Noah talks with senior NASA historian Roger Launius, on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the space agency. Although the study of rocketry and aeronautics had been going on throughout the Second World War, it was in the 1950s that the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik satellite inspired an act of Congress creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA was formed on this date in 1958. Launius talks about the challenges of setting up NASA projects...including problems with the rockets initially being used, which often exploded at the launching-pad or had to be destroyed. These early failures were very public ones, and endangered the existence...and credibility...of the fledgling agency.



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