In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Retro and Posigrade Package for the Mercury spacecraft is fitted on Sept. 16, 1960. This was used to de-orbit the spacecraft at the end of mission.
The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. The NACA was created by Congress in 1915.
Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).