National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established to further civilian knowledge of space, astronomy, and physics. A nice byproduct is gorgeous photos like this one.

Photograph courtesy NASA

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  • On July 29, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created by President Dwight Eisenhower. NASA was created largely as a response to Sputnik, a satellite successfully launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Sputnik and NASA launched the “Space Race,” in which the United States and the Soviet Union competed to send the first and most satellites and people into outer space.

    Today, NASA has four directorates: Aeronautics research, whose mission is to “enable a safer, more secure, efficient, and environmentally friendly air transportation system;” human exploration and operation, whose mission is to “operate the International Space Station and prepare for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit;” science, whose mission is to explore “the Earth-Sun system, our own solar system, and the universe beyond;” and space technology, whose mission is to “develop the crosscutting, advanced and pioneering new technologies needed for current and future missions, benefiting the aerospace industry and other agencies, and addressing national needs.”

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    NASA Noun

    (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    Sputnik Noun

    (1957) first artifical satellite, launched by the Soviet Union, from Earth.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    universe Noun

    all known matter, energy, and space.