WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The United States is about to embark on a new civilian-directed program for the conquest of outer space.
President Eisenhower signed into law Tuesday a bill establishing a new space agency to supervise the peaceful efforts.
His signature created a new National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The President said in a special statement the measure was an "historic step" pledged to "peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind."
It was expected the President would ask Congress for about 300 million dollars to finance the new agency.
Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, head of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, estimated NASA would be a functioning unit within two to three months. NASA will supersede Dryden's 38-year-old committee.
There was speculation Dryden might become the $22,500-a-year administrator of the new agency. The law charges the administrator with planning, directing and conducting aeronautical and space activities.
But it also gives the Department of Defense clear jurisdiction over "activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems, military operations or the defense of the United States," including research necessary to make the effective provision for the defense of the United States.
Dryden said funds would be asked from Congress for these major purposes:
-- "Manned space," which will be termed "technology of manned space vehicles." This may be a small part of the program at first, but it is expected to grow into the agency's principal preoccupation.
-- "Space science," including instrumented artificial earth satellites for scientific purposes, and the development of larger boosters, such as rocket engines with millions of pounds of thrust.
-- Improved electronics to advance space technology, communications and meteorology.
The new agency director will sit on an all-powerful "National Aeronautics and Space Council" headed by Eisenhower and including the secretaries of state and defense, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and four other presidential appointees, only one of whom can be from the government.