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{{Other uses}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{pp-semi|small=yes}}{{Short description|US government agency responsible for civilian space programs, and aeronautical and aerospace research}}{{Good article}}{{Use American English|date=July 2015}}{{Use mdy dates|date=June 2019}}

1958)}}US Centennial of Flight Commission, NACA {{Webarchive|url= |date=February 20, 2014}}. Retrieved on November 3, 2011.
|jurisdiction = US Federal Government
|headquarters = Two Independence Square, Washington, D.C., United States
|coordinates = {{Coord|38|52|59|N|77|0|59|W|type:landmark_region:US-DC|display=inline,title}}
|motto = For the Benefit of AllWEB,weblink NASA stands 'for the benefit of all.'—Interview with NASA's Dr. Süleyman Gokoglu, September 17, 2018, The Light Millennium, 2007, Lale Tayla, Figen Bingul, yes,weblink" title="">weblink October 12, 2007, live,
|employees = 17,219 {{small|(2019)}}WEB,weblink Workforce Profile, NASA, April 23, 2018,weblink" title="">weblink February 14, 2013, live,
|budget = {{increase}} {{US$|21.5 billion|link=yes}} {{small|(2019)}}WEB, NASA just got its best budget in a decade,weblink The Planetary Society, February 15, 2019, February 15, 2019, Casey Dreier,weblink" title="">weblink February 16, 2019, live,
|chief1_name = Jim Bridenstine
|chief1_position = Administrator
|chief2_name = James Morhard
|chief2_position = Deputy Administrator
|chief3_name = Jeff DeWit
|chief3_position = Chief Financial Officer
|website =
}}{{United States space program sidebar}}The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, {{IPAc-en|ˈ|n|æ|s|ə}}) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.{{#tag:ref|NASA is an independent agency that is not a part of any executive department but reports directly to the President.WEB,weblink Official US Executive Branch Web Sites – Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress),, May 24, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink May 16, 2016, live, WEB,weblink Frequently Asked Questions,, May 24, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink May 4, 2016, live, |group=note|name="independent agency"}}NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science.WEB,weblink Ike in History: Eisenhower Creates NASA, November 27, 2013, Eisenhower Memorial, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink November 19, 2013, live, WEB,weblink The National Aeronautics and Space Act, August 29, 2007, NASA, 2005,weblink" title="">weblink August 16, 2007, live, BOOK, Bilstein, Roger E., NASA SP-4206, Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles, From NACA to NASA,weblink 1996, NASA, 978-0-16-004259-1, 32–33, May 6, 2013, Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System;WEB,weblink Earth—NASA Science, Ruth, Netting, June 30, 2009, July 15, 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink July 16, 2009, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program;WEB,weblink Heliophysics—NASA Science, Ruth, Netting, January 8, 2009, July 15, 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink July 16, 2009, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons;NEWS, Roston, Michael, NASA's Next Horizon in Space,weblink August 28, 2015, New York Times, August 28, 2015,weblink" title="">weblink August 29, 2015, live, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.WEB,weblink Astrophysics—NASA Science, Ruth, Netting, July 13, 2009, July 15, 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink July 16, 2009,


From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1.WEB,weblink The NACA, NASA, and the Supersonic-Hypersonic Frontier, September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink November 2, 2013, live, In the early 1950s, there was a challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58), resulting in the American Project Vanguard among others. 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 US 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. On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by Guyford Stever. On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating:BOOK, Into the Unknown Together—The DOD, NASA, and Early Spaceflight, Erickson, Mark, 978-1-58566-140-4,weblink dead,weblink" title="">weblink September 20, 2009, 2005, (File:NASA 60th- How It All Began.webm|thumb|right|A short documentary about the beginnings of NASA)While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.BOOK,weblink Supplemental military construction authorization (Air Force).: Hearings, Eighty-fifth Congress, second session, on H.R. 9739., January 21–24, 1958, Subcommittee On Military Construction, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services, June 27, 2015,weblink September 5, 2015, live, 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 43-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.WEB,weblink T. Keith Glennan, NASA, August 4, 2006, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink February 14, 2017, live, A (commons:Logos of NASA|NASA seal) was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959.s:Executive Order 10849|Executive Order 10849 (Wikisource)]] 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 the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works.WEB,weblink Werner, von Braun, 1963, Recollections of Childhood: Early Experiences in Rocketry as Told by Werner Von Braun 1963, MSFC History Office, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink July 9, 2009, live, Earlier research efforts within the US Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA.JOURNAL,weblink 50 years of Bridging the Gap, Richard, Van Atta, April 10, 2008, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink February 24, 2009, dead, In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.


(File:Jim Bridenstine official portrait.jpg|thumb|upright|Jim Bridenstine official NASA portrait, April 26, 2018 at NASA Headquarters, Washington D.C.)The agency's leader, NASA's administrator, is nominated by the President of the United States subject to approval of the US Senate, and reports to him or her and serves as senior space science advisor. Though space exploration is ostensibly non-partisan, the appointee usually is associated with the President's political party (Democratic or 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.BOOK, Heppenheimer, T. A., T.A. Heppenheimer, SP-4221 The Space Shuttle Decision, 1999, NASA, Washington DC, 115,weblink August 22, 2018, 3. Mars and Other Dream Worlds,
  • 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.WEB,weblink Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., Acting Administrator, NASA Content, Administrator, January 30, 2017, February 1, 2017,weblink February 1, 2017, live, Though the agency is independent, the survival or discontinuation of projects can depend directly on the will of the President.
The first administrator was Dr. T. Keith Glennan appointed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During his term he brought together the disparate projects in American space development research.WEB,weblink T. Keith Glennan biography, NASA, August 4, 2006, July 5, 2008,weblink" title="">weblink February 14, 2017, live, 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, and Republican President Richard M. Nixon replaced Webb with Republican Thomas O. Paine.(File:NASA organigramm November 2015.svg|thumb|Organizational structure of NASA (2015))James Fletcher was responsible for 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.Former astronaut Charles Bolden served as NASA's twelfth administrator from July 2009 to January 20, 2017.PRESS RELEASE,weblink Bolden and Garver Confirmed by U.S. Senate, July 15, 2009, Michael, Cabbage, NASA, July 16, 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink October 28, 2009, 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.WEB,weblink Welcome to NASA Headquarters, Mary, Shouse, July 9, 2009, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink July 13, 2009, live, Except under exceptional circumstances, NASA civil service employees are required to be citizens of the United States.Information for Non U.S. Citizens {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 7, 2018}}, NASA (downloaded September 16, 2013)

Space flight programs

File:VonBraunMuellerReesSA6.jpg|thumb|At launch control for the May 28, 1964, Saturn I SA-6 launch. Wernher von BraunWernher von BraunFile:As08-16-2593.jpg|right|thumb|NASA is famous for the first human visits to the Moon,WEB,weblink Archived copy, September 20, 2019,weblink September 20, 2019, live, NASA has conducted many manned and unmanned spaceflight programs throughout its history. Unmanned programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth orbit for scientific and communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with Venus and Mars, and including "grand tours" of the outer planets. Manned programs sent the first Americans into low Earth orbit (LEO), won the Space Race with the Soviet Union by landing twelve men on the Moon from 1969 to 1972 in the Apollo program, developed a semi-reusable LEO Space Shuttle, and developed LEO space station capability by itself and with the cooperation of several other nations including post-Soviet Russia. Some missions include both manned and unmanned aspects, such as the Galileo probe, which was deployed by astronauts in Earth orbit before being sent unmanned to Jupiter.

Crewed programs

The experimental rocket-powered aircraft programs started by NACA were extended by NASA as support for manned spaceflight. This was followed by a one-man space capsule program, and in turn by a two-man capsule program. Reacting to loss of national prestige and security fears caused by early leads in space exploration by the Soviet Union, in 1961 President John F. Kennedy proposed the ambitious goal "of landing a man on the Moon by the end of [the 1960s], and returning him safely to the Earth." This goal was met in 1969 by the Apollo program, and NASA planned even more ambitious activities leading to a manned mission to Mars. However, reduction of the perceived threat and changing political priorities almost immediately caused the termination of most of these plans. NASA turned its attention to an Apollo-derived temporary space laboratory, and a semi-reusable Earth orbital shuttle. In the 1990s, funding was approved for NASA to develop a permanent Earth orbital space station in cooperation with the international community, which now included the former rival, post-Soviet Russia. To date, NASA has launched a total of 166 manned space missions on rockets, and thirteen X-15 rocket flights above the USAF definition of spaceflight altitude, {{convert|80|km|ft|sp=us|order=flip}}.The Air Force definition of outer space differs from that of the International Aeronautical Federation, which is {{convert|100|km|ft|sp=us}}.

