What is NASA?

NASA Space Shuttle

July 20, 1969 – NASA’s Apollo 11 landed the first humans on Moon.

May 14, 1973 – NASA launches Skylab, the first and only independently built space station of US.

August 6, 2012 -NASA’s car-sized rover Curiosity lands on Mars

One word that is common in all of the above successful space missions is NASA.

What is NASA?

We asked a few kids just like you. Rhea, 9 said that NASA is a space airline. Kevin, 5 said that it’s a rocket launcher. Esha, 10 said that NASA is some company that sends astronauts to space. Who is correct? They all are. NASA does all of it and a bit more. Let’s explore.

What do you think is out there in space? There are planets, stars, comets, Moon, solar system, black holes, galaxies and more mystifying stuff like that. Believe me there are million other things to explore!

NASA explores the vast space. For an exploration we need latest, revolutionary, innovative space technology. We need spacecrafts. We need researchers and scientists that can use science as a tool to explore beyond the solar system and universe. We need astronauts who are trained professionals so they can live in the harsh space conditions. NASA manages all of that.

NASA, formally known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was established in 1958 by American President Dwight D. Eisenhower with a vision of sending humans to the moon by the end of 1960s.

The first ever mission that NASA worked on was sending astronauts to the moon. NASA worked on the Apollo program tirelessly. It made space projects like the Mercury and Gemini, to develop the technology and skills Apollo 11 would need for the journey. For the journey, they designed a special spacecraft and tirelessly trained astronauts. Finally, On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.

After the success of Apollo, there was no looking back for NASA. There was just so much more to do. The biggest challenge NASA came across was of designing and making a new spacecraft for every space trip. It was not only expensive, but time taking. So NASA focused on creating a reusable ship to provide regular access to space. They called it the space shuttle. The space shuttle was first launched in 1981. It flew more than 130 successful missions and carried over 350 people into space before retiring in 2011.

International Space Station

Image Credit: Flickr User NASA UFO, via CC

In 2000, something unbelievable happened. NASA along with Russia and some other nations established the International Space Station – a permanent residence for astronauts in space so that they can comfortably operate when on longer missions. Talk about feeling at home!

Curiosity at work on Mars

Image Credit:Flickr User NASA Goddard Space Flight, via CC

One of NASA’s much talked about recent project is that of sending a car-sized robot named ‘Curiosity’ to explore planet Mars. What a name! The information that curiosity has been sending will finally be able to tell the answer to age old question – Was there ever life on Mars?

Wonder what is NASA’s next mission?

It could be discovering an Exoplanet!

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