While it was President John F. Kennedy that got the ball rolling, vowing that America would beat the Communists to the Moon after the Soviet Union successfully put Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit and attained the distinction for first manned space flight, and while his successors Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon continued authorizing generous funding to NASA, it’s President Nixon who should be solely thanked for giving the go ahead to the development of the space shuttle program in 1972 and a whole new era of space exploration.