Prior to 1958
, research and development
in aerospace in the United States
was almost entirely run through military channels
The years immediately following World War II saw tremendous growth in aviation and rocketry, and a need for focused advancement. Civil pilot and mechanic aviation training boomed. In 1947, the Army Air Corps became the United States Air Force, with Strategic Air Command, a sub-division, being given the mission of nuclear deterrence.
The stage was set for growth, but the US was slow to get their asses in gear, allowing military micromanagment to run rampant and impede progress. Finally, in October 1958, the US government got a clue and split its aerospace research into two parts:
Its mission was twofold: to carry out the peaceful exploration of space and to conduct basic aeronautical research.
Responsible for R&D in military aerospace activities.
Of course, the US is still trying to get it right to this day.