NASA: 45 Years of Discovery and Exploration

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A History of Success

Though NASA was newborn on Oct. 1, 1958, it quickly built on a legacy of achievement and success, inherited from its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. NACA conducted pioneering research in aircraft design and supersonic flight. Since 1958, NASA has built on those achievements, continuing to make aircraft perform better while increasing safety.

Life on Earth

What will it take for people to live in space and ultimately travel to places beyond Earth? Aboard the International Space Station, astronauts are conducting research to answer that question. Whether it's growing plants to provide food and oxygen, or understanding how the body is affected by the lower gravity of space, astronauts are extending the legacy of discovery begun by the Mercury program in 1961 and carried on through the Apollo moon landings and the Space Shuttle program.

Humans in Space

Taking humans into space and understanding the universe are important, but it is equally important that NASA help us all to understand our home planet. In the early 1960s, NASA developed the first weather satellites, which now can tell us everything from whether rain will pass quickly to when and where a hurricane will strike. Building on that success, today's NASA satellites are helping us understand how Earth's air, water, land and life interact to affect the whole environment.

Exploring the Universe

NASA's discoveries beyond Earth began almost from its inception, exploring the Earth's radiation belts, studying the Moon for a place to land spacecraft, later even raising the tantalizing possibility that there was once open water on Mars. Meanwhile, the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories continue to give us a better understanding of not only what's out there in space, but also how it got there in the early moments of the universe's history.

Tomorrow and After

This is just a start. Taking all that we have learned in 45 years, NASA will continue to push forward with new explorations, leading to new discoveries, and fulfilling the Agency's mission:

To understand and protect our home planet,

To explore the universe and search for life,

To inspire the next generation of explorers,

… as only NASA can.

Explore NASA's 45th Anniversary Web Site:

History
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