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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA; ) is an
independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation, public authority/jurisdiction, or government agency that is responsible for exercising autonomous dominion over some area of human activity in a regulatory or monitorin ...

independent agency
of the
U.S. federal government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government) is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories and ...

U.S. federal government
responsible for the civilian
space program A space program is an organized effort by a government or a private individual with a goal related to outer space. Lists of space programs include: * List of government space agencies * List of private spaceflight companies * List of human spacef ...

space program
, as well as
aeronautics Aeronautics is the science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight–capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere. The British Royal Aeronautical Society identifies ...

aeronautics
and
space Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be par ...

space
research. NASA was
established in 1958
established in 1958
, succeeding the
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was a United States 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 a ...

National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
(NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in
space science Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be par ...

space science
. Since its establishment, most US
space exploration Space exploration is the use of astronomy and space technology to explore outer space. While the exploration of space is carried out mainly by astronomers with telescopes, its physical exploration though is conducted both by unmanned robotic ...

space exploration
efforts have been led by NASA, including the
Apollo Apollo, grc|Ἀπόλλωνος|''Apóllōnos''|label=genitive , ; , grc-dor|Ἀπέλλων|''Apéllōn'', ; grc|Ἀπείλων|''Apeílōn''|label=Arcadocypriot Greek, ; grc-aeo|Ἄπλουν|''Áploun'', la|Apollō, la|Apollini ...

Apollo
Moon landing A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. This includes both crewed and robotic missions. The first human-made object to touch the Moon was the Soviet Union's Luna 2, on 13 September 1959. The United Stat ...

Moon landing
missions, the
Skylab Skylab was the first United States space station, launched by NASA, occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974. It was operated by three separate three-astronaut crews: Skylab 2, Skylab 3 and Skylab 4. Major operations inclu ...

Skylab
space station, and later the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
. NASA is supporting the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
and is overseeing the development of the
Orion spacecraft Orion (officially Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or Orion MPCV) is a class of partially reusable space capsules to be used in NASA's human spaceflight programs. The spacecraft consists of a Crew Module (CM) designed by Lockheed Martin and the ...

Orion spacecraft
, the
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
, and
Commercial Crew
Commercial Crew
vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the
Launch Services Program Launch Services Program (LSP) 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 li ...

Launch Services Program
, which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for uncrewed NASA launches. NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the
Earth Observing System The Earth Observing System (EOS) 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. ...

Earth Observing System
; advancing
heliophysics Heliophysics is the science of the physical connections between the Sun and the solar system (from the prefix "helio", from Attic Greek ''hḗlios'', meaning Sun, and the noun 'physics': the science of matter and energy and their interactions). ...

heliophysics
through the efforts of the
Science Mission Directorate The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engages the United States’ science community, sponsors scientific research, and develops and deploys satellites and probes in collaboration with NASA ...

Science Mission Directorate
's Heliophysics Research Program; exploring bodies throughout the
Solar System The Solar SystemCapitalization of the name varies. The International Astronomical Union, the authoritative body regarding astronomical nomenclature, specifies capitalizing the names of all individual astronomical objects but uses mixed "Solar ...

Solar System
with advanced
robotic spacecraft250px|An artist's interpretation of the ''MESSENGER'' spacecraft at Mercury A robotic spacecraft is an uncrewed spacecraft, usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a ...

robotic spacecraft
such as ''
New Horizons ''New Horizons'' is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program. Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team ...

New Horizons
''; and researching
astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena. Among the subjects studied are the Sun, other stars, galaxies, extrasolar planets, the interstellar medium and the cos ...

astrophysics
topics, such as the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model of the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from an initial state of high den ...

Big Bang
, through the
Great Observatories NASA's series of Great Observatories satellites are four large, powerful space-based astronomical telescopes launched between 1990 and 2003. They were built with different technology to examine specific wavelength/energy regions of the electroma ...

Great Observatories
and associated programs.


History


Creation

From 1946, the
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was a United States 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 a ...

National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
(NACA) had been experimenting with
rocket plane A rocket-powered aircraft or rocket plane is an aircraft that uses a rocket engine for propulsion, sometimes in addition to airbreathing jet engines. Rocket planes can achieve much higher speeds than similarly sized jet aircraft, but typically ...

rocket plane
s such as the supersonic
Bell X-1 The Bell X-1 (Bell Model 44) is a rocket engine–powered aircraft, designated originally as the XS-1, and was a joint National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics–U.S. Army Air Forces–U.S. Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell ...

Bell X-1
. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the
International Geophysical Year The International Geophysical Year (IGY; french: Année géophysique internationale) was an international scientific project that lasted from 1 July 1957 to 31 December 1958. It marked the end of a long period during the Cold War when scientific int ...

International Geophysical Year
(1957–1958). An effort for this was the American
Project Vanguard Project Vanguard was a program managed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit using a Vanguard rocket as the launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, ...

Project Vanguard
. After the
Soviet space program#REDIRECT Soviet space program ...

Soviet space program
's launch of the world's first artificial
satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as Earth's Moon. On 4 October 1957 the Sovi ...

satellite
(''
Sputnik 1 Sputnik 1 (; "Satellite-1", or "PS-1", Простейший Спутник-1 or ''Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1'', "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 ...

Sputnik 1
'') on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The , alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "
Sputnik crisis The Sputnik crisis was a period of public fear and anxiety in Western nations about the perceived technological gap between the United States and Soviet Union caused by the Soviets' launch of ''Sputnik 1'', the world's first artificial satellite. ...

Sputnik crisis
"), urged immediate and swift action; President counseled more deliberate measures. The result was a consensus that the White House forged among key interest groups, including scientists committed to basic research; the Pentagon which had to match the Soviet military achievement; corporate America looking for new business; and a strong new trend in public opinion looking up to space exploration. On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by
Guyford Stever Horton Guyford Stever (October 24, 1916 – April 9, 2010) was an American administrator, physicist, educator, and engineer. He was a director of National Science Foundation (from February 1972 to August 1976) Biography Stever was raised in Cornin ...

Guyford Stever
. On January 14, 1958, NACA Director
Hugh Dryden Hugh Latimer Dryden (July 2, 1898 – December 2, 1965) was an American aeronautical scientist and civil servant. He served as NASA Deputy Administrator from August 19, 1958, until his death. Biography Dryden was born in Pocomoke City, Maryland, t ...

Hugh Dryden
published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating: While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the
Advanced Research Projects Agency The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Originally known as the Adv ...

Advanced Research Projects Agency
(ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application. On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the
National Aeronautics and Space Act The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 () is the United States federal statute that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Act, which followed close on the heels of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, was dra ...

National Aeronautics and Space Act
, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories (
Langley Aeronautical Laboratory The Langley Research Center (LaRC or NASA Langley), located in Hampton, Virginia, United States, is the oldest of NASA's field centers. It directly borders Langley Air Force Base and the Back River on the Chesapeake Bay. LaRC has focused primarily ...

