Originally formed on November 5th, 1958 as a group of about 35 aeronatical experts plus some support staff under the leadership of Bob Gilruth, the Space Task Group was created in response to launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957.

It formed the nucleus of the United States' manned space program and did the preliminary design work for the Mercury project capsule. Based in Langley, Virginia, early members were mostly drawn from NASA's predecessor, the NACA and the group became the core of what is now called the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.

Notable members included Chris Kraft, Maxime Faget and Charles Donlan who played critical roles during the space race of the 1960's.