In response to the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957, the House created the Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration the following year. The Select Committee crafted the Space Act, establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). That year, the House also formed the Committee on Science and Astronautics, which was the first new standing committee in 11 years, and the first committee since 1892 with a jurisdiction not previously covered by any other committee. The swift and strong reaction of the House to rapidly unfolding scientific developments in the Soviet Union underscored their significance to the United States.
President John F. Kennedy’s May 26, 1961, Joint Session address to Congress charged the country with sending a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The mission of the nine Ranger spacecraft launched from 1961 to 1964 was to photograph the moon’s surface to identify a possible landing site. Ranger VII was the first spacecraft in this series to be successful in this mission.
The state of Florida and the space program are intimately linked. Cape Canaveral, Florida, is the site of the Kennedy Space Center and was the manufacturing hub for related industries for many years. It’s appropriate that this petition congratulating the astronauts of the Ranger VII mission comes from a resident of the Sunshine State.