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The United States boldly dared to go where no one had gone before when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act on that historic day, July 29, 1958.
The legislation created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This act was a direct response to the successful launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, in October 1957.
This achievement raised fears in the United States and Western Europe of ceding control of the final frontier to the Soviets.
SPUTNIK MOMENTS: A TRIO OF SPACE EVENTS SHOCKED US IN 1957
These fears, while real, were short-lived.
The creation of NASA spawned American dominance in space and a period of exploratory achievement unprecedented in human history.
NASA quickly executed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, each building on the success of the other.
NASA experienced one of the most defining moments in history when Apollo 11 landed American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon on July 20, 1969, just 11 years after Eisenhower signed the Space Act.
THE FIRST MEN ON THE MOON, A UNIQUE AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENT, STILL AMAZES US TODAY
No human has set foot on the moon since the Apollo program ended in 1972.
The creation of NASA joins the short list of Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishments – first general, then president. He is one of the most important individuals in American history.
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As Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, Eisenhower tactfully maintained a coalition of American, British, and French leaders despite opposing egos and conflicting personal and national goals.
He orchestrated the invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, D-Day, arguably the greatest logistical and military achievement in human history.
And he led the total defeat and military disintegration of Nazi Germany in less than 3.5 years after America entered the conflict.
His two presidential terms (1953-1961) were a time of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and global hegemony for America.
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He notably ended America’s involvement in the Korean War in 1953, created the American Interstate Highway System in 1956, and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Then, in 1958, he inspired a bold new era of human exploration, this time of the cosmos.