Welcome to NASA 101
NASA powers inspiration that encourages future generations to explore, learn, and build a better future.
NASA powers innovation that creates new jobs, new markets, and new technologies.
NASA powers discovery that enables us to learn more about ourselves, our world, and how to manage and protect it.
NASA will accomplish the exploration mission within the Agency budget allocation which accounts for less than six tenths of one percent of the Federal budget.
NASA’s exploration mission affirms it’s commitment to human space exploration
The United States and NASA are committed to a long-term robotic and human program to explore the solar system, starting with establishing a permanent lunar presence on the Moon, which will ultimately enable the future exploration of Mars and other destinations.
NASA’s exploration mission is guided by U.S. Space Exploration Policy, announced in January 2004, which was ratified by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act passed in December, 2005. This guidance re-affirms NASA’s commitment to human space exploration and provides present focus and clear objectives. NASA’s approach to the exploration mission is affordable and sustainable, and maintains the highest levels of safety.
NASA’s new vision aims to accomplish the following goals:
- Fly the Space Shuttle as safely as possible until its retirement in 2010.
- Complete the International Space Station in a manner consistent with NASA’s commitments to international partners and to the needs of human exploration.
- Develop a balanced overall program of science, exploration, and aeronautics consistent with the redirection of the human spaceflight program to focus on exploration.
- Bring Orion, the new crew exploration vehicle, into service as soon as possible after the Shuttle’s retirement.
- Encourage partnerships with the emerging commercial space sector.
- Establish a permanent lunar presence program with the maximum possible utility for missions to Mars and other destinations.
For more information on the Constellation Program visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/main/index.html
Before the end of the next decade, NASA astronauts will begin an extensive exploration of the surface of the Moon.
Building on the short-duration, equatorially focused missions of the past, NASA will explore the lunar territories that were inaccessible to the Apollo generation. Our objective is to establish an outpost for exploration research near the most intriguing lunar features, including the Polar Regions. We will develop and learn the best techniques for survival on this natural “space station” before venturing further into the solar system.
This journey begins soon, with the development of a new spacecraft. Building on the best of Apollo and Shuttle technology, NASA is creating a 21st–century exploration system that will be affordable, reliable, versatile, and safe. The program is called Constellation.
The centerpiece of this system, Orion, is designed to carry four astronauts to the Moon and deliver Constellation Orion Crew and Ares Launch Vehicles crew to the ISS. The Ares I rocket will carry Orion and its crew into low-Earth orbit, while the Ares V rocket, the “heavy lifter” of America’s next-generation space fleet, will carry the cargo, including the Altair lunar lander, vehicles for exploring the Moon, and outpost components.
A robust test plan starts this year, which will lead to human test flights of the Constellation missions in 2013 and 2014, assuring that all systems are operational to transport crews to and from the ISS by 2015. Full operational capability to support the ISS would occur the following year. In the meantime, robotic missions will lay the groundwork for lunar exploration, providing critical design data for development of equipment that can survive the harsh lunar environment. Plans call for returning humans to the Moon by 2020.
Once a lunar outpost is established, crews would be able to live on the lunar surface for up to six months. With a minimum of two lunar missions per year, momentum could build quickly toward an extended presence to conduct commercial, scientific, and other activities, including learning to use lunar resources. Crews could stay longer and learn to use the Moon’s resources, while landers make one-way trips to deliver cargo. Eventually, the new system could rotate crews to and from a lunar outpost every six months.Back to top
CENTERS & FACILITIES
Ames Research Center, California
Ames provides products, technologies and services that enable NASA missions and expand human knowledge. Ames’s prime location in California’s Silicon Valley affords outstanding opportunities for innovative partnerships with the nation’s technological, academic and entrepreneurial leaders that will make the Vision a reality.
Dryden Flight Research Center, California
Dryden performs flight research and technology integration to revolutionize aviation and pioneer aerospace technology. The center validates space exploration concepts, conducts airborne remote sensing and science observations, and supports operations of the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
Glenn Research Center, Ohio
Glenn develops critical space flight systems and technologies to advance the exploration of space while maintaining leadership in aviation propulsion research. Glenn leads the development of the service module and spacecraft adapter for the nation’s crew exploration vehicle.
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York
The Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which studies global climate change, is a laboratory of the Earth Sciences Division at Goddard Space Flight Center and a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute.
Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland
Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to learning and sharing their knowledge of Earth, the sun, the solar system and the universe. It was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight center.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California
JPL, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology, is NASA’s lead for robotic exploration of the solar system.
Johnson Space Center, Texas
Johnson is the home of NASA Mission Control and the Astronaut Corps; it is NASA’s premier center for human space flight and related scientific and medical research efforts. The center also manages the development, testing, training, production and delivery of all U.S. human spacecraft, as well as the program offices for the space shuttle, the International Space Station and Constellation.
