Top of page

The Library in History: Library Analyst Helped Launch NASA

Share this post:

(The following is a story written by Cory V. Langley, a communications specialist in the Congressional Research Service, that is featured in the May – June 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, now available for download here. You can also view the archives of the Library’s former publication from 1993 to 2011.

Amid fear and anxiety following the launch of Sputnik 1, a Library analyst assisted Congress in creating the agency that landed Americans on the moon.

The American public was shocked, and its leaders were concerned for national security when, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1—the first artificial Earth satellite.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, center, meets with NASA's first administrator and deputy administrator, Thomas Keith Glennan, right, and Hugh Dryden, left, 1958. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, center, meets with NASA’s first administrator and deputy administrator, Thomas Keith Glennan, right, and Hugh Dryden, left, 1958. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Lyndon B. Johnson, then a U.S. senator and chairman of the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called on a national defense analyst in the Legislative Reference Service (forerunner of the Congressional Research Service) to assist Congress in determining how to respond.

Library analyst Eilene Galloway had recently authored a report for Congress titled “Guided Missiles in Foreign Countries” and had focused on the issue of military manpower and the organization of the Department of Defense. Johnson asked Galloway to serve as the subcommittee’s staff consultant for a series of hearings on satellite and missile programs, at which Members of Congress heard the testimony of preparedness experts, scientists and engineers. Galloway drafted questions and analyzed testimony.

“While our first reaction was that we faced a military problem of technology inferiority, the testimony from scientists and engineers convinced us that outer space had been opened as a new environment and that it could be used worldwide for peaceful uses of benefit to all humankind, for communications, navigation, meteorology and other purposes,” Galloway wrote in 2007.

“Use of space was not confined to military activities,” she wrote. “It was remarkable that this possibility became evident so soon after Sputnik, and its significance cannot be understated. The problem became one of maintaining peace, rather than preparing the United States to meet the threat of using outer space for war. Fear of war changed to hope for peace.”

With those ideas in mind, Galloway advised Sen. Johnson and House Speaker John McCormack in crafting the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Thus, Galloway entered the frontier of space policy. Her seminal contributions to the act included her recommendations that NASA be formed as an administration, so that it could coordinate with government agencies under centralized guidance, and that NASA be encouraged to act internationally.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the act into law on July 29, 1958—just nine months after the launch of Sputnik. Eleven years later, Apollo 11 delivered Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.


Eilene Galloway. Manuscript Division.
Eilene Galloway. Manuscript Division.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1906, Eilene Marie Slack graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in political science. She married George Galloway, a prominent expert on the workings of Congress, who also worked for the Congressional Research Service. Galloway retired from the Library in 1975, but as one of the world’s experts on the subject, she continued to work on space law and policy issues the rest of her life.

She served on NASA advisory committees, participated in international colloquia and published many articles. She was a founding member of the International Institute of Space Law. She received the NASA Public Service Award and Gold Medal (1984) and was the first recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace (1987). She was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society (1996) and the first woman elected Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2006). The annual international Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law is named for her.

Galloway died in Washington, D.C., in 2009—just days shy of her 103rd birthday.

Comments (4)

  1. It’s great to see individuals honored for their contributions to the incredible development of our space program in the late 1950’s. Let’s not forget the organizational genius of President Eisenhower in pulling together the proper people and demanding that they work together for the good of the country.

  2. Thank you for the information. Truly inspirational!

  3. O, Dios, tu mar es inmenso, y mi barca es pequeña,
    pero señor, nos das serenidad, inteligencia y deseos
    de cumplir nuestra humilde tarea, hacer en lo posible
    un Mundo mejor y más humano, con nuestros esfuerzos,
    rezos y fortaleza, lo lograremos.
    Gracias señor por el día,
    gracias señor por la luz,
    y gracias por la alegria, de que
    no nos faltas tú.
    Adelante hermanos y hermanas,
    God Bless America, and Cuba too!

    Jose Nunez in Corunna, Spain

  4. Here I am reading this in 2022, what an inspirational piece, I, loved anything related to SPACE as a child and still am fascinated by it. Thank you for this article.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.