Langley Aeronautical Laboratory
,
Ames Aeronautical Laboratory The Ames Research Center (ARC), also known as NASA Ames, is a major NASA research center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California's Silicon Valley. It was founded in 1939 as the second National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) laborator ...

Ames Aeronautical Laboratory
, and
Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field is a NASA center within the cities of Brook Park and Cleveland between Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Rocky River Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks, with a subsidiary facility ...

Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory
) and two small test facilities. Elements of the
Army Ballistic Missile Agency The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was formed to develop the U.S. Army's first large ballistic missile. The agency was established at Redstone Arsenal on 1 February 1956, and commanded by Major General John B. Medaris with Wernher von Brau ...

Army Ballistic Missile Agency
and the
United States Naval Research Laboratory The United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is the corporate research laboratory for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. It conducts basic scientific research, applied research, technological development and prototy ...

United States Naval Research Laboratory
were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the
Space Race The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War adversaries, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), to achieve superior spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the ballistic missile-based nuclear arms race ...

Space Race
with the Soviet Union was the technology from the led by
Wernher von Braun Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (23 March 1912 – 16 June 1977) was a German-born American aerospace engineer and space architect. He was the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany and a pioneer of r ...

Wernher von Braun
, who was now working for the
Army Ballistic Missile Agency The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was formed to develop the U.S. Army's first large ballistic missile. The agency was established at Redstone Arsenal on 1 February 1956, and commanded by Major General John B. Medaris with Wernher von Brau ...

Army Ballistic Missile Agency
(ABMA), which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist
Robert Goddard Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882 – August 10, 1945) was an American engineer, professor, physicist, and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket. Goddard successfully launche ...

Robert Goddard
's earlier works. Earlier research efforts within the [[United States Air Force|US Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the [[Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the [[California Institute of Technology.


Insignia

The [[NASA seal was approved by Eisenhower in 1959, and slightly modified by President [[John F. Kennedy in 1961.[[s:Executive Order 10849|Executive Order 10849 (Wikisource) NASA's first [[logo was designed by the head of Lewis' Research Reports Division, James Modarelli, as a simplification of the 1959 seal. In 1975, the original logo was first dubbed "the meatball" to distinguish it from the newly designed "worm" logo which replaced it. The "meatball" returned to official use in 1992. The "worm" was brought out of retirement in 2020 by administrator [[Jim Bridenstine.


Foundational human spaceflight


X-15 program (1954–1968)

NASA inherited NACA's X-15 experimental rocket-powered [[hypersonic speed|hypersonic research aircraft, developed in conjunction with the [[US Air Force and [[US Navy|Navy. Three planes were built starting in 1955. The X-15 was [[drop test|drop-launched from the wing of one of two NASA [[Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses, ''NB52A'' tail number 52-003, and ''NB52B'', tail number 52-008 (known as the ''[[Balls 8''). Release took place at an altitude of about and a speed of about . Twelve pilots were selected for the program from the Air Force, Navy, and NACA. A total of 199 flights were made between June 1959 and December 1968, resulting in the [[Flight airspeed record|official world record for the highest speed ever reached by a crewed powered aircraft (current ), and a maximum speed of Mach 6.72, .Aircraft Museum X-15."
''Aerospaceweb.org'', November 24, 2008.
The altitude record for X-15 was 354,200 feet (107.96 km). Eight of the pilots were awarded Air Force [[Astronaut Badge|astronaut wings for flying above , and two flights by [[Joseph A. Walker exceeded , qualifying as spaceflight according to the [[Fédération Aéronautique Internationale|International Aeronautical Federation. The X-15 program employed mechanical techniques used in the later crewed spaceflight programs, including [[reaction control system jets for controlling the orientation of a spacecraft, [[space suits, and horizon definition for navigation.NASA, X-15 Hypersonic Research Program
, retrieved October 17, 2011
The [[atmospheric entry|reentry and landing data collected were valuable to NASA for designing the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
.Aerospaceweb, North American X-15
. Aerospaceweb.org. Retrieved on November 3, 2011.


Project Mercury (1958–1963)

In 1958, NASA formed an engineering group, the [[Space Task Group, to manage their [[human spaceflight programs under the direction of [[Robert Gilruth. Their earliest programs were conducted under the pressure of the [[Cold War competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. NASA inherited the US Air Force's [[Man in Space Soonest program, which considered many crewed spacecraft designs ranging from rocket planes like the X-15, to small ballistic [[space capsules.Encyclopedia Astronautica, Project 7969
, retrieved October 17, 2011
By 1958, the space plane concepts were eliminated in favor of the ballistic capsule, and NASA renamed it [[Project Mercury. The [[Mercury Seven|first seven astronauts were selected among candidates from the Navy, Air Force and Marine test pilot programs. On May 5, 1961, astronaut [[Alan Shepard became the first American in space aboard a capsule he named ''[[Mercury-Redstone 3|Freedom 7'', launched on a [[Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle|Redstone booster on a 15-minute [[ballistics|ballistic (suborbital) flight. [[John Glenn became the first American to be launched into [[orbit, on an [[Atlas LV-3B|Atlas launch vehicle on February 20, 1962, aboard [[Mercury-Atlas 6|''Friendship 7''. Glenn completed three orbits, after which three more orbital flights were made, culminating in [[Gordon Cooper|L. Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit flight ''[[Mercury-Atlas 9|Faith 7'', May 15–16, 1963. [[Katherine Johnson, [[Mary Jackson (engineer)|Mary Jackson, and [[Dorothy Vaughan were three of the [[human computers doing calculations on trajectories during the Space Race. Johnson was well known for doing trajectory calculations for John Glenn's mission in 1962, where she was running the same equations by hand that were being run on the computer. Mercury's competition from the [[Soviet Union (USSR) was the single-pilot [[Vostok programme|Vostok spacecraft. They sent the first man in space, cosmonaut [[Yuri Gagarin, into a single Earth orbit aboard [[Vostok 1 in April 1961, one month before Shepard's flight. In August 1962, they achieved an almost four-day record flight with [[Andriyan Nikolayev aboard [[Vostok 3, and also conducted a concurrent [[Vostok 4 mission carrying [[Pavel Popovich.


Project Gemini (1961–1966)

Based on studies to grow the Mercury spacecraft capabilities to long-duration flights, developing [[space rendezvous techniques, and precision Earth landing, Project Gemini was started as a two-man program in 1961 to overcome the Soviets' lead and to support the Apollo crewed lunar landing program, adding [[extravehicular activity (EVA) and [[space rendezvous|rendezvous and [[docking and berthing of spacecraft|docking to its objectives. The first crewed Gemini flight, [[Gemini 3, was flown by [[Gus Grissom and [[John Young (astronaut)|John Young on March 23, 1965. Nine missions followed in 1965 and 1966, demonstrating an endurance mission of nearly fourteen days, rendezvous, docking, and practical EVA, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on humans. Under the direction of [[Premier of the Soviet Union|Soviet Premier [[Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR competed with Gemini by converting their Vostok spacecraft into a two- or three-man [[Voskhod (spacecraft)|Voskhod. They succeeded in launching two crewed flights before Gemini's first flight, achieving a three-cosmonaut flight in 1964 and the first EVA in 1965. After this, the program was canceled, and Gemini caught up while spacecraft designer [[Sergei Korolev developed the [[Soyuz (spacecraft)|Soyuz spacecraft, their answer to Apollo.


