U.S. Civilian Space Policy Priorities: Reflections 50 Years After Sputnik [Updated June 20, 2008]   [open pdf - 377KB]

From the Summary: "The 'space age' began on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union (USSR) launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. Some U.S. policymakers, concerned about the USSR's ability to launch a satellite, thought Sputnik might be an indication that the United States was trailing behind the USSR in science and technology. The Cold War also led some U.S. policymakers to perceive the Sputnik launch as a possible precursor to nuclear attack. In response to this 'Sputnik moment,' the U.S. government undertook several policy actions, including the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), enhancement of research funding, and reformation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education policy. […] In the 110th Congress, several congressional resolutions honoring the 50th anniversary of Sputnik and the importance of the resulting agencies and activities to the United States have been introduced, with some passing the House or Senate. The House passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6063) on June 18, 2008. In §2, Findings, the House approved a series of findings that reflects on NASA's 50th anniversary, and identifies a number of priorities for NASA."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34263
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