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A photograph from space of the International Space Station orbiting Earth. The station is a graceful horizontal cylinder with four rectangular solar panels oriented vertically, two on either side of center. In the center are horizontal square panels angled slightly to the right, and science instruments and modules extend out from the center cylinder. The Space Operations Mission Directorate is working to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit and preeminent U.S. leadership in space. 
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022, at 3:52 a.m. EDT.
Anchored to a foot restraint on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) or Canadarm2, astronaut David A. Wolf, STS-112 mission specialist, participates in the mission's first session of extravehicular activity (EVA). Wolf is carrying the Starboard One (S1) outboard nadir external camera which was installed on the end of the S1 Truss on the International Space Station (ISS). Launched October 7, 2002 aboard the Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis, the STS-112 mission lasted 11 days and performed three EVAs. Its primary mission was to install the S1 Integrated Truss Structure and Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) Cart to the ISS. The S1 truss provides structural support for the orbiting research facility's radiator panels, which use ammonia to cool the Station's complex power system. The S1 truss, attached to the S0 (S Zero) truss installed by the previous STS-110 mission, flows 637 pounds of anhydrous ammonia through three heat rejection radiators. The truss is 45-feet long, 15-feet wide, 10-feet tall, and weighs approximately 32,000 pounds. The CETA is the first of two human-powered carts that will ride along the International Space Station's railway providing a mobile work platform for future extravehicular activities by astronauts.

Space Operations Mission Directorate

The Space Operations Mission Directorate maintains a continuous human presence in space for the benefit of people on Earth. The programs within the directorate are the heart of NASA’s humans space exploration efforts, enabling Artemis, commercial space, science, and other agency missions through communication, launch services, research capabilities, and crew support. 

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Our Vision

The Space Operations Mission Directorate is opening space to more people, science, and commercial opportunities, and ensuring humanity’s long-term presence in space.

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Earth observation taken by the Expedition 42 crew aboard the ISS.

Areas of Focus

The programs within the directorate are the heart of NASA’s humans space exploration efforts, enabling Artemis, commercial space, science, and other agency missions through communication, launch services, research capabilities, and crew support. 

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy.

Commercial Crew Program

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is delivering on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective human transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States through a partnership with American private industry.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station carrying more than 6,200 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo, to replenish the Expedition 68 crew. Both spacecraft were flying 269 miles above the Indian Ocean near Madagascar at the time of this photograph.

Commercial Low Earth Orbit Program

NASA continues to enable the growth of commercial space age through public-private partnerships. Building on the success of cargo and crew, NASA is working with industry on commercially owned and operated space stations.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, Expedition 37 flight engineer, enjoys the view of Earth from the windows in the Cupola of the International Space Station. A blue and white part of Earth is visible through the windows.

Human Research Program

NASA’s Human Research Program harnesses the International Space Station to carry out science experiments that show how the human body changes in space. Results of the investigations will help carry astronauts on future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Back dropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon is the International Space Station (ISS) as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation. The latest configuration of the ISS includes the Italian-built U.S. Node 2, named Harmony, and the P6 truss segment installed over 11 days of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station by the STS-120 and Expedition 16 crews. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 4:32 a.m. (CST) on Nov. 5, 2007.

International Space Station

For more than 22 years, humans have lived and worked on humanity's home in low Earth orbit. The International Space Station Program brings together international flight crews, multiple rockets and spacecraft, global facilities, communications networks, and the international research community.

An image of the Terran 1’s rocket exhaust during launch in March 2023.

Launch Services Program

NASA’s Launch Services Program is responsible for launching uncrewed rockets delivering spacecraft that observe the Earth, visit other planets and explore the universe – from weather satellites to telescopes to Mars rovers and more.

These images show how teams rolled out, or moved, the completed core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Crews moved the flight hardware for the first Artemis mission to NASA’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8 in preparation for the core stage Green Run test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Pegasus, which was modified to ferry SLS rocket hardware, will transport the core stage from Michoud to Stennis for the comprehensive core stage Green Run test series. Once at Stennis, the Artemis rocket stage will be loaded into the B-2 Test Stand for the core stage Green Run test series. The comprehensive test campaign will progressively bring the entire core stage, including its avionics and engines, to life for the first time to verify the stage is fit for flight ahead of the launch of Artemis I.

Rocket Propulsion Test Program

NASA’s Rocket Propulsion Test Program Office provides the program management structure necessary to optimize use of NASA’s chemical rocket propulsion test assets while ensuring an agency core capability for all aspects of chemical rocket propulsion testing is maintained.

