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Cosmic Kiss mission begins as Matthias Maurer arrives at the Space Station

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The spacecraft carrying ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and his NASA astronaut colleagues Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron docked to the International Space Station at 00:32 CET Friday, 12 November (23:32 GMT Thursday, 11 November), marking the official start of Matthias’s first mission ‘Cosmic Kiss’. 

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      On Oct. 1, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially began operations. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act the previous July, creating NASA to lead America’s civilian space program in response to Soviet advances in space exploration. T. Keith Glennan and Hugh L. Dryden were sworn in as NASA’s first administrator and deputy administrator, respectively. As its core, the new agency incorporated the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), founded in 1915 to advance aeronautics research in the United States. The NACA elements included three large research laboratories and two small test facilities. Projects and facilities transferred from other agencies to augment NASA’s capabilities. Within days of opening, NASA began work on America’s first human spaceflight program.

      Left: NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden, left, introduces NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan as he prepares to deliver a filmed address to NACA employees about the impending transition to NASA. Middle: The Dolley Madison House on LaFayette Square in Washington, D.C., NASA’s first headquarters building. Right: The main entrance to the Dolley Madison House.
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      Left: The logo for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) on the wall of the 8-foot transonic pressure wind tunnel at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, now NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Right: The entrance sign to the NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, now NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

      Left: The entrance sign to NACA’s Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. Right: The entrance sign to the renamed NASA Lewis Research Center, now NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

      Left: The NACA High Speed Flight Station, now NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Right: Workers removing the NACA logo at the High Speed Flight Station.
      Three NACA research laboratories – Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia; Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in Mountain View, California; and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio – and two small test facilities – the Muroc Dry Lake in California’s high desert for high-speed flight research, and one for sounding rockets at Wallops Island in Virginia – transferred to NASA on Oct. 1, with a total of 8,000 employees and an annual budget of $100 million. By Dec. 31, 1958, NASA had absorbed elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama, the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., including its Project Vanguard, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology. These added 420 employees and 2,300 contractors to the workforce and brought the agency’s appropriations to more than $330 million. It also acquired a high-priority rocket engine development project from the U.S. Air Force. Over time, the Agency established or incorporated additional centers and facilities to meet the growing needs of the nation’s space program. Today, 10 field centers across the nation work together to accomplish NASA’s varied missions.

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