NASA

NASA

Overview
For other uses, see NASA (disambiguation)
NASA (disambiguation)
NASA or Nasa may refer to:* NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration* National Association of Students of Architecture, India* National Auto Sport Association* North America and South America...

. For news about NASA, see Wikinews space portal or Unmanned NASA missions
Unmanned NASA missions
Following is a sampling of some of NASA's past and present programs excluding manned spacecrafts. The years in brackets are for first and latest launching. A program is a number of flights or missions with the same kind of satellite therefore the name of the program and the name of the satellite...

 (satellites).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

 and aerospace
Aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

 research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

, scientific discovery
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and aeronautics research." On September 14, 2011, NASA announced that it had selected the design of a new Space Launch System
Space Launch System
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA, following the cancellation of the Constellation Program, to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle...

 that it said would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before and provide the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

NASA was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act
National Aeronautics and Space Act
The National Aeronautics and Space Act is the United States federal statute that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . The Act, which followed close on the heels of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, was drafted by the United States House Select Committee on Astronautics...

 on July 29, 1958, replacing its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 (NACA).
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Timeline

1915   NACA, the predecessor of NASA, is founded.

1958   U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

1958   NASA is created to replace NACA.

1958   Pioneer program: NASA launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1 (the probe falls back to Earth and burns up).

1959   Project Mercury: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts, whom the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".

1959   President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring Wernher von Braun and other German scientists from the United States Army to NASA.

1960   In Huntsville, Alabama, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicates the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA had already activated the facility on July 1).

1961   NASA launches the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

1962   Apollo Project: NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.

1962   NASA's Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.

 
Quotations

For the benefit of all.

NASA motto.

To improve life here. To extend life to there. To find life beyond.

The NASA Vision

To understand and protect our home planet, To explore the universe and search for life, To inspire the next generation of explorers.

NASA Mission

Shaping the Future: Launching New Endeavors to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers.

Motto of NASA's Office of Education

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Where else but in Texas would men set up to administer space?

James Cameron (journalist)|James Cameron, in Cameron Country, broadcast on BBC TV, July 12, 1969.
Encyclopedia
For other uses, see NASA (disambiguation)
NASA (disambiguation)
NASA or Nasa may refer to:* NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration* National Association of Students of Architecture, India* National Auto Sport Association* North America and South America...

. For news about NASA, see Wikinews space portal or Unmanned NASA missions
Unmanned NASA missions
Following is a sampling of some of NASA's past and present programs excluding manned spacecrafts. The years in brackets are for first and latest launching. A program is a number of flights or missions with the same kind of satellite therefore the name of the program and the name of the satellite...

 (satellites).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

 and aerospace
Aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

 research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

, scientific discovery
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and aeronautics research." On September 14, 2011, NASA announced that it had selected the design of a new Space Launch System
Space Launch System
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA, following the cancellation of the Constellation Program, to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle...

 that it said would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before and provide the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

NASA was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act
National Aeronautics and Space Act
The National Aeronautics and Space Act is the United States federal statute that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . The Act, which followed close on the heels of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, was drafted by the United States House Select Committee on Astronautics...

 on July 29, 1958, replacing its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 (NACA). The agency became operational on October 1, 1958. U.S. space exploration efforts have since been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 space station, and later the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 and is developing the manned Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is a planned spacecraft that is being built by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States, based on designs and tests already completed for the Orion spacecraft. The MPCV was announced by NASA on May 24, 2011...

. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program
Launch Services Program
Launch Services Program is responsible for NASA oversight of launch operations and countdown management, providing added quality and mission assurance in lieu of the requirement for the launch service provider to obtain a commercial launch license...

 (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System
Earth Observing System
The Earth Observing System is a program of NASA comprising a series of artificial satellite missions and scientific instruments in Earth orbit designed for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans of the Earth. The satellite component of the program was...

, advancing heliophysics
Heliophysics
Heliophysics is a word coined by Dr. George Siscoe of Boston University and subsequently used by the NASA Science Mission Directorate to encompass the study of the system composed of the Sun's heliosphere and the objects that interact with it—most notably, but not limited to, planetary atmospheres...

 through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons
New Horizons
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

, and researching astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 topics, such as the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

, through the Great Observatories
Great Observatories program
NASA's series of Great Observatories satellites are four large, powerful space-based telescopes. Each of the Great Observatories has had a similar size and cost at program outset, and each has made a substantial contribution to astronomy...

 and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite
Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite
The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite or GOSAT, also known as , is an Earth observation satellite and the world's first satellite dedicated to greenhouse-gas-monitoring, which will be used to measure densities of carbon dioxide and methane from 56,000 locations on the Earth's atmosphere...