X-15 rocket plane (1959–1968)

(File:X-15 in flight.jpg|thumb|left|X-15 in powered flight)The North American X-15 was an NACA experimental rocket-powered hypersonic research aircraft, developed in conjunction with the US Air Force and Navy. The design featured a slender fuselage with fairings along the side containing fuel and early computerized control systems. Requests for proposal were issued on December 30, 1954, for the airframe, and February 4, 1955, for the rocket engine. The airframe contract was awarded to North American Aviation in November 1955, and the XLR30 engine contract was awarded to Reaction Motors in 1956, and three planes were built. The X-15 was 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 {{convert|45000|ft|km|sp=us}} and a speed of about {{convert|805|km/h|mph|sp=us|order=flip}}.Twelve pilots were selected for the program from the Air Force, Navy, and NACA (later NASA). A total of 199 flights were made between 1959 and 1968, resulting in the official world record for the highest speed ever reached by a manned powered aircraft (current {{As of|2013|alt=as of 2014}}), and a maximum speed of Mach 6.72, {{convert|4519|mph|km/h|sp=us}}.Aircraft Museum X-15." {{Webarchive|url= |date=September 21, 2011}}, 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 wings for flying above {{convert|80|km|ft|sp=us|order=flip}}, and two flights by Joseph A. Walker exceeded {{convert|100|km|ft|sp=us}}, qualifying as spaceflight according to the International Aeronautical Federation. The X-15 program employed mechanical techniques used in the later manned 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 {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 7, 2018}}, retrieved October 17, 2011 The reentry and landing data collected were valuable to NASA for designing the Space Shuttle.Aerospaceweb, North American X-15 {{Webarchive|url= |date=September 21, 2011}}. Retrieved on November 3, 2011.{{clear}}

Project Mercury (1958–1963)

File:Glenn62.jpg|thumb|John Glenn on (Friendship 7]]: first US orbital flight, 1962)Shortly after the Space Race began, an early objective was to get a person into Earth orbit as soon as possible, therefore the simplest spacecraft that could be launched by existing rockets was favored. The US Air Force's Man in Space Soonest program considered many manned spacecraft designs, ranging from rocket planes like the X-15, to small ballistic space capsules.Encyclopedia Astronautica, Project 7969 {{webarchive|url= |date=October 11, 2011}}, retrieved October 17, 2011 By 1958, the space plane concepts were eliminated in favor of the ballistic capsule.NASA, Project Mercury Overview {{webarchive|url= |date=June 3, 2013}}, retrieved October 17, 2011When NASA was created that same year, the Air Force program was transferred to it and renamed Project Mercury. 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.BOOK,weblink This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, url, 11-4 Shepard's Ride,weblink NASA, Published as NASA Special Publication-4201 in the NASA History Series, Loyd S., Swenson Jr., James M., Grimwood, Charles C., Alexander, David, Woods, Chris, Gamble, July 14, 2009, 1989,weblink" title="">weblink July 13, 2009, live, John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit, by an Atlas launch vehicle on February 20, 1962, aboard Friendship 7.BOOK,weblink This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, url, 13-4 An American in Orbit,weblink NASA, Published as NASA Special Publication-4201 in the NASA History Series, Loyd S., Swenson Jr., James M., Grimwood, Charles C., Alexander, David, Woods, Chris, Gamble, July 14, 2009, 1989,weblink" title="">weblink July 13, 2009, live, 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.WEB, NASA,weblink Mercury Manned Flights Summary, October 9, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink September 16, 2011, live, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan were three of the human computers doing calculations on trajectories during the Space Race.WEB,weblink Katherine Johnson Biography, Loff, Sarah, November 22, 2016, NASA, March 8, 2019,weblink March 31, 2019, live, WEB,weblink Mary Jackson Biography, Loff, Sarah, November 22, 2016, NASA, March 8, 2019,weblink January 20, 2019, live, WEB,weblink Dorothy Vaughan Biography, Loff, Sarah, November 22, 2016, NASA, March 8, 2019,weblink November 30, 2018, live, 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.The Soviet Union (USSR) competed with its own single-pilot spacecraft, Vostok. They sent the first man in space, by launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into a single Earth orbit aboard Vostok 1 in April 1961, one month before Shepard's flight.WEB, NASA,weblink NASA history, Gagarin, October 9, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink October 25, 2011, live, 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.{{clear}}

Project Gemini (1961–1966)

File:Ed White performs first U.S. spacewalk - GPN-2006-000025-crop.jpg|thumb|left|upright=1|Ed White on Gemini 4: first US spacewalkspacewalkBased 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 1962 to overcome the Soviets' lead and to support the Apollo manned lunar landing program, adding extravehicular activity (EVA) and rendezvous and docking to its objectives. The first manned Gemini flight, Gemini 3, was flown by Gus Grissom and John Young on March 23, 1965.BOOK, Barton C. Hacker, James M. Grimwood, On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini,weblinkweblink February 1, 2010, url, July 14, 2009, December 31, 2002, NASA, 978-0-16-067157-9, 10-1 The Last Hurdle,weblink 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.BOOK, Barton C. Hacker, James M. Grimwood, On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini,weblinkweblink February 1, 2010, July 14, 2009, December 31, 2002, NASA, 978-0-16-067157-9, 12-5 Two Weeks in a Spacecraft,weblink BOOK, Barton C. Hacker, James M. Grimwood, On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini,weblinkweblink February 1, 2010, July 14, 2009, December 31, 2002, NASA, 978-0-16-067157-9, 13-3 An Alternative Target,weblink Under the direction of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR competed with Gemini by converting their Vostok spacecraft into a two- or three-man Voskhod. They succeeded in launching two manned 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, their answer to Apollo.

Apollo program (1961–1972)

File:Buzz salutes the U.S. Flag-crop.jpg|thumb|Apollo 11: Buzz AldrinBuzz AldrinThe 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.{{YouTube|TUXuV7XbZvU|John F. Kennedy "Landing a man on the Moon" Address to Congress}}, speechApollo was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It cost more than $20 billion in 1960s dollarsWEB, Butts, Glenn, Linton, Kent, The Joint Confidence Level Paradox: A History of Denial, 2009 NASA Cost Symposium, April 28, 2009, 25–26,weblink's_Joint_Cost-Schedule_Paradox_-_A_History_of_Denial.pdf, dead,weblink" title="">weblink's_Joint_Cost-Schedule_Paradox_-_A_History_of_Denial.pdf, October 26, 2011, or an estimated ${{Formatprice|{{Inflation|US|170000000000|2005|r=2}}}} in present-day US dollars.{{Inflation-fn|US}} (In comparison, the Manhattan Project cost roughly ${{Formatprice|{{Inflation|US|2000000000|1945|r=2}}}}, accounting for inflation.){{Inflation-fn|US}}BOOK, Nichols, Kenneth David, Kenneth Nichols, The Road to Trinity: A Personal Account of How America's Nuclear Policies Were Made, pp 34–35, New York, William Morrow and Company, 1987, 978-0-688-06910-0, 15223648, harv, It used the Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets built for previous projects.WEB,weblink Saturn V, Encyclopedia Astronautica, October 13, 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink October 7, 2011, The spacecraft was also bigger; it had two main parts, the combined 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 eventually return to Earth.{{refn |group= note |The descend stage of the LM stayed on the Moon after landing while the ascend stage brought the two astronauts back to the CSM and then fell back to the Moon.}}The second manned mission, Apollo 8, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon in December 1968.WEB,weblink Apollo 8: The First Lunar Voyage, NASA, October 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink October 27, 2011, live, Shortly before, the Soviets had sent an unmanned spacecraft around the Moon.BOOK, Siddiqi, Asif A., The Soviet Space Race with Apollo, 654–656, 2003, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 978-0-8130-2628-2, On the next two missions docking maneuvers that were needed for the Moon landing were practicedWEB,weblink Apollo 9: Earth Orbital trials, NASA, October 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink October 27, 2011, live, WEB,weblink Apollo 10: The Dress Rehearsal, NASA, October 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink October 27, 2011, live, and then finally the Moon landing was made on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.WEB,weblink The First Landing, NASA, October 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink October 27, 2011, live, File:NASA Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle-crop.jpg|thumb|upright=1|Apollo 17: Lunar Roving VehicleLunar Roving VehicleThe first person to walk on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed 19 minutes later 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 {{convert|381.7|kg|lb}} of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind.BOOK, Chaikin, Andrew, A Man on the Moon,weblink March 16, 1998, Penguin Books, New York, 978-0-14-027201-7, The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.The Phrase Finder: {{Webarchive|url= |date=September 24, 2011}} ... a giant leap for mankind, retrieved October 1, 2011Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body.30th Anniversary of Apollo 11, Manned Apollo Missions {{Webarchive|url= |date=February 20, 2011}}. NASA, 1999. 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.

