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ltoms51 on 2010-09-24"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) emerged in some measure because of the pressures of national defense during the cold war with the Soviet Union, a broad contest over the ideologies and allegiances of the nonaligned nations of the world in which space exploration emerged as a major area of contest. From the latter 1940s, the Department of Defense pursued research and rocketry and upper atmospheric sciences as a means of assuring American leadership in technology. A major step forward came when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a plan to orbit a scientific satellite as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) for the period, 1 July 1957 to 31 December 1958, a cooperative effort to gather scientific data about the Earth. The Soviet Union quickly followed suit, announcing plans to orbit its own satellite."