.

Creation



From 1946, the NACA
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard
Project Vanguard
Project Vanguard was a program managed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory , which intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit using a Vanguard rocket as the launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, Florida....

. After the Soviet
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

 launch of the world's first artificial satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 (Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The U.S. Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis
Sputnik crisis
The Sputnik crisis is the name for the American reaction to the success of the Sputnik program. It was a key event during the Cold War that began on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite....

"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. This led to an agreement that a new federal agency mainly based on NACA was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was also created at this time to develop space technology for military application.

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act
National Aeronautics and Space Act
The National Aeronautics and Space Act is the United States federal statute that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . The Act, which followed close on the heels of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, was drafted by the United States House Select Committee on Astronautics...

, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 46-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories (LaRC, ARC, and LFPL) and two small test facilities. A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959. Elements of the ABMA
Army Ballistic Missile Agency
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency was the agency formed to develop the US Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. It was established at Redstone Arsenal on February 1, 1956 and commanded by Major General John B...

 and the NRL
United States Naval Research Laboratory
The United States Naval Research Laboratory is the corporate research laboratory for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps and conducts a program of scientific research and development. NRL opened in 1923 at the instigation of Thomas Edison...

 were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 (led by Werner von Braun, who was now working for ABMA) which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works. Earlier research efforts within the U.S. Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the JPL
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

, a contractor facility operated by the Caltech
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

.

NASA missions



The most important part of NASA's activities are its missions; they can be divided into manned and unmanned. The latter can be either independent, carrying scientific equipment, or supportive, testing equipment for manned flights. In the beginning, NASA’s missions focused on the spacerace with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, which won the first round, but later USA took the initiative and won the final race to the Moon. The unmanned missions have until now explored most of the solar system. They have also brought telescopes for deep space exploration into orbit around the Earth together with satellites for studying Earth itself
Explorer program
The Explorer program is a United States space exploration program that provides flight opportunities for physics, heliophysics, and astrophysics investigations from space. Over 90 space missions have been launched from 1958 to 2011, and it is still active...

.

Manned missions


The rocket planes experiments started by NACA was taken a step further by NASA which used them as support for spaceflights, the first of which was one-manned and launched by military rockets. When the attention turned to reaching the Moon, the solution chosen was complicated but also the most economical. Supportive projects, both manned
Project Gemini
Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program of NASA, the civilian space agency of the United States government. Project Gemini was conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo, with ten manned flights occurring in 1965 and 1966....

 and unmanned
Surveyor program
The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon...

 were introduced and bigger rockets
Saturn (rocket family)
The Saturn family of American rocket boosters was developed by a team of mostly German rocket scientists led by Wernher von Braun to launch heavy payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. Originally proposed as a military satellite launcher, they were adopted as the launch vehicles for the Apollo moon...

 together with spacecraft and moonlander
Apollo spacecraft
The Apollo spacecraft was composed of five combined parts designed to accomplish the American Apollo program's goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by the end of the 1960s and returning them safely to Earth...

 developed. The Moon landing and end of the space race meant a reduction of NASA’s activities. Space stations of a more or less permanent nature, suggested already during the spacerace, were built and an international cooperation was introduced in an attempt to both bring nations together and at the same time share the high costs of space missions. In all, more than 100 manned missions have been made by NASA since 1958.

X-15 rocket plane (1959–1968)



The NACA XS-1 (Bell X-1) was followed by additional experimental vehicles, including the X-15 in cooperation with the US Air Force and US Navy. The design featured a slender fuselage with fairings along the side containing fuel and early computerized control systems. When the spacerace began the main objective was to get a person into space as soon as possible, therefore the simplest spacecraft that could be launched by existing rockets was favored. This led to the choice of a small capsule spacecraft while rocket plane proposals like a modified X-15 were turned down. Instead X-15 was used for development of techniques and equipment of value for the space missions. This included jets for changing the orientation of a spacecraft, space suits for astronauts and horizon definition for navigation. Nearly 200 flights were made between 1959 and 1968 allowing NASA to collect data vital not only to the spacerace but also the design of the Space Shuttle. The altitude record for X-15 was 354,200 feet (107.96 km).

