The organization of the National Science Foundation in 1950 gave it a late start on supporting American science. It survived as a poorly funded sister to the Office of Naval Research until the late 1950s, when Sputnik opened up the federal coffers for science support and education. This was particularly true in the ocean sciences, where NSF financial commitment to research support remained extremely limited, until the lobbying of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Oceanography, combined with the results of Sputnik, led to a dramatic new commitment of resources. One of the earliest major recipients of NSF resources in oceanography and the earth sciences was Project Mohole. Mohole gave the Foundation the opportunity to take a leadership role in oceanography and the earth sciences, although internal squabbles among supporters, along with projected cost over-runs, eventually led to a funding cut-off by Congress in 1966. However, the NSF's leadership role in the ocean sciences was by then well established.
Building a New Foundation for the Ocean Sciences: The National Science Foundation and Oceanography, 1951-1965
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David Van Keuren; Building a New Foundation for the Ocean Sciences: The National Science Foundation and Oceanography, 1951-1965. Earth Sciences History 1 January 2000; 19 (1): 90–109. doi: https://doi.org/10.17704/eshi.19.1.c531h01m58j324q6
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