NASA and a Love of Space
On October 1, 1958, Congress and President Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A direct result of the Cold War, the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union had begun. As a part of the Appropriations Committee, Boland was involved in NASA and space exploration funding throughout his career. Human exploration of the moon with the Apollo missions cost around $25.4 billion– one of the highest non-military United States government expenditures in history. When Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, Boland was part of the celebrations which included a dinner honoring the astronauts hosted by President Nixon and his wife, Pat.
The development of the space shuttle in the 1980s was expensive, and it was Boland’s role to figure out how to navigate the funding. Space exploration was a personal interest, and Boland often attended various shuttle launches and splashdowns. The Shuttle Columbia crew gave him a commemorative gavel that orbited on the 1982 mission. For a man with a reputation for seriousness and an intense work ethic, it is refreshing to see his lighter side in photographs grinning ear to ear onboard the USS Okinawa while attending the splashdown of Apollo 15. Or to see his delight with colleagues at obtaining Equator Club status, when one can see both the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time, on his flight to the Apollo 17 splashdown.