Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sofia. Sofia Wonders, “Who is the founder of NASA?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sofia!

Do you ever dream of traveling through outer space? Would you like to orbit Jupiter? Visit Pluto? Maybe you imagine racing past other planets and galaxies on a grand adventure. If you’ve ever looked into becoming an astronaut, there’s one name you probably already know—NASA!

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is the United States space agency. It’s the group that put the first man on the moon. It has sent spacecraft to Mars and even Jupiter without humans on board. NASA continues to look deeper into space every day with the Hubble Telescope. But have you ever WONDERed just how NASA started?

Many of our Wonder Friends have read about the Cold War. It was a very long standoff between the United States and the U.S.S.R. In October 1957, as it was still going on, the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik. That made it the first nation to put a satellite in space. This pushed the U.S. to increase its efforts in space exploration

As a result, President Dwight D. Eisenhower drafted legislation to establish NASA in 1958. After some changes by Congress, the organization became official in July of that year. T. Keith Glennan became its first administrator on August 19, and NASA opened on October 1. 

Of course, the rest is history. NASA soon became a world leader in space exploration. Its astronauts became some of the most famous in the world. Maybe you’ve heard of some of them! There’s John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. And of course Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon. 

Many other NASA astronauts broke barriers when they traveled into space. In 1983, Guion Bluford became the first Black American in space. That same year, Sally Ride traveled into space. She was the youngest American and first American woman to do so. Mae Jemison became the first Black American woman in space in 1992. 

What’s next for NASA? It is continuing its work on the International Space Station (ISS). It’s also working with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to make commercial spacecraft. 

A NASA project called Artemis is hoping to return to the moon by 2024. There, scientists hope to further study the moon and test technology there. How about the Red Planet? NASA plans to return to Mars in the coming years—and it's bringing a helicopter.

NASA has accomplished a lot in the last several decades. What if you were in charge? What part of the universe would you set your sights on? Maybe you would plan a trip to Saturn. How about the Andromeda galaxy? The possibilities are as vast as space itself!

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1

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