How the Space Race Fueled Innovation

NASA's View of Space

Dryden's predictions in the 1960s

NASA Administrators and others in NASA had similar ideas to our interviewees but their responses somewhat differed. In 1960, Hugh L. Dryden, the Deputy Administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the time stated, “Space technology is part technology developed for civilian and military purposes. Space activities will accelerate industrial progress while also miniaturizing of electronic components to reduce weight and size. Electronic components will operate at the extremes. Other power sources will be used to insure long periods of operation of mechanical equipment in space, new sensing and control devices. These improvements will benefit other applications. Medical research for space will aid in the protection of man in other environments.” Also, Mr. Dryden explained why space exploration is important: “The exploration of space is essential to the welfare and security of the United States because of its contributions to scientific knowledge and technology, which are the foundation of our national economic welfare, national prestige, and intellectual and spiritual development.”

After the Space Race, what Daniel Goldin predicted

Former NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin stated that: "There is commercial utilization of space hardware -- including telecommunications . . . and infrastructure elements such as the manufacture of launch vehicles and  satellites. We’ve entered the commercial age of space. [NASA] drove the electronics, computer and advanced machines industry. The high tech industry has exploded in America and around the world. [We need to] get out of low-Earth orbit whenever possible…[having] robotic operations [instead]. Commercial revenue and investment are going to continue to rise. We’ll move on wherever the quest for knowledge takes us [possibly] Mars [and] beyond. We’ll move on.. . always questioning ... but always inspired by what we can do. The role of space agencies in the commercial age [is to] transfer technology into the commercial sector.”