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NASA Project


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research


President Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA in 1958  with a distinctly civilian rather than military orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, replacing its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics NACA. The agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles.

The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program LSP which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System 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 science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics NACA had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1. 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. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts.

The U.S. Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership known as the "Sputnik crisis", urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower 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 created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, 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 Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory and two small test facilities.

A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959.Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program (led by Wernher 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 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.

Project Mercury started in 1958 as NASA's inheritance of the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program objective to make the first single-astronaut flights into Earth orbit. The 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 Freedom 7, launched by a Redstone booster on a 15-minute ballistic suborbital flight. John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit by an Atlas launch vehicle on February 20, 1962 aboard Friendship 7. Glenn completed three orbits, after which three more orbital flights were made, culminating in L. Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit flight Faith 7, May 15–16, 1963.



The Soviet Union (USSR) competed with Mercury in what was called the Space Race, with its own single-pilot spacecraft, Vostok. They bested the U.S. in getting humans into space soonest, by launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into a single Earth orbit aboard in 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. The Soviet lead, perceived by the U.S public as most acute in May 1962, motivated President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress to commit to a program to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, which effectively launched the Apollo program.

The Apollo program was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It is estimated to have cost $202 billion in present-day US dollars.In comparison, the Manhattan Project cost roughly $25.8 billion, 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 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 three astronauts would eventually return to Earth.The second manned 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 unmanned 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 person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin while 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 381.7 kilograms (842 lb) of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, 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 milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body.
Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and manned 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 Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums.
The Space Shuttle 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, did so on April 12, 1981, the 20th anniversary of the first space flight by Yuri Gagarin.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 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 (1983–98) the Space Shuttle carried Spacelab, designed in cooperation with the 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. Another famous series 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 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 the two of the biggest partners in the largest space station built: the 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.The Shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003.While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour 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.
A variety of large-scale medical studies are being conducted in space by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). Prominent among these is the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity Study, in which astronauts including former ISS Commanders Leroy Chiao and Gennady Padalka, 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 on board the International Space Station, and diagnosis of medical conditions is challenging. 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 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.

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 and own special aircraft 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 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.

NASA's budget has generally been approximately 1% of the federal budget from the early 1970s on, but briefly peaked to approximately 3.3% in 1966 during the Apollo program. Recent public perception of the NASA budget has been shown to be significantly different from reality; a 1997 poll indicated that Americans responded on average that 20% of the federal budget went to NASA.


The percentage of federal budget that NASA has been allocated has been steadily dropping since the Apollo program and as of 2012 the NASA budget is estimated to be 0.48% of the federal budget. In a March 2012 meeting of the United States Senate Science Committee, 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." Inspired by Tyson's advocacy and remarks, the Penny4NASA ,nonprofit was founded in 2012 by John Zeller and advocates the doubling of NASA's budget to one percent of the Federal Budget, or one "penny on the dollar."


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