Project Mercury (1959–1963, manned missions from 1961)


Project Mercury was initiated in 1958 and started NASA down the path of human space exploration with missions designed to discover if man could survive in space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

. Representatives from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force were selected to provide assistance to NASA. Pilot selections were facilitated through coordination with U.S. defense research, contracting, and military test pilot programs. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, in space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit...

 became the first American in space when he piloted Mercury-Redstone 3, called Freedom 7, on a 15-minute suborbital flight. John Glenn
John Glenn
John Herschel Glenn, Jr. is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States senator who was the first American to orbit the Earth and the third American in space. Glenn was a Marine Corps fighter pilot before joining NASA's Mercury program as a member of NASA's original...

 became the first American to orbit
Orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

 the Earth on February 20, 1962 during the flight of Friendship 7
Mercury-Atlas 6
Mercury-Atlas 6 was a human spaceflight mission conducted by NASA, the space agency of the United States. As part of Project Mercury, MA-6 was the successful first attempt by NASA to place an astronaut into orbit. The MA-6 mission was launched February 20, 1962. It made three orbits of the Earth,...

.

At that time the Soviet Union had taken the lead in the space race. In April 1961, one month before Alan Shepard, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 became the first person in space when he orbited the Earth once in Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

. Further in August the same year, the follower Vostok 2
Vostok 2
Vostok 2 was a Soviet space mission which carried cosmonaut Gherman Titov into orbit for a full day in order to study the effects of a more prolonged period of weightlessness on the human body...

 made a day long orbital flight which led to canceling of additional American suborbital missions; they were no longer enough.
Three more orbital flights were made by the Mercury project after Friendship 7, the last in 1963. Three additional orbital flights were cancelled since it was clear that the Mercury spacecraft had reached its limit of staying in space.

The defeat in the first round of the spacerace led to the introduction of the Moon race program, Apollo, in 1961 just after the flight of Freedom 7. However, it was estimated that this could not be done in one step and that further projects in Earth orbit were needed.

Project Gemini (1962–1966, manned missions from 1965)


Project Gemini focused on conducting experiments and developing and practicing techniques required for lunar missions. The first Gemini flight with astronauts on board, Gemini 3
Gemini 3
Gemini 3 was the first manned mission in NASA's Gemini program, the second American manned space program. On March 23, 1965, the spacecraft, nicknamed The Molly Brown, performed the seventh manned US spaceflight, and the 17th manned spaceflight overall...

, was flown by Gus Grissom
Gus Grissom
Virgil Ivan Grissom , , better known as Gus Grissom, was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts and a United States Air Force pilot...

 and John Young on March 23, 1965. Nine missions followed, showing that long-duration human space flight and rendezvous and docking
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 with another vehicle in space were possible, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on humans. Together with that, Gemini missions also included the first American spacewalks
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

.

Even though the Gemini project managed to make a docking a year before the Soviet space program, it was too early to call it a victory. The maneuvers practiced by Gemini could be used in two ways: a spacecraft could dock with a rocket stage in orbit around the Earth and use it for going to the Moon or a spacecraft together with a Moon lander could be sent to the Moon by a single rocket and then separate and dock again after the lander had been down on the surface. However, there was a third and more direct way of going to the Moon; the Soviet Union could just build a big rocket and land the top of it on the Moon. That again could take itself back to Earth without using rendezvous or docking. In that case the Gemini project would have been a waste of time.

Apollo program (1961–1972, manned missions from 1968)



The Apollo (Moon) program was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It is estimated to have cost $ in present day US$. In comparison the Manhattan (atom bomb) project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 cost roughly today-US$.
It used the Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets build for previous projects. The spacecraft was also bigger as can be seen on the picture; it had two main parts: the combined command and service module (CSM) and the lunar landing module (LM). The LM was to be left on the Moon and only the command module (CM) containing the astronauts would eventually return to Earth. (For details see: Apollo 11 flight gallery)

The second manned mission, Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon. This happened in December 1968. Shortly before, the Soviet had sent an unmanned spacecraft around the Moon but they never managed to do more than that. On the next two missions docking maneuvers that were needed for the Moon landing were practiced and then finally the Moon landing was made on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. In 1961 President Kennedy had introduced the Apollo Program and set the deadline for a successful Moon landing at the end of the same decade. It was done by a narrow margin.

