WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — From 2018 through 2022, NASA is marking a series of important milestones – the 60th anniversary of the agency’s founding by Congress in 1958, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions that put a dozen Americans on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972.
Celebrations already are under way. Some are complete, some are scheduled in the coming months, and some are still being planned.
July 29 will mark 60 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA as a U.S. government agency by signing Public Law 58-568, the National Aeronautics and Space Act. The act consolidated several federal and military research organizations, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, under one agency.
The new agency was given responsibility to plan, direct and conduct U.S. civil aeronautics and space activities and share the results of those activities as widely as practicable. NASA opened for business about two months later, on Oct. 1, 1958 – the date NASA observes as its birthday.
NASA kicked off its 60th anniversary Jan. 31 by remembering the 1958 launch of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. An experiment on the satellite discovered belts of charged particles trapped in space by Earth’s magnetic field, now known as the Van Allen Belts.
The celebrations continued June 1-2 with “Space, the Next Frontier,” a tribute to NASA by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The center is named for President John F. Kennedy, who had not only a vision for cultural advancement, but also a vision for technological advancement in the form of landing Americans on the Moon. Kennedy’s legacy to the space program is highlighted along with six decades of NASA achievements in an exhibition at the Kennedy Center’s Hall of Nations May 27-June 3.
The public will be invited to celebrate with the agency in September and October. Special activities are being planned at several NASA visitor centers and other locations across the United States. Details will be announced as they become available.
NASA’s celebration of all things Apollo will begin Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 7, the first of the missions to carry a crew into space. On this day, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the U.S. Mint will unveil the design for an Apollo 11 commemorative coin that will go on sale in January 2019.
In December, NASA will join the National Air and Space Museum in recalling the 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 8, whose crew of three spent Christmas 1968 in orbit around the Moon.
The focus will turn to Apollo 11 in July 2019. Celebrations are planned in Washington and at NASA centers that were crucial to the success of the Apollo Program. On July 19, NASA TV will broadcast live from the refurbished Apollo Mission Operations Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and several other locations with Apollo connections coast to coast.
Special features for NASA’s anniversary:
“Sixty Years and Counting”: A look at the agency’s accomplishments in aeronautics, space flight and scientific research.
“Sixty Moments”: A timeline of some of the most important and interesting events in the agency’s history
Special 60th Anniversary Features: