A Day in Astronomy: New Space Agencies

Image (Credit): Original NASA seal. (NASA)

October 1 is a significant date for two of the world’s largest space agencies.

On this day in 1958, NASA had its first day of operations after being created a few months earlier by President Eisenhower in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. Here is more about the creation of the Agency as noted by NASA’s History Division:

On this date the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began operation. At the time it consisted of only about 8,000 employees and an annual budget of $100 million. In addition to a small headquarters staff in Washington that directed operations, NASA had at the time three major research laboratories inherited from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics-the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory established in 1918, the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory activated near San Francisco in 1940, and the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory built at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1941-and two small test facilities, one for high-speed flight research at Muroc Dry Lake in the high desert of California and one for sounding rockets at Wallops Island, Virginia. It soon added several other government research organizations.

Today NASA has a budget of about $24 billion and approximately 17,000 employees.

And on this day in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was formed from a merger of three previous Japanese space agencies – the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, and National Space Development Agency of Japan.

Here is more information about JAXA today:

With about 1,500 staff, JAXA carries out the following main activities:

  • Promoting satellite utilization to enhance the quality of life;
  • Advancing scientific knowledge of the universe and the origin of life;
  • Exploring the Moon and planets, to broaden the horizon of human activity;
  • Ensuring the operation of the ISS and promoting space environment utilisation to create new opportunities for the society;
  • Developing rocket technologies, to respond to diversifying launch needs;
  • Advancing engineering research, to pursue aviation safety and environmentally-friendly technologies; and
  • Pursuing fundamental engineering research, to carry out autonomous space activities.
Credit: JAXA