NASA Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Kennedy Space Center Director William Parsons

William W. Parsons, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/KSC

Oct. 1 marks the 50th Anniversary of NASA as it was on this date in 1958 that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began operations. Over the past 50 years, the employees of America's space program have been at the forefront of many incredible accomplishments.

Kennedy Space Center has a rich history in the space program having been named an independent NASA installation in 1962.

From the historic launch pads here in Florida, we have launched missions of discovery. Next year, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of a human being setting foot on the moon. That mission, Apollo 11, launched right here from our center. Some of our employees today were working here at that time. I mention this historic date because once again we are preparing to go back to the moon. This time, we are going to stay. We will have a sustained human presence. NASA is a forward-looking agency, and this is our future.

NASA's 50th Anniversary is a historic milestone that gives us an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments, but we need to prepare for what's ahead.

We need to stay focused on our mission. This month, we will launch space shuttle Atlantis for the STS-125 Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Over Hubble's 18 year history, many extraordinary discoveries have been made by what this amazing instrument has captured. We also are preparing for the upcoming missions to the International Space Station and preparing for launches through the Launch Services Program. Our Constellation Program work is moving ahead, and we are preparing for the Ares I-X test flight next year.

In the short history of NASA, numerous benefits to society have come through the work of America's space program. The scientific discoveries and technological innovations that have been made through America's space program give us reason to proud to be part of this legacy of space exploration.