NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery & aeronautics research.
NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.
To do that, thousands of people have been working around the world --
and off of it -- for 50 years, trying to answer some basic questions.
What's out there in space? How do we get there? What will we find? What
can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will
make life better here on Earth?
A Little History
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration in 1958, partially in response to the Soviet
Union's launch of the first artificial satellite the previous year.
NASA grew out of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics
(NACA), which had been researching flight technology for more than 40 years.
President John F. Kennedy focused NASA and the nation on sending
astronauts to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Through the Mercury and
Gemini projects, NASA developed the technology and skills it needed for
the journey. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became
the first of 12 men to walk on the moon, meeting Kennedy's challenge.
Meanwhile, NASA was continuing the aeronautics research pioneered by
NACA. It also conducted purely scientific research and worked on
developing applications for space technology, combining both pursuits
in developing the first weather
After Apollo, NASA focused on creating a reusable ship to provide regular access to space: the space shuttle
First launched in 1981, the space shuttle has had 120 successful
flights. In 2000, the United States and Russia established permanent
human presence in space aboard the International Space Station
, a multinational project representing the work of 16 nations.
NASA also has continued its scientific research. In 1997, Mars Pathfinder
became the first in a fleet of spacecraft that will explore Mars in the
next decade, as we try to determine if life ever existed there. The Terra
satellites are flagships of a different fleet, this one in Earth orbit,
designed to help us understand how our home world is changing. NASA's aeronautics
teams are focused on improved aircraft travel that is safer and cleaner.