(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives honored the initiation of the space age by passing H.Con.Res. 76, Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the International Geophysical Year. 

The bill was reported by the Science and Technology Committee last month.

H.Con.Res. 76, introduced by Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO), honors the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). During the IGY (1957-1958), internationally-coordinated global research efforts ushered in the Space Age and the scientific investigation of space. 

“This commemoration serves to not only mark the great scientific work that was done during the IGY, but also to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, who are critical to our country’s continued progress and economic security,” Chairman Udall said. 

During the IGY, the Soviet Union and the United States launched the first artificial satellites: Sputnik and Explorer I, respectively.  Explorer I’s success led to one of the most notable achievements of the IGY: the late Dr. James Van Allen of Iowa was able to discover belts of trapped, charged particles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

“The space race of the 1950’s and 1960’s helped to drive scientific achievement and technological innovation,” added Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “It is fitting that today, as we honor the scientific and technological achievements of the past, we are also helping to insure this country’s ability to continue to make great gains in the future.”

IGY also involved thousands of scientists from 67 nations and facilitated international, interdisciplinary cooperation in science at the height of the Cold War. Such international cooperation led to the Antarctic Treaty which established the use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes and promoted continued cooperative scientific investigations on the continent.

“The IGY has been a shining example of the benefits of international cooperation in scientific endeavors,” said Udall. “I encourage the public and in particular our young people to take a moment to honor the IGY anniversary year and to embrace challenging goals for future research in Earth and space science, so that we will be able to look back, 50 years from now, on equally exciting accomplishments and discoveries.”