Over the years NASA would achieve many major accomplishments and achievements such as the Apollo space missions, development of Mission Control and spacesuits, the moon landing and walking on the moon, the Space Shuttle (the first reusable spacecraft), Skylab, the International Space Station (ISS) enabling astronauts to live in space, unveiling the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Pathfinder Exploration Rovers (MERs), the Pioneer 10 flight to Jupiter, the Pioneer Venus and Cassini – Huygens spacecraft to Saturn, the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and Mercury.
What does NASA stand for? NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
When was NASA created? The date that NASA was created on July 29, 1958.
NASA Logo: The NASA logo has three official designs - the logo, the seal and the NASA text logo. The main NASA Logo was designed by James Modarelli and features a white orbital path on a round field of blue orbital path with white stars and the white NASA lettering. The red chevron on the logo is a hypersonic wing representing aeronautics. Although the text logo with stylized logotype red curved text (referred to as the "worm") has been retired from official use since 1992.
NASA Facts for kids
The story of NASA began when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a plan to orbit a scientific satellite between July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958 as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The Soviet Union quickly followed suit and announced plans to orbit its own satellite.
The Americans believed that their technology was more advanced than the Soviets and were confident that they would launch the world's first satellite.
The USA was stunned when the Soviets launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to be sent into space, on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1, a small aluminum ball with four long antennas measuring just 23 inches in diameter, marked the entry of mankind into space.
Sputnik-1 contained 2 radio transmitters, batteries, simple optical instruments and a thermometer. The satellite was invisible from Earth but Sputnik-1 made itself heard with a simple series of beeps that were capable of being heard over the entire world by anyone with an amateur radio set.
Sputnik traveled at 18,000 mph and took just 96 minutes to complete each orbit of the earth. Its ‘bip-bip’ radio signals were a constant reminder of the Soviet's presence above the United States of America. Although Sputnik was played down by the politicians, the American public reacted with fear and alarm. Within a month the Soviets launched a second satellite, Sputnik-2, which carried the dog Laika on board.
Sputnik had demonstrated that the Soviets were ahead in space technology and many feared they were also advanced in nuclear weapons technology. Sputnik began the Cold War Space Race between the Soviets and the Americans.
On February 1, 1958, the United States of America successfully launched its own first artificial satellite called the 'Explorer' satellite under the US Army's Jupiter project.
The spy satellite missions that were run by the CIA and the military as part of the Cold War Arms Race would continue to operate an independent space program that would work in parallel with NASA.
The surprise launch of the first Soviet Sputnik satellite and new space technology prompted the United States to replace the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 was sent to Congress on 2 April 1958 and was signed into law 29 July, 1958. The new law provided for research into the issues surrounding flight, both within Earth’s atmosphere and in space.
NASA, which stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created on July 29, 1958 in order to coordinate research in rocket science and space. It would achieve many major accomplishments including the six Apollo moon missions, the Space Shuttle, Skylab, the International Space Station (ISS), the Hubble Space Telescope and launching missions to distant planets in the Solar system in which probes were sent to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and Mercury.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) absorbed NACA's 8000 staff and its three major research laboratories consisting of the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Aeronautical Laboratory.
NASA began its operations on October 1, 1958 and the first spacecraft launched by NASA was Pioneer 1 became the first spacecraft launched by NASA on October 11, 1958 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Project Mercury (1959-1963) began as the first United States human spaceflight NASA program rivaling the Soviet Vostok program. There were US human spaceflight programs. Project Mercury was followed by the Gemini project (1961 - 1966) and the Apollo project (1969 to 1972).
The NASA Astronaut Corps began on 9 April 1959 to select and train astronauts for Project Mercury. An advertisement for military test pilots was posted attracting 500 applicants under 40 years of age. NASA Candidates had to be less than 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) tall and weigh less than 180 pounds (82 kg) in order to fit inside the small space inside the Mercury spacecraft
The NASA candidates were subjected to a variety of tests and physical and mental examinations. The stringent tests included spending hours on treadmills, submerging their feet in ice cold water. They were also subjected to five enemas and three doses of castor oil!
