NASA's four mission directorates—Space Operations, Aeronautics Research, Science, and Exploration—work to advance global understanding of the systems and processes on our planet, in our atmosphere, and in the cosmos. The core tenent of NASA's existance is to spread our accumulated information for the benefit of humankind. As we work towards making our processes even more open, we are striving to create even more opportunities for public participation and collaboration. This section will give you a basic understanding of the goals and objectives of each mission directorate as well as a glimpse into how they have formulated their Open Government activities.
Missions to the International Space Station and Beyond
The NASA Space Operations Mission Directorate includes the work of the International Space Station (ISS), the Space Shuttle Program, the Launch Services Program, and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program. These programs comprise NASA's human spaceflight activities on orbit as well as the launch and communication services for all NASA human and robotic spacecraft. To achieve our mission, we must partner with other organizations, both internationally and domestic. We strive to make all activities as open and participatory as possible so that everyone on planet Earth may be a part of these missions of discovery and exploration.
Conduct Aeronautics Research for Societal Benefit
The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) uses a balanced research and development portfolio to explore early-stage innovative ideas, develop new air vehicle technologies and air traffic operational procedures, and demonstrate the potential of promising new vehicles, operations, and safety technology. Our goals are to expand aviation system capacity, enable fuel-efficient flight planning, reduce the overall environmental footprint of airplanes today and in the future, reduce delays on the ground and in the sky, and improve the ability to operate in all weather conditions while maintaining the current high aviation safety standards. We address research challenges that must be overcome in order to enable the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and the vehicles that will operate within it. Partnerships and citizen engagement are essential to our research.
America's Space Program: Scientific Discoveries for Everyone
NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) uses space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space, to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. Through our publicly available mission data sets, education and public outreach programs, Web sites, and other participatory exploration programs, we continue to extend our long tradition of openness and active community involvement in scientific exploration.
Creating Technologies and Capabilities for the Expansion of Humanity into the Solar System
NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) manages the development of capabilities for long-duration human and robotic exploration, including human transportation elements, robotic precursors to scout targets for future human activities, demonstrations of technologies that could reduce the cost and expand the capability of future space exploration activities, and the creation of innovative life support and medical technologies. We focus on increasing participation in exploration activities by a wider and more diverse group of both new and established partners. Today, other federal agencies, industry, and academia actively participate with NASA, and we work extensively with other space-faring nations to collaborate on mutually beneficial plans for the future exploration of space. We are also focused now on identifying and pursuing innovative ways in which to meaningfully engage the general public in NASA exploration activities.