Project Apollo (1960–1972)

The U.S public's perception of the Soviet lead in the Space Race (by putting the first man into space) motivated President [[John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress on May 25, 1961, to commit the federal government to a program to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, which effectively launched the [[Apollo program. Apollo was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It cost more than $20 billion in 1960s dollars or an estimated $ in present-day US dollars. (In comparison, the [[Manhattan Project cost roughly $, accounting for inflation.) It used the [[Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets built for previous projects. The spacecraft was also bigger; it had two main parts, the combined [[Apollo command and service module|command and service module (CSM) and the [[Apollo Lunar Module (LM). The LM was to be left on the Moon and only the command module (CM) containing the three astronauts would return to Earth. The second crewed mission, [[Apollo 8, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon in December 1968. Shortly before, the Soviets had sent an uncrewed spacecraft around the Moon. 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. The first [[List of Apollo astronauts|person to walk on the Moon was [[Neil Armstrong, who was followed 19 minutes later by [[Buzz Aldrin, while [[Michael Collins (astronaut)|Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included [[soil mechanics, [[meteoroids, [[seismology, [[Heat transfer|heat flow, [[Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment|lunar ranging, [[magnetic fields, and [[solar wind. 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 [[List of space exploration milestones, 1957–1969|milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending crewed missions beyond [[low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another [[celestial body. [[Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while [[Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last crewed mission beyond [[low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and crewed spaceflight, including [[avionics, 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 [[National Air and Space Museum|Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums.


Skylab (1965–1979)

Skylab was the United States' first and only independently built [[space station. Conceived in 1965 as a workshop to be constructed in space from a spent [[Saturn IB upper stage, the station was constructed on Earth and launched on May 14, 1973, atop the first two stages of a [[Saturn V, into a orbit inclined at 50° to the equator. Damaged during launch by the loss of its thermal protection and one electricity-generating solar panel, it was repaired to functionality by its first crew. It was occupied for a total of 171 days by 3 successive crews in 1973 and 1974. It included a laboratory for studying the effects of [[microgravity environment|microgravity, and a [[Apollo Telescope Mount|solar observatory. NASA planned to have a Space Shuttle dock with it, and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but the Shuttle was not ready for flight before Skylab's re-entry on July 11, 1979.Benson, Charles Dunlap and William David Compton.
Living and Working in Space: A History of Skylab
''. NASA publication SP-4208.
To reduce cost, NASA used one of the Saturn V rockets originally earmarked for a canceled Apollo mission to launch the Skylab. Apollo spacecraft were used for transporting astronauts to and from the station. Three three-man crews stayed aboard the station for periods of 28, 59, and 84 days. Skylab's habitable volume was , which was 30.7 times bigger than that of the [[Apollo Command Module.


Apollo-Soyuz (1972–1975)

On May 24, 1972, US President [[Richard M. Nixon and [[Soviet Union|Soviet Premier [[Alexei Kosygin signed an agreement calling for a joint crewed space mission, and declaring intent for all future international crewed spacecraft to be capable of docking with each other. This authorized the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), involving the rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit of a surplus [[Apollo command and service module with a [[Soyuz (spacecraft)|Soyuz spacecraft. The mission took place in July 1975. This was the last US human spaceflight until the first orbital flight of the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
in April 1981. 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'' programNASA, Shuttle-MIR history
, retrieved October 15, 2011
and the International Space Station.


Leadership

The agency's leader, [[List of Administrators and Deputy Administrators of NASA|NASA's administrator, is nominated by the [[President of the United States subject to the approval of the [[United States Senate|US Senate, and reports to him or her and serves as a senior space science advisor. Though space exploration is ostensibly non-partisan, the appointee usually is associated with the President's political party ([[Democratic Party (United States)|Democratic or [[Republican Party (United States)|Republican), and a new administrator is usually chosen when the Presidency changes parties. The only exceptions to this have been: * Democrat [[Thomas O. Paine, acting administrator under Democrat [[Lyndon B. Johnson, stayed on while Republican [[Richard Nixon tried but failed to get one of his own choices to accept the job. Paine was confirmed by the Senate in March 1969 and served through September 1970. * Republican [[James C. Fletcher, appointed by Nixon and confirmed in April 1971, stayed through May 1977 into the term of Democrat [[Jimmy Carter. * [[Daniel Goldin was appointed by Republican [[George H. W. Bush and stayed through the entire administration of Democrat [[Bill Clinton. * [[Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr., associate administrator under Democrat [[Barack Obama, was kept on as acting administrator by Republican [[Donald Trump until Trump's own choice, [[Jim Bridenstine, was confirmed in April 2018. * [[Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator under Donald Trump, currently fills the administrator's chair until Democrat [[Joe Biden's nominee [[Bill Nelson becomes confirmed. The first administrator was Dr. [[T. Keith Glennan, appointed by Republican President . During his term he brought together the disparate projects in American space development research. The second administrator, [[James E. Webb (1961–1968), appointed by President [[John F. Kennedy, was a Democrat who first publicly served under President [[Harry S. Truman. In order to implement the [[Apollo program to achieve Kennedy's Moon landing goal by the end of the 1960s, Webb directed major management restructuring and facility expansion, establishing the Houston Manned Spacecraft (Johnson) Center and the Florida Launch Operations (Kennedy) Center. Capitalizing on Kennedy's legacy, President [[Lyndon Johnson kept continuity with the Apollo program by keeping Webb on when he succeeded Kennedy in November 1963. But Webb resigned in October 1968 before Apollo achieved its goal. James Fletcher supervised early planning of the [[Space Shuttle program during his first term as administrator under President Nixon. He was appointed for a second term as administrator from May 1986 through April 1989 by President [[Ronald Reagan to help the agency recover from the [[Space Shuttle Challenger disaster|Space Shuttle ''Challenger'' disaster. Former astronaut [[Charles Bolden served as NASA's twelfth administrator from July 2009 to January 20, 2017. Bolden is one of three former astronauts who became NASA administrators, along with [[Richard H. Truly (served 1989–1992) and [[Frederick D. Gregory (acting, 2005). The agency's administration is located at [[NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and provides overall guidance and direction. Except under exceptional circumstances, NASA civil service employees are required to be [[Citizenship in the United States|citizens of the United States.


Facilities

[[NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC provides overall guidance and political leadership to the agency's ten field centers, through which all other facilities are administered. Four of these were inherited from NACA; two others were transferred from the Army; and NASA commissioned and built the other four itself shortly after its formation.


