The Golden Anniversary of NASA

The Golden Anniversary of NASA
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George Hopson, Aerospace Engineer: We were in cold war that was darn close to hot war with the Russians.

John Glenn, Astronaut: They had been launching some rockets and ours too often had been blowing up on the launch pad. And that was sort of the background to what happened then in '57 when they sent up Sputnik.

Ed Kilgore, Aerospace Engineer: Right then I think we all inwardly resolved that wasn't going to last. We were going to do something about it.

(Beep - Beep- Beep)

Neil Armstrong, Astronaut: It was just a faint beep, a radio beacon, coming from a shiny little orb circling the earth. In 1957, Sputnik signaled the beginning of the Space Age, and the United States was behind. Our first successful answer to Sputnik came with the launch of the Explorer One satellite, and within the year, the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

John Casani, Project Manager: Explorer One had science instruments on it. And so it really marks the first use of space for scientific exploration.

T. Keith Glennan, First NASA Administrator We have one of the most challenging assignments that has ever been given to modern man. We will be preparing for the day when manned flight goes into space.

Chris Kraft, Flight Director: Alan Shepard's flight was a fantastic moment in the history of NASA. I think back on that and I watch him come out of that van on the Redstone pad, and look up at that rocket in that silver suit he had on…wondering himself, what the hell he was doing there.

Roger, lift-off and the clock is started. This is Freedom 7.

President John F. Kennedy: This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

Christine Darden, Aerospace Engineer: That was all heady stuff, and we were all Go, Man, Go.

Glenn: Some of the doctors were concerned, for instance, that when you're in zero G for a while, for several hours, they were afraid your eyes might change shape.

Roger. Zero G and I feel fine. Capsule is turning around. Oh, that view is tremendous.

Kraft: It truly was the Age of Aquarius in the 60's. The mood around us was always electric. The press revered the astronauts and it revered those of us in the front of the program.

Bill Snoddy, Aerospace Engineer: Communication satellites of course came into being. And a lot of other neat things have happened as a result of that technology push.

Newsreel Announcer: There's the drop. Before it returns to earth again, the X-15 may fly some 60 miles straight up at nearly 4,000 miles per hour.

Paul Kutler: Information Systems Directorate The country was trying to build a supersonic transport, at least to do some research and build some prototypes. So by trying to study the flow fields about these vehicles, trying to compute the sonic booms and their propagation to the ground was a very interesting and challenging problem.

3,2,1,0. Ignition start. Lift-off.

Michael Collins, Astronaut: Gemini was the program between Mercury, the single seater in earth orbit and Apollo, the three seater, all the way to the moon.

Gemini 12, Houston CAPCOM. New EVA record. Beautiful job.

Kraft: The fire on the pad was a traumatic event. It ripped us apart, to be perfectly honest with you. It was a terrible day.

Walter Cunningham, Astronaut: five weeks later as the back-up crew we inherited the first manned Apollo mission, which turned out to be Apollo 7. We were quite proud of the fact that we had a triumph out of a disaster.

Lovell: On Apollo 8 when we rotated the spacecraft and saw for the very first time the far side of the moon only 60 miles below, we were like three school kids looking into a candy store window.

The moon is essentially gray. No color.

Collins: I just thought there were so many unknowns that I would have given us a bout a 50-50 chance of being the first flight to land and return someone safely.

Okay, engine stop. We copy you down Eagle. Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

Kraft: I think it was the biggest event from an aviation point of view, and probably from a scientific point of view, that happened in the 20th century.

That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.

Armstrong: Our first steps on the moon were the culmination of efforts put forth by a host of people who simply refused to believe it could not be done. It was an accomplishment of human ingenuity and tenacity. Apollo 11 was the end of the race to the moon, an important milestone in our exploration of space.

Mission Control: OK, Houston. We've had a problem here. It looks to me looking out the hatch that we are venting something.

Gene Kranz, Flight Director: That series of events started the saga of Apollo 13. The trust that existed between the crew and ground was absolute because it takes trust to make split second decisions.

The whole panel is blown out almost from the base to the engine.

Apollo 13 is descending. This is recovery and your chutes look good.

And, welcome home.

Aha! Oh, Charlie, such form!

Come on out here and give me a salute.

Eugene Cernan, Astronaut: We not only did a lot of work on the moon. We had a good time.

Hippity-hoppity, hippity-hop. Over hill and dale.

You know you're only going to come that way once in your life.

This has got to be one of the most proud moments of my life, I guarantee you.

Dr. Richard Fisher, Heliophysics Director: We saw the fragments around Skylab go over us. And I thought. Oh brother, there's been an accident in the Skylab launch.

