GPS Tracking and NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958. Known as NASA, the organization is chartered to develop and implement the country’s space and aerospace programs. With a motto declaring “For the Benefit of All,” NASA launched its public space program after the Soviet Union famously launched the world’s first man-made satellite, Sputnik, on October 4, 1957. This began the race to space, which pitted the two super powers against one another.

On the morning of January 31, 1958, Explorer 1 was launched, heralding President Eisenhower signing the National Aeronautics and Space Act. At the time, NASA consisted of 4 laboratories and 80 employees hired from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. A pivotal contributor to the United States Space Race was Werher von Braun, the so-called father of the US space program. Though he had been the leader of the German Rocket Program during WWII, von Braun was naturalized as a US citizen shortly thereafter.

The early hopes of NASA dealt with human space travel. In 1958, Project Mercury was started to determine whether or not human beings could survive in space. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard, a Project Mercury astronaut, was selected to pilot the Freedom 7 mission, which would be the first attempt to send humans into space. John Glenn, on the other hand, was charged with operating Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, becoming the first human to orbit the earth. Once the Mercury mission had been successfully completed, Gemini 3 was begun with the hopes of landing a man on the moon. The mission was a profound success.

Over time, NASA began implementing a new tracking system called the Global Positioning System. This system was operated through satellites to track the position and location of spacecraft. It was tested in the late 1970s on eleven subsequent spacecraft. Following a tremendously successful track record, GPS was slowly positioned for civilian use.

Many people today cannot live without GPS. It has become something of an automated Thomas Guide. The uses of GPS continue to multiply. To date is has been used to track animals, migration patterns, stolen cars, cellphone locations, and even criminals. The uses of GPS tracking are manifold and unbound. From space travel to finding your local coffee house, knowing where you are is the first step to knowing who you are.

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