(And, yes, I know that NASA did not officially begin until October 1, 1958, but I'm still saying happy birthday today.)
Some of NASA's original goals:
- To expand human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space
- To improve the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles
- To develop and operate vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space
- To preserve the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautic and space science and technology and using such for the peaceful conduct of activities within and outside the atmosphere*
- To make available to national defense agencies discoveries that have a military value and significance, and to direct and control non-military aeronautical and space activities, as well as information that may have value to such defense agencies
- To cooperate with other nations or groups of nations
- To provide the most effective utilization of scientific and engineering resources of the United States and to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment
From these simple goals came one of mankind's greatest achievements. We landed on the moon. We explored the solar systems. We have looked deep into space. We have gotten an ever-expanding vision of the universe. We have made great strides in medicine, technology, weather prediction, communication, and so on. Life is much better because of NASA.
But the public can be as fickle as the politicians. The space program had become routine; it no longer had that special pizzazz. Also, terrible accidents stunted the public's desire or space exploration. There more politically expedient ways to spend large mounts of money. Forget that space research and exploration my be mankind's best hope for survival.
The pendulum appears to be swinging once again in NASA's favor. At least I hope so.
Just to remind you of some of the marvels, mystery, and beauty that NASA has given us, check out the link below.
* Emphasis mine.