Happy 50th Birthday, NASA!

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was officially formed on July 29, 1958. The U.S. agency was cobbled together in a frantic response to Sputnik. The little golden orb went beep-beep-beep on October 4, 1957. American prestige was on the line, and the country threw itself into the future.

Like many young boys, I was crazy about space exploration and space travel. We were children of the Space Age, and dreamed about becoming astronauts, of living on a moonbase, of walking on Mars, of visiting the rings of Saturn. Every rocket launch seemed right out of science fiction. Astronauts, not pop singers, were the real American Idols.

Indeed, I was thrilled to have dinner with John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and a childhood hero, during his 1984 presidential run.

My parents were just as space-crazy as I was. A few days before the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, my father came home with a brand-new television set. He didn’t trust our cranky old TV for such an important occasion.

It was amazing what NASA accomplished in such a short period of time. From the launch of the space agency until the Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was only 11 years.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick