On July 29, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, giving birth to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. space program. Here we look back at the launching of the agency and some of its most exciting achievements.

On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class, the Mercury 7; Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter in the front, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., in the back row.