National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

The Early History and Development of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


After World War II, the Department of Defense began a serious research push into the fields of rocketry and upper atmosphere sciences to ensure American leadership in technology. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in support of this effort, approved a plan to orbit a scientific satellite as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) for the period July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958, a cooperative effort to gather scientific data about the Earth. Quickly, the Soviet Union jumped in, announcing plans to orbit its own satellite.

On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The fledgling National Aeronautics and Space Administration agency absorbed the earlier National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958, the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel formed the core of the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  1. Documents
  2. Photographs
  3. Additional Information
Transcript of Press Conference Regarding Launching of Soviet Satellite, October 9, 1957 (PDF) (Pages 2 Through 9 Only) [DDE's Papers as President, Press Conference Series, Box 6, Press Conference October 9, 1957; NAID Number 12024539]

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, October 18, 1957 (PDF) (Pages 2 and 3 Only) [DDE's Papers as President, Cabinet Series, Box 9, Cabinet Meeting of October 18, 1957; NAID Number 12024549]

Memorandum, Dr. Killian to President Eisenhower, Progress Report Regarding Missile and Satellite Programs, December 28, 1957 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, James R. Killian 1957 (2); NAID Number 12042591]

Memorandum of Conference With the President, Dr. Killian, Et Al, March 5, 1958 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, DDE Diary Series, Box 31, Staff Notes March 1958 (2); NAID Number 12043739]

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, March 14, 1958 (PDF) (Page 5 Only) [DDE's Papers as President, Cabinet Series, Box 10, Cabinet Meeting of March 14, 1958; NAID Number 12024551]

Memorandum for Dr. Killian, Notes on NASA, April 10, 1958 (PDF) [DDE's Records as President, Confidential File, Box 44, National Aeronautics and Space 1; NAID Number 12060417]

Memorandum for the President Regarding Responsibility for Space Program, May 10, 1958 (PDF) [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 769, of 342 2]

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, August 15, 1958 (PDF) (Pages 3 and 4 Only) [DDE's Papers as President, Cabinet Series, Box 12, Cabinet Meeting of August 15, 1958; NAID Number 12042555]

Memorandum for the Record, President Eisenhower's Meeting With Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, July 7, 1958 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, DDE Diary Series, Box 35, Staff Notes July 1958 (2); NAID Number 12043761]

Letter, Maurice Stans to President Eisenhower Regarding H.R. 12575, the National Aeronautics and Space Act, July 26, 1958 (PDF) [White House Office: Records Officer Reports to President on Pending Legislation, Box 124, July 29, 1958 Hr 12575; NAID Number 12060429]

Statement by the President Regarding H.R. 12575, the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, July 29, 1958 (PDF) [Kevin McCann Collection of Press Releases, Box21, July 1958; NAID Number 12060469]

Memorandum, Dr. Killian to President Eisenhower Regarding Four Earth Satellites, August 23, 1958 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, James R. Killian 1957 (2); NAID Number 12042594]

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, May 15, 1959 (PDF) (Page 2 Only) [DDE's Papers as President, Cabinet Series, Box 13, Cabinet Meeting of May 15, 1959 (1); NAID Number 12042557]

Letter, Dr. Glennan to President Eisenhower Regarding Proposal to the Soviet Union Relating to Cooperation in Space Research, September 8, 1959 (PDF)
[DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 15, Dr. Keith Glennan-NASA; NAID Number 12042603]

Memorandum, Dr. Kistiakowsky to General Goodpaster Regarding Coordination of Satellite and Space Vehicle Operations, September 15, 1959 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 23, Dr. G.B. 2; NAID Number 12042598]

Letter, Dr. Glennan to President Eisenhower Regarding Budget Matters, October 20, 1959 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 15, Dr. Keith Glennan-NASA; NAID Number 12042605]

Memorandum for the President From Administrator of NASA and Secretary of Defense Regarding Responsibility and Organization for Certain Space Activities, October 21, 1959 (PDF) [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 770, of 342 7]

Memorandum for Dr. Kistiakowsky on 1961 Estimates, November 14, 1959 (PDF) [DDE's Records as President, Confidential File, Box 44, 7; NAID Number 12060425]

Letter, President Eisenhower to Dr. Glennan Accepting His Resignation as Administrator of NASA, December 29, 1960 (PDF) [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 15, Dr. Keith Glennan-NASA; NAID Number 12042606]