A 230-foot (70-meter) antenna lights up a dark blue sky at dusk. The antenna is pointed toward the sky with dark mountains in the background.

Space Communications and Navigation Program

NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program serves as the program office for all of NASA’s space communications operations. Over 100 missions rely on SCaN’s two networks, the Near Space Network and the Deep Space Network.

Humans in Space

Every day since Nov. 2, 2000, people have been orbiting our planet inside the International Space Station, bringing together science, technology and human innovation to enable new technologies and research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. NASA is working with its commercial and international partners to maintain humanity’s presence in space and extended that work beyond low Earth orbit to the Moon in preparation for Mars exploration as part of Artemis.  

Learn More about Humans in Space
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured tethered to the International Space Station just outside of the Quest airlock during a spacewalk he conducted with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on June 14, 2018.
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured tethered to the International Space Station just outside of the Quest airlock during a spacewalk he conducted with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on June 14, 2018.
NASA

Space Operations Leadership

Space Operations Mission Directorate Leadership Team

Portrait, Ken Bowersox, Thursday, April 25, 2019 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Kenneth Bowersox

Associate Administrator for Space Operations

Tonya McNair, Deputy Associate Administrator for Management of Space Operations

Tonya McNair

Deputy Associate Administrator for Management of Space Operations

Jeff Volosin stands at a podium, speaking into a microphone.

Jeff Volosin

Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation Division

Official portrait of Phil McAlister at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Phil McAlister

Director of Commercial Spaceflight Division for Space Operations

Official portrait of Benjamin Neumann at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.

Benjy Neumann

Director of Human Spaceflight Capabilities Division

Robyn Gatens, Director of International Space Station

Robyn Gatens

Director of International Space Station for Space Operations

Portrait of Bradley Smith on Friday, April 21, 2017 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Bradley Smith

Director of Launch Services for Space Operations

Portrait of Elaine Slaugh, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the NASA Headquarters Mary W. Jackson Building in Washington.

Elaine Slaugh

Director of the Resources Management Office for Space Operations

Official portrait of Alotta Taylor on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Dr. Alotta Taylor

Director of Strategic Integration and Management Division

Featured Story

15 Ways the International Space Station Benefits Humanity Back on Earth

The first decade of the International Space Station was the decade of construction. The second decade moved from initial studies…

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Space Flight Awareness

The mission of Space Flight Awareness is to ensure that each and every employee involved in human space flight is aware of the importance of their role in promoting astronaut safety and mission success.

Learn More about Space Flight Awareness
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy.

NASA Space Operations Centers

Explore the NASA Space Operations centers.

Aerial photograph of Johnson Space Center facilities taken from a U.S. Coast Guard H-65 helicopter.

Johnson Space Center

Houston, Texas

A view looking from the ground up at the Vehicle Assembly Building during sunrise at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Kennedy Space Center

Merritt Island, Florida

Marshall Space Flight Center Building 4221.

Marshall Space Flight Center

Huntsville, Alabama

Photo from SLS Core Stage Installation

Stennis Space Center

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Featured Story

Experiments to Unlock How Human Bodies React to Long Space Journeys

Through Artemis, NASA astronauts are returning to the Moon in preparation for one day going to Mars. To better prepare astronauts…

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Explore More

Stay up-to-date with the latest content from the Space Operations Mission Directorate.

NASA Leaders to Highlight 25th Anniversary of Space Station with Crew

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NASA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of International Space Station operations during a live conversation with crew aboard the microgravity…

NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Space Station Cargo Launch, Docking

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NASA will provide live launch and docking coverage of the Roscosmos Progress 86 cargo spacecraft carrying about three tons of…

NASA Releases Its First International Space Station Tour in Spanish

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Lee esta nota de prensa en español aquí. Record-breaking NASA astronaut Frank Rubio provides the agency’s first Spanish-language video tour…

NASA to Talk Science Highlights of First Artemis Robotic Moon Landing

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NASA will host a What’s on Board media teleconference at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the science…

NASA Astronaut to Speak with Florida Students from Space Station

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Students from the Creative Learning Academy in Pensacola, Florida, will have an opportunity this week to hear from a NASA…

NASA, SpaceX Launch New Science, Hardware to Space Station

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Following a successful launch of NASA’s SpaceX 29th commercial resupply mission, scientific experiments and technology demonstrations, including studies of enhanced…