NACA and NASA History
Discover Our Past
Whether just getting the basics or diving into your research, we invite you to connect with our ever-expanding collection of mission profiles, biographies, articles, e-books, chronologies, and source documents spanning the history of the NACA and NASA.
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Houston We Have a Podcast
From Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars, explore the world of human spaceflight with NASA each week on the official podcast of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Listen to in-depth conversations with the astronauts, scientists and engineers who make it possible.
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April 28, 2023
The Entire History of NASA
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Learn about NASA's first class of astronauts announced in 1959, and their pioneering missions to space.
NASA's second human spaceflight program, Project Gemini missions spanned the years from 1961 to 1966, paving the way for landing humans on the Moon.
The Apollo Program
NASA astronauts made humanity's first crewed lunar landing in July 1969 for Apollo 11 and made five more Moon landings over the next three years.
Launched in 1973, America's first space station was visited by three crews and made leaps in space science.
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
On July 15, 1975, an Apollo spacecraft launched carrying a crew of three and docked two days later with a Soyuz spacecraft and its crew of two.
The Space Shuttle Program
From 1981 to 2011, 135 missions with the reusable shuttle vehicles were carried out to perform research and deliver crew and cargo to and from low-Earth orbit.
From early 1994 into 1998, the Shuttle-Mir Program prepared the way for the International Space Station and began an era of cooperation and exploration, rarely seen in human history.
The International Space Station
On December 6, 1998, the crew of space shuttle mission STS-88 began attached the U.S.-built Unity node and the Russian-built Zarya module together in orbit. Learn more about the beginnings of this 25-year international venture.
NASA's first successful mission to reach the Moon was launched on July 28, 1964, returning 4,316 images of the Moon on July 31st.
Since 1972, the Landsat Program has provided the longest continuous space-based record of Earth's land.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 brought us our first close-up views of the outer planets of our solar system and continue their missions today in interstellar space!
Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner
The Red Planet's first rover, Sojourner, landed on the planet's surface, along with the Pathfinder lander on July 4, 1997.
Over its nearly 20 years in space from 1997 to 2017, the Cassini spacecraft gathered data on Saturn and its moons in unprecedented detail.
From 2007 to 2018, Dawn became the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial destinations, Vesta and Ceres, both in our solar system's main asteroid belt.
Learn about NASA's History from the People Who Made It
Oral History Interviews
Oral histories ensure that the words of aerospace pioneers live on to tell future generations about the excitement and lessons of space exploration. Search our collection of interviews.
From Hidden to Modern Figures
Learn more about the African-American women who were essential to the success of early spaceflight and how their legacy continues today in NASA's commitment to a diverse workforce.
Get biographies of NASA's former astronauts.
Hubble Space Telescope History
Launched into Earth orbit in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has been visited by astronauts four times to make repairs and install new instruments.
Nancy Grace Roman
Known as "The Mother of Hubble," Nancy Grace Roman was NASA's first chief astronomer.
The History of Gamma-Ray Burst Science
On June 1, 1973, astronomers around the world were introduced to a powerful and perplexing new phenomenon called gamma ray bursts (GRBs).
NASA's precursor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was established by Congress in 1915 to advance the United States' standing in flight. Over its 40-some years in existence, it pushed the frontiers of air technology through groundbreaking aeronautics research, preparing the country for its venturing steps into space.
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X-Planes Flown at NASA Armstrong
Learn about the wide variety of experimental aircraft flown over the decades at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center.
NASA's First A: Aeronautics from 1958–2008
Read Robert G. Ferguson's book outlining the aeronautics research work NASA has undertaken.
The X-15 Hypersonic Flight Research Program
Between 1959 and 1968, the X-15 rocket research aircraft broke speed and altitude records for piloted aircraft.
The Bell X-1
Learn about the history of the first aircraft documented to exceed the speed of sound.
Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age
Resources, biographies, and further reading on the world's first satellite, launched in October 1957.
Read the story of Explorer 1, America's first satellite to be put in orbit.
Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard is considered the father of modern rocket propulsion. A physicist of great insight, Goddard also had a unique genius for invention.
Rockets and People
Boris Chertok's first hand account of the Soviet space program from its beginning through 1974 is presented in a 4-volume series of books.
Past Technology Demonstration Missions
What do solar sails, a deep space atomic clock, and human exploration telerobotics have in common? These are a few of the projects NASA has tested to advance space exploration technology!
Recent NASA History Stories
Stay up-to-date with the latest NASA history content as we revisit the discoveries and challenges of NASA's past.
30 Years Ago: STS-61, the First Hubble Servicing Mission
“Trying to do stellar observations from Earth is like trying to do birdwatching from the bottom of a lake.” James…
40 Years Ago: STS-9, the First Spacelab Science Mission
On Nov. 28, 1983, space shuttle Columbia took to the skies for its sixth trip into space on the first…
Spacelab 1: A Model for International Cooperation
Forty years ago, in 1983, the Space Shuttle Columbia flew its first international spaceflight, STS-9. The mission included—for the first…
Thanksgiving Celebrations in Space
The Thanksgiving holiday typically brings families and friends together in a celebration of common gratitude for all the good things…
55 Years Ago: Eight Months Before the Moon Landing
November 1968 proved pivotal to achieving the goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the…
50 Years Ago: Launch of Skylab 4, The Final Mission to Skylab
The third and final crewed mission to the Skylab space station, Skylab 4, got underway on Nov. 16, 1973, with…
NASA History Publications and Resources
Dig Deeper into NASA History
Explore NASA's history publications, oral histories, and archival holdings for in-depth information on the Agency's projects, people, and centers.
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