The year 1960 was an exciting yet turbulent time in history. John
F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States; protests raged
against segregation in the South and the Vietnam War; the American Football
League was formed to rival the National Football League; FORTRAN was the
standard computer programming language; and Chubby Checker introduced “The

It was also the year NASA – a new federal agency dedicated to
civilian space exploration – created the George C. Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The key date in the Center’s founding occurred Sept. 8, 1960, when
President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicated the Center that had been
activated by NASA on July 1, 1960.

Over the course of 40 years, the Marshall Center has helped shape
history through its key contributions in areas from landing humans on the
Moon, to lifting Space Shuttles into orbit, to inventing new technologies
and engineering processes for future space travel and space benefits.

“This 40th Anniversary is a reminder – from the Wernher von Braun
early days of rocketry all the way up to the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s
launch last summer – of the great adventures we’ve had over the years at
Marshall,” said Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson. “We’re taking a
great tradition started by Dr. von Braun and carrying it into the future.”

40 Years of Excellence

George C. Marshall

U.S. Army Gen. George C. Marshall was a leader and strategist whose
patriotism and human compassion earned him admiration around the world. He
perhaps is best known for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his
“Marshall Plan” – the 1948 European Recovery Program drafted to help rebuild
war-torn Europe after World War II.

Marshall served as U.S. Army chief of staff during World War II,
and, after retiring became special ambassador to China, secretary of state,
president of the American Red Cross and secretary of defense.

Marshall leadership

Dr. Wernher von Braun, leader of the original German rocket team,
became the Marshall Center’s first director in 1960 – leading the team that
landed humans on the Moon.

Nine more directors have followed in his footsteps, managing
successful projects such as the Skylab orbital workshop, and the Space
Shuttle propulsion systems – which unleashes about 6.4 million pounds (28.5
million newtons) of thrust each time America’s first reusable launch vehicle
blasts off.

Under current Director Art Stephenson, Marshall successes include
last year’s launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory – now celebrating its
first year of ground-breaking X-ray astronomy.

The Adventure Continues

Today, Marshall is NASA’s lead Center for development of space
transportation and propulsion systems. New technologies are being explored
to make space more accessible by reducing the cost of launching space

Currently it costs roughly $10,000 to put a pound (over $20 per
kilogram) of payload into space, and NASA’s goal is to reduce that cost to
$1,000 per pound – or less – while improving flight safety.

Marshall is also NASA’s leader in microgravity research – conducting
unique scientific studies in the near-weightlessness of space. New
technologies derived from space science and research help industry create
new medicines, manufacturing processes, electronics and more – improving
life on Earth.

“I believe we need to embrace the past and bring forward the great
tradition stated by Dr. von Braun, as we embrace future that’s directed
toward new systems and new ways of doing business,” said Stephenson.

Marshall Center’s current and retired employees will mark the 40th
anniversary Sept. 21 with a series of events, including a tribute to Gen.
Marshall, a visit by Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan and the placement of a
time capsule at the Center.



Jerry Berg

Media RelationsDepartment

(256) 544-0034