Inherited from NACA

[[Langley Research Center (LaRC), located in [[Hampton, Virginia|Hampton, Virginia. LaRC focuses on aeronautical research, though the [[Apollo Lunar Module|Apollo lunar lander was flight-tested at the facility and a number of high-profile space missions have been planned and designed on-site. LaRC was the original home of the [[Space Task Group. [[Ames Research Center (ARC) at [[Moffett Federal Airfield|Moffett Field was founded on December 20, 1939. The center was named after [[Joseph Sweetman Ames, a founding member of the NACA. ARC is one of NASA's 10 major field centers and is located in [[California's [[Silicon Valley. Historically, Ames was founded to do wind-tunnel research on the aerodynamics of propeller-driven aircraft; however, it has expanded its role to doing research and technology in aeronautics, spaceflight, and information technology. It provides leadership in [[astrobiology, small satellites, robotic lunar exploration, intelligent/adaptive systems and thermal protection. [[John H. Glenn Research Center|George W. Lewis Research Center The center's core competencies include air-breathing and in-space propulsion and cryogenics, communications, power energy storage and conversion, microgravity sciences, and advanced materials. [[Armstrong Flight Research Center|Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Facility (AFRC), established by NACA before 1946 and located inside [[Edwards Air Force Base, is the home of the [[Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), a modified Boeing 747 designed to carry a [[Space Shuttle orbiter back to [[Kennedy Space Center after a landing at Edwards AFB. On January 16, 2014, the center was renamed in honor of [[Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. File:Langley research center.jpg|Langley Research Center File:Aerial View Ames Research Center Wind Tunnels - GPN-2000-001761.jpg|Ames Research Center wind tunnels


Transferred from the Army

The [[Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in the [[San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, CA, is headquartered in the city of [[La Cañada Flintridge, California|La Cañada Flintridge with a [[Pasadena, California|Pasadena mailing address . JPL is managed by the nearby [[California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's [[Deep Space Network. [[George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), located on the [[Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, is one of NASA's largest centers. MSFC is where the [[Saturn V rocket and Spacelab were developed. Marshall is NASA's lead center for
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
(ISS) design and assembly; payloads and related crew training; and was the lead for
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
propulsion and its external tank. From December 1959, it contained the Launch Operations Directorate, which moved to Florida to become the Launch Operations Center on July 1, 1962. File:Site du JPL en Californie.jpg|Jet Propulsion Laboratory in [[La Cañada Flintridge, California File:Msfc aerial view.jpg|George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama


Built by NASA

[[Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), located in Greenbelt, Maryland, was commissioned by NASA on March 1, 1959. It is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the [[Space Network and the [[Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the [[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [[John C. Stennis Space Center, originally the "Mississippi Test Facility", is located in [[Hancock County, Mississippi, on the banks of the [[Pearl River (Mississippi–Louisiana)|Pearl River at the [[Mississippi–[[Louisiana border. Commissioned on October 25, 1961, it was NASA's largest [[rocket engine test facility until the end of the [[Space Shuttle program. It is currently used for rocket testing by over 30 local, state, national, international, private, and public companies and agencies. It contains the [[NASA Shared Services Center. [[Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center|Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) is the NASA center for human spaceflight training, research and flight control. Created on November 1, 1961, the facility consists of a complex of 100 buildings constructed in 1962–1963 on 1,620 acres (656 ha) of land donated by [[Rice University in Houston, Texas. The center grew out of the [[Space Task Group formed soon after the creation of NASA to co-ordinate the US human spaceflight program. It is home to the [[NASA Astronaut Corps|United States Astronaut Corps and is responsible for training astronauts from the U.S. and its international partners, and includes the [[Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center. The center was renamed in honor of the late U.S. president and Texas native [[Lyndon B. Johnson on February 19, 1973. [[John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), located west of [[Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, is one of the best known NASA facilities. Named the "Launch Operations Center" at its creation on July 1, 1962, it was renamed in honor of the late U.S. president on November 29, 1963, and has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program from three pads at Cape Canaveral. Its [[Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is the fourth-largest structure in the world by volume and was the largest when completed in 1965. A total of 13,100 people worked at the center as of 2011. Approximately 2,100 are employees of the federal government; the rest are contractors. Subordinate facilities include the [[Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia; the [[Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana; the [[White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico; and [[Deep Space Network stations in [[Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex|Barstow, California; [[Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex|Madrid, Spain; and [[Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex|Canberra, Australia. File:NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Aerial view 2010 facing south.jpg|Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland File:Aerial View of the Johnson Space Center - GPN-2000-001112.jpg|Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston File:VAB Aerial - GPN-2000-000869.jpg|John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida


Modern human spaceflight programs


Space Shuttle program (1972–2011)

The
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Originally planned as a frequently launchable, fully reusable vehicle, the design was changed to use an [[Space Shuttle external tank|expendable external propellant tank to reduce development cost, and four Space Shuttle orbiters were built by 1985. The first to launch, [[Space Shuttle Columbia|''Columbia'', did so on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the [[Vostok 1|first known human spaceflight. Its major components were a [[spaceplane 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 major component that was not reused. The shuttle could orbit in altitudes of 185–643 km (115–400 [[statute mile|miles)NASA, Shuttle Basics
, retrieved October 18, 2011
and carry a maximum payload (to low orbit) of 24,400 kg (54,000 lb).
, retrieved October 18, 2011
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, designed in cooperation with the [[European Space Agency (ESA). Spacelab was not designed for independent orbital flight, but remained in the Shuttle's cargo bay as the astronauts entered and left it through an [[airlock.Encyclopedia Astronautica, Spacelab
. Retrieved October 20, 2011
On June 18, 1983, [[Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, on board the Space Shuttle ''Challenger'' [[STS-7 mission. Another famous series of missions were the [[STS-31|launch and later [[STS-61|successful repair of the [[Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and 1993, respectively.Encyclopedia Astronautica, HST
. Retrieved October 20, 2011
In 1995, Russian-American interaction resumed with the [[Shuttle–Mir program|Shuttle–Mir missions (1995–1998). Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation has continued with Russia and the United States as two of the biggest partners in the largest space station built: the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
(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 Shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: ''[[Space Shuttle Challenger disaster|Challenger'' in 1986, and [[Space Shuttle Columbia disaster|''Columbia'' in 2003. While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the from replacement parts, NASA did not build another orbiter to replace the second loss. NASA's Space Shuttle program had 135 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 (1993–present)

