development of rocket boosters, landing a man on the moon, and to speed development of meteorological and communications satellites (Newton, 32). In 1961, Kennedy announced America’s intention to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade (Brooks). On May 5, 1961, the United States rocketed its first American into space, Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (Miles). In February, 1962, upon John Glenn’s first successful orbits around the earth, President John F. Kennedy declared that “Space is New Ocean U.S. Must Sail and Conquer.” (Thompson, 1). And on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon declaring those now famous words “That’s one small step for man…One giant leap for mankind.”(Miles, Abramson, 1). Unfortunately, this happened years after Kennedy’s assassination but still within his goal. After the success of beating Russia to be the first to land on the moon, NASA continued to focus on both manned and un-manned missions into space. There was also a focus on a space telescope resulting in the Hubble Space Telescope that sends us views of the planets and other celestial objects. As reported in April 1997’s edition of National Geographic, the Hubble Space Telescope located the ‘Eye of God’. It is a breathtaking picture of what appears to be an eye but is actually a...
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