The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 and after him Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

 while Michael Collins
Michael Collins (astronaut)
Michael Collins is a former American astronaut and test pilot. Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was Gemini 10, in which he and command pilot John Young performed two rendezvous with different spacecraft and Collins...

 orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six Apollo spaceflights twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms (841.5 lb) of lunar samples. Experiments included soil mechanics
Soil mechanics
Soil mechanics is a branch of engineering mechanics that describes the behavior of soils. It differs from fluid mechanics and solid mechanics in the sense that soils consist of a heterogeneous mixture of fluids and particles but soil may also contain organic solids, liquids, and gasses and other...

, meteoroid
Meteoroid
A meteoroid is a sand- to boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar System. The visible path of a meteoroid that enters Earth's atmosphere is called a meteor, or colloquially a shooting star or falling star. If a meteoroid reaches the ground and survives impact, then it is called a meteorite...

s, seismic
Seismology
Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

, heat flow
Heat transfer
Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the exchange of thermal energy from one physical system to another. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as heat conduction, convection, thermal radiation, and phase-change transfer...

, lunar ranging
Lunar laser ranging experiment
The ongoing Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment measures the distance between the Earth and the Moon using laser ranging. Lasers on Earth are aimed at retroreflectors planted on the moon during the Apollo program, and the time for the reflected light to return is determined...

, magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

s, and solar wind experiments. The Moon landing marked the end of the space race and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

, and landing humans on another celestial body
Celestial Body
Celestial Body is a Croatian film directed by Lukas Nola. It was released in 2000....

. Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the American Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the...

 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics
Avionics
Avionics are electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft.Avionic systems include communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems and the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to meet individual roles...

, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

.

Skylab (1973–1979)



Skylab was the only space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 launched into orbit solely by the United States. The 100 short tons (90.7 MT) station was in Earth orbit from 1973 to 1979, and was visited by crews three times, in 1973 and 1974. It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity
Microgravity environment
The term micro-g environment is more or less a synonym of weightlessness and zero-G, but indicates that g-forces are not quite zero, just very small...

, and a solar observatory
Apollo Telescope Mount
The Apollo Telescope Mount, or ATM, is the name of a solar observatory that was attached to Skylab, the first US space station.The ATM was one of a number of projects that came out of the late 1960s Apollo Applications Program, which studied a wide variety of ways to use the infrastructure...

. A Space Shuttle was planned to dock with and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but Skylab reentered the atmosphere and was destroyed in 1979, before the first shuttle could be launched.

Apollo spacecrafts were used for bringing astronauts up to and down from Skylab. Inside it they could stay for three months. Skylab had a crew Size of 3, the same as the Apollo CSM, however its habitable volume was 361 m3 which was 60 times bigger than that of the CSM.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975–1981)



In the 1970s the cold war was thawing and as a consequence the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) was introduced. It was the first joint flight of the U.S. and Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 space programs
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

. The mission took place in July 1975. For the United States, it was the last Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 flight, as well as the last manned space launch until the flight of the first Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 in April 1981. Manned Skylab and ASTP missions used the smaller Saturn IB
Saturn IB
The Saturn IB was an American launch vehicle commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for use in the Apollo program...

 with Apollo CSM, not the Saturn V.

The mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments, and provided useful engineering experience for future joint US–Russian space flights, such as the Shuttle–Mir Program and the International Space Station.

Space Shuttle program (1981–2011)


The Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Planned as a frequently launchable and mostly reusable vehicle, four space shuttle orbiters were built by 1985. The first to launch, Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

, did so on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the first space flight by Yuri Gagarin.

Its major components were a rocket plane orbiter with an external fuel tank and two solid fuel launch rockets at its side. The external tank, which was bigger than the spacecraft itself, was the only component that was not reused. The shuttle could orbit in altitudes of 185 – 643 km (115 – 400 miles) and carry a maximum payload (to low orbit) of 24,400 kg (54,000 lb). Missions could last from 5 to 17 days and crews could be from 2 to 8 astronauts.

