This pictorial history of the Kennedy Space Center begins with the first test firing of a rocket motor in 1951. It then goes on to contrast the primitive launch facilities of that era to the Kennedy Space Center complex of the Apollo program. The Kennedy Space Center was created for the Apollo manned lunar landing program, and has evolved to meet the changing needs of America's manned space program. At NASA's creation in 1958 during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, its launch operation was originally known as the Launch Operations Directorate (LOD), reporting to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. This consisted of a few buildings in the Industrial Area of Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, later known as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
President John F. Kennedy's 1961 goal of a lunar landing before 1970 required an expansion of launch operations to Merritt Island. NASA began land acquisition in 1962, buying title to 131 square miles (340 km2) and negotiating with the state of Florida for an additional 87 square miles (230 km2). The major buildings in KSC's Industrial Area were designed by architect Charles Luckman.
On July 1, 1962, the site was named the Launch Operations Center, achieving equal status with other NASA centers; and on November 29, 1963, the facility was given its current name by President Lyndon B. Johnson under Executive Order 11129 following Kennedy's death. Johnson's order joined both the civilian LOC and the military Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ("the facilities of Station No. 1 of the Atlantic Missile Range") under the designation "John F. Kennedy Space Center", spawning some confusion joining the two in the public mind. NASA Administrator James E. Webb clarified this by issuing a directive stating the Kennedy Space Center name applied only to the LOC, while the Air Force issued a general order renaming the military launch site Cape Kennedy Air Force Station
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