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Today in history: July 29
In 1958, America began to enter the space age
Russia's Sputnik inspired President Eisenhower to create NASA in 1958.
Russia's Sputnik inspired President Eisenhower to create NASA in 1958. Bettmann/CORBIS

On This Day. 1958: Vowing that the United States would lead the space age, President Dwight Eisenhower signed an act creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA. NASA was formed nine months after the Soviet Union beat the U.S. into space by launching the first satellite, Sputnik. Sputnik scared many Americans into thinking that the U.S. was falling behind foreign rivals; it spurred huge government investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Although the Soviets — in 1961 — beat the United States would, in 1969, become the first nation to safely land a man on the moon.

On This Day. 1975: Gerald Ford became the first president to visit Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

Quote of the Day

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak." -John Adams

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