On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 46-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities. A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959. Continue reading to see 17 of the most amazing photos that NASA has captured thus far.

Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA’s entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program (led by Wernher von Braun, who was now working for ABMA) which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard’s earlier works.

Earlier research efforts within the U.S. Air Force and many of ARPA’s early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.