Skylab (1965–1979)

File:Skylab and Earth Limb - GPN-2000-001055.jpg|thumb|left|Skylab in 1974, seen from the departing Skylab 4Skylab 4{{Bar graph| title = Days in Space| float = right| bar_width = 10| width_units = em| data_max = 100| label_type = Mission| data_type = #| label1 = Skylab 2| data1 = 28| label2 = Skylab 3| data2 = 60| label3 = Skylab 4| data3 = 84}}File:Astronaut Owen Garriott Performs EVA During Skylab 3 - GPN-2002-000065.jpg|thumb|Owen GarriottOwen GarriottSkylab was the United States' first and only independently built space station.BOOK,weblink Skylab Our First Space Station—NASA report, NASA-SP-400, 1977, NASA, Leland F., Belew, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink March 17, 2010, live, Conceived in 1965 as a workshop to be constructed in space from a spent Saturn IB upper stage, the {{convert|169950|lb|kg|0|abbr=on}} station was constructed on Earth and launched on May 14, 1973, atop the first two stages of a Saturn V, into a {{convert|235|nmi|km|adj=on}} 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, and a 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 {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 16, 2016}}. NASA publication SP-4208.To save 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 {{convert|11290|ft3|m3|sp=us}}, which was 30.7 times bigger than that of the Apollo Command Module.

Apollo–Soyuz Test Project (1972–1975)

(File:Portrait of ASTP crews - restoration-crop.jpg|thumb|left|Soviet and American crews with spacecraft model, 1975.)On May 24, 1972, US President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin signed an agreement calling for a joint manned space mission, and declaring intent for all future international manned spacecraft to be capable of docking with each other.BOOK, Gatland, Kenneth, Manned Spacecraft, Second Revision, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1976, New York, 247, 978-0-02-542820-1, This authorized the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), involving the rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit of a surplus Apollo Command/Service Module with a Soyuz spacecraft. The mission took place in July 1975. This was the last US manned space flight until the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle in April 1981.WEB,weblink The Apollo Soyuz Test Project, Kay, Grinter, April 23, 2003, July 15, 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink July 25, 2009, 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 {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 7, 2018}}, retrieved October 15, 2011 and the International Space Station.

Space Shuttle program (1972–2011)

(File:Spacelab Arrival Ceremony at Kennedy Space Center - GPN-2002-000088.jpg|thumb|NASA officials and politicians welcome the arrival of Spacelab in 1982)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,BOOK, Bernier, Serge, Space Odyssey: The First Forty Years of Space Exploration,weblink May 27, 2002, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-81356-3, the 20th anniversary of the first known human space flight.Encyclopedia Astronautica, Vostok 1 {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 28, 2011}}, retrieved October 18, 2011Its 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 miles)NASA, Shuttle Basics {{Webarchive|url= |date=October 7, 2018}}, retrieved October 18, 2011 and carry a maximum payload (to low orbit) of 24,400 kg (54,000 lb).Encyclopedia Astronautica, Shuttle {{Webarchive|url= |date=April 7, 2004}}, retrieved October 18, 2011 Missions could last from 5 to 17 days and crews could be from 2 to 8 astronauts.File:Astronaut Mae Jemison Working in Spacelab-J (7544385084).jpg|left|thumb|Mae JemisonMae JemisonOn 20 missions (1983–98) 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 {{webarchive|url= |date=October 11, 2011}}. 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.WEB,weblink Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space, Spaceflight, Kim Ann Zimmermann 2018-01-19T02:02:00Z,, en, March 8, 2019,weblink March 8, 2019, live, Another famous series of missions were the launch and later successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and 1993, respectively.Encyclopedia Astronautica, HST {{webarchive|url= |date=August 18, 2011}}. Retrieved October 20, 2011(File:Shuttle-a.jpg|thumb|upright|Launch of a Space Shuttle in 2008)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 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.NEWS,weblink Shuttle delays endanger space station, July 15, 2009, USA Today, Traci, Watson, January 8, 2008,weblink" title="">weblink March 26, 2009, live, 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.WEB,weblink NASA's Last Space Shuttle Flight Lifts Off From Cape Canaveral, July 8, 2011, KHITS Chicago, dead,weblink" title="">weblink July 14, 2011,

International Space Station (1993–present)

(File:ISS-assembly-animation.gif|thumb|left|upright=1.2|Animation of assembly of the ISS)The International Space Station (ISS) combines NASA's Space Station Freedom project with the Soviet/Russian Mir-2 station, the European Columbus station, and the Japanese Kibō laboratory module.BOOK, 978-0-387-78144-0, June 17, 2008, Springer-Praxis, John E. Catchpole, The International Space Station: Building for the Future, 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 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).WEB,weblink Human Spaceflight and Exploration—European Participating States, January 17, 2009, European Space Agency (ESA), 2009,weblink August 8, 2012, live, BOOK, Gary Kitmacher, Reference Guide to the International Space Station, Apogee Books, Canada, 2006, 978-1-894959-34-6, 1496-6921, 71–80, The station consists of pressurized modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components, which have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and the US Space Shuttles. It is currently{{when|date=October 2019}} being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. 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 is expected by 2020s.WEB,weblink Statement of William H. Gerstenmaier Associate Administrator for HEO NASA before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Committee on Science, Space and Technology U. S. House of Representatives, Gerstenmaier, William, October 12, 2011, United States House of Representatives, August 31, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink September 21, 2012, dead, WEB,weblink The Russian ISS segment is to be completed by 2016, Igor, Afanasev, Dmitrii, Vorontsov, January 11, 2012, Air Transport Observer, October 14, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink February 28, 2012, live, {{Update after|2015|5|5|reason=The launch date of the modules have significantly slipped, and there is now some debate on whether they will ever launch.}} The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreementsWEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink dead, June 10, 2009, ISS Intergovernmental Agreement, European Space Agency (ESA), April 19, 2009, April 19, 2009, which divide the station into two areas and allow Russia to retain full ownership of the Russian Orbital Segment (with the exception of Zarya),WEB,weblink Memorandum of Understanding Between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States of America and the Russian Space Agency Concerning Cooperation on the Civil International Space Station, NASA, April 19, 2009, January 29, 1998,weblink" title="">weblink June 10, 2009, live, WEB,weblink Russian Segment: Enterprise, Zak, Anatoly, October 15, 2008, RussianSpaceWeb, August 4, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink September 20, 2012, live, with the US Orbital Segment allocated between the other international partners.Long-duration missions to the ISS are referred to as ISS Expeditions. Expedition crew members typically spend approximately six months on the ISS.WEB,weblink ISS Fact sheet: FS-2011-06-009-JSC, 2011, NASA, September 2, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink May 10, 2013, live, 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.WEB,weblink MCB Joint Statement Representing Common Views on the Future of the ISS, February 3, 2010, International Space Station Multilateral Coordination Board, August 16, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink November 16, 2012, live, Crew size is expected to be increased to seven, the number the ISS was designed for, once the Commercial Crew Program becomes operational.WEB,weblink Wed, 20 June, 2012 NASA Banking on Commercial Crew To Grow ISS Population, Leone, Dan, June 20, 2012, Space News, September 1, 2012, The ISS has been continuously occupied for the past {{age in years and days|November 2, 2000|sep=and}}, having exceeded the previous record held by Mir; and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.WEB,weblink Nations Around the World Mark 10th Anniversary of International Space Station, NASA, November 17, 2008, March 6, 2009,weblink" title="">weblinkmission_pagesstatiomain10th_anniversary.html, February 13, 2009, live, WEB,weblink The International Space Station Has Been Continuously Inhabited for Ten Years Today, Boyle, Rebecca, November 11, 2010, Popular Science, September 1, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink March 18, 2013, live, File:STS-135 final flyaround of ISS 1.jpg|thumb|The International Space Station as seen by the final Space Shuttle mission ]]The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, as of 2019, is the largest artificial satellite in Earth orbit with a mass and volume greater than that of any previous space station.International Space Station {{Webarchive|url= |date=February 24, 2009}}, Retrieved October 20, 2011 The Soyuz spacecraft delivers crew members, stays docked for their half-year-long missions and then returns them home. Several uncrewed cargo spacecraft service the ISS; they are the Russian 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 American Dragon spacecraft since 2012, and the American 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.WEB,weblink U.S. Human Spaceflight Program Still Strong, NASA Chief Says, Chow, Denise, November 17, 2011,, July 2, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink June 25, 2012, live, The highest number of people occupying the ISS has been thirteen; this occurred three times during the late Shuttle ISS assembly missions.WEB,weblink Space Shuttle, Station Dock: 13 Astronauts Together, Potter, Ned, July 17, 2009, ABC News,weblink" title="">weblink June 30, 2017, September 7, 2012, live, The ISS program is expected to continue until at least 2024, and may be extended beyond 2028.WEB,weblink International Space Station: Facts, History & Tracking, Spaceflight, Elizabeth Howell 2018-02-08T01:25:00Z,, en, April 28, 2019,weblink April 1, 2019, live, On March 29, 2019, the ISS will have its first all-female spacewalk; Anne McClain and Christina Koch will take flight during Women's History Month.NEWS,weblink Washington Post, Epstein, Kayla, March 7, 2019, March 8, 2019,weblink March 7, 2019, live,

