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On October 4, 1957, a Soviet news agency announced the successful launch of a satellite. The Soviets called it Sputnik, “traveling companion” in Russian. Sputnik was a triple shock to the United States. First, losing the space race hurt America’s pride, since the U.S. military had worked on satellite proposals as early as 1945. Second, Sputnik seemed to demonstrate the U.S.S.R.’s technical sophistication. Third, the power and precision of the rocketry required to place Sputnik in orbit convinced many that the Soviets had the capacity to target U.S. cities.
“In 1958, Congress created NASA. Booz Allen has been deeply involved with the space agency as organizational and technical consultants ever since.”
Based on its experience in missile work, Booz Allen found itself in the thick of the American response to Sputnik. A director with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency had been trying to get a spacecraft into orbit. He had the technology but not the budget. He called Booz Allen to ask for help justifying the budget, and the U.S. missile program was soon on a fast track. In 1958, Congress created NASA. Booz Allen has been deeply involved with the space agency as organizational and technical consultants ever since.
In 1966, Booz Allen predicted that the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory would last little more than a month. NASA rejected the study and launched the satellite anyway; it failed after a day in orbit. Since then new observatory satellites have been launched with ever-increasing life spans, thanks in part to Booz Allen technical recommendations. Booz Allen was involved in the theoretical strategy for the 1969 Apollo 11 moon launch, which put the first humans on the moon. Also, the firm contributed to the design of the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990. Today, Booz Allen is helping NASA create the roadmap for deep space exploration—paving the way to send humans as far as Mars.