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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA was created by the Congress and the President of the United States on October 1, 1958, in response to Cold War competition from the Soviet Union. After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in the "Space Race." The Soviets won the first stage by launching Sputnik 1 into orbit in 1957.

The US public reaction to Sputnik led to the creation of NASA. NASA took over the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory), and two test facilities. It quickly incorporated other organizations including the space science group from the Naval Research Laboratory in Maryland, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed by the California Institute of Technology, and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA currently has ten centers located around the country.


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