Commercial programs (2006–present)

{{multiple image| align= right| image1= COTS2 Dragon is berthed.jpg| width1= 150| alt1= | caption1= Dragon being berthed to the ISS in May 2012| image2= Cygnus Orb-D1.8.jpg| width2= 180| alt2= | caption2= Cygnus berthed to the ISS in September 2013| footer= }}The development of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) vehicles began in 2006 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated uncrewed cargo vehicles to service the ISS.PRESS RELEASE, NASA, August 18, 2006, NASA Selects Crew and Cargo Transportation to Orbit Partners,weblink November 21, 2006,weblink" title="">weblink October 12, 2006, live, The development of these vehicles was under a fixed-price, milestone-based program, meaning that each company that received a funded award had a list of milestones with a dollar value attached to them that they did not receive until after they had successfully completed the milestone.WEB, Moving Forward: Commercial Crew Development Building the Next Era in Spaceflight,weblink Rendezvous, NASA, February 14, 2011, 10–17, 2010, "Just as in the COTS projects, in the CCDev project we have fixed-price, pay-for-performance milestones" Thorn said. "There's no extra money invested by NASA if the projects cost more than projected.",weblink" title="">weblink November 24, 2010, live, Companies were also required to raise an unspecified amount of private investment for their proposal.WEB,weblink The Case for Commercial Crew, McAlister, Phil, October 2010, NASA, July 2, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink April 4, 2012, live, On December 23, 2008, NASA awarded Commercial Resupply Services contracts to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation."NASA Awards Space Station Commercial Resupply Services Contracts" {{Webarchive|url= |date=December 2, 2017}}. NASA, December 23, 2008. SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.WEB,weblink Space Exploration Technologies Corporation â€“ Press,, July 17, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink July 21, 2009, dead, Orbital Sciences uses its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. The first Dragon resupply mission occurred in May 2012.WEB,weblink NASA expects quick start to SpaceX cargo contract, Clark, Stephen, June 2, 2012, SpaceFlightNow, June 30, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink June 30, 2012, live, The first Cygnus resupply mission occurred in September 2013.WEB,weblink Orbital's Cygnus successfully berthed on the ISS, Bergin, Chris, September 28, 2013, (not affiliated with NASA), October 17, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink October 13, 2013, live, The CRS program now provides for all America's ISS cargo needs, with the exception of a few vehicle-specific payloads that are delivered on the European ATV and the Japanese HTV.WEB,weblink SpaceX/NASA Discuss launch of Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, May 22, 2012, NASA, June 23, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink July 21, 2013, live, {{Multiple image|align=right|direction= horizontal|image1= SpaceX Dragon v2 Pad Abort Vehicle (16661791299).jpg|width1=160|caption1=Dragon V2|image2= CST-100.jpg|width2=160|caption2=Rendering of CST-100 in orbit}}The Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program was started in 2010 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated crewed spacecraft capable of delivering at least four crew members to the ISS, staying docked for 180 days and then returning them back to Earth.WEB,weblink Biggest CCDev Award Goes to Sierra Nevada, Berger, Brian, February 1, 2011, Imaginova Corp., December 13, 2011, It is hoped that these vehicles could also transport non-NASA customers to private space stations such those planned by Bigelow Aerospace.WEB,weblink Boeing Gets Most Money With Smallest Investment, Morring, Frank, October 10, 2012, Aviation Week, October 5, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink May 10, 2013, live, Like COTS, CCDev is a fixed-price, milestone-based developmental program that requires some private investment.In 2010, when NASA announced the winners of the first phase of the program, a total of $50 million was divided among five American companies to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector. In 2011, the winners of the second phase of the program were announced, and $270 million was divided among four companies.WEB,weblink Dean, James, NASA awards $270 million for commercial crew efforts,, April 18, 2011, May 11, 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink April 19, 2011, In 2012, the winners of the third phase of the program were announced; NASA provided $1.1 billion divided among three companies to further develop their crew transportation systems.WEB,weblink NASA Announces Next Steps in Effort to Launch Americans from U.S. Soil, August 3, 2012, NASA, August 3, 2012,weblink March 19, 2017, live, In 2014, the winners of the final round were announced.WEB, American Companies Selected to Return Astronaut Launches to American Soil, Bolden, Charlie,weblink, September 16, 2014,weblink" title="">weblink September 16, 2014, live, SpaceX's Dragon V2 (planned to be launched on a Falcon 9 v1.1) received a contract valued up to $2.6 billion and Boeing's CST-100 (to be launched on an Atlas V) received a contract valued up to $4.2 billion.NEWS, Foust, Jeff, NASA Commercial Crew Awards Leave Unanswered Questions,weblink September 21, 2014, Space News, September 19, 2014, "We basically awarded based on the proposals that we were given," Kathy Lueders, NASA commercial crew program manager, said in a teleconference with reporters after the announcement. "Both contracts have the same requirements. The companies proposed the value within which they were able to do the work, and the government accepted that.", NASA expects these vehicles to begin transporting humans to the ISS in 2019.WEB,weblink NASA's Commercial Crew Program Target Test Flight Dates, Lewis, Marie, November 21, 2018,, NASA,weblink November 25, 2018, live, November 29, 2018,

Artemis program (2017–present)

(File:Artemis program (contrast wordmark).svg|thumb|upright|alt=An arrowhead combined with a depiction of a trans-lunar injection trajectory forms an "A", with an "Artemis" wordmark printed underneath)Since 2017, NASA is focusing on the Artemis program, an ongoing crewed spaceflight program, with the help of U.S. commercial spaceflight companies, and international partners such as ESA.WEB,weblink NASA: Moon to Mars, NASA, 19 May 2019,weblink August 5, 2019, live, 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.In February 2010, President Barack Obama's administration proposed eliminating public funds for the Constellation program and shifting greater responsibility of servicing the ISS to private companies.NEWS,weblink NASA budget for 2011 eliminates funds for manned lunar missions, Washington Post, February 1, 2010, February 1, 2010, Joel, Achenbach,weblink" title="">weblink March 21, 2010, live, 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.WEB,weblink President Barack Obama on Space Exploration in the 21st Century, April 15, 2010, Office of the Press Secretary, July 4, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink July 19, 2012, live, In his speech, Obama called for a manned mission to an asteroid as soon as 2025, and a manned 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.WEB,weblink Today â€“ President Signs NASA 2010 Authorization Act,, November 20, 2010, The Authorization Act required a newly designed HLV be chosen within 90 days of its passing; the launch vehicle was given the name Space Launch System. The new law also required the construction of a beyond low earth orbit spacecraft.WEB,weblink Holdren: NASA Law Doesn't Square with Budgetary Reality, Svitak, Amy, March 31, 2011, Space News, July 4, 2012, 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.WEB,weblink NASA Announces Design for New Deep Space Exploration System, September 14, 2011, NASA, April 28, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink April 13, 2012, live, The SLS is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. The initial capability of SLS is required to be able to lift {{cvt|70|t|lb}} into LEO. It is then planned to be upgraded to {{cvt|105|t|lb}} and then eventually to {{cvt|130|t|lb}}.WEB,weblink Bill Text – 111th Congress (2009–2010) – THOMAS (Library of Congress),, September 23, 2019,weblink" title="">weblink November 5, 2015, live, Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), an unmanned test flight of Orion's crew module, was launched on December 5, 2014, atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket.WEB,weblink Acronyms to Ascent â€“ SLS managers create development milestone roadmap, Bergin, Chris, February 23, 2012, NASA, April 29, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink April 30, 2012, live, Artemis 1 is the uncrewed initial launch of SLS that would also send Orion on a Distant Retrograde Orbit, which is planned between 2020–2021.NEWS,weblink NASA’s large SLS rocket unlikely to fly before at least late 2021, 17 July 2019, August 14, 2019,weblink August 13, 2019, live, (File:Mars2020Rover-JourneyToMars-Humans-Rover-20140731.jpg|thumb|NASA Graphic for the Journey to Mars)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, except that it will be in orbit about the Moon, instead of the Earth.NASA Sets New Roadmap for Moon Base, Crewed Missions to Mars {{Webarchive|url= |date=November 27, 2018}} Extreme Tech. By Ryan Whitwam. September 27, 2018. Downloaded November 26, 2018. 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 between 2022-2023.WEB,weblink Boeing assembling structures for NASA’s second SLS Core Stage, 2019-08-09, August 14, 2019,weblink August 10, 2019, live, This mission is to be a 10-day mission planned to briefly place a crew of four into a Lunar flyby. The construction of the Gateway would begin with the proposed Artemis 4, 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.On June 5, 2016, NASA and DARPA announced plans to also build a series of new X-planes over the next 10 years.WEB,weblink NASA and DARPA plan to release new X-Planes, Grady, Mary, June 5, 2016, Yahoo Tech, June 8, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink June 11, 2016, live, One of the planes will be the Quiet Supersonic Technology project, burning low-carbon biofuels and generating quiet sonic booms.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.WEB,weblink NASA builds deep space habitats on Earth, December 30, 2016,weblink February 24, 2017, live, 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 2030s.WEB,weblink US Government Issues NASA Demand, 'Get Humans to Mars By 2033', March 9, 2017, February 16, 2018,weblink February 17, 2018, live, WEB,weblink Trump Signs NASA Authorization act of 2017, March 21, 2017, Spaceflight Insider, December 2, 2018,weblink December 3, 2018, live,

