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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.

  

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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh


Volume 9, Number 2 July 28, 2008     

NASA marks first half-century

Michael Griffn

NASA turns 50 this year.

And like a lot of people who reach middle age, the U.S. aerospace agency is not only looking forward to the future, but also taking a look back at its legacy.

When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established five decades ago, the world was a much different place than it is now. The Russians had just launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, the year before. Commercial jet service was in its infancy, and few people had ever heard the word computer, much less used one.

But now Americans and the rest of the globe have access to information and images at the speed of light and the touch of a button. Satellites guide drivers and pilots as they travel, and some say jet airliners have become the buses of yesteryear.

What’s the country and NASA’s next big challenge in aerospace technology development? Visitors can find out for themselves at EAA AirVenture. The man in charge of overseeing the beginning of NASA’s next half-century, Administrator Michael Griffin, is coming to Oshkosh for the first time…at least as the head of NASA.

An experienced pilot and flight instructor, Griffin will share his thoughts with AirVenture participants. He’s slated to host an Ask the Administrator forum at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 29, in Utah Valley University Pavilion 6 in the Honda Forums Plaza.

Griffin has a history with NASA. Although he’s been the administrator for only three years, he also served as chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration in the early 1990s.

Griffin wrote about NASA’s achievements in a unique 50th anniversary commemorative magazine earlier this year. Here’s an excerpt:

"A half century ago, a new federal agency was created to accomplish feats of exploration and discovery unparalleled in human history. The men and women of NASA have been responsible for such epic achievements as landing 12 human explorers on the moon, sending robots to scout the solar system from Mercury to Pluto, and making revolutionary discoveries about the nature of our universe. Closer to home, people have reaped enormous benefits from NASA’s communications, weather and Earth monitoring satellites, and the agency’s continued commitment to excellence in aeronautics research. Our quality of life has been improved by thousands of new technologies derived from NASA research.

"Although we can take pride in these accomplishments, the true space age still lies ahead. Soon, NASA and partners from other space-faring nations and the commercial sector will build a research station on the moon. This first outpost on another world will extend the human frontier in a fundamentally new way, it will stimulate unforeseen advances in technology, and it will produce new scientific results obtainable in no other way. And, looking to the next steps on humanity’s outward path, our work on the moon and aboard the International Space Station will pave the way for the first astronauts to explore Mars in the coming decades."

NASA’s 50th anniversary is also being honored at other venues at AirVenture, including EAA’s Theater in the Woods. Former astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson is planning to host a birthday celebration Wednesday evening. Former astronaut Joe Engle is scheduled to pay tribute to 50 years of NASA aeronautics on Saturday night.

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