On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.
A list of some of NASA’s greatest achievements:
1958: First US Spacecraft.
1961: First US Astronaut
1969: Man on the Moon
1972: Pioneer 10 launched to photograph Jupiter.
1973: Pioneer 11 to photograph Saturn
1990: Hubble Space Telescope launched
1973: Skylab first space experimental station
1977: Voyagers were launched to explore outer space
1999: X-Ray Telescope launched to photograph supernovas and black hole
1975: Mars Exploration and Rover landing
Happy 55th birthday NASA!
I wind my way across a black donut hole
and space that clunks.
Once I saw on a stage,
as if at the bottom of a mineshaft,
the precise footwork
of some mechanical ballet.
It was like looking into the brain
of a cuckoo clock and it carried
some part of me away forever.
No one knows when they first see a thing,
how long its after image will last.
Proust could stare at the symptom of a face
for years, while Frank O’Hara, like anyone with a job,
was always looking at his watch.
My favorite way of remembering is to forget.
Please start the record of the sea over again.
Call up a shadow below the pendulum of a gull’s wing.
In a city of eight million sundials, nobody has any idea
how long a minute really is.
~ Elaine Equi
Music by Alex North from 2001: A Space Odyssey (based on “Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss)
“The knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on earth—the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars—the high mass ones among them- went unstable in their later years—they collapsed and then exploded- scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy—guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems- stars with orbiting planets. And those planets now have the ingredients for life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, cause their small and the universe is big. But I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.”