Uncrewed programs

More than 1,000 uncrewed missions have been designed to explore the Earth and the solar system.WEB,weblink Launch History (Cumulative), September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink October 19, 2011, live, Besides exploration, communication satellites have also been launched by NASA.WEB,weblink NASA Experimental Communications Satellites, 1958–1995, September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink August 4, 2011, live, The missions 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. 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.WEB,weblink NASA, Explorers program, September 20, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink September 27, 2011, live, A more recent Earth mission, not related to the Explorer program, was the Hubble Space Telescope, which was brought into orbit in 1990.NASA mission STS-31 (35) {{webarchive |url= |date=August 18, 2011}}File:Kennedy Receives Mariner 2 Model.jpg|thumb|William H. Pickering, (center) JPL Director, President John F. Kennedy, (right). NASA Administrator James E. Webb (background) discussing the Mariner programMariner programThe inner Solar System has been made the goal of at least four uncrewed programs. The first was Mariner in the 1960s and 1970s, which made multiple visits to Venus and Mars and one to 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.WEB,weblink JPL, Chapter 4. Interplanetary Trajectories, September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink September 3, 2011, live, 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.WEB,weblink Missions to Mars, September 30, 2011, The Planet Society,weblink" title="">weblink January 18, 2012, live, (File:NASA 60th- What’s Out There.webm|thumb|Video of many of the uncrewed missions were used to explore the outer reaches of space)File:Pioneer-3-4.gif|left|thumb|upright|Pioneer 3 and 4 launched in 1958 and 1959, respectively]]Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973. More than 20 years later Galileo sent a probe into the planet's atmosphere, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet.WEB,weblink Missions to Jupiter, September 30, 2011, The Planet Society,weblink" title="">weblink October 6, 2011, live, 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.WEB,weblink JPL Voyager, September 30, 2011, JPL,weblink" title="">weblink October 8, 2011, live, Pioneers 10 and 11 and both Voyager probes carry messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life.WEB,weblink Pioneer 10 spacecraft send last signal, September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink November 9, 2016, live, WEB,weblink The golden record, September 30, 2011, JPL,weblink" title="">weblink September 27, 2011, live, 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.WEB,weblink New Horizon, September 30, 2011, JHU/APL, dead,weblink" title="">weblink May 9, 2010, 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.WEB,weblink Voyages Beyond the Solar System: The Voyager Interstellar Mission, September 30, 2011, NASA,weblink" title="">weblink September 27, 2011, live, On November 26, 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission was successfully launched for Mars. Curiosity successfully landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and subsequently began its search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.WEB, NASA Staff, Mars Science Laboratory,weblink NASA, November 26, 2011, November 26, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink November 27, 2011, live, NEWS, Associated Press, NASA Launches Super-Size Rover to Mars: 'Go, Go!',weblink New York Times, November 26, 2011, November 26, 2011, NEWS, Kenneth Chang, Curiosity Rover Lands Safely on Mars,weblink The New York Times, August 6, 2012, August 6, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink August 6, 2012, live,

Activities (2005–2017)

File:JWST Full Mirror.jpg|thumb|upright|The James Webb Space TelescopeJames Webb Space Telescope(File:EFT-1 Orion recovery.5.jpg|thumb|The EFT-1 test flight was conducted in 2014, unmanned capsule shown)File:PIA12567-PlanetSaturn-NaturalColor-20180716.jpg|thumb|Saturn by the Cassini-HuygensCassini-Huygens(File:Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg|thumb|upright|Curiosity on Mars)NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Mars 2020 and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support 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 (1997–2017), and Juno (2011–). In the early 2000s, NASA was put on course for the Moon, however in 2010 this program was cancelled (see Constellation program). As part of that plan the Shuttle was going to be replaced, however, although it was retired its replacement was also cancelled, leaving the US with no human spaceflight launcher for the first time in over three decades.The 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. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.WEB,weblink NASA Selects 'MAVEN' Mission to Study Mars Atmosphere, NASA, Jim, Wilson, September 15, 2008, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink June 19, 2009, live, On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent Moon base.WEB,weblink Global Exploration Strategy and Lunar Architecture, NASA Office of Public Affairs, NASA, December 4, 2006, July 15, 2009,weblink" title="">weblink June 24, 2009, live, 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 Augustine Committee found the program to be on an "unsustainable trajectory."WEB,weblink Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, October 22, 2009, Office of Science and Technology Policy, December 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink December 13, 2011, live, In 2010, President Barack Obama halted existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on manned missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station.NEWS,weblink The Times, London, Nasa reduced to pipe dreams as Obama cancels Moon flights, Jacqui, Goddard, February 2, 2010, May 19, 2010,weblink" title="">weblink May 29, 2010, live, Since 2011, NASA's strategic goals have beenWEB, NASA Strategic Plan, 2011,weblink NASA Headquarters, April 12, 2018,weblink October 7, 2018, live,
  • Extend and sustain human activities across the solar system
  • Expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe
  • Create innovative new space technologies
  • Advance 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
In August 2011, NASA accepted the donation of two space telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office. Despite being stored unused, the instruments are superior to the Hubble Space Telescope.NEWS,weblink NASA Adopts Two Spare Spy Telescopes, Each Maybe More Powerful than Hubble, Popular Science, June 5, 2012, Popular Science Technology Group, June 5, 2012, Boyle, Rebecca,weblink" title="">weblink June 7, 2012, live, In September 2011, NASA announced the start of the Space Launch System program to develop a human-rated heavy lift vehicle. The Space Launch System is intended to launch the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and other elements towards the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and one day Mars.WEB,weblink NASA Announces Design for New Deep Space Exploration System, September 14, 2011, NASA, December 13, 2011,weblink" title="">weblink April 13, 2012, live, The Orion MPCV conducted an unmanned test launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014.WEB,weblink NASA's Orion Flight Test Yields Critical Data, NASA, April 12, 2018,weblink May 5, 2019, live, The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is currently scheduled to launch in March 2021.NEWS, NASA Completes Webb Telescope Review, Commits to Launch in Early 2021,weblink 27 June 2018, NASA, 27 June 2018, On August 6, 2012, NASA landed the rover Curiosity on Mars. On August 27, 2012, Curiosity transmitted the first pre-recorded message from the surface of Mars back to Earth, made by Administrator Charlie Bolden:}}