On April 9, 1959 names of the seven original American NASA astronauts were announced. The names of the NASA 'Mercury Seven' were John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.
The NASA 'Mercury Seven' undertook rigorous training including weightlessness and zero-g training, multi-axis spin tests, stress tests, decision-making, desert survival training and water survival techniques to train for splash-downs.
The NASA Mercury Space suits: NASA's first space suits were made for the Mercury program. The silver colored, multiple layered Mercury space suit was a full-body, high-altitude pressure suit that was custom-made for each of the astronauts. The material used to make the Mercury space suits were two-ply silver nylon coated with neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber with good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. The NASA space suits were modified versions of the Navy Mark IV pressure suit and were designed by Russell Colley, Carl F. Effler and Donald D. Ewing.
NASA sent animals and insects into Space to test the survivability of spaceflight before manned space missions were attempted. On 28 May 1959 a NASA Jupiter missile was launched that carried and recovered two monkeys after a suborbital flight.
Six of the of the NASA 'Mercury Seven' astronauts went into space on America's first human space flight program. Deke Slayton was unable to make a space flight because of an erratic heart rate. Deke Slayton later flew on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.
Each of the 'Mercury Seven' NASA astronauts following the pilot tradition, each gave their spacecraft a name. They selected names ending with a "7" to commemorate the seven astronauts.
On May 5 1961 Alan Shepard in the Freedom 7, Gus Grissom flew on the spacecraft Liberty Bell 7 on July 21, 1961, John Glenn flew in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, Scott Carpenter flew in Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962, Walter Schirra flew in the Sigma 7 on October 3, 1962 and Gordon Cooper flew on the Faith 7 on May 15-16, 1963.
NASA astronaut Alan Shepard was the first American to travel in space in a suborbital flight on May 5 1961 in the Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On February 20, 1962 John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft.
On 25 May 1961, following Alan Shepard flight in space, President John Kennedy made his "Urgent National Needs" speech, committing the USA and NASA to land on the Moon by the end of the decade.
On September 19 1961 NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced that the site of the Mission Control center dedicated to human space flight would be Houston, Texas. It was called the Manned Spacecraft Center but was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973. It was built during 1962 - 1963 and and the Mission Control was ready to usher the Gemini Project into space.
At NASA Mission Control the flight controllers monitor the health and safety of the astronauts and ensure that all spacecraft systems are operating properly. The Director of Flight Crew Operations communicated directly with the astronauts.
Telstar: On July 10 1962 the first of the Telstar privately built communications satellites was launched. Bell Labs held a contract with NASA, paying the agency for each launch. Telstar was launched by NASA aboard a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral Telstar transmitted the first telephone and television signals that were carried via satellite.
The NASA Gemini project extended the human spaceflight program to spacecraft built for two astronauts. The sixteen astronauts on the 10 flights of the Gemini project provided more valuable information on weightlessness and resulted in improvements in re-entry and splashdown procedures. Project Gemini also demonstrated rendezvous and docking in space.
NASA Astronaut Edward H. White II piloted the second operational Gemini mission June 3-7, 1965 and performed the first spacewalk by an American.
On March 16, 1966 the NASA Gemini project saw Neil A. Armstrong and David Scott perform the first orbital docking, successfully coupling two spacecraft.
On January 27, 1967 three of the NASA Gemini Project pilots, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, took part in a test run for the launch of the first NASA Apollo mission. The three men were in the command module, mounted on the Saturn 204 rocket, as if ready for launch from the Kennedy Space Center. During the simulation a flash fire broke out and the pure oxygen atmosphere of the capsule was engulfed by fire. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, all died of asphyxiation. As a result of this disaster the Apollo program was delayed until the spacecraft could be redesigned.