The
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
(ISS) combines NASA's [[Space Station Freedom|Space Station ''Freedom'' project with the Soviet/Russian ''[[Mir-2'' station, the European ''[[Columbus (ISS module)|Columbus'' station, and the Japanese [[Japanese Experiment Module|Kibō laboratory module. NASA originally planned in the 1980s to develop ''Freedom'' alone, but US budget constraints led to the merger of these projects into a single multi-national program in 1993, managed by NASA, the [[Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), the [[JAXA|Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the [[European Space Agency (ESA), and the [[Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The station consists of pressurized modules, external [[Integrated Truss Structure|trusses, [[solar arrays and other components, which were [[Manufacturing of the International Space Station|manufactured in various factories around the world, and have been launched by Russian [[Proton (rocket)|Proton and [[Soyuz (rocket family)|Soyuz rockets, and the US Space Shuttles. The on-orbit assembly began in 1998, the completion of the [[US Orbital Segment occurred in 2019 and the completion of the [[Russian Orbital Segment occurred in 2010, though there are some debates of whether new modules should be added in the segment. The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow [[Russian Federation|Russia to retain full ownership of the Russian Orbital Segment (with the exception of ''[[Zarya''), with the US Orbital Segment allocated between the other international partners. Long-duration missions to the ISS are referred to as [[List of International Space Station expeditions|ISS Expeditions. Expedition crew members typically spend approximately six months on the ISS. The initial expedition crew size was three, temporarily decreased to two following the ''Columbia'' disaster. Since May 2009, expedition crew size has been six crew members. Crew size is expected to be increased to seven, the number the ISS was designed for, once the Commercial Crew Program becomes operational. The ISS has been continuously occupied for the past , having exceeded the previous record held by ''[[Mir''; and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from [[List of International Space Station visitors|15 different nations. The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, as of , is the largest artificial satellite in [[Earth orbit with a mass and volume greater than that of any previous space station.International Space Station
, Retrieved October 20, 2011
The [[Soyuz (spacecraft)|Soyuz spacecraft delivers crew members, stays docked for their half-year-long missions and then returns them home. Several uncrewed cargo spacecraft provide service to the ISS; they are the Russian [[Progress (spacecraft)|Progress spacecraft which has done so since 2000, the European [[Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) since 2008, the Japanese [[H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) since 2009, the [[SpaceX Dragon from 2012 until 2020, and the American [[Cygnus (spacecraft)|Cygnus spacecraft since 2013. The Space Shuttle, before its retirement, was also used for cargo transfer and would often switch out expedition crew members, although it did not have the capability to remain docked for the duration of their stay. Until another US crewed spacecraft is ready, crew members will travel to and from the International Space Station exclusively aboard the Soyuz. The highest number of people occupying the ISS has been thirteen; this occurred three times during the late Shuttle ISS assembly missions. On March 29, 2019, the ISS was scheduled to have its first all-female spacewalk, but it was delayed; [[Jessica Meir and [[Christina Koch performed the first all-female spacewalk with on October 18, as part of a lengthy series of upgrades to the ISS' power systems and physics observatories. The ISS program is expected to continue to 2030.


Constellation program (2005–2010)

While the Space Shuttle program was still suspended after the loss of ''Columbia'', President [[George W. Bush announced the [[Vision for Space Exploration including the retirement of the Space Shuttle after completing the International Space Station. The plan was enacted into law by the [[NASA Authorization Act of 2005 and directs NASA to develop and launch the [[Crew Exploration Vehicle (later called [[Orion (spacecraft)|Orion) by 2010, return Americans to the Moon by 2020, return to Mars as feasible, repair the [[Hubble Space Telescope, and continue scientific investigation through robotic solar system exploration, human presence on the ISS, Earth observation, and astrophysics research. The crewed exploration goals prompted NASA's [[Constellation program. On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a [[Lunar outpost (NASA)|permanent Moon base. 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. However, in 2009, the [[Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee|Augustine Committee found the program to be on an "unsustainable trajectory." In February 2010, President [[Barack Obama's administration proposed eliminating public funds for it.


Commercial Crew Program (2011–present)


Journey to Mars (2010–2017)

President Obama's plan was to develop American [[private spaceflight capabilities to get astronauts to the International Space Station, replace Russian Soyuz capsules, and use Orion capsules for ISS emergency escape purposes. During a speech at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, Obama proposed a new heavy-lift vehicle (HLV) to replace the formerly planned [[Ares V. In his speech, Obama called for a crewed mission to an asteroid as soon as 2025, and a crewed mission to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s. The [[NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 11, 2010. The act officially canceled the Constellation program. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a newly designed HLV be chosen within 90 days of its passing; the launch vehicle was given the name
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
. The new law also required the construction of a beyond low earth orbit spacecraft. The [[Orion spacecraft, which was being developed as part of the Constellation program, was chosen to fulfill this role. The Space Launch System is planned to launch both Orion and other necessary hardware for missions beyond low Earth orbit. The SLS is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. The initial capability of SLS is required to be able to lift (later ) into [[Low Earth orbit|LEO. It is then planned to be upgraded to and then eventually to . The Orion capsule first flew on [[Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), an uncrewed test flight that was launched on December 5, 2014, atop a [[Delta IV Heavy rocket. NASA undertook a feasibility study in 2012 and developed the [[Asteroid Redirect Mission as an uncrewed mission to move a boulder-sized [[near-Earth asteroid (or boulder-sized chunk of a larger asteroid) into lunar orbit. The mission would demonstrate [[ion thruster technology, and develop techniques that could be used for [[planetary defense against an asteroid collision, as well as a cargo transport to Mars in support of a future human mission. The Moon-orbiting boulder might then later be visited by astronauts. The Asteroid Redirect Mission was cancelled in 2017 as part of the FY2018 NASA budget, the first one under President [[Donald Trump. The Orion spacecraft conducted an uncrewed test launch on a [[Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014.


Artemis program (2017–present)

Since 2017, NASA's [[List of human spaceflight programs|crewed spaceflight program has been the [[Artemis program, which involves the help of U.S. [[Private spaceflight|commercial spaceflight companies and international partners such as [[European Space Agency|ESA, [[JAXA, and [[Canadian Space Agency|CSA. The goal of this program is to land "the first woman and the next man" on the [[lunar south pole region by 2024. Artemis would be the first step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to [[Mars. The [[Orion (spacecraft)|Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was held over from the canceled Constellation program for Artemis. [[Artemis 1 is the uncrewed initial launch of
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
(SLS) that would also send an Orion spacecraft on a [[Distant Retrograde Orbit, which, as of May 2020, is planned to launch no earlier than November 2021. NASA's next major space initiative is to be the construction of the [[Lunar Gateway. This initiative is to involve the construction of a new space station, which will have many features in common with the current
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
, except that it will be in orbit about the Moon, instead of the Earth. This space station will be designed primarily for non-continuous human habitation. The first tentative steps of returning to crewed lunar missions will be [[Artemis 2, which is to include the Orion crew module, propelled by the SLS, and is to launch in 2023. This mission is to be a 10-day mission planned to briefly place a crew of four into a [[free-return trajectory|Lunar flyby. The construction of the Gateway would begin with the proposed Artemis 3, which is planned to deliver a crew of four to [[Lunar orbit along with the first modules of the Gateway. This mission would last for up to 30 days. NASA plans to build full scale deep space habitats such as the Lunar Gateway and the [[Nautilus-X as part of its [[Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program. In 2017, NASA was directed by the congressional NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 to get humans to Mars-orbit (or to the Martian surface) by the 2030s. In September 2020, as a part of the Artemis program, NASA outlined a plan to send astronauts to the [[Moon by 2024. The astronauts are to travel in the Orion capsule, launched on the SLS rocket. In February 2021, it was announced that [[Firefly_Aerospace#Blue_Ghost_lunar_lander|"Blue Ghost Lander", a robotic device being constructed in [[Cedar Park, Texas, will be sent to the moon's [[Mare Crisium in 2023 to help prepare for NASA's goal of returning to the Lunar surface.