Alan Bean, Astronaut: Jack Lousma was the best EVA guy that I've ever met. Lo and behold he goes out there and fools around with it a while, puts it all together and it worked great.

Fisher: And it went on to a brilliant scientific discovery. And it gave us some forward momentum in the science that continues right now until today.

Haha. Glad to see ya.

President Gerald Ford: Let me call to express my very great admiration for your hard work, your total dedication in preparing for this first joint flight.

Ansel Butterfield, Viking Parts Manager (1925-2006): Mars showed seasonal variations that suggested something was alive. And I think that was the basis for creating Viking. When we got down and found out how dry and arid and barren the place really was, came as a bit of a surprise.

Dr. Edward Sone, Project Scientist: When we flewt by Neptune, people were standing in line at night at planetariums in order to be able to see the images when Voyager was flying by these worlds.

STS-1 Lift Off: 5, 4, we've gone for main engine start. Lift-off of America's first Space Shuttle. And the shuttle has cleared the tower.

Sally Ride, Astronaut: The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it.

Guion Bluford, Jr., Astronaut: It wasn't for me a desire to be the first Africa-American in space, because I figured being the number 2 guy would be a lot more fun.

Joe Kosmo, Senior Project Engineer: Risk is something we have to just really consider as part of our life, especially in exploration. The ones that we've lost will probably be the first ones to tell you keep pressing on. Don't stop because of us.

STS-126 Launch: Lift-off. Lift-off of America's return to space as Discovery clears the tower.

Discovery, go for Hubble release.

James Crocker, Hubble Engineer: Hubble is one of the most phenomenal things we've ever done in space. It really has changed, and the data that we get from Hubble, will continue to change the way we think about ourselves, about the universe, and our place in it.

Dr. John Mather, Project Scientist: NASA, especially Goddard, was the place where I could carry out the dreams that I had, which were to push forward an experiment that would measure the Big Bang radiation better than anyone had ever tried before.

Mather: Nowadays we're discovering what is the universe really like, and it's totally magnificent. One can only be inspired and awestruck by what we find.

STS-71, 1st Mir docking: Houston, Atlantis. We have capture.

Shannon Lucid, Astronaut: I was extremely fortunate that I was able to be part of the Shuttle-MIR program. It was a challenge for the Russians, it was a challenge for the Americans, but everybody wanted to work together to make it come to pass.

Expedition1: We have initial contact, initial contact of the Soyuz capsule with the Expedition 1 crew to the International Space Station.

We are on a true space ship now. Making our way above any earthly boundary.

Krantz: Spaceflight is one of the areas where we face risk on a daily basis, and in the process of doing this we develop new technologies, new techniques, new inventions. We make discovery.

Lift-off of the Delta rocket with Opportunity. A chance to explore and unlock the secrets of our neighboring planet.

Scot Maxwell, Mars Rover Driver: When we look at other worlds and we look through the eyes of a robot at a frozen desert, we appreciate our own world so much more because we see what it could be like.

Expedition 4 arriving.

Carl Walz, Astronaut: When you arrive on the International Space Station, there's a little bit of a shock factor. It was like, wow, we're really here. Man, this is going to be a long visit.

Peggy Whitson, Astronaut: We are overcoming these cultural obstacles and bringing these people together with this common goal. I think it's one of the most significant aspects of the International Space Station.

Takao Doi, JAXA Astronaut: I believe that human beings should expand into space. By doing that we can learn about ourselves and make society and the world better.

We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.

President George W. Bush: I'd like to see the mission to Mars be accomplished. It's something I did some work on making the proposal we made. I think there's a consensus that going to Mars is a worthy objective, and I'd like to see that accomplished.

Clinton: Perhaps at one time in the distant past, at least some basic life forms existed on Mars, and perhaps could again in the future. These things mean a lot to me. I think space is important, and I think America should continue to be in the forefront of space exploration.

Leland Melvin, Astronaut: We as a civilization must explore. That's who we are intrinsically. That's who the human race is, we're explorers.

Lowery Duvall, Aerospace Engineer: No matter where you go in the world, people know what the letters NASA stand for. They say NASA. And they say it with recognition. That in itself tells you that NASA stands for something in the world, not just in America, but across the world.

Armstrong: As we advance into the 21st century, we have new goals that will challenge our abilities far beyond what we've experienced before. It will be a test of our scientific and technical vision. It will be a test of our resolve.

But we've been there before. And with the lessons of history in mind, NASA will continue to pioneer new frontiers and explore for answers that power our future…. and another 50 years of inspiration, innovation and discovery.

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