Answer: Dwight D. Eisenhower
The 1950s was a great time to be an aeronautical engineer with an eye turned towards the sky. Rocket research had advanced at a steady clip throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s. An international challenge in the early 1950s to put a satellite into Earth orbit led to increased research in the United States and around the world (Sputnik 1 was successfully launched by the Soviets in 1957).
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in response to the quickly escalating space race and the success of Sputnik, signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958, establishing NASA in the process. NASA completely absorbed all the researchers, facilities, and budget of its 43-year-old predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Within months, Project Mercury was up and running, and the space race was truly under way as the United States rushed to get the first man into space.
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