Satellites, probes, rovers, launch vehicles

NASA has conducted many uncrewed and robotic spaceflight programs throughout its history. Uncrewed robotic programs launched the first American artificial
satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as Earth's Moon. On 4 October 1957 the Sovi ...

satellite
s into Earth orbit for scientific and [[communications satellite|communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with [[Venus and [[Mars, and including "[[Voyager program|grand tours" of the outer planets. More than 1,000 uncrewed missions have been designed to explore the Earth and the solar system.


Earth, Moon, and L2 point

Besides exploration, communication satellites have also been launched by NASA. The spacecraft have been launched directly from Earth or from orbiting space shuttles, which could either deploy the satellite itself, or with a rocket stage to take it farther. The first US uncrewed satellite was [[Explorer 1, which started as an ABMA/JPL project during the early part of the
Space Race The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War adversaries, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), to achieve superior spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the ballistic missile-based nuclear arms race ...

Space Race
. It was launched in January 1958, two months after Sputnik. At the creation of NASA, the Explorer project was transferred to the agency and still continues to this day. Its missions have been focusing on the Earth and the Sun, measuring magnetic fields and the [[solar wind, among other aspects. A more recent Earth satellite, not related to the Explorer program, was the [[Hubble Space Telescope, which was brought into orbit in 1990. [[Cygnus (spacecraft)|Cygnus and [[SpaceX Dragon 2|Cargo Dragon are used to resupply the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
(ISS) as part of NASA's [[Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program as of 2020. Cygnus is manufactured by [[Northrop Grumman and launched on the [[Antares (rocket)|Antares rocket. Cargo Dragon is manufactured by [[SpaceX and launched on the [[Falcon 9 Block 5|Block 5 variant of [[Falcon 9. [[SpaceX Dragon, also launched on Falcon 9, was used to resupply the ISS from 2010 to 2020. The [[James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is currently scheduled to launch in October 2021 on an [[Ariane 5 rocket. It will be placed in Earth-Sun [[Lagrangian point#L2 points|L2 point.


Inner solar system (including Mars)

The [[inner Solar System has been made the goal of at least four uncrewed programs. The first was [[Mariner program|Mariner in the 1960s and 1970s, which made multiple visits to [[Venus and [[Mars and one to [[Mercury (planet)|Mercury. Probes launched under the Mariner program were also the first to make a planetary flyby ([[Mariner 2), to take the first pictures from another planet ([[Mariner 4), the first planetary orbiter ([[Mariner 9), and the first to make a [[gravity assist maneuver (''[[Mariner 10''). 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 1'' in 1976. Twenty years later a rover was landed on Mars by ''[[Mars Pathfinder''. On November 26, 2011, NASA's [[Mars Science Laboratory mission was successfully launched for Mars. ''[[Curiosity (rover)|Curiosity'' successfully landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and subsequently began its search for evidence of past or present life on Mars. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the ''[[MAVEN'' spacecraft as part of the [[Mars Scout Program to study the [[atmosphere of Mars. NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (''[[Perseverance (rover)|Perseverance'' and ''[[InSight'').


Outer solar system

Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by ''[[Pioneer 10'' in 1973. More than 20 years later ''[[Galileo (spacecraft)|Galileo'' sent a probe into the planet's atmosphere, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet. ''[[Pioneer 11'' became the first spacecraft to visit [[Saturn in 1979, with ''[[Voyager 2'' making the first (and so far only) visits to [[Uranus and [[Neptune in 1986 and 1989, respectively. The first spacecraft to leave the solar system was ''Pioneer 10'' in 1983. For a time it was the most distant spacecraft, but it has since been surpassed by both ''[[Voyager 1'' and ''[[Voyager 2''. ''Pioneers 10'' and ''11'' and both Voyager probes carry messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life. Communication can be difficult with deep space travel. For instance, it took about three hours for a radio signal to reach the ''New Horizons'' spacecraft when it was more than halfway to Pluto. Contact with ''Pioneer 10'' was lost in 2003. Both Voyager probes continue to operate as they explore the outer boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space. The ''
New Horizons ''New Horizons'' is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program. Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team ...

New Horizons
'' mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of [[Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a [[gravity assist from [[Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. Other active spacecraft are ''[[Juno (spacecraft)|Juno'' for [[Jupiter and ''[[Dawn (spacecraft)|Dawn'' for the [[asteroid belt. NASA continued to support ''[[in situ#Space-related|in situ'' exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and [[Gas Giant orbiters ''Galileo'' (1989–2003), ''[[Cassini–Huygens|Cassini'' (1997–2017), and ''Juno'' (2011–present).


Near-Earth object detection

In 1994, there was a Congressional directive to find near-Earth objects (NEOs) larger than 1 kilometer, and 90% of 1 kilometer sized asteroids are estimated to have been found by 2010. In 1999, NASA visited 433 Eros with the NEAR spacecraft which entered its orbit in 2000, closely imaging the asteroid with various instruments at that time. From the 1990s NASA has run many NEO detection programs from Earth bases observatories, greatly increasing the number of objects that have been detected. However, many asteroids are very dark and the ones that are near the Sun are much harder to detect from Earth-based telescopes which observe at night, and thus face away from the Sun. NEOs inside Earth orbit only reflect a part of light also rather than potentially a "full Moon" when they are behind the Earth and fully lit by the Sun. In 2005, the US Congress mandated NASA to achieve by the year 2020 specific levels of search completeness for discovering, cataloging, and characterizing dangerous asteroids larger than (Act of 2005, H.R. 1022; 109th), but no new funds were appropriated for this effort."Asteroid News: Time Is Running Out"
. Kevin Anderton, ''Forbes''. October 31, 2018.
As of January 2019, it is estimated about 40% of the NEOs of this size have been found, although since by its nature the exact amount of NEOs are unknown the calculations are based on predictions of how many there could be. One issue with NEO prediction is trying to estimate how many more are likely to be found. In 2000, NASA reduced its estimate of the number of existing near-Earth asteroids over one kilometer in diameter from 1,000–2,000 to 500–1,000. Shortly thereafter, the [[LINEAR survey provided an alternative estimate of . In 2011, on the basis of NEOWISE observations, the estimated number of one-kilometer NEAs was narrowed to (of which 93% had been discovered at the time), while the number of NEAs larger than 140 meters across was estimated at . The NEOWISE estimate differed from other estimates in assuming a slightly lower average asteroid albedo, which produces larger estimated diameters for the same asteroid brightness. This resulted in 911 then known asteroids at least 1 km across, as opposed to the 830 then listed by CNEOS. In 2017, using an improved statistical method, two studies reduced the estimated number of NEAs brighter than absolute magnitude 17.75 (approximately over one kilometer in diameter) to . The estimated number of asteroids brighter than absolute magnitude of 22.0 (approximately over 140 m across) rose to , double the WISE estimate, of which about a third are known as of 2018. A problem with estimating the number of NEOs is that detections are influenced by a number of factors. NASA turned the infrared space survey telescope WISE back on in 2013 to look for NEOs, and it found some during the course of its operation. NEOcam competed in the highly competitive Discovery program, which became more so due to a low mission rate in the 2010s.


