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Congress and the Early Exploration of Space

Concern over the Soviet Union’s technical achievement of launching the Sputnik space satellite in October 1957 led the United States Congress to respond. The House of Representatives established the Committee on Science and Astronautics on July 21, 1958, after the Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration had drafted legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Just three days after the House action, the Senate established the standing Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences. The records from the first decade of work by the committees reflect how each provided jurisdictional oversight to the development of NASA and other non-military space programs.

Poll Sheet of Keith Glennan’s Nomination to be NASA’s First Administrator, August 14, 1958

NASA Land Acquisition Map of Cape Canaveral, Florida, ca. 1961

Photograph of Ham the Space Chimp After Orbiting the Earth, January 31, 1961

Advanced Manned Space Flight Proposal for Project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, ca. 1962

Photograph of Astronaut John Glenn Being Helped into His Mark VI Pressure Suit, January 23, 1962

Photograph of Astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter Overlooking the Construction of the Launch Vehicle, January 26, 1962

Photograph of Scientists Testing a Laser Beacon for Project Gemini, ca. 1965

Proposal for Controlled Landing Systems for Project Gemini, ca. 1962

Image from Ranger VII, July 28, 1964

Petition from Henry Stoner Regarding the Success of Ranger VII’s Photographic Flight, August 4, 1964


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