On 20 missions 1983–1998 the Space Shuttle carried Spacelab
Spacelab
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

 a space laboratory designed in cooperation with ESA
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

. It was never deployed into orbit but was mounted to the Space Shuttle and went up and down with it on each mission. Another famous line of missions were the launch and later successful repair of the Hubble space telescope 1990 and 1993

In 1995 Russian-American interaction resumed with the Shuttle-Mir
Shuttle-Mir Program
The Shuttle–Mir Program was a collaborative space program between Russia and the United States, which involved American Space Shuttles visiting the Russian space station Mir, Russian cosmonauts flying on the shuttle and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to engage in...

 missions (1995–1998). Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation has continued to 2011, with Russia and the United States the two biggest partners in the largest space station ever built: the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 (ISS). The strength of their cooperation on this project was even more evident when NASA began relying on Russian launch vehicles to service the ISS during the two-year grounding of the shuttle fleet following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

.

The shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

in 1986, and Columbia in 2003. While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

 from replacement parts, NASA did not build another orbiter to replace the second loss
STS-107
-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter Liftoff: **Orbiter Landing: **Payload: *Perigee: *Apogee: *Inclination: 39.0°*Period: 90.1 min- Insignia :...

. NASA's Space Shuttle program had 135 successful missions when the program ended with the successful landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011. The program spanned 30 years with over 300 astronauts sent into space.

International Space Station (1998–)


The ISS combines the Japanese Kibō
Japanese Experiment Module
The Japanese Experiment Module , also known with the nickname , is a Japanese science module for the International Space Station developed by JAXA. It is the largest single ISS module. The first two pieces of the module were launched on space shuttle missions STS-123 and STS-124...

 laboratory with three space station projects, the Soviet/Russian Mir-2
Mir-2
Mir-2 was a space station project begun in February 1976. Some of the modules built for Mir-2 have been incorporated into the International Space Station . The project underwent many changes, but was always based on the DOS-8 base block space station core module, built as a back-up to the DOS-7...

, the American Freedom
Space Station Freedom
Space Station Freedom was a NASA project to construct a permanently manned Earth-orbiting space station in the 1980s. Although approved by then-president Ronald Reagan and announced in the 1984 State of the Union Address, Freedom was never constructed or completed as originally designed, and after...

, and the European Columbus
Columbus (ISS module)
Columbus is a science laboratory that is part of the International Space Station and is the largest single contribution to the ISS made by the European Space Agency ....

. Budget constraints led to the merger of these projects into a single multi-national programme in the 1990s. The station consists of pressurized modules, external trusses
Integrated Truss Structure
the Integrated Truss Structure forms the backbone of the International Space Station, with mountings for unpressurized logistics carriers, radiators, solar arrays, and other equipment.-History:...

, solar arrays and other components, which have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets together with space shuttles. It is currently being assembled
Assembly of the International Space Station
The assembly of the International Space Station is a major aerospace engineering endeavour being conducted in Low Earth orbit by a consortium of governmental and inter-governmental space agencies....

 in Low Earth Orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

. The construction began in 1998 and is scheduled to be completed by 2011, with operations continuing until at least 2015. The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, , is the largest artificial satellite in Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 orbit with a mass larger than that of any previous space station.

As mentioned it is a joint project between the five participating space agencies, NASA, the Russian RKA
Russian Federal Space Agency
The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

, the Japanese JAXA
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The , or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the...

, the European ESA
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

, and the Canadian CSA. The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow Russia to retain full ownership of the Russian Segment
Russian Orbital Segment
The Russian Orbital Segment is the name given to the components of the International Space Station constructed in Russia and operated by the Russian Federal Space Agency...

, with the US Segment
US Orbital Segment
The US Orbital Segment is the name given to the components of the International Space Station constructed and operated by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration , European Space Agency , Canadian Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency .The segment currently consists of...

 allocated between the other international partners. The station is serviced by Soyuz and Progress spacecrafts together with the Automated Transfer Vehicle
Automated Transfer Vehicle
The Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV is an expendable, unmanned resupply spacecraft developed by the European Space Agency . ATVs are designed to supply the International Space Station with propellant, water, air, payload and experiments...

 and the H-II Transfer Vehicle
H-II Transfer Vehicle
The H-II Transfer Vehicle , called , is an unmanned resupply spacecraft used to resupply the Kibō Japanese Experiment Module and the International Space Station . The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has been working on the design since the early 1990s. The first mission, HTV-1, was originally...

 and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.

