Control of Outer Space

February 19, 1958

Report Outline
Burst of Interest in Outer Space
Need for Regulation of Outer Space
Outer Space and the United Nations

Burst of Interest in Outer Space

Space Studies by Congress and White House

Ascent of the satellite Explorer from a Florida cape into outer space, an hour before midnight on Jan. 31, ended a long period of frustration for American scientists and made the United States a pioneer with Soviet Russia of little-known realms beyond the earth. Orbiting of the Explorer also added urgency to the search for answers to two questions: (1) Shall future American ventures into outer space be entrusted to civilian or military authorities, or be divided between the two? and (2) What can be done to avoid conflict between nations over outer space and assure its exploitation to benefit mankind, not to threaten or destroy any people?

Congress gave an interim answer to the first question on Feb. 6 when it sent a bill to the White House authorizing the Secretary of Defense, for a period of one year, to carry out any non-military space projects put in his care by the President. Defense Secretary Neil H. McElroy established an Advance Research Projects Agency the next day and named Roy W. Johnson, a General Electric vice president, to take charge. The new agency is expected to assume responsibility not only for space vehicles, space platforms and related projects, but also for such military undertakings as anti-missile missile projects now in the hands of the Army and Air Force.

The final answer on administration of space projects will require longer deliberation. At the urging of Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex.), majority leader, the Senate on Feb. 6 created a special 13-member committee to consider all aspects of the question and report by June 1 or as soon thereafter as possible. The task of the committee has been compared to that of a similar special Senate committee which went into the subject of civilian vs. military control of atomic energy and framed the bill which became the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 19, 1958  Control of Outer Space
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