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At the end of this block of study, you should be able to:

5.47 Discuss the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
5.48 Identify the organization responsible for research and development In the area of military aerospace activities.
5.49 Explain why the United States had to design launch vehicles for its manned spaceflight missions.
5.50 List America's present major launch vehicles.

In October 1958, the United States split its aerospace research into two parts. NASA was formed to carry out the peaceful exploration of space and to conduct basic aeronautics research. The Department of Defense (DOD) became responsible for research and development in the area of military aerospace activities.

The need for a new rocket for manned space missions became apparent when lightweight nuclear warheads were developed. Since America's launch vehicles for space exploration were modified ICBMs, scientists realized these rockets would become smaller and less powerful with the smaller warheads. With this in mind, rocket scientists in the late 1950s began to modify Jupiter and Redstone rockets. This work produced the Saturn class of rockets culminating in the Saturn V which launched Apollo missions 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11. Mission 11, which was launched on July 16, 1969 landed men on the moon for the first time in history.

Presently, America's major launch vehicles include Atlas 2 Centaur, Scout, Titan II, Titan 34D, Titan IV, Delta II, and the Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle).

The Space Transport System (STS), better known as the Space Shuttle. Here is the STS-26 launch, mission return to flight.

During the period from 1956 to the present there have been more scientific and technological developments in flight than in all previous history.

In fact, aerospace accomplishments are so commonplace today that most people lose sight of the important part aerospace plays in our everyday lives. More information on these accomplishments in aviation and space will be found in other chapters of this Website.


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Updated: 12 March, 2004