1 Oct 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began operation.
This is shortly after Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2 (carrying the dog Laika) in 1957. It is in the middle of the cold war. Still, the US makes a civilian agency for space exploration.
Now, 50 years later, we can look back on a truly exciting history of exploration. The first man on the Moon,the Pioneer mission to the outer planets, the Hubble telescope, the Mars rovers...
Of course, NASA didn't do all the exciting stuff. USSR put the first satelite in space, the first man in space, were the first to land (an unmanned craft) on the Moon, first space station... Still, an impressive list of achivements goes to NASA.
If you are a space buff, it has been an exciting week, even ignoring the anniversary.