Research

NASA's [[Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate conducts aeronautics research. NASA has made use of technologies such as the [[multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG), which is a type of [[radioisotope thermoelectric generator used to power spacecraft. Shortages of the required [[plutonium-238 have curtailed deep space missions since the turn of the millennium. An example of a spacecraft that was not developed because of a shortage of this material was ''[[New Horizons 2''. The Earth science research program was created and first funded in the 1980s under the administrations of [[Ronald Reagan and [[George H.W. Bush. NASA started an annual competition in 2014 named ''Cubes in Space''. It is jointly organized by NASA and the global education company ''I Doodle Learning'', with the objective of teaching school students aged 11–18 to design and build scientific experiments to be launched into space on a NASA rocket or balloon. On June 21, 2017 the world's smallest satellite, KalamSAT, was launched. NASA also researches and publishes on [[climate change. Its statements concur with the global scientific consensus that the global climate is warming. [[Robert Smith Walker|Bob Walker, who has advised US President [[Donald Trump on space issues, has advocated that NASA should focus on space exploration and that its climate study operations should be transferred to other agencies such as [[NOAA. Former NASA atmospheric scientist [[J. Marshall Shepherd countered that Earth science study was built into NASA's mission at [[creation of NASA|its creation in the 1958
National Aeronautics and Space Act The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 () is the United States federal statute that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Act, which followed close on the heels of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, was dra ...

National Aeronautics and Space Act
. NASA won the [[2020 Webby Award|2020 Webby People's Voice Award for Green in the category Web. NASA contracted a third party to study the probability of using Free Space Optics (FSO) to communicate with Optical ([[laser) Stations on the Ground (OGS) called laser-com [[Radio frequency|RF networks for satellite communications. On July 29, 2020, NASA requested American universities to propose new technologies for extracting water from the [[lunar soil and developing power systems. The idea will help the space agency conduct [[sustainable exploration of the Moon.


Environmental impact

The exhaust gases produced by rocket propulsion systems, both in Earth's atmosphere and in space, can adversely effect the Earth's environment. Some [[hypergolic rocket propellants, such as [[hydrazine, are highly toxic prior to [[combustion, but decompose into less toxic compounds after burning. Rockets using hydrocarbon fuels, such as [[kerosene, release carbon dioxide and soot in their exhaust. However, carbon dioxide emissions are insignificant compared to those from other sources; on average, the United States consumed of liquid fuels per day in 2014, while a single [[Falcon 9 rocket first stage burns around of [[kerosene fuel per launch. Even if a Falcon 9 were launched every single day, it would only represent 0.006% of liquid fuel consumption (and carbon dioxide emissions) for that day. Additionally, the exhaust from [[LOx- and [[LH2- fueled engines, like the [[SSME, is almost entirely water vapor. NASA addressed environmental concerns with its canceled [[Constellation program in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act in 2011. In contrast, [[ion engines use harmless noble gases like [[xenon for propulsion. An example of NASA's environmental efforts is the [[NASA Sustainability Base. Additionally, the Exploration Sciences Building was awarded the LEED Gold rating in 2010. On May 8, 2003, the [[United States Environmental Protection Agency|Environmental Protection Agency recognized NASA as the first federal agency to directly use [[landfill gas to produce energy at one of its facilities—the [[Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. In 2018, NASA along with other companies including [[Sensor Coating Systems, [[Pratt & Whitney, Monitor Coating and [[United Technologies Corp|UTRC launched the project CAUTION (CoAtings for Ultra High Temperature detectION). This project aims to enhance the temperature range of the [[Thermal history coating|Thermal History Coating up to and beyond. The final goal of this project is improving the safety of jet engines as well as increasing efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.


Goals and directives

Some of NASA's main directives have been the landing of a crewed spacecraft on the Moon, the designing and construction of the Space Shuttle, and efforts to construct a large, crewed space station. Typically, the major directives originated from the intersection of scientific interest and advice, political interests, federal funding concerns, and the public interest, which all together brought varying waves of effort, often heavily swayed by technical developments, funding changes, and world events. For example, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration announced a directive with a major push to build a crewed space station, given the name [[Space Station Freedom|Space Station ''Freedom''. But, when the Cold War ended, Russia, the United States, and other international partners came together to design and build the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
. In the 2010s, major shifts in directives include the retirement of the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
, and the later development of a new crewed heavy-lift rocket, the
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
. Missions for the new
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
have varied, but overall, NASA's directives are similar to the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
program as the primary goal and desire is human spaceflight. Additionally, NASA's [[Space Exploration Initiative of the 1980s opened new avenues of exploration focused on other galaxies. For the coming decades, NASA's focus has gradually shifting towards eventual exploration of Mars. One of the technological options focused on was the [[Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). ARM had largely been defunded in 2017, but the key technologies developed for ARM would be utilized for future exploration, notably on a solar electric propulsion system. Longer project execution timelines leave future executive administration officials to execute on a directive, which can lead to directional mismanagement. Previously, in the early 2000s, NASA worked towards a strategic plan called the [[Constellation Program, but the program was defunded in the early 2010s. In the 1990s, NASA's administration adopted an approach to planning coined "Faster, Better, Cheaper".


NASA Authorization Act of 2017

The NASA Authorization Act of 2017, which included $19.5 billion in funding for that fiscal year, directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early 2030s. Though the agency is independent, the survival or discontinuation of projects can depend directly on the will of the President.


Space Policy Directive 1

In December 2017, on the 45th anniversary of the [[Apollo 17|last crewed mission to the Moon's surface, President [[Donald Trump approved a directive that includes a lunar mission on the pathway to Mars and beyond. New NASA administrator [[Jim Bridenstine addressed this directive in an August 2018 speech where he focused on the sustainability aspects—going to the Moon to stay—that are explicit in the directive, including taking advantage of US commercial space [[reusable launch vehicle|capability that did not exist even five years ago, which have [[Space launch market competition|driven down costs and increased access to space.Bridenstine Speaks at NASA Advisory Council Meeting
at 4:40, NASA TV, August 29, 2018, accessed September 1, 2018.


