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What Is NASA? (Grades K-4)

This article is for students grades K-4.

NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA was started on October 1, 1958, as a part of the United States government. NASA is in charge of U.S. science and technology that has to do with airplanes or space.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is pictured during a spacewalk

What Does NASA Do?

NASA does a lot of different things. NASA makes satellites. The satellites help scientists learn more about Earth. NASA sends probes into space. NASA scientists study things in the solar system and even farther away. A new program will send humans to explore the Moon and, one day, Mars. NASA also shares what they learn with others. People who do not work at NASA can use NASA ideas to make new inventions. These new inventions can help make life on Earth better.

Do you like science, math and learning new things? Would you like to be an adventurer? Would you like to plan future missions to other planets and outer space? People at NASA work hard to share news about NASA’s missions with teachers. Then, teachers can use NASA lessons to teach their students about science, technology, engineering and math.

Astronaught tethered in outer space

Where Is NASA?

NASA Headquarters is in Washington, D.C. There are 10 NASA centers across the United States. There are also seven smaller NASA work places where they test and study Earth and space. Thousands of people work for NASA! Being an astronaut is probably the best-known job at NASA, but astronauts make up just a small part of the workforce. A lot of engineers and scientists work at NASA. People are doing other jobs, too, like secretaries, writers, lawyers and even teachers.

Aerial view of NASA's Kennedy Space Center

What Has NASA Done?

From its start, NASA began to plan for human spaceflight. The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs helped NASA learn about flying in space. This led to the first human landing on the Moon in 1969. NASA has astronauts living and working on the International Space Station. Space probes have visited every planet in the solar system. Scientists have looked far into space using telescopes. NASA satellites help people understand weather patterns on Earth. NASA also helps develop and test new aircraft. Some of the airplanes have set new records. NASA works to make air travel faster and safer.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

More About NASA

In 2018, NASA turned 60 years old!

Read What Is NASA? (Grades 5-8)