Astronomy and NEO detection

{{Overly detailed|section|date=October 2019}}(File:NEA 1 km or more.png|thumb|300px|Large NEAs (at least 1 km in diameter) discovered each year)(File:Eros - PIA02923 (color).jpg|thumb|NASA visited a near-Earth asteroid with a probe for the first time in 1998(flyby)/2000(orbit), asteroid 433 Eros)(File:Planetoid crashing into primordial Earth.jpg|thumb|Earth NEO collisions are seen as unlikely but possible)There was a Congressional directive in 1994 to find NEO's larger than 1 kilometer, and 90% of 1 kilometer sized asteroids are estimated to have been found by 2010.WEB,weblink NASA's Search for Asteroids to Help Protect Earth and Understand Our History, Loff, Sarah, 2014-04-22, NASA, 2019-09-30, 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 {{convert|140|m|ft|sp=us}} (Act of 2005, H.R. 1022; 109th),H.R. 1022 (109th): George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act - Original text. Tracking the United States Congress. Accessed: 31 October 2018. but no new funds were appropriated for this effort.290 Asteroid News: Time Is Running Out. Kevin Anderton, Forbes. 31 October 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.WEB,weblink How NASA's Planetary Defense Budget Grew By More Than 4000% in 10 years,, en, 2019-09-30, NEO's were defined in this case by the term ``near-Earth object'' as an asteroid or comet with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 Astronomical Units from the Sun.WEB,weblink Text - S.1281 - 109th Congress (2005-2006): National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, Hutchison, Kay Bailey, 2005-12-30,, 2019-09-30, In late 2019 the directive gained increased notoriety and NASA approved an additional space telescope in addition to the existing observatory programs.WEB,weblink NASA to Build New Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope,, en, 2019-09-30, 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.NEWS,weblink Asteroid Population Count Slashed, January 12, 2000, Jane Platt, Press Releases, NASA/JPL, 2017-11-10, live,weblink 2017-05-09, JOURNAL, A reduced estimate of the number of kilometer-sized near-Earth asteroids, Nature, David Rabinowitz, Eleanor Helin, Kenneth Lawrence, Steven Pravdo, yes, January 13, 2000, 403, 165–166, 10.1038/35003128, 10646594, 6766, 2000Natur.403..165R, Shortly thereafter, the LINEAR survey provided an alternative estimate of {{val|1227|+170|-90|fmt=commas}}.JOURNAL, A Near-Earth Asteroid Population Estimate from the LINEAR Survey, Science, J. S. Stuart, November 23, 2001, 294, 5547, 1691–1693, 10.1126/science.1065318, 11721048, 2001Sci...294.1691S, In 2011, on the basis of NEOWISE observations, the estimated number of one-kilometer NEAs was narrowed to {{val|981|19}} (of which 93% had been discovered at the time), while the number of NEAs larger than 140 meters across was estimated at {{val|13200|1900|fmt=commas}}.JOURNAL, NEOWISE Observations of Near-Earth Objects: Preliminary Results, 3, The Astrophysical Journal, A. Mainzer, T. Grav, J. Bauer, J. Masiero, R. S. McMillan, R. M. Cutri, R. Walker, E. Wright, P. Eisenhardt, D. J. Tholen, T. Spahr, R. Jedicke, L. Denneau, E. DeBaun, D. Elsbury, T. Gautier, S. Gomillion, E. Hand, W. Mo, J. Watkins, A. Wilkins, G. L. Bryngelson, A. Del Pino Molina, S. Desai, M. Go'mez Camus, S. L. Hidalgo, I. Konstantopoulos, J. A. Larsen, C. Maleszewski, M. A. Malkan, J.-C. Mauduit, B. L. Mullan, E. W. Olszewski, J. Pforr, A. Saro, J. V. Scotti, L. H. Wasserman, December 20, 2011, 743, 2, 156, 1109.6400, 2011ApJ...743..156M, 10.1088/0004-637X/743/2/156, 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.NEWS, Kelly Beatty, WISE's Survey of Near-Earth Asteroids, Sky & Telescope, September 30, 2011,weblink 2018-02-08, 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 {{val|921|20}}.NEWS,weblink Good News Everyone! There are Fewer Deadly Undiscovered Asteroids than we Thought, Matt Williams, Universe Today, October 20, 2017, 2017-11-14, live,weblink 2017-11-04, The estimated number of asteroids brighter than absolute magnitude of 22.0 (approximately over 140 m across) rose to {{val|27100|2200|fmt=commas}}, double the WISE estimate,JOURNAL, Tricarico, Pasquale, The near-Earth asteroid population from two decades of observations, Icarus, 284, 416–423, March 1, 2017,weblink 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.12.008, 2018-03-09, 1604.06328, 2017Icar..284..416T, 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.JOURNAL, 10.1126/science.288.5474.2190, Understanding the Distribution of Near-Earth Asteroids, Science, 288, 5474, 2190–2194, 2000, Bottke Jr, W. F., Observational biases need to be taken into account when trying to calculate the number of bodies in a population. What is easily detected will be more counted.WEB,weblink
, Discovering Asteroids and NEOs by Telescopes
,, 2018-11-16,
For example, it has been easier to spot objects on the night-side of Earth. There is less noise from twilight, and the searcher is looking at the sunlit side of the asteroids. In the daytime sky, a searcher looking towards the sun sees the backside of the object (e.g. comparing a Full moon at night to a New Moon in daytime). In addition, opposition surge make them even brighter when the Earth is along the axis of sunlight. Finally, the day sky near the Sun is bright. The light of sun hitting asteroids has been called "full asteroid" similar to a "full moon" and the greater amount of light, creates a bias that they are easier to detect in this case.Over half (53%) of the discoveries of Near Earth objects were made in 3.8% of the sky, in a 22.5° cone facing directly away from the Sun, and the vast majority (87%) were made in 15% of the sky, in a 45° cone facing away from the Sun.WEB, NEO Earth Close Approach data
,weblink NASA JPL
, NASA, 7 July 2018,
(File:WISE artist concept (PIA17254, crop).jpg|thumb|WISE infrared telescope)Although NASA turned the infrared space survey telescope WISE back on in 2013 to look for NEO's, it was not designed for this purpose and has a relatively small aperture much like the NEOcam design. Another issue was that the NEOcam competed in the highly competitive Discovery program, which became more so due to a low mission rate in the 2010s. Also the Mars Scout Program was terminated at that time, further increasing competition. From its start until 2010, ten missions where launched, only two more mission were launched by 2020 (to the Moon and Mars), additionally the Mars Scout program had launched two additional programs to the planet Mars, which competed with NEOcam as well as more obscure destinations like Venus, which has had no dedicated mission since the 1980s. Finally, NASA plans to turn off its existing Infrared Great Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2021 due to technical problems (It is drifting away from the Earth in a Earth-trailing orbit which means it must rotate at extreme angle to communicate with Earth, but keep its battery charge).
Two of the biggest Near-Earth objects 433 Eros and 1036 Ganymed, were among the first Near Earth asteroids to be detected.NEWS,weblink Mathematicians Say Asteroid May Hit Earth in a Million Years, Browne, Malcolm W., 2018-11-16, en, As bigger asteroids they reflected more light. The eccentric 433 asteroid was discovered by German astronomer Carl Gustav Witt at the Berlin Urania Observatory on 13 August 1898. 1036 Ganymed is about 20 miles (35 km) in diameter, and it was discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade at the Bergedorf Observatory in Hamburg on 23 October 1924.WEB
, 1036 Ganymed (1924 TD)
, Minor Planet Center
, 29 August 2018,
, Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (1036) Ganymed
, Schmadel, Lutz D.
, Springer Berlin Heidelberg
, 89
, 2007
, 978-3-540-00238-3
, 10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_1037, (1036) Ganymed, 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.weblink 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. NEO 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.
{{wide image|Positions_of_Near_Earth_Asteroids_at_time_of_discovery.png|800px|align-cap=center|Due to the opposition effect over half (53%) of the discoveries of Near Earth objects were made in 3.8% of the sky, in a 22.5° cone facing directly away from the Sun, and the vast majority (87%) were made in 15% of the sky, in a 45° cone facing away from the Sun.WEB, NEO Earth Close Approach data,weblink NASA JPL, NASA, 7 July 2018, }}

