Fact Check: Walt Disney Was NOT A Founder Of NASA

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Walt Disney Was NOT A Founder Of NASA Not Originator

Was Walt Disney a founder of NASA? No, that's not true: Disney founded an animation, television and movie studio as well as a theme park empire. He produced a television series about space travel in 1955 with a NASA rocket designer. This was three years before President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which led to the formation of NASA.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on May 10, 2024. It opened:


Ronald Hubbard Founder of Scientology
Walt Disney Cartoon films producer
Wernher von Braun Ex Nazi
Jack Parsons Thelemite occultist
Aleister Crowley Wickedest man in the world

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-05-14 at 11.12.41 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 14 17:45:40 2024 UTC)

The post gives no documentation nor does it cite sources for claiming the men on the list were NASA founders.

On July 29, 1958, Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (archived here), which was signed by Eisenhower on July 29, 1958 (archived here). The legislation set up NASA -- the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- as a "civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States" apart from those with a military function.

NASA's "Origins" section on its website (archived here), describes the history of the organization, with none of the people on this list credited as founders:

President Eisenhower commissioned Dr. T. Keith Glennan, right, as the first administrator for NASA and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden as deputy administrator.

Disney began his animation career (archived here) in the 1920s, setting the foundation for his movie and television and theme park empire. While he had a relationship with NASA, he was not a founder of the space exploration program. In 1955, he created "Man in Space," (archived here) which was a three-episode TV show that was part of the Disneyland series on space travel, with Wernher von Braun (archived here), who was a rocket scientist and was considered one of the founders of NASA. Von Braun was the narrator for the "Man in Space" series (archived here).

As Lead Stories previously reported, when NASA was created in 1958, von Braun was working as director of Development Operations of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, according to a declassified 1961 Federal Bureau of Investigation background check. On July 1, 1960, the Army's space program was transferred to the almost 2-year-old civilian space agency NASA, and von Braun became the first director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, which oversaw its development of rockets powerful enough for space launches. That did not make him, however, the founder of NASA.

Jack Parsons (archived here) was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a space research and development center that merged with NASA in December 1958, after his death.

Aleister Crowley was a British occultist, and Parsons was a believer in his cultist religion Thelema (archived here).

An article on Supercluster (archived here), a website that focuses on space exploration, detailed Parsons' belief in Crowley's Thelema. A Wired article (archived here) reported that Parsons' girlfriend left him for Hubbard; the two later founded Scientology (archived here). Hubbard was not a founder of NASA.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about Disney can be found here and about NASA can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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