The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 kicked off an intense period of competition between the United States and the USSR for dominance of space, which was bookended by American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon in 1969. Since that early matchup, space exploration has served our common aspirations on Earth to learn more about our place in the universe and to set aside differences in developing peaceful technologies. This spirit must continue.
American leadership—our unique combination of private-sector entrepreneurship and the public-spirited convening and funding power of government—is largely responsible for the development of space as a realm of peaceful discovery. The International Space Station, which former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin championed in the 1990s, today brings together global space agencies from the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada in research in fields including astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology and physics.