Recent and planned activities

(File:Tagsamlast.gif|thumb|upright=1.6|Animation of a robotic arm moving on the OR mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid)(File:PIA22946-Jupiter-RedSpot-JunoSpacecraft-20190212.jpg|thumb|Published by NASA in March 2019, the "Jupiter Marble" by the Juno probe, in orbit around planet Jupiter)(File:UltimaThule CA06 color vertical.png|thumb|upright|The Kuiper belt object {{mpl|486958|2014 MU|69}} "Ultima Thule" was imaged during a flyby on January 1, 2019 by the New Horizons probe.)NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Mars 2020 and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support 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 (1997–2017), and Juno (2011–).The 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. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.In 2017, President Donald Trump directed NASA to send Humans to Mars by the year 2033.WEB,weblink Trump just signed a law that maps out NASA's long-term future — but a critical element is missing, February 16, 2018,weblink" title="">weblink February 17, 2018, live, Foci in general for NASA were noted as human space exploration, space science, and technology. The Europa Clipper and Mars 2020 continue to be supported for their planned schedules.WEB,weblink Trump's NASA budget preserves Mars mission, cuts Earth science, asteroid trip, education, USA Today, Ledyard King, March 16, 2017, February 16, 2018,weblink February 7, 2018, live, In 2018, NASA alongside with other companies including Sensor Coating Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Monitor Coating and UTRC have launched the project CAUTION (CoAtings for Ultra High Temperature detectION). This project aims to enhance the temperature range of the Thermal History Coating up to 1,500C and beyond. The final goal of this project is improving the safety of jet engines as well as increasing efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.WEB,weblink Sensor Coating Systems launches new national aerospace project with NATEP and some leading international players, SCS, August 23, 2018, October 12, 2018,weblink" title="">weblink October 27, 2018, live, The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman's 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.WEB,weblink Northrop Grumman Heads to Space Station with New NASA Science, Cargo, SCS, April 18, 2019, April 18, 2019,weblink April 18, 2019, live, Recent and planned activities include:
  • InSight, launched and landed on Mars in 2018
  • New Horizons, Kuiper belt object {{mpl|486958|2014 MU|69}} flyby on January 1, 2019NEWS, Chang, Kenneth, New Horizons Spacecraft Completes Flyby of Ultima Thule, the Most Distant Object Ever Visited,weblink December 31, 2018, The New York Times, January 1, 2019,weblink January 1, 2019, live,
  • OSIRIS-REx, en route for asteroid sample return on September 24, 2023WEB,weblink OSIRIS-REx Factsheet, NASA/Explorers and Heliophysics Projects Division, August 2011, October 30, 2018,weblink November 8, 2018, live,
  • Mars 2020 rover (planned)WEB,weblink Overview – Mars 2020 Rover,,, October 30, 2018,weblink December 15, 2018, live,
  • Europa Clipper (planned)
  • Misc. Discovery Missions{{citation needed|date=September 2018}}
  • Misc. Explorer Missions{{citation needed|date=September 2018}}
  • New Frontier mission including New Horizons, Juno, and OSIRIS-RExWEB,weblink New Frontiers {{!, Science Mission Directorate||access-date=June 18, 2019|archive-url=|archive-date=July 2, 2019|url-status=live}}
  • Earth Observation, Solar and Astronomical observatories{{citation needed|date=September 2018}}
  • James Webb Space Telescope (planned)
  • Parker Solar Probe, launched August 2018
  • Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April 2018
  • Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) (planned)WEB,weblink WFIRST work continues despite budget and schedule uncertainty, Faust, Jeff, March 28, 2018, September 17, 2018,

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 Shuttle Columbia disaster, Congress required that the ASAP submit an annual report to the NASA Administrator and to Congress.WEB,weblink NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP),, April 13, 2017,weblink March 8, 2017, live, 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).WEB,weblink About Us – Background and Charter, Ron, Mochinski, April 8, 2015, April 13, 2017,weblink" title="">weblink December 28, 2015, live, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 reaffirmed the importance of ASAP.


{{further|Space policy of the United States}}(File:Artist's Conception of Space Station Freedom - GPN-2003-00092.jpg|thumb|Artistic rendition of Space Station Freedom with the Orbiter Vehicle)Some of the major NASA directives were to land people on the Moon, build the Space Shuttle, and build a large space station. Typically, the major directives had the intervention of the science advisory, political, funding, and public interest that synergized into various waves of effort often heavily swayed by technical, funding, and worldwide events. For example, there was a major push to build Space Station Freedom in the 1980s, but when the Cold War ended, the Russians, the Americans and other international partners came together to build the International Space Station.In the 2010s, the major shift was the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the development of a new manned heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System. Missions for the new System have varied but overall, they were similar as it primarily involved the desire to send a human into the space. The Space Exploration Initiative of the 1980s opened newer avenues of galaxy exploration.In the coming decades, the focus is gradually shifting towards exploration of planet Mars; however, some differences exist over the technologies to develop and focus on for the exploration.WEB,weblink President Trump Directs NASA to Return to the Moon, Then Aim for Mars, May 11, 2018,weblink January 9, 2018, live, One of the options considered 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, especially on a solar electric propulsion system.NEWS, Jeff Foust, NASA closing out Asteroid Redirect Mission,weblink September 9, 2017, Space News, June 14, 2017, Longer project execution timelines means it is up to future officials to execute on a directive, which often leads to directional mismanagement. For example, a Shuttle replacement has numerous components involved, each making some headway before being called off for various reasons including the National Aerospace Plane, Venture Star, Orbital Space Plane, Ares I, and others. The asteroid mission was not a major directive in the 2010s. Instead, the general support rested with the long-term goal of getting humans to Mars. The space shuttle was retired and much of the existing road map was shelved including the then planned Lunar Return and Ares I human launch vehicle.Previously, in the early 2000s, there was a plan called the Constellation Program but this was defunded in the early 2010s.NEWS,weblink March 7, 2010, Obama cancels Moon return project, BBC News, February 1, 2010, Jonathan, Amos,weblink" title="">weblink August 21, 2017, live, WEB,weblink March 7, 2010, Terminations, Reductions, and Savings, dead,weblink" title="">weblink August 11, 2010, NEWS,weblink NASA budget for 2011 eliminates funds for manned lunar missions, Washington Post, February 1, 2010, February 1, 2010, Joel, Achenbach,weblink" title="">weblink March 21, 2010, live, WEB,weblink March 7, 2010, Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Estimates,weblink" title="">weblink February 1, 2010, In the 1990s, there was a plan called "Faster, Better, Cheaper"WEB,weblink Archived copy, May 11, 2018,weblink" title="">weblink January 20, 2017, live, In the 1980s, there was a directive to build a manned space station.WEB,weblink Reagan ISS, Todd Messer, Claire Rojstaczer, and Steve, Garber,, May 11, 2018,weblink December 25, 2017, live,

NASA Authorization Act of 2017

(File:Orion ISS 1 (05-2007).jpg|thumb|Orion at ISS artwork)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.NEWS,weblink US Government Issues NASA Demand, 'Get Humans to Mars By 2033', March 9, 2017, Futurism, February 16, 2018, en-US,weblink February 17, 2018, live,

Space Policy Directive 1

In December 2017, on the 45th anniversary of the last manned mission to the Lunar surface, President Donald Trump approved a directive that includes a lunar mission on the pathway to Mars and beyond., Marcia Smith, Space Policy Online, 11 December 2017, accessed 21 August 2018.}}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 capability that did not exist even five years ago, which have 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.


{{for|technologies funded or otherwise supported by NASA|NASA spinoff technologies}}(File:AX-5-spacesuit.jpg|thumb|NASA developed this hard-suit in the 1980s at the Ames Research Center)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 on space missions.WEB,weblink Radioisotope Power Systems for Space Exploration, March 2011, March 13, 2015,weblink" title="">weblink March 4, 2016, live, Shortages of this material have curtailed deep space missions since the turn of the millennia.WEB,weblink New Horizons II Final Report – March 2005, November 14, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink November 12, 2013, live, 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.Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle, April 29, 2015 "A history primer: NASA's robust Earth Science program now under attack originated in the Reagan and Bush administrations",weblink {{Webarchive|url= |date=December 20, 2016}}Eric Berger, "Ars Tecnica", October 29, 2015, "Republicans outraged over NASA earth science programs ... that Reagan began"weblink {{Webarchive|url= |date=May 11, 2017}}NASA started an annual competition in 2014 named Cubes in Space.WEB,weblink Cubes in Space,, July 1, 2017,weblink" title="">weblink June 19, 2017, live, 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, Kalam SAT, built by an Indian team, was launched.WEB,weblink A Teen Created the World's Lightest Satellite & NASA Is Going to Launch It, Futurism, en, May 18, 2019,weblink May 18, 2019, live,

Climate and other research

NASA also researches and publishes on climate change.NASA climate page {{Webarchive|url= |date=March 2, 2019}}. Its statements concur with the global scientific consensus that the global climate is warming.WEB,weblink "2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records". NASA, July 19, 2016., December 14, 2016,weblink December 9, 2016, live, 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 its creation in the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act.Jason Samenow, Washington Post, July 23, 2016 "Trump adviser proposes dismantling NASA climate research"weblink {{Webarchive|url= |date=November 24, 2016}}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 RF networks for satellite communications.WEB,weblink Nyirady, Annamarie, April 25, 2019, NASA Awards PathFinder Digital Free Space Optics Contract, Via Satellite, April 30, 2019,weblink April 30, 2019, live,


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. The ten field centers are:File:Liberty Star ship in front of Vehicle Assembly Building.jpg|thumb|Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Control Center at Kennedy Space CenterKennedy Space Center
  • John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is one of the best-known NASA facilities. It has been the launch site for every U.S. human space flight from 1968 through 2011. Although human 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. NASA also operates a short-line railroad at KSC and uses special aircraft.
File:STS-128 MCC space station flight control room.jpg|thumb|FCR 1 in 2009 during the STS-128STS-128 File:Site du JPL en Californie.jpg|thumb|Jet Propulsion LaboratoryJet Propulsion Laboratory 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 Barstow, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia.


