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NASA Space United States

NASA Turns 50 160

phobos13013 writes "Fifty years ago yesterday, in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the United States Public Law 85-568, National Aeronautics and Space Act to create NASA. In the fifty years since its creation, NASA has made manned missions landing on the Moon, put a space station in orbit, launched numerous unmanned missions to the Moon, Mars, the solar system, and beyond, as well as launching reusable manned spacecraft in orbit. Some of the failures included the loss of two manned spacecraft and their crews as well as the loss of the Apollo 1 crew during a training mission. Although the future of the organization is in question, Americans, and the world, are looking forward to another fifty years of progress including a return trip to the Moon and an eventual manned mission to Mars."
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NASA Turns 50

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  • Wowzers! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chebucto ( 992517 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @05:27PM (#24392205) Homepage

    Am I seeing things, or does this story have no comments attached to it five hours after it was posted to slashdot?!?!

    That's got to be some record, at least post-1998.

    I guess that means I can say... First Post!

    Also, Go Nasa! Keep the orbiting observatories coming!

  • But what comes next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smivs ( 1197859 ) <> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @03:38AM (#24398083) Homepage Journal

    NASA has accomplished some trult amazing feats during the last 50 years, the pinnacle surely being the moon landing of Apollo 11, which I remember watching as an awe-struck 13 year old. But where does it go from here?
    With many countries now seriously into spaceflight and a burgeoning private sector (Virgin Galactic et al) it's hard to see how NASA will stand out as it has done previously.
    However in a much more space-focussed world, NASA's vast experience should allow it to take the lead heading-up collaborative ventures with other space-faring nations, particularly for the 'Big One', a manned trip to Mars. A firm commitment to this within a set timescale could re-ignite the public's interest in space exploration like the Moon landings of the early 70s did.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @03:54AM (#24398151) Homepage Journal

    NASA has always had this mentality of trailblazing.. the assumption has always been there that someone else will follow once they lead the way. This is lost on many people who look for NASA to build cities on the Moon or whatever.

  • Re:Wowzers! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chebucto ( 992517 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @03:57AM (#24398165) Homepage

    Never post again.

    OK, if you insist!

    Science: NASA Turns 50
    Posted by kdawson on Wednesday July 30, @04:19AM

    Re:Wowzers! (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, @06:34PM (#24392319)

    Strange, though, that the article was posted to Slashdot's front page on the correct date (the 29th []), retracted, and then reposted a date late (today). I smell a conspiracy...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @04:04AM (#24398195)

    But they won't be done by NASA. NASA has become too politicized, too corporate centered, and above all too risk adverse. The upcoming Orion system is just a rehash of the Saturn-5 with reused Shuttle parts. It breaks no new ground and does not push the envelope in any way. If we've learned anything in the last 50 years it is this: 1) When NASA is not pushing the envelope and taking risks it stagnates, gets sloppy, and then a mission fails. 2) You cannot explore space on the cheap.

    NASA is now not pushing the envelope in any way and they are trying to come up with a new launch system, go to the Moon, and on to Mars without spending any more money. They will fail and people will die.

    I expect to see people walking on the Moon again and possibly Mars within my lifetime. They will be European and Chinese. America will be remembered by history as the Portuguese of the 20th century. Portugal was the first nation to push out and explore the world by ship. Columbus was Portuguese. The first European to round the southern tip of Africa was Portuguese. Then they stopped and Spain, England and the Dutch took up the effort and built globe spanning empires. The US and NASA are following this same path.

  • by rarel ( 697734 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @05:11AM (#24398517) Homepage
    Hehe I too shudder to think that some actually believe that :)

    Too bad it ended nuking my karma. Ah well, I promise, I'll be less subtle next time ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @05:49AM (#24398721)

    After the first FAILED private sector spaceflight, I think the billionaires will rightly leave space to the experts.

    There is ZERO justification for a moon base at this time. We HAVE a space station. The shuttle is a ridiculous contraption at the moment. By the way, have you seen the national debt lately?

    I think NASA is doing EXACTLY what it should be doing, which is unmanned robotic missions. Imagine what we could gather from an array of hubble telescopes... and what little more we could learn from an expensive manned moon shot.

  • Re:Wowzers! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @08:28AM (#24399707)

    Am I seeing things, or does this story have no comments attached to it five hours after it was posted to slashdot?!?!

    Actually, according to the time stamps I can see, you posted your comment 9 1/2 hours before the story was posted... funky.

  • by 3waygeek ( 58990 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:16AM (#24400303)

    The real reason the astronauts didn't fly away is because they were wearing heavy boots [].

  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @11:04AM (#24402125) Journal

    There's a fixed cost in terms of energy to pull a pound of matter out of the Earth's deep-ass gravity well. You're asking for a near-free source of energy that can effortlessly be converted into kinetic propulsion. NASA hasn't found it because it may very well NOT EXIST.

    You need to remember what the 'Fi' in Sci-Fi stands for. Just because a handful of its thousands and thousands of predictions have come true doesn't mean the whole mess was a bill of sale.

    Arthur C. Clarke himself has said that it's out and out incredible that we've gotten as far in space as we have, and that without the historical oddity that was the Cold War, we'd probably not be much further along than a fancier Sputnik.

    Cheap ways of escaping the Earth's gravity are kind of like Time Machines, Anti-Aging cures, FTL drives, zero-gravity chambers, true holographic projection, and such. Just because they'd be awesome and we've been talking about them forever doesn't mean there's any remotely reasonable expectation that we'll see them in our lifetimes. There's still a WHOLE lot of history left to happen.

  • by sighted ( 851500 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @01:03PM (#24404379) Homepage
    I don't have any patience for this idea that, as one person put it, "NASA hasn't done a thing worthwhile since we gave up on the moon." In just the past decade, NASA has landed on an asteroid, successfully reached Mars six times, impacted a comet, explored Saturn and its moons in detail, explored Jupiter and its moons in detail, and sent missions on their way to Mercury, the asteroid belt, Pluto and beyond. Meanwhile, the Voyagers continue their quest for the very edge of the solar system. (And this is just NASA - other nations are exploring in a big way, too. For example, between the American, Chinese, Japanese and European space agencies, there are two spacecraft active at the moon, one at Venus and SIX at Mars as I write this, with others en route to various destinations.) If you ask me, the golden age of space exploration wasn't in the 60s. It's right now. Yes, I understand that the human element is in some ways more gripping, and I hope that human exploration regains a place in the story, but for now, the robots are doing amazing things. And I, for one, ...
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @01:23PM (#24404699) Homepage

    I went to a meeting at a NASA facility a few weeks ago, not something I usually do. It felt very 1960s. A conference room with a large fake-wood table, plaques on the walls commemorating events of long ago, and frosted-glass windows for security. On the wall hung three calendars, for the previous, current, and next month, an ancient Government custom. Almost everyone in the room was over 50; many were older.

    The meeting was about airspace deconfliction for UAVs, a bureaucratic problem involving the FAA, NASA, and some other agencies. It was all about who to call, what forms to fill out, and what to do when your application wasn't being processed fast enough. The overall feeling was that this was a hard problem, wasn't going to be solved soon, and nobody really cared that much because their budgets were being cut.

    Driving across the facility, it seemed a monument to the past. Many buildings, and most of the parking lots, were empty. Here and there an aircraft was set out as a display. The place has an operational airport, but it wasn't used while I was there. A few flyable planes were parked on the ramp, but nothing was going on around them.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.