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Kennedy is America’s Gateway to the Universe - leading the world in preparing and launching missions around Earth and beyond.
Langley Research Center, Virginia
Langley is NASA’s original research and technology center, recognized worldwide for its contributions to space exploration, aeronautics and science. The center is a key contributor to NASA’s mission via its systems analysis capabilities.
Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama
Marshall develops key space transportation and propulsion technologies, including the Ares I crew exploration and Ares V cargo launch vehicles; manages space shuttle propulsion elements and science aboard the International Space Station; and pursues scientific research in space that will improve life on Earth.
Michoud Assembly Facility, Louisiana
Michoud is one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world and is responsible for the assembly of the space shuttle external fuel tanks.
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
NASA Headquarters, located in Washington, D.C., exercise management over the space flight centers, research centers, and other installations that constitute NASA. Responsibilities of Headquarters cover the determination of programs and projects; establishment of management policies, procedures, and performance criteria; evaluation of progress; and the review and analysis of all phases of the aerospace program.
Plum Brook Station, Ohio
Software Independent Verification and Validation(IV&V) Facility, West Virginia IV&V provides safety and cost-effectiveness for mission-critical software.
Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
Stennis is home to America’s largest rocket engine test complex, where every space shuttle main engine is tested and where future engines and stages will be tested for returning astronauts to the moon, with eventual journeys to Mars and beyond. Stennis also helps partner agencies make more informed decisions through science research results, remote sensing and other capabilities.
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia
Wallops is NASA’s principal facility for the management and implementation of suborbital research programs and is managed by Goddard Space Flight Center.
White Sands Test Facility, New Mexico
White Sands is a pre-eminent resource for testing and evaluating potentially hazardous materials, space flight components and rocket propulsion systems.Back to top
NASA moved forward in 2007 to explore the solar system, expand our knowledge of Earth and its place in the universe, and build the International Space Station. The space shuttle flew three highly successful missions to continue the station’s assembly and construction began on projects designed to send astronauts to the moon, where they will establish a permanent outpost and prepare for eventual voyages to Mars. Space science missions were launched to Mars and the asteroid belt. Closer to home, Earth science satellites made a number of key discoveries, such as how waterways beneath an Antarctic ice stream affect sea level and the world’s largest ice sheet.
Exploring the solar system. NASA’s innovation continues to make headlines.
Constellation Builds Systems for Return to Moon
NASA began laying the foundation for the future of space exploration in 2007. Construction projects across the agency supported the Constellation Program, which is developing next-generation spacecraft and systems to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. All major contracts for the Ares I rocket were awarded in 2007. Hard hats, cranes and bulldozers were the equipment of choice at space facilities across the country. Construction got under way at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in Las Cruces, N.M., where NASA will hold the Constellation Program’s first flight tests in 2008. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, workers are erecting a new lightning protection system at the Constellation launch pad, 39-B. A new test stand for rocket engines is being built at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NASA’s lunar architects unveiled more details of their plans for a lunar outpost, complete with small, pressurized rovers that would travel in pairs, and possible astronaut housing that could be moved from one location to another. NASA engineers also sought opportunities to test lunar equipment ideas at sites on Earth that are similar to the moon, such as the Arizona desert and the Antarctic tundra. For more information, visit: Constellation
An Historic Handshake Between Women Commanders
Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy and the International Space Station’s Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson made history Oct. 25 when shuttle Discovery and the station docked, and the hatches between the two ships were opened. As the two women shook hands 200 miles above Earth, they became the first female spacecraft commanders to lead shuttle and station missions simultaneously. Whitson, who also holds the distinction of being the first woman to command a station mission, has accumulated more total time in orbit than any other female space traveler. For more information, visit: Mission Overview
Rise of the Phoenix
NASA’s Phoenix mission launched Aug. 4 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a nine-month trek to Mars. The robotic lander is scheduled to arrive at the Red Planet May 25, 2008, and begin a close examination of Mars’ northern polar region. Phoenix will be the first mission to touch the planet’s water-ice. Its robotic arm will dig into an icy layer believed to lie just beneath the Martian surface. The robot explorer will study the history of the water in the ice, monitor weather in the polar region, and investigate whether the subsurface environment in the far-northern plains of Mars has ever been favorable for sustaining microbial life. For more information, visit: Phoenix
International Space Station Keeps on Growing
NASA launched three successful space shuttle missions in June, August and October to deliver pieces of the International Space Station, allowing it to grow in size, volume and power production in 2007. The electricity generated by the station and used aboard the outpost more than doubled this year. The station’s six solar panels now extend to more than half an acre of surface area. NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts safely conducted 22 spacewalks devoted to building and maintaining the station in 2007. A 23rd spacewalk is planned for Dec. 18. That will match a record for the most spacewalks in a single year. For more information, visit: Space Station Assembly
Cold as Ice
