Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years of Space Science

[299] Only a few years after Sputnik, the scope of space science reached beyond America's shores to many other parts of the globe. The predisposing cause was doubtless the political interest of U.S. leaders in recapturing leadership in space while projecting an image of peaceful purpose and cooperativeness in the world. In this regard science could help to broaden the base of the space program.
A fundamental assumption underlying the practice of science is that the laws of nature hold throughout the universe. Nature itself makes science international in character and provides a strong basis for international cooperation in science. The history of science bears out the point, for the insights that gave rise to great new advances in science have come from all over the globe.
It was, therefore, to be expected that NASA would quickly be involved in international activities in space science. In fact, with roots in the International Geophysical Year, which had already generated a lively interest in the potential of satellites for scientific research, one might argue that the appearance of an international component in the NASA space science program was inevitable. The moment NASA took over responsibility for the Vanguard program from the Naval Research Laboratory, the agency acquired a number of international commitments, like those of the satellite geodesy program that proved so touchy for a while.