Unmanned missions (1958–)


More than 1,000 unmanned missions have been designed to explore the earth and parts of the solar system. Apart from exploration also communication satellites have been launched by NASA. The missions have been launched directly from earth or by space shuttle, which again could launch the satellite itself or a vehicle containing the satellite.

The first mission was Explorer 1, which started as an ABMA/JPL project during the early space race. It was launched in January 1958, two month after Sputnik. At the creation of NASA it was transferred to this agency and still continues to this day (2011). Its missions have been focusing on the Earth and the Sun measuring among others magnetic fields and solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

. A more recent Earth mission, not related to the Explorer program, was the Hubble telescope, which as mentioned above was brought into orbit in 1990.

The closest planets Mars, Venus and Mercury have been the goal of at least 4 programs. The first was Mariner in the 1960s and ‘70s, which visited all three of them. Mariner was also the first to make a planetary flyby, to take the first pictures from another planet, the first planetary orbiter, and the first to make a gravity assist maneuver. This is a technique where the satellite takes advantage of the gravity and velocity of planets to reach its destination.

The first successful landing on Mars was made by Viking I in 1976. 20 years later a rover was landed on Mars by Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder was an American spacecraft that landed a base station with roving probe on Mars in 1997. It consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner.Launched on December 4, 1996 by NASA aboard a Delta II booster a...

.

Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

 in 1973. More than 20 years later Galileo sent a probe into the planets’ atmosphere. The first spacecraft to leave the solar system was Pioneer 10 in 1983. At a time it was the most distant spacecraft, but it is now passed by Voyager 2.

Both the Pioneer and the Voyager program carries messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life. A problem with far space travel is communication. For instance, at present it takes about 3 hours for a radio signal to reach the New Horizon spacecraft at a point more than half way to Pluto. Contact with Pioneer 10 was lost in 2003.

On 26 November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory
The Mars Science Laboratory is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission with the aim to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. The MSL was launched November 26, 2011, at 10:02 EST and is scheduled to land on Mars at Gale Crater between August 6 and 20, 2012...

 mission was successfully launched for Mars. The mission is scheduled to land the robotic "Curiosity" rover on the surface of Mars in August 2012, whereupon the rover will search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.

Recent and planned activities



NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are MESSENGER
MESSENGER
The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging space probe is a robotic NASA spacecraft in orbit around the planet Mercury. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004 to study the chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field of Mercury...

 for Mercury
Mercury (planet)
Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt
Asteroid belt
The asteroid belt is the region of the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets...

. NASA continued to support in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant
Gas giant
A gas giant is a large planet that is not primarily composed of rock or other solid matter. There are four gas giants in the Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune...

 orbiters Galileo (1989–2003), Cassini, and Juno (2011–).

The New Horizons
New Horizons
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

 mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and aiming for Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

 flyby in 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the fly-by. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft
MAVEN (spacecraft)
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN is a planned space exploration mission to send a space probe to orbit Mars. Scientists conducting the mission will study the atmosphere of Mars...

 as part of the Mars Scout Program
Mars Scout Program
The Mars Scout Program was a NASA initiative to send a series of small, low-cost robotic missions to Mars, competitively selected from innovative proposals by the scientific community. The program would have had an array of missions destined to reach Mars, and study it at low costs. Each Scout...

 to study the atmosphere of Mars
Atmosphere of Mars
The atmosphere of Mars is relatively thin and is composed mostly of carbon dioxide . There has been interest in studying its composition since the detection of trace amounts of methane, which may indicate the presence of life on Mars, but may also be produced by a geochemical process, volcanic or...

.

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent moon base
Lunar outpost (NASA)
A lunar outpost was an element of the George W. Bush era Vision for Space Exploration, which has been replaced with President Barack Obama's space policy. The outpost would have been an inhabited facility on the surface of the Moon. At the time it was proposed, NASA was to construct the outpost...

. The goal was to start building the moon base by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization
In-Situ Resource Utilization
In space exploration, in-situ resource utilization describes the proposed use of resources found or manufactured on other astronomical objects to further the goals of a space mission....

. However, by 2010, President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 halted existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on manned missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

.

In September 2011, the Space Launch System
Space Launch System
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA, following the cancellation of the Constellation Program, to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle...

