Letter From Paul D. Nielsen

    AIAA Logo.

    NASA's 50th Anniversary Celebration

    Paul D. Nielsen Photo.We are all familiar with NASA’s tremendous legacy of achievement, including the X-15 and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. We remain awed by Space Shuttle launches and the International Space Station. The striking images from the Hubble Space Telescope increase our understanding of the universe, and images from Pioneer, Voyager, Cassini, and the Mars Rover inspire us to explore.

    Perhaps the most significant outcome of our national reaction to the Soviet launch of Sputnik was the establishment of NASA in 1958, building on the legacy of NACA and expanding the agency’s responsibility to include the United States’ civil space program. Greatly surpassing President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, NASA continues to broaden our knowledge and expand new frontiers. Today’s Vision for Space Exploration, as established by President Bush in 2004, again sets challenges before us that are not for the fainthearted.

    The heart of NASA’s revolutionary achievements, both past and future, lies in the men and women of NASA and its partners in industry and academia. These professionals have made our nation the leader in aerospace, whether they are scientists, engineers, program managers, operators, technicians, support staff, or others. Their knowledge, commitment and inspiration drive them to explore and to accept challenges. They have dared to do great things and accept the risks of failure. They have taken us to the moon while enhancing the quality of life on earth; we are confident that they will do so again. Today, NASA’s team reaches to the corners of the earth. Unlike the era of the Space Race, international collaboration is now essential to success, whether space exploration, monitoring the earth’s climate, achieving hypersonic flight, or developing cleaner, quieter, and safer air transportation.

    At AIAA, we provide the global professional forum for government, academia, and industry to come together to learn, collaborate, and discover—to extend the accomplishments of the past into an even more exciting future. Whether through conferences, publications, or public policy outreach, AIAA programs nurture the communities that enable us to advance the state of aerospace science, engineering, and technological leadership. For more than 50 years, NASA and its people have been a vital part of our success.

    AIAA salutes the men and women of NASA for their remarkable achievements. We look forward to partnering with them again in the next 50 years of innovation, exploration, and discovery.

    Paul D. Nielsen Signature

    Sincerely, Paul D. Nielsen