The NASA Apollo program (1969 - 1972) followed Project Gemini aiming to land the first humans on the Moon. The Apollo project included both manned and unmanned space missions. Six of the missions, Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17, landed humans on the moon.
The First Man on the Moon was Neil Armstrong who traveled on Apollo 11 (July 16 – 24, 1969). NASA astranauts, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin walked on the Moon while the third of the astronauts, Michael Collins, orbited overhead in the Apollo command module. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Apollo 13: NASA Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. "Jack" Swigert and Fred W. Haise survived one of the near disasters of the Apollo program. Apollo 13 (April 11-17,1970) was 2 days and 8 hours into the flight when the oxygen tank in the service module burst and damaged several of the electrical and life support systems. Flight director Gene Kranz and Mission Control heard the ominous words of Jack Swigert when he said "Houston, we've had a problem." All NASA crew members of Apollo 13 were able to return safely to Earth.
Skylab was one of the first NASA projects following the Moon landings: On 14 May 1973 Skylab, a small orbital space platform, was launched by the modified Saturn V rocket. Its goal was to prove that humans could live and work in space for extended periods. Skylab became home to three crews of astronauts during 1973–1974. Each successive crew stayed longer then the previous mission for periods of 28, 59, and 84 days respectively.
In 1975 the first joint US–Soviet space flight ended the Cold War Space Race. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (July 15-24, 1975) entailed the docking of an American Apollo Command Module (CSM) with a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. The Apollo flew with a three-man crew on board consisting of Tom Stafford, Vance Brand, and Deke Slayton. The Soyuz flew with two crew members, Alexey Leonov and Valeri Kubasov.
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the last manned US NASA space mission until the first Columbia Space Shuttle flight in April 1981. Tests on the first orbiter, the Enterprise had demonstrated that the Space Shuttle could fly attached to the Boeing 747 creating the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The second orbiter of NASA's space shuttle program was the Challenger. It was followed by the Discovery, the Atlantis and the Endeavour.
Guion S. Bluford became the first African American astronaut on the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger on August 30, 1983 .
On January 1986 the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger, STS-51L, was destroyed during its launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The terrible accident was witnessed as millions of people around the world saw the accident on television. Its crew of seven, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald E. McNair, Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, were all killed. The last flight of the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia (January 16, 2003 – February 1, 2003) also ended in tragedy when it broke up in the atmosphere 15 minutes before its scheduled landing, killing all the seven crew members.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia on April 24, 1990 providing the ability to observe extremely distant space which cannot be seen from the earth.
The International Space Station (ISS), a habitable artificial satellite, was launched on November 20, 1998 to provide a platform to conduct scientific research.
In 1997 NASA began the Earth Observing System launching a series of artificial satellite missions in Earth orbit designed for long-term global observations of the land surface, atmosphere, biosphere and oceans of the Earth.
In addition to the manned space flight NASA has pioneered many missions to distant planets in the Solar system sending probes to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and Mercury.
On August 10, 2015 the first food grown and harvested in space, a crop of red lettuce, was eaten by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)
On October 20, 2015 NASA launched a new website in which images taken by their Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera can be seen of the full, sunlit side of the Earth as it rotates every day.
NASA Facts for kids: Animals in Space
The monkeys called Able and Baker became the first monkeys to survive spaceflight after their 1959 NASA Jupiter flight. Ham the Chimp was trained to pull levers and was launched by NASA in a Mercury capsule aboard a Redstone rocket on January 31, 1961 and demonstrated the ability to perform tasks during spaceflight. The NASA Biosatellite satellites were launched in 1966 and 1967 with a variety of life forms on board including wasps, fruit flies, beetles, frog eggs, bacteria, amoebae, plants and fungi. In later years the Space Shuttles took other types of animals into space including crickets, rats, frogs, newts, snails, fish, sea urchins and jellyfish.
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