, a planned launch vehicle was announced. The goal is a manned variant launching the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and an even larger version after that. The Orion MPCV is planned for a test launch on a Delta IV Heavy
Delta IV Heavy
The Delta IV Heavy is expendable rocket, the largest type of the Delta IV family.It is similar to the Medium+ , except that it uses two additional CBCs instead of using GEMs. These are strap-on boosters which are separated earlier in the flight than the center CBC. The Delta IV Heavy also features...

 rocket around 2013.

Medicine in space



A variety of large-scale medical studies are being conducted in space via the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). Prominent among these is the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity
Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity
The Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity Project is a US Government funded study investigating strategies for applying diagnostic telemedicine to space. The Principal Investigator is Scott Dulchavsky, Chairman of Surgery at the Henry Ford Health System...

 Study in which Astronauts (including former ISS Commanders Leroy Chiao
Leroy Chiao
Dr. Leroy Chiao , is an American engineer, former NASA astronaut, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and engineering consultant. Chiao flew on three shuttle flights, and was the commander of Expedition 10, where he lived on board the International Space Station from October 13, 2004 to April 24,...

 and Gennady Padalka
Gennady Padalka
Gennady Ivanovich Padalka is a Russian Air Force officer and an RSA cosmonaut. As of June 2010, Gennady ranks sixth for career time in space due to his time on both Mir and the International Space Station....

) perform ultrasound scans under the guidance of remote experts to diagnose and potentially treat hundreds of medical conditions in space. Usually, there is no physician onboard the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 and diagnosis of medical conditions is challenging. In addition, Astronauts are susceptible to a variety of health risks including decompression sickness, barotrauma, immunodeficiencies, loss of bone and muscle, orthostatic intolerance due to volume loss, sleep disturbances, and radiation injury. Ultrasound
Ultrasound
Ultrasound is cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is thus not separated from "normal" sound based on differences in physical properties, only the fact that humans cannot hear it. Although this limit varies from person to person, it is...

 offers a unique opportunity to monitor these conditions in space. This study's techniques are now being applied to cover professional and Olympic sports injuries as well as ultrasound performed by non-expert operators in populations such as medical and high school students. It is anticipated that remote guided ultrasound will have application on Earth in emergency and rural care situations, where access to a trained physician is often rare.

Ozone depletion


In the middle of the 20th century NASA augmented its mission of Earth’s observation and redirected it toward environmental quality. The result was the launch of Earth Observing System
Earth Observing System
The Earth Observing System is a program of NASA comprising a series of artificial satellite missions and scientific instruments in Earth orbit designed for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans of the Earth. The satellite component of the program was...

 (EOS) in 1980s, which was able to monitor one of the global environmental problems—ozone depletion
Ozone depletion
Ozone depletion describes two distinct but related phenomena observed since the late 1970s: a steady decline of about 4% per decade in the total volume of ozone in Earth's stratosphere , and a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth's polar regions. The latter phenomenon...

. The first comprehensive worldwide measurements were obtained in 1978 with the Nimbus-7 satellite and NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Goddard Institute for Space Studies
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies , at Columbia University in New York City, is a component laboratory of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Earth-Sun Exploration Division and a unit of The Earth Institute at Columbia University...

.

Salt evaporation and energy management


In one of the nation's largest restoration projects, NASA technology helps state and federal government reclaim 15100 acres (61.1 km²) of salt evaporation ponds in South San Francisco Bay. Satellite sensors are used by scientists to study the effect of salt evaporation on local ecology.

NASA has started Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation Program as an agency-wide program directed to prevent pollution and reduce energy and water utilization. It helps to ensure that NASA meets its federal stewardship responsibilities for the environment.

Earth Science Enterprise


Understanding of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment is the main objective of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. NASA currently has more than a dozen Earth science spacecraft/instruments in orbit studying all aspects of the Earth system (oceans, land, atmosphere, biosphere, cyrosphere), with several more planned for launch in the next few years.

NASA is working in cooperation with National Renewable Energy Laboratory
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory , located in Golden, Colorado, is the United States' primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility; it is funded through...

 (NREL). The goal is to produce worldwide solar resource maps with great local detail. NASA was also one of the main participants in the evaluation innovative technologies for the clean up of the sources for dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). On April 6, 1999, the agency signed The Memorandum of Agreement
Memorandum of Agreement
A memorandum of agreement or cooperative agreement is a document written between parties to cooperatively work together on an agreed upon project or meet an agreed objective. The purpose of an MOA is to have a written understanding of the agreement between parties.An MOA is a good tool to use for...

