The National Aeronautics and Space Agency marked its 60-year anniversary Oct. 1, both celebrating the scientific and technological achievements made by the U.S. space program and honoring the sacrifices of its personnel.
NASA was born out of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (founded on March 3, 1915), whose aeronautical research led to the eventual development of space capabilities.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite, prompting Congress and the president to push for changes that would prevent the U.S. from falling behind in space innovation.
NASA was created after President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act July 29, 1958, and the agency opened for business just over two months later with T. Keith Glennan, president of Case Institute of Technology in Ohio, as its first administrator.
The new agency launched its first satellite, Pioneer 1, just over a week later. The satellite was a project inherited from the U.S. Army.
In 1959, NASA announced the first class of astronauts, the Mercury 7, and sent the first of those astronauts, Alan Shepard, into space May 5, 1961.
On July 20, 1969, NASA put the first two people on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 crew.
Since then, the agency has launched a couple hundred successful manned flights, as well as numerous satellite, telescope and rover missions to gather data about the solar system and greater universe.
And according to NASA workforce statistics, the agency went from 8,420 employees in its first year to a total of 17,377 employees in 2018 in positions ranging from astronaut to IT specialist, with nearly 300 that have worked for NASA for 40 years or more.
Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.