The Pursuit of Possibilities: NASA's gifts to the world
NASA had a simple plan when it was founded, but it resulted in a plethora of unexpected discoveries and exciting times for everybody on Earth.
On July 29, 1958, President Dwight D Eisenhower signed the Space Act, creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Fifty five years later, we have NASA to thank for everything from cordless drills to scratch-resistant glasses to better golf balls. Oh yeah, and they stuck a man on the moon and there is a robot trundling around Mars right now sending us back live pictures from the surface of the red planet. Their achievements cover everything from the mundane to other worldly, and it is the definition of unexpected findings from a simple beginning.
After World War II, Russia stole a march on the world when it came to space exploration. They had the first satellite (Sputnik in 1957), the first living being in space (a dog called Latka in 1957) and they took the first photos of the far side of the moon (1959).
With the Cold War raging, America needed to catch up so they created NASA, taking the task of space exploration away from the military.
At its inception, the aim of NASA was set out, with the ‘Expansion of human knowledge of the Earth, the atmosphere and space’ the primary goal. From that rather simple wish, the history of the world changed.
By the early 1960s, the goal had become to land a man on the moon, and return them safely to Earth and on July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface, just under 11 years after NASA was created.
With that goal achieved, NASA began to turn away from its lunar obsession and began to work on other projects. Satellites, now such a vital part of making the modern world so dfast and immediate, were honed and perfected.
Probes were sent out to explore the outer reaches of our solar system, with every single planet, and the Sun itself, examined in huge detail to learn more about how we came to be here and how we can ensure we stay here.
Places way beyond our own little corner of the Universe were also covered, thanks to projects like the Hubble Telescope. Launched in 1990, it still orbits the Earth producing stunning pictures and further expanding our knowledge of the far reaches of our galaxy and beyond.
And the International Space Station, a joint project between NASA and four other space agencies, may be the greatest achievement of all, as astronauts live in low orbit for months at a time, conducting experiments that hugely assist life back on Earth.
Along to way to achieving all these feats, NASA have had to come up with various solutions to problems, and those solutions have been turned into products we all use every day.
Freeze-dried food, air pockets in runners (yes, Nike Air is a NASA by product), better and cheaper car brake pads and even those foil blankets that they hand out to marathon runners after races, they are all the brainchild of NASA.
Back when good old Dwight signed that bill, the aim was to keep pace with those pesky Russians. In the process, the sum of the world’s knowledge was expanded beyond anyone’s imagination. And those of us who will never be on board anything more exciting than a charter flight to Malaga get to enjoy the wonders of satellite TV, mobile phones and very comfortable runners, all thanks to the boffins at NASA.
The Pursuit of Possibilities that began in 1958 continues to find new and unthought-of ways to both inspire us and make our lives better.
So, what are you going to do to Pursue your Possibilities? Maybe Jameson can help