 (MOA) along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

, DOE
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

, and USAF authorizing all the above organizations to conduct necessary tests at the John F. Kennedy Space center. The main purpose was to evaluate two innovative in-situ remediation technologies, thermal removal and oxidation destruction of DNAPLs. National Space Agency made a partnership with Military Services and Defense Contract Management Agency
Defense Contract Management Agency
The Defense Contract Management Agency is the agency of the United States federal government responsible for performing contract administration services for the Department of Defense and other authorized federal agencies. Its headquarters is at Fort Lee, Va...

 named the “Joint Group on Pollution Prevention”. The group is working on reduction or elimination of hazardous materials or processes.

On May 8, 2003, Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 recognized NASA as the first federal agency to directly use landfill gas
Landfill gas
Landfill gas is a complex mix of different gases created by the action of microorganisms within a landfill.-Production:Landfill gas production results from chemical reactions and microbes acting upon the waste as the putrescible materials begins to break down in the landfill...

 to produce energy at one of its facilities—the Goddard Space Flight Center
Goddard Space Flight Center
The Goddard Space Flight Center is a major NASA space research laboratory established on May 1, 1959 as NASA's first space flight center. GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors, and is located approximately northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. GSFC,...

, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Facilities


NASA's facilities are research, construction and communication centers to help its missions. Some facilities serve more than one application for historic or administrative reasons. NASA also operates a short-line railroad at the Kennedy Space Center
NASA Railroad
The NASA Railroad is a Class III industrial short-line railroad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The railroad consists of of track connecting the mainline of the Florida East Coast Railway and trackage at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.-Overview:NASA uses the...

 and own special aircrafts for instance two Boeing 747 which were used for transport of the Space Shuttle orbiter.

John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), is one of the best-known NASA facilities. It has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on pause, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program from three pads at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Another major facility is Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center
The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

 in Huntsville, Alabama at which the Saturn 5 rocket and Skylab were developed. The JPL, mentioned above, was together with ABMA one of the agencies behind Explorer 1, the first American space mission.

Leadership



The administrator is the highest-ranking NASA official and serves as the senior space science adviser to the President of the United States. The administration is located at NASA Headquarters
NASA Headquarters
Two Independence Square, often referenced as NASA Headquarters, is a low-rise building in the two-building Independence Square complex at 300 E Street SW in Washington D.C. The building houses NASA leadership who provide overall guidance and direction to the US government executive branch agency...

 in Washington, DC and provides overall guidance and direction to the agency.

The first Administrator was Dr. T. Keith Glennan
T. Keith Glennan
Thomas Keith Glennan was the first Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving from August 19, 1958 to January 20, 1961.-Early career:...

; during his term he brought together the disparate projects in space development research in the US.

Some administrators like Richard H. Truly
Richard H. Truly
Richard Harrison Truly is a retired Vice Admiral in the United States Navy, Naval Aviator, former astronaut, and was the eighth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 1989 to 1992...

 (administrator 1989–1992) have been astronauts themselves. Among others he piloted Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 on its second flight and later supervised the rebuilding of the shuttle program after the disaster of Challenger in 1986
On May 24, 2009, President Obama announced the nomination of Charles Bolden
Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr. is the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps major general, and former NASA astronaut....

 as NASA administrator, and Lori Garver
Lori Garver
Lori Beth Garver is the Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . She was nominated on May 24, 2009, by President Barack Obama, along with Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator...

 as deputy administrator. Bolden was confirmed by the US Senate on July 15, 2009 as the twelfth administrator of NASA. Lori Garver was confirmed as NASA's deputy administrator.

Budget



Public perception of the NASA budget
NASA Budget
Each year, the United States Congress passes a Federal Budget detailing where federal tax money will be spent in the coming fiscal year.The following charts detail the amount of federal funding allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration each year over its past fifty year history...

 may be very different from reality and has been the subject of controversy since the agency's creation.

A 1997 poll reported that Americans had an average estimate of 20% for NASA's share of the federal budget. In reality, NASA's budget has been between 0.5% and 1% from the late 1960s on.

NASA budget briefly peaked at over 4% of the federal budget in the mid-1960s during the build up to the Apollo program.

See also



External links



General

Further reading