The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
|In order to form NASA, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, a rather large document in which all functions,
objectives and procedures of the future NASA are given. The document mostly consists of "legalese" but some parts are interesting,
for example the part where NASA's directives are given:|
- The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
- The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
- The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space;
- The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes;
- The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere;
- The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defense of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;
- Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results thereof; and
- The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.
A more interesting document is the Special Committee on Space Technology Report,
which gives recommendations regarding a civil space research organisation and further defines the objectives and procedures stated
in the National Aeronautics and Space Act. The introduction states:|
Scientifically, we are at the beginning of a new era.
More than two centuries between Newton and Einstein were occupied by the observations, experiments and though that produced
the background necessary for modern science. New scientific knowledge indicates that we are already working in a similar
period preceding another long step forward in scientific theory. The information obtained from direct observation, in space,
of environment and of cosmological processes will probably be essential to, and will certainly assist in,
the formulation of new unifying theories. We can no more predict the results of this work than Galileo could have predicted
the industrial revolution that resulted from Newtonian mechanics.
The document concludes:
Scientific advances of the broadest import can result from substantially improved understanding of cosmic processes
and their influence upon the environment, and therefor the inhabitants, of the earth.
The acquisition of such understanding depends critically upon the establishment of observational vantage points outside the
insulation of the earth's atmosphere. The discussions and suggestions regarding research policies, procedures and programs
presented in this report are intended to further the rapid and efficient development of the requisite space flight capabilities.
All of these suggestions include recommendations, either stated or impact, for cooperation or close coordination within related
work by other civil and military agencies. More detailed discussions and program recommendations in particular fields are treated
by Working Group reports.
In the NASA Long Range Plan, written in 1959, the following Mission Target Dates are set:
- First launching of a Meteorological Satellite
- First launching of a Passive Reflector Communications Satellite.
- First launching of a Scout vehicle.
- First launching of a Thor-Delta vehicle.
- First launching of an Altas-Agena-B vehicle (by the Department of Defense).
- First suborbital flight of an astronaut.
- First launching of a lunar impact vehicle.
- Attainment of manned space flight, Project Mercury.
- First launching to the vicinity of Venus and/or Mars.
- First launching of two stage Saturn vehicle.
In a document about the Man-in-Space panel from 1960, the following objectives were set:
- First launching of unmanned vehicle for controlled landing on the moon.
- First launching Orbiting Astronomical and Radio Astronomy Observatory.
- First launching of unmanned lunar circumnavigation and return to earth vehicle.
- First reconnaissance of Mars and/or Venus by an unmanned vehicle.
- First launching in a program leading to manned circumlunar flight and to permanent near- earth space station.
- Beyond 1970
- Manned flight to the moon. . . .
- The first major goal of the man-in-space program is to orbit a man about the earth. It will cost about 350 million dollars.
- The next goal, of an intermediate nature, is the manned circumnavigation of the moon. It will cost about 8 billion dollars.
- The second major goal, landing on the moon, can only be achieved about 1975 after an additional national expenditure in the vicinity of 26 to 38 billion dollars.
- The Saturn program is a necessary intermediate step toward manned lunar landing but must be followed by a much bigger development before manned lunar landing is possible.
- The unmanned program is a necessary prerequisite to a manned program. Even if there were no manned program, the unmanned program might yield as much scientific knowledge and on this basis would be justified in its own right.
After the Apollo 11 had completed the most important Apollo objective (a lunar landing and a man on the moon), a report was written by a special Space Task Group, stating the post-Apollo space program objectives, goals and procedures. The adjusted objectives were:
- Even if there were no man-in-space program, Saturn C2 is still a minimum vehicle for closeup instrumented study of Venus and Mars, for unmanned trips to more distant planets, and for putting roving vehicles on the surface of the moon.
- Manned trips to the vicinity of Venus or Mars are not yet foreseeable. . . .
- Application of space technology to the direct benefit of mankind
- Operation of military space systems to enhance national defense
- Exploration of the solar system and beyond
- Development of new capabilities for operating in space
- International participation and cooperation