In October of 1958, NASA was established to propel the United States into leadership in the space sciences. NASA soon decided that they would be the first to send a man to the moon. With this goal, NASA designed Project Mercury, a series of rockets built from a ballistic missile coupled with the Air Force Launch field. The first NASA rocket model built to send man into space was a far cry from the sophisticated space vehicles of today. At first an astronaut was not integral to the workings of the rocket unit NASA realized that space vehicles could and should be controlled by an astronaut. Before the first men ventured into space, NASA sent several unmanned rockets with mice and chimpanzees in them into space. One of the urgent reasons to form NASA according to President Eisenhower was to take full advantage of the military potential of space. Others believed that NASA was important for keeping up with the Russians, who were also exploring space at that point. Some say the "civilian" space program was set up to take the spotlight off of the military aspect of the program, and to develop military technology. Some say that the U.S. military was in constant control of the entire NASA space program. Either way, the U.S. space program is an amazing piece of world history, and opened doors that no one believed existed.