The space age began on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union (USSR) launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. Some U.S. policymakers, concerned about the USSR's ability to launch a satellite, thought Sputnik might be an indication that the United States was trailing behind the USSR in science and technology. The Cold War also led some U.S. policymakers to perceive the Sputnik launch as a possible precursor to nuclear attack. In response to this Sputnik moment, the U.S. government undertook several policy actions, including the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), enhancement of research funding, and reformation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education policy. Following the Sputnik moment, a set of fundamental factors gave importance, urgency, and inevitability to the advancement of space technology, according to an Eisenhower presidential committee. These four factors include the compelling need to explore and discover; national defense; prestige and confidence in the U.S. scientific, technological, industrial, and military systems; and scientific observation and experimentation to add to our knowledge and understanding of the Earth, solar system, and universe. They are still part of current policy discussions and influence the nation's civilian space policy priorities both in terms of what actions NASA is authorized to undertake and the appropriations each activity within NASA receives. Further, the United States faces a far different world today. No Sputnik moment, Cold War, or space race exists to help policymakers clarify the goals of the nation's civilian space program.