(File:NASA-Budget-Federal.svg|thumb|NASA's budget from 1958 to 2012 as a percentage of federal budget)File:Jsc2004e18852.jpg|thumb|An artist's conception, from NASA, of an astronaut planting a US flag on Mars. A manned mission to Marsmanned mission to MarsNASA'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.NEWS,weblink Your Presidential Candidates ... For the Milky Way, Fouriezos, Nick, May 30, 2016, OZY, May 30, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink May 30, 2016, live, Rogers, Simon. (February 1, 2010) Nasa budgets: US spending on space travel since 1958 |Society {{Webarchive|url= |date=January 31, 2017}}. Retrieved on August 26, 2013. 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).WEB,weblink Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Estimates, NASA, February 13, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink October 23, 2012, live, In a March 2012 hearing of the 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."WEB,weblink Past, Present, and Future of NASA â€” U.S. Senate Testimony, Hayden Planetarium, March 7, 2012, December 4, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink October 29, 2012, live, WEB,weblink Past, Present, and Future of NASA â€” U.S. Senate Testimony (Video), Hayden Planetarium, March 7, 2012, December 4, 2012,weblink" title="">weblink January 15, 2013, live, 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.WEB, Launius, Roger D., Public opinion polls and perceptions of US human spaceflight,weblink Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, For Fiscal Year 2015, NASA received an appropriation of {{USD|18.01 billion}} from Congress—$549 million more than requested and approximately $350 million more than the 2014 NASA budget passed by Congress.NEWS, Clark, Stephen, NASA gets budget hike in spending bill passed by Congress,weblink Spaceflight Now, December 14, 2014, December 15, 2014,weblink" title="">weblink December 15, 2014, live, 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.WEB, Staff, Science News, Updated: Congress approves largest U.S. research spending increase in a decade,weblink Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, March 23, 2018,weblink" title="">weblink March 23, 2018, live, WEB, Foust, Jeff, NASA receives $20.7 billion in omnibus appropriations bill,weblink Space News, March 23, 2018, Examples of some proposed FY2018 budgets:
  • Exploration: $4.79 billion
  • Planetary science: $2.23 billion
  • Earth science: $1.92 billion
  • Aeronautics: $0.685 billion

Environmental impact

(File:PIA23302-FirstHumansOnMars-ArtistConcept.jpg|{{largethumb}}|NASA vision for the first Humans On Mars(Artist Concept; 12 June 2019) By expanding to a new planet, additional knowledge about environment can be acquired, such as eating insects for food.weblink)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.WEB,weblink Rocket Soot Emissions and Climate Change, The Aerospace Corporation, July 31, 2013, January 7, 2014,weblink" title="">weblink July 7, 2014, dead, However, carbon dioxide emissions are insignificant compared to those from other sources; on average, the United States consumed {{convert|802,620,000|USgal|L}} gallons of liquid fuels per day in 2014, while a single Falcon 9 rocket first stage burns around {{convert|25,000|USgal|L}} of kerosene fuel per launch.NEWS,weblink Short-Term Energy Outlook, U.S. Energy Information Administration, February 9, 2016, U.S. Petroleum and Other Liquids, February 24, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink March 18, 2016, live, WEB,weblink Spaceflight Now – Dragon Mission Report – Mission Status Center, July 4, 2015,weblink" title="">weblink September 24, 2015, live, 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.WEB,weblink Space Shuttle Main Engines, NASA, July 16, 2009, January 20, 2015,weblink" title="">weblink January 24, 2015, live, NASA addressed environmental concerns with its canceled Constellation program in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act in 2011.WEB,weblink Constellation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, NASA, August 1, 2011, June 19, 2014,weblink" title="">weblink August 8, 2014, live, In contrast, ion engines use harmless noble gases like xenon for propulsion.NEWS, Shiga, David, Next-generation ion engine sets new thrust record,weblink February 2, 2011, New Scientist, September 28, 2007,weblink" title="">weblink June 4, 2011, live, JOURNAL, Goto, T, Nakata Y, Morita S, Will xenon be a stranger or a friend?: the cost, benefit, and future of xenon anesthesia, Anesthesiology, 98, 1, 1–2, 2003, 12502969,weblink September 15, 2010, 10.1097/00000542-200301000-00002, dead,weblink" title="">weblink August 11, 2011, On May 8, 2003, 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.WEB,weblink Johnson Space Center's Role in a Sustainable Future, April 28, 2008, NASA, 2006, Michael K. Ewert, dead,weblink" title="">weblink May 27, 2008, 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.WEB,weblink NASA – NASA's New Building Awarded the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold Rating,, April 12, 2018,weblink October 7, 2018, live,



Potentially Hazardous Asteroids 2013.png|Plot of orbits of known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (size over {{convert|460|ft|m}} and passing within {{convert|4.7|e6mi|e6km}} of Earth's orbit)
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
(File:PIA23140-Mars-InsightLander-Panorama-12092018.jpg|thumb|center|1000px|InSight Lander – panorama (December 2018))


NASA spacecraft comparison.jpg|Hardware comparison of Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury{{refn |group= note | From left to right: Launch vehicle of Apollo (Saturn 5), Gemini (Titan 2) and Mercury (Atlas). Left, top-down: Spacecraft of Apollo, Gemini and Mercury. The Saturn IB and Mercury-Redstone launch vehicles are left out.}}
STS-125 departing the Hubble Space Telescope.jpg|Hubble Space Telescope, astronomy observatory in Earth orbit since 1990. Also visited by the Space Shuttle
PIA16239 High-Resolution Self-Portrait by Curiosity Rover Arm Camera.jpg|Curiosity rover, roving Mars since 2012

Planned spacecraft

James Webb Space Telescope 2009 top.jpg|James Webb Space Telescope rendering in orbit
Orion with ATV SM.jpg|Orion spacecraft design as of January 2013
Orange tank SLS - Post-CDR.jpg|Space Launch System concept art
PIA21635-Mars2020Rover-ArtistConcept-20170523.jpg|Mars 2020 rover design art


NASA has developed oftentimes elaborate plans and technology concepts, some of which become worked into real plans.File:Space tug module for astronauts.jpg|Space Tug concept, 1970sFile:Innovative Interstellar Explorer interstellar space probe .jpg|Vision mission for an interstellar precursor spacecraft by NASA, 2000sFile:Mars Ice Home concept.jpg|thumb|Langley's Mars Ice Dome design for a Mars habitat, 2010s

Examples of missions by target

{{unreferenced section|date=July 2019}}Here are some selected examples of missions to planetary-sized objects. Other major targets of study are the Earth itself, the Sun, and smaller Solar System bodies like asteroids and comets. In addition, the moons of the planets or body are also studied.{| class="wikitable" style="float: left; margin-right: 0px; margin-left: 1em;"|+ Examples of robotic missions!Spacecraft!Launch year!Mercury!Venus!Mars!Ceres!Jupiter!Saturn!Uranus!Neptune!Pluto!Missionend
|Mariner 2|1962|
|Mariner 4|1964||
|Mariner 5|1967|
Mariner 6 and 7>Mariner 6 and 7|1969||Flyby}}|||||||1971
|Mariner 9|1971||
|Pioneer 10|1972||||
|Pioneer 11|1973||||
|Mariner 10|1973
|Viking 1 and Viking 2|1975||
Orbiters Landers}}|||||||1982 & 1980
|Voyager 1|1977||||
|Voyager 2|1977||||
Galileo (spacecraft)>Galileo|1989|Flyby}}||Orbiter}}|||||2003
Magellan (spacecraft)>Magellan|1989|Orbiter}}||||||||1994
|Mars Global Surveyor|1996||
|Mars Odyssey|2001||
Spirit (rover)>Spirit and Opportunity|2003||Rovers}}|||||||2010 & 2019
|Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter|2005||
|New Horizons|2006||||
Dawn (spacecraft)>Dawn|2007||Flyby}}Orbiter}}||||||2019
Phoenix (spacecraft)>Phoenix|2007||Lander}}|||||||2010
Juno (spacecraft)>Juno|2011||||Orbiter}}||||green|Active}}
Curiosity rover>Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)|2011||Rover}}||||||green|Active}}
!Spacecraft!Launch year!Mercury!Venus!Mars!Ceres!Jupiter!Saturn!Uranus!Neptune!Pluto!Mission end
{{clear}}Examples of missions to the Sun: Examples of missions to the Moon: Examples of missions to small Solar System bodies (e.g. comets and asteroids): {{NASA Planetary Missions Program}}

See also

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External links

{{Spoken Wikipedia|En-NASA.ogg|September 1, 2005}}{{Commons category|NASA}}{{Wikisource|National Aeronautics and Space Act}}{{Wikisource author}}


Further reading

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