NASA traces its beginnings to the formation of the U.S. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1915, and for its first 40 years every project was intended to be of practical value. Its goals flowed in from industry and up from the engineers, not down from the top. After Sputnik, everything changed.
The latest from Dan Woodard
N ASA is, as always, in search of its mission. It wants to go back to its roots to the era of the Moon race when it had a clear goal on which to focus. But in reality, NASA left its roots not at the end of the Moon race, but at its start. Before 1962, NASA was a science and technology agency, like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and parts of the Department of Energy are today.