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NASA Marks 60 Years Since Legal Inception

NASA officially celebrates its 60th anniversary on October 1 - the day the agency formally opened for business

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NASA image.
Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Pixabay

America’s dream of space exploration took its first official step 60 years ago Sunday when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law authorizing the formation of NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Although humanity had been staring at the stars and wondering since they were living in caves, it took the Cold War to fire man into space.

The world was stunned when the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, launched Sputnik — the first man-made object to orbit the Earth.

The United States was humiliated at being caught short — not just technologically, but militarily.

Eisenhower ordered government scientists to not only match the Soviets in space, but beat them.

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This image provided by NASA shows the Orbital ATK Antares rocket being rolled to its launch pad Oct. 13, 2016, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. (VOA)

NASA and its various projects — Mercury, Gemini and Apollo — became part of the language.

Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Six year later, an Apollo spacecraft linked with a Soviet Soyuz in orbit, turning rivalry into friendship and cooperation.

NASA followed that triumph with the space shuttle, Mars landers and contributions to the International Space Station. A manned mission to Mars is part of NASA’s future plans.

Also Read: NASA’s TESS Satellite Begins Science Operations: a Quest for Exoplanets

Last month, President Donald Trump called for the formation of a “space force” to be the sixth U.S. military branch.

NASA officially celebrates its 60th anniversary on October 1 – the day the agency formally opened for business. (VOA)

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

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Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

Also Read: Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)