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Eisenhower, Dwight David
Credit: NASA
President of the United States, 1953-1961; began development of Jupiter, Thor, Atlas, Titan, Polaris, and Minuteman - the foundation of US access to space. His distrust of the military led him to create NASA to handle space programs.

Born: 1890-10-14. Died: 1969-03-28. Birth Place: Denison, Texas.

Eisenhower was president of the United states between 1953 and 1961. Previously he had been a career U.S. Army officer and during World War II was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. As president he was deeply interested in the use of space technology for national security purposes and directed that ballistic missiles and reconnaissance satellites be developed on a crash basis.

Eisenhower was a practical Midwesterner who understood the US military from every angle. When the Soviets launched the Sputnik, Eisenhower knew that the heavily classified American rocket and space programs - Atlas, Titan, Polaris, and Minuteman, and the Corona spy satellite - far surpassed what the Soviet Union could do in every technical area. He knew that the only reason that Soviet rockets could orbit larger payloads was that they had to build bigger rockets because they had not been able to miniaturize atomic bombs and electronics, or produce lighter alloys for the rocket structures, as the Americans had. He knew that the missile gap - the supposed numeric superiority between Russian and the United States in missile production - didn't exist. But a lot of this information he couldn't or wouldn't convey to the public, and the clamor for him to do something was deafening.

From his long experience with the military, and the inexorably growing power of what he called the military-industrial establishment, he also knew that giving the job to the military services was not an option. They would squabble endlessly between themselves - each service already had its own planned satellite, man-in-space, and man-on-the-moon projects in the works. Furthermore, when the inevitable budget priorities came up each year, any scientific space projects would be cut back or cancelled before any pet military projects.

So in April 1958 Eisenhower proposed to Congress to create a civilian space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), using the existing 8,000-strong National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as its basis. He would rip out of the military those parts of it that were mainly devoted to fundamental rocketry or space research. Most notable of these were the Army's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and von Braun's rocket team at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

Ongoing research projects were cancelled or transferred to NASA. These included the Air Force's million-pound-thrust F-1 rocket engine, Centaur high-performance upper stage, Pioneer moon probes, and Man-in-Space-Soonest orbital manned capsule; the Army's Explorer satellite, Saturn I heavy launch vehicle, and Project Adam suborbital manned capsule; and the Navy's Vanguard booster and satellite with the Able upper stage.

The military was still allowed to pursue its own purely-military space programs. The utilitarian military spy and communications satellites, and the Titan rockets used to launch them were relatively uncontroversial. But there was a persistent military effort for a manned role in space or to deploy combat spacecraft in orbit. Over the years these would include the DynaSoar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory manned satellites; a dizzying array of manned spaceplanes and interceptor spacecraft; many generations of unmanned space weapons; and shaping of the specification for the space shuttle.

The wisdom of Eisenhower's choice was indicated by the fact, that despite the expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars on these projects, not one of them reached the flight-in-orbit stage. When the budget crunch came, military space projects were always the first to go.

Country: USA. Bibliography: 4472, 535, 5353.

1890 October 14 - .
1955 March 19 - . Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
1955 July 28 - . LV Family: Atlas.
1955 July 29 - . Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
1955 September 8 - . LV Family: Atlas.
1955 September 13 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
1955 December 1 - . LV Family: Titan, Atlas, Thor, Jupiter, . Launch Vehicle: Titan I.
1956 July 3 - . LV Family: Atlas.
1957 October 9 - . Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
1957 November 7 - . Launch Vehicle: Redstone.
1957 November 29 - .
1957 December 4 - .
1958 January 12 - .
1958 February 3 - .
1958 February 3 - . LV Family: Titan, Atlas, Thor, Jupiter. Launch Vehicle: Titan I, Thor, Atlas E, Jupiter.
1958 March 5 - .
1958 March 27 - . Launch Vehicle: Redstone.
1958 April 2 - .
1958 April 2 - .
1958 April 3 - .
1958 April 10 - . LV Family: Titan, Atlas, Thor, Jupiter.
1958 July 29 - .
1958 August - .
1958 August 8 - .
1958 December 3 - .
1959 October 21 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
1959 November 2 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
1959 December 6 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.
1960 January 14 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
1960 October 4 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral.
1969 March 28 - .

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