NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is a USA government agency that works for the civilian space program as well as for aeronautics, scientific discovery, Earth and aerospace research. It was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act on 1 October 1958 by president Dwight D. Eisenhower. It deals with the development of peaceful applications (rather than military) in space science and is the in-charge of the U.S. science and technology that deals with space exploration and airplanes.
NASA is led by an Administrator. As of July 2019, Jim Bridenstine is the 13th administrator of NASAA and James W. Morhard is the 14th Deputy Administrator of NASA.
NASA Vision: To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
The headquarters of NASA is in Washington, and it has 10 NASA centers across the United States. It also has 7 NASA workplaces for testing and studying Earth and space. NASA’s work can be divided into four different types:
- Aeronautics: It is responsible for the development of advanced aviation technologies.
- Human Exploration and Operations: It deals with the management of manned space missions, international space station as well as operations related to launching services, space transportation, and space communications for both manned and robotic exploration programs.
- Science: It deals with the programs designed for understanding the origin, structure, evolution, and future of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe.
- Space Technology: It deals with the development of space science and exploration technologies.
Space Flight Programs:
NASA has conducted both manned and unmanned space flight programs. Some of its famous space flight programs are as follows:
1) Manned Space Programs: Some of NASA’s major manned space program are as follows:
- X-15 Rocket Plane: (1959-1968)
- Project Mercury: (1959-1963)
- Project Gemini: (1961-1966)
- Project Apollo: (1961-1972): Apollo was one of the most expensive NASA scientific program ever. It cost more than $20 billion in 1960. At present, its estimated value is almost $205 billion. The first Moon landing manned spacecraft was Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. The first person who lands on the Moon was Neil Armstrong.
- Skylab: (1965-1979)
- Space Shuttle Program: (1972-2011) etc.
2) Unmanned Space Programs:
There are over 1000 unmanned missions of NASA to explore the Earth and other planets in the solar system. Furthermore, NASA also launches communication satellites for the welfare of human society.
Some of the important unmanned space programs are listed below:
- Explorer 1: The first US unmanned satellite.
- Viking 1: The first successful landing on Mars in 1976.
- Pioneer 10: First spacecraft to visit Jupiter
- Pioneer 11: First spacecraft to visit Saturn
- Voyager 2: the first spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune etc.
NASA Grant Program Highlights:
i) Space Grant: NASA introduced the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, which is also known as a Space Grant, in 1989. It is a network of colleges and universities which work to create and expand opportunities for Americans to understand and participate in space and aeronautics projects of NASA by supporting and improving science and engineering education, research, and public outreach efforts.
ii) NASA Research Opportunities: NASA’s overall mission is to support research in the field of science and technology. It solicits the research by releasing research announcements in various science and technology disciplines. Through a peer-review process, it evaluates and selects research proposals received in response to these research announcements.
iii) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs: These are NASA?s programs to fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill the needs of NASA and have huge potential for successful commercialization.
iv) International Space Station Funding Opportunities: NASA funding is available through NASA Research Announcements (NRAs). There are various typing funding available to scientists to be used for International Space Station (ISS) research and development, payload development and processing, on-orbit operation, and more. National Laboratory funding for space station use is obtained through research opportunities with other government agencies as well as with entities in the private and non-profit sectors.