Scientists using NASA satellites discovered an extensive network of waterways beneath a fast-moving Antarctic ice stream. The waterways provide clues as to how “leaks” in the system affect sea level and the world’s largest ice sheet. Data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite and data from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System on NASA’s Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite provided a multi-dimensional view of changes in the elevation of the icy surface above a large subglacial lake and surrounding areas during a three-year period. Those changes suggest the lake drained to the ocean. For more information, visit: Antartic Plumbing
Circuit Chip Breakthrough
NASA researchers designed and built a new silicon carbide differential amplifier integrated circuit chip that has exceeded 4,000 hours of continuous operation at 500 degrees Celsius - a breakthrough that represents a 100-fold increase in what had been achieved previously. Prior to this development, such integrated circuit chips had operated at these high temperatures for only a few hours or less before degrading or failing. The extremely durable transistors and packaging technologies will enable highly functional but physically small integrated circuitry to be used for sensing and to control electronics within harsh environments, such as hot sections of jet engines as well as long-duration spacecraft. For more information, visit: Aeronautics
New Human Spaceflight Records
Two new human spaceflight milestones were set by NASA astronauts in 2007. Sunita Williams, the International Space Station’s Expedition 14 and Expedition 15 flight engineer, broke the record for the longest duration single spaceflight by a woman, spending 195 consecutive days in orbit. She also completed the most spacewalks by a woman, logging 29 hours and 17 minutes during four spacewalks, and was the first astronaut to run a marathon while in orbit. At the end of the Expedition 14 mission in April, William’s crewmate, Mike Lopez-Alegria, led all astronauts in the number of spacewalks with 10 and the amount of time spent spacewalking with 67 hours and 40 minutes. The time was accumulated during two shuttle flights and his stay on the station. Lopez-Alegria’s 215-day station mission also marked the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut. For more information, visit: Expedition 14 & 15
The brightest stellar explosion ever recorded was seen by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes. The discovery indicates that violent explosions of extremely massive stars were relatively common in the early universe, and a similar explosion in our own galaxy could be imminent. This new supernova may offer a rare glimpse of how the first stars died. It is unprecedented to find such a massive star and witness its death. The discovery of the supernova provided evidence that the deaths of such massive stars are fundamentally different from theoretical predictions. For more information, visit: Supernova
Advanced New Aircraft Design Files Successfully
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, with the Air Force Research Lab and Boeing Phantomworks, successfully completed flight experiments for the X-48B Blended Wing Body advanced aircraft at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center this year. The aircraft is a hybrid configuration combining the best attributes of a conventional tube-and-wing aircraft with a flying wing. It has the potential to meet expected future Next Generation Air Transportation System requirements for low noise, low emissions and high performance. With certain modifications to the design, the Blended Wing Body also has the potential to land and take off on shorter runways than current aircraft. The experiments demonstrated the basic flying qualities of the X-48B and the effectiveness of the on-board flight control system. For more information, visit: Advanced Aircraft Design
Global Exploration Strategy Enveiled
NASA and 13 space agencies from around the world released the framework for a global exploration strategy in May 2007. The document, “The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Coordination,” reflects a shared vision of space exploration focused on solar system destinations where humans may someday live and work. It represents an important step in an evolving process toward a comprehensive global approach. The framework also allows individual nations to share their strategies and efforts so all can achieve their exploration goals more effectively. For more information, visit: Global Exploration StrategyBack to top
For more information on the Science Mission Directorate visit: http://science.hq.nasa.gov.
The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) projects humankind’s vantage point into space with Earth-orbit and deep space observatories; spacecraft that visit other planetary bodies; and robotic landers, rovers, and sample return missions. SMD organizes its work to achieve the goals in the NASA Strategic Plan through Earth science, heliophysics, planetary science and astrophysics.Back to top
For more information on the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, go to http://exploration.nasa.gov.
The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) develops the launch systems, vehicles and other capabilities that will carry humans into space and, ultimately, enable exploration of the moon and Mars, beginning with the servicing of the International Space Station following the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010.Back to top
For more information on the Space Operations Mission Directorate, go to http://www.spaceoperations.nasa.gov.
The Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) manages the Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs, as well as space communications and launch services. This paves the way for extended-duration human exploration in space.Back to top
For more information on the Aeronautics Research Mission, go to http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov.
The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) generates the revolutionary concepts, technologies and capabilities needed to advance aircraft and airspace systems. ARMD’s programs facilitate safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly air transportation systems. In addition, ARMD’s research will continue to play a vital role in supporting NASA’s human and robotic space activities.Back to top
For more information on the Office of Education, go to http://education.nasa.gov.
NASA education activities are designed to reach the nation’s students with a balanced and diverse portfolio that includes the Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education, e-Education, Informal Education, and Minority University Research and Education Programs.
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