Nasa, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about it!
1.It is responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
2. From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1.
3. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard.
4. After the Soviet launch of the world’s first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the “Sputnik crisis”), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. This led to an agreement that a new federal agency mainly based on NACA was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application
5. On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA.
6. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities.
7. NASA has conducted many manned and unmanned spaceflight programs throughout its history. Unmanned programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth orbit for scientific and communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with Venus and Mars, and including “grand tours” of the outer planets. ‘
8. Manned programs sent the first Americans into low Earth orbit (LEO), won the Space Race with the Soviet Union by landing twelve men on the Moon from 1969 to 1972 in the Apollo program, developed a semi-reusable LEO Space Shuttle, and developed LEO space station capability by itself and with the cooperation of several other nations including post-Soviet Russia.
9. Some missions include both manned and unmanned aspects, such as the Galileo probe, which was deployed by astronauts in Earth orbit before being sent unmanned to Jupiter.
10. The U.S public’s perception of the Soviet lead in the space race (by putting the first man in space) motivated President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress on May 25, 1961, to commit the federal government to a program to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, which effectively launched the Apollo program.
11. Apollo was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It cost more than $20 billion in 1960s dollars or an estimated $208 billion in present-day US dollars
12. It used the Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets built for previous projects.The spacecraft was also bigger; it had two main parts, the combined command and service module (CSM) and the lunar landing module (LM). The LM was to be left on the Moon and only the command module (CM) containing the three astronauts would eventually return to Earth.
13. The second manned mission, Apollo 8, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon in December 1968. Shortly before, the Soviets had sent an unmanned spacecraft around the Moon.
14. On the next two missions docking maneuvers that were needed for the Moon landing were practiced and then finally the Moon landing was made on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.
15. The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above.
16. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms (842 lb) of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind
18. The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.
19. Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body.
20. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit to date. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museums.
21. More than 1,000 unmanned missions have been designed to explore the Earth and the solar system.
22. Besides exploration, communication satellites have also been launched by NASA.
23. The missions have been launched directly from Earth or from orbiting space shuttles, which could either deploy the satellite itself, or with a rocket stage to take it farther
24. A’s facilities are research, construction and communication centers to help its missions. Some facilities serve more than one application for historic or administrative reasons. NASA also operates a short-line railroad at the Kennedy Space Center and own special aircraft, for instance two Boeing 747 that transport Space Shuttle orbiter.
25. John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), is one of the best-known NASA facilities. It has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on pause, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America’s civilian space program from three pads at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
26. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston is home to the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center, where all flight control is managed for manned space missions. JSC is the lead NASA center for activities regarding the International Space Station and also houses the NASA Astronaut Corps that selects, trains, and provides astronauts as crew members for US and international space missions.
27. Another major facility is Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama at which the Saturn 5 rocket and Skylab were developed. The JPL worked together with ABMA, one of the agencies behind Explorer 1, the first American space mission.
28. NASA’s budget has generally been approximately 1% of the federal budget from the early 1970s on, after briefly peaking at approximately 4.41% in 1966 during the Apollo program.
29. Public perception of NASA’s budget has differed significantly from reality; a 1997 poll indicated that most Americans responded that 20% of the federal budget went to NASA.
30. The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft landed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans when they returned to Earth.
31. Landsat was the series of revolutionary satellites that were first launched in 1972 for the purpose of systematically photographing the surface of the Earth from space.
32. R-71, also known as the “Blackbird,” is the research aircraft used by NASA as a test bed for high-speed, high-altitude aeronautical research. It was secretly designed in the 1950s at Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company, commonly known as “Skunk Works.”
33. The X-15 aircraft made a total of 199 flights over a period of nearly 10 years from 1959 to 1968. It set unofficial world speed and altitude records of 4,520 mph (Mach 6.7) and 354,200 feet. Information gained from the highly successful program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft and the Space Shuttle program.
34. The B-52B, also known as the Stratofortress, is an air launch carrier aircraft, as well as a research aircraft platform that has been used on research projects. The B-52B was built in the 1950s and is NASA’s oldest aircraft.
35. On August 29, 1929 the Graf Zeppelin, a rigid airship (or dirigible), completed a historic flight around the world that included a nonstop leg from Friedrichshafen, Germany to Tokyo, Japan — a distance of almost 7,000 miles. The airship was 100 feet in diameter and 110 feet high, including the gondola bumpers. During its operating life from 1928 to 1937, the Graf Zeppelin made 590 flights, covering more than a million miles. A total of 13,100 passengers were carried without a single injury.