NASA at 60: How America's space agency reached for the stars
Tonight Soviet rivalry, dogs in space, and the race towards Mars.
It must be NASA's 60th birthday, but as everyone's favorite space agency gets its senior's card, what does the future hold and what's this I hear about a second moon?
I'm Claire Reilly.
Welcome to Watch This Space.
From the Seenit Studios in Sydney, this is your weekly guide to everything on earth you need to know about space.
Tonight, we're taking a look at the little space agency that could, as NASA turns 60.
And like most 60 year olds NASA has a soft spot for the Eisenhower years.
While the US had the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics created back in 1915, it wasn't until the 50s when the space rise was really heating up.
that knockout was replaced by NASA.
On July 29, 1958 President Dwight D Eisenhower signed the national space act into law.
Just two months later NASA officially opened it's proverbial podpay doors and started work.
And they have a lot of work to do.
Well, In the [INAUDIBLE] of that 1960's classic the russians were coming.>> For god sake [INAUDIBLE] get organised.>> Just don't panic.>> The soviet had already sent [UNKNOWN] satellite up in the space in october'57.
Stopping at the second moon, classic Russia.
And then just a month later they sent Sputnik two up with a dog inside.
But the United States no doubt wanted to secure some of those high paying moon jobs for their own all-american canines, couldn't let sleeping dogs lie, especially if they were ruskies.
Just ten days after officially setting up shop in 1958, NASA launched it's first spacecraft, the Pioneer One.
Five months later, Pioneer One made it's first lunar flyby, past the real non-Sputnik moon.
And in April 1960 we got our first TV images of Earth from space.
Looking good Earth.
The wis kept coming.
May 5th 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel to space, for all the 15 minutes.
February 20 1962, John Glenn came the first American to orbit the earth Then the big news came in nineteen sixty nine when the world sat glued to their tv sets, eating their moon pies as two home grown boys named Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon.
It's on small step for man, one giant leap for man kind But, it hasn't all been smooth space sailing for NASA.
Even the projects that have made it off the ground, haven't all gone safely.
In 2003, 7 NASA crew members died when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it reentered the Earth's atmosphere.
And, who could forget the images beamed around the world of the Challenger Space Shuttle breaking apart shortly after takeoff in 1986?
Even NASA's bid to reach the moon faced early troubles when a fire killed all three crew members of the Apollo 1 in 1967, but even beyond the tragedy NASA has still had its setbacks.
Turns out space exploration is really slow and expensive.
NASA has faced plenty of criticism over the years for budget blowouts and delays
Case in point, the successor to the Hubble telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, has been plagued with problems, including years of delays to its slated launch date, and an estimated $1.5 billion in cost overruns.
But But that's not the only issue for NASA.
In the words of another 60s icon, the times, they are a changing.
And it's no longer just about beating the Soviets to operation space pup.
Now it's all about the Mars race, which leads us to this week's edition of Watch This SpaceX.
Think of SpaceX kind of like the NKOTB of the modern space race, cool, cached up, and led by the Donny Wahlberg of the tech community, Elon Musk.
Alongside Blue Origin, which is the space exploration company headed up by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who I guess is the Marky Mark in this situation.
SpaceX is giving NASA a run for it's money and changing the shape of modern space exploration.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump issued Space Policy Directive-2.
Which aims to expand the role of commercial companies Inspis expiration, that spacex is now trying to do the NASA's work.
It has been delivering congoure to the International space station, for NASA for some years now.
And alongside buying, it'll be soon be responsible for getting astonodes to the [INAUDIBLE] as well.
So NASA has the exportees but they are still on the government budget.
And without this support they could ende up hanging tough Private space companies certainly have deeper pockets but they are still the new kids on the block.
Looks like companies like SpaceX will have to work with NASA to take us into the new space age step by step.
So what's next for NASA?
Well we're looking at going back to the moon and taking those first steps towards Mars for the next era of space exploration.
That is of course, if we can make it past President Trump's space force to get there.
But whatever the future holds, NASA has been its own force for good.
Inspiring scientific discovery, inspiring generations of bright minds, and advancing its original stated goal of peaceful progress in space for all humankind.
So on behalf of all of us here at CNet happy birthday NASA.
And from this nerdy kid all the way down in Australia, thanks for opening up the skies.
That's it for this week's edition of Watch This Space.
If you enjoyed our broadcast please click the like button on your remote and subscribe to receive further space news as it happens.
I'm Claire Riley for CNET.
Good night and God speed.