AIAA Observes 50th Anniversary of Sputnik Launch, Looks to Future of Space Exploration

October 4, 2007 — Reston, VA — The following statement can be attributed to American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) President Paul Nielsen:

“The launch of Sputnik 50 years ago and the Space Age it began is a well-known story. Familiar as it may be, the impact of that “beep-beep-beep” on our lives is worth a note on today’s anniversary. Thousands of satellites launched since have dramatically improved everything from communications, entertainment, weather tracking and easily finding your destination to homeland security and our warfighters’ ability to minimize casualties on both sides while still meeting their objectives. The educational and technological strides we made, as the nation focused on landing a person on the Moon and explored the solar system, have propelled us to the networked, technology and innovation-driven society we are today.

“But the question remains, what kind of society will we be tomorrow if the spirit that has driven the space programs isn’t enabled to flourish? We recognize there are many critical national priorities, but as our investment in aerospace decreases, its positive impact on many other priority areas will lessen.

“Today, then, is the time for us to consider our commitment to innovation, and the legacy of Sputnik. To consider if future generations will have the science, technology, engineering and math skills to lead the world back to the Moon, to Mars and beyond. To once again stretch beyond the known limits and do something amazing, bringing long-lasting benefits to mankind.”

Detailed information on Sputnik is available in Aerospace America’s October issue,, also found at

Headquartered in suburban Washington, D.C., the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) serves over 35,000 members in 65 regional sections and 79 countries. AIAA membership is drawn from all levels of industry, academia, private research organizations, and government and focuses on emerging technologies in aviation, space and defense.