Goals

Since 2011, NASA's strategic goals have been * Extend and sustain [[human spaceflight|human activities across the [[solar system * Expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe * Create innovative new space [[technologies * Advance
aeronautics Aeronautics is the science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight–capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere. The British Royal Aeronautical Society identifies ...

aeronautics
research * Enable program and institutional capabilities to conduct NASA's aeronautics and space activities * Share NASA with the public, educators, and students to provide opportunities to participate


Budget

NASA's share of the total federal budget peaked at approximately 4.41% in 1966 during the [[Apollo program, then rapidly declined to approximately 1% in 1975, and stayed around that level through 1998. The percentage then gradually dropped, until leveling off again at around half a percent in 2006 (estimated in 2012 at 0.48% of the federal budget). In a March 2012 hearing of the [[United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation|United States Senate Science Committee, [[science communicator [[Neil deGrasse Tyson testified that "Right now, NASA's annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that—a penny on a dollar—we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow." Despite this, public perception of NASA's budget differs significantly: a 1997 poll indicated that most Americans believed that 20% of the federal budget went to NASA. For Fiscal Year 2015, NASA received an appropriation of from Congress—$549 million more than requested and approximately $350 million more than the 2014 NASA budget passed by Congress. In Fiscal Year 2016, NASA received $19.3 billion. President [[Donald Trump signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 in March, which set the 2017 budget at around $19.5 billion. The budget is also reported as $19.3 billion for 2017, with $20.7 billion proposed for FY2018. Examples of some proposed FY2018 budgets: * Exploration: $4.79 billion * Planetary science: $2.23 billion * Earth science: $1.92 billion * Aeronautics: $0.685 billion


Miscellaneous


NASA Advisory Council

In response to the [[Apollo 1 accident, which killed three astronauts in 1967, Congress directed NASA to form an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to advise the NASA Administrator on safety issues and hazards in NASA's aerospace programs. In the aftermath of the [[Space Shuttle Columbia disaster|Shuttle ''Columbia'' disaster, Congress required that the ASAP submit an annual report to the NASA Administrator and to Congress. By 1971, NASA had also established the Space Program Advisory Council and the Research and Technology Advisory Council to provide the administrator with advisory committee support. In 1977, the latter two were combined to form the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). The [[NASA Authorization Act of 2014 reaffirmed the importance of ASAP.


Use of the metric system

US law requires the [[International System of Units to be used in all U.S. Government programs, "except where impractical". In 1969, the [[Apollo 11 landed on the Moon using a mix of [[United States customary units and [[Metric system|metric units. In the 1980s, NASA started the transition towards using only the metric system, and was predominantly metric by the 1990s. On September 23, 1999, a unit mixup between US and SI units resulted in the loss of the [[Mars Climate Orbiter. In August 2007, NASA stated that all future missions and explorations of the Moon would be done entirely using the SI system. This was done to improve cooperation with space agencies of other countries that already use the metric system. As of 2007, NASA is predominantly working with SI units, but some projects still use English units, and some, including the International Space Station, use a mix of both.


Partnership with the United States Space Force

The [[United States Space Force (USSF) is the space service branch of the [[United States Armed Forces, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for civil spaceflight. NASA and the Space Force's predecessors in the Air Force have a long-standing cooperative relationship, with the Space Force supporting NASA launches out of [[Kennedy Space Center, [[Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and [[Vandenberg Air Force Base, to include range support and rescue operations from Task Force 45. NASA and the Space Force also partner on matters such as defending Earth from asteroids. Space Force members can be NASA astronauts, with Colonel [[Michael S. Hopkins, the commander of [[SpaceX Crew-1, commissioned into the Space Force from the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
on 18 December 2020. In September 2020, the Space Force and NASA signed a [[memorandum of understanding formally acknowledging the joint role of both agencies. This new memorandum replaced a similar document signed in 2006 between NASA and Air Force Space Command.


Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic


Gallery


Observations

NGC 6543 7662 7009 6826.jpg|Various nebulae observed from a NASA space telescope PIA18920-Ceres-DwarfPlanet-20150219.jpg|1 Ceres Nh-pluto crop.png|Pluto


Past and current spacecraft

NASA spacecraft comparison.jpg|Hardware comparison of [[Apollo (spacecraft)|Apollo, [[Gemini (spacecraft)|Gemini, and [[Project Mercury|Mercury STS-125 departing the Hubble Space Telescope.jpg|[[Hubble Space Telescope, astronomy observatory in Earth orbit since 1990. Also visited by the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
PIA16239 High-Resolution Self-Portrait by Curiosity Rover Arm Camera.jpg|''Curiosity'' rover, roving Mars since 2012 Perseverance Landing Skycrane (cropped).jpg|''[[Perseverance (rover)|Perseverance'' rover


Planned spacecraft

Artemis I Orion October 12, 2020.jpg|[[Orion spacecraft Sls block1 on-pad sunrisesmall.jpg|
Space Launch System The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development by NASA in the United States since its announcement in 2011. It replaced the Ares I, Ares V, and Jup ...

Space Launch System
rocket James Webb Space Telescope 2009 top.jpg|[[James Webb Space Telescope Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.jpg|[[Lunar Gateway space station


Concepts

NASA has developed oftentimes elaborate plans and technology concepts, some of which become worked into real plans. Cargo transport from Space Shuttle with the space tug to Nuclear shuttle.jpg|Concept of cargo transport from
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space ...

Space Shuttle
to Nuclear Shuttle, 1960s Space tug module for astronauts.jpg|Space Tug concept, 1970s Innovative Interstellar Explorer interstellar space probe .jpg|Vision mission for an interstellar precursor spacecraft by NASA, 2000s Mars Ice Home concept.jpg|Langley's Mars Ice Dome design for a Mars habitat, 2010s


See also

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Articles about NASA

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Related agencies

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Explanatory notes


References


Further reading

* Alexander, Joseph K. ''Science Advice to NASA: Conflict, Consensus, Partnership, Leadership'' (2019
excerpt
* Bizony, Piers et al. ''The NASA Archives. 60 Years in Space'' (2019) * Brady, Kevin M. "NASA Launches Houston into Orbit How America's Space Program Contributed to Southeast Texas's Economic Growth, Scientific Development, and Modernization during the Late Twentieth Century." ''Journal of the West'' (2018) 57#4 pp 13–54. * Bromberg, Joan Lisa. ''NASA and the Space Industry'' (Johns Hopkins UP, 1999). * Clemons, Jack. ''Safely to Earth: The Men and Women Who Brought the Astronauts Home'' (2018
excerpt
* Dick, Steven J., and Roger D. Launius, eds. ''Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight'' (NASA, 2006) * Launius, Roger D. "Eisenhower, Sputnik, and the Creation of NASA." ''Prologue-Quarterly of the National Archives'' 28.2 (1996): 127-143. * Pyle, Rod. ''Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA, and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age'' (2019), overview of space exploratio
excerpt
* Spencer, Brett. "The Book and the Rocket: The Symbiotic Relationship between American Public Libraries and the Space Program, 1950–2015," ''Information & Culture'' 51, no. 4 (2016): 550–82. * Weinzierl, Matthew. "Space, the final economic frontier." ''Journal of Economic Perspectives'' 32.2 (2018): 173-92
online
review of economics literature


External links

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NASA History Division
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NODIS: NASA Online Directives Information System
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NTRS: NASA Technical Reports Server
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NASA History and the Challenge of Keeping the Contemporary Past
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NASA podcasts

NASA Watch, an agency watchdog site
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on [[howstuffworks.com
''Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly''
{{Authority control [[Category:NASA| [[Category:1958 establishments in Washington, D.C. [[Category:Articles containing video clips [[Category:Government agencies established in 1958 [[Category:Independent agencies of the United States government [[Category:Organizations based in Washington, D.C. [[Category:Webby Award winners