NASA logo.svg
NASA insignia
Motto: For the Benefit of All[1]
Agency overview
Formed July 29, 1958 (53 years ago)
Preceding agency NACA (1915-1958)[2]
Jurisdiction United States government
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
38°52′59″N 77°0′59″W
Employees 18,800+[3]
Annual budget US$17.6 billion (FY 2009)[4]
See also NASA Budget
Agency executives Charles Bolden, administrator
Lori Garver, deputy administrator

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, play /ˈnæsə/) is an executive branch agency of the United States government, responsible for the nation's civilian space program and aeronautics and aerospace research. Since February 2006, NASA's self-described mission statement is to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research."[5] On September 14, 2011, NASA announced that it had selected the design of a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before and provide the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.[6][7][8]

NASA was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958, replacing its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The agency became operational on October 1, 1958.[9][10] U.S. space exploration efforts have since been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is developing the manned Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System,[11] advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program,[12] exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons,[13] and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.[14] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

[edit] History

[edit] Origin

In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year. A U.S. effort for this was Project Vanguard. After the Soviet space program's 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 U.S. 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. Several months of debate produced an agreement that a new federal agency was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was also created at this time to develop space technology for military application.

[edit] NACA becomes NASA

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 46-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.[15]

President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson at a launch operations center, 1962

Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) and the Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program (led by Werner von Braun, who was now working for ABMA) which in turn incorporated the technology of Robert Goddard's earlier works.[16] Earlier research efforts within the U.S. Air Force[15] and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA.[17] In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.[15]

[edit] NASA missions

[edit] Manned missions

Experiments with rocket planes began after WW II. From 1957 the goal became bringing a man into space. After that part of the race was decided in 1961, focus changed to bringing a man to the moon. Later again it became peaceful cooperation. In all, more than 100 manned missions have been made since 1958.[18]

[edit] Early experiments (1946-1968)

From 1946-1958, NACA/NASA experimented with rocket planes such as the supersonic pioneer plane Bell X-1.[19] It was followed by X-15 in cooperation with the US Air Force and US Navy. The design featured a long slender fuselage with fairings along the side containing fuel and early computerized control systems. The improved X-15A-2 was extensively modified with heat-resistant coatings and large external fuel tanks so that it could fly higher and faster. Nearly 200 flights were made between 1959 and 1968 allowing NASA to collect data vital to the design of the Space Shuttle. [20]

[edit] Project Mercury (1959-1963)
May 5, 1961, launch of Freedom 7 with Alan Shepard

Conducted under the pressure of the competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War, Project Mercury was initiated in 1958 and started NASA down the path of human space exploration with missions designed to discover if man could survive in space. Representatives from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force were selected to provide assistance to NASA. Pilot selections were facilitated through coordination with U.S. defense research, contracting, and military test pilot programs. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he piloted Freedom 7 on a 15-minute suborbital flight.[21] John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962 during the flight of Friendship 7.[22] Three more orbital flights followed.

[edit] Project Gemini (1965-1966)
Rendezvous of Gemini 6 and 7

Project Gemini focused on conducting experiments and developing and practicing techniques required for lunar missions. The first Gemini flight with astronauts on board, Gemini 3, was flown by Gus Grissom and John Young on March 23, 1965.[23] Nine missions followed, showing that long-duration human space flight and rendezvous and docking with another vehicle in space were possible, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on humans.[24][25] Gemini missions included the first American spacewalks, and new orbital maneuvers including rendezvous and docking.

[edit] Apollo program (1961-1972, missions from 1966)
Buzz Aldrin on the moon, 1969

The Apollo program landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In 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. Experiments included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind experiments.[26]

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.[27] 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. 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.

[edit] Skylab (1973-1979)
Skylab space station, 1974

Skylab was the only space station launched into orbit solely by the United States.[28] The 100 short tons (91 t) station was in Earth orbit from 1973 to 1979, and was visited by crews three times, in 1973 and 1974.[28] It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity, and a solar observatory.[28] A Space Shuttle was planned to dock with and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but Skylab reentered the atmosphere and was destroyed in 1979, before the first shuttle could be launched.[29]

[edit] Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975-1981)
Apollo-Soyuz crews with model of spacecrafts, 1975

In the 1970s the cold war was thawing and as a consequence the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) was introduced. It was the first joint flight of the U.S. and Soviet space programs. The mission took place in July 1975. For the United States, it was the last Apollo flight, as well as the last manned space launch until the flight of the first Space Shuttle in April 1981.[30] Manned Skylab and ASTP missions used the smaller Saturn IB with Apollo CSM, not the Saturn V.

[edit] Space Shuttle program (1981-2011)
First space shuttle launch, 1981

The Space Shuttle became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Planned as a frequently launchable and mostly reusable vehicle, four space shuttle orbiters were built by 1985. The first to launch, Columbia, did so on April 12, 1981.[31]

In 1995 Russian-American interaction resumed with the Shuttle-Mir missions. Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation has continued to 2011, with Russia and the United States the two biggest partners in the largest space station ever built: the International Space Station (ISS). The strength of their cooperation on this project was even more evident when NASA began relying on Russian launch vehicles to service the ISS during the two-year grounding of the shuttle fleet following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

The shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003.[32] While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour from replacement parts, NASA did not build another orbiter to replace the second loss.[32] NASA's Space Shuttle program had 135 successful missions when the program ended with the successful landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011. The program spanned 30 years with over 300 astronauts sent into space.[33]

[edit] International Space Station (1998-)

The International Space Station (ISS) is an internationally developed research facility currently being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled to be completed by 2011, with operations continuing until at least 2015.[34] The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye, and, as of 2009, is the largest artificial satellite in Earth orbit, with a mass larger than that of any previous space station.

The ISS is operated as a joint project among NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency (ESA). Ownership and utilization of the space station is set out via several intergovernmental treaties and agreements, with the Russian Federation retaining full ownership of its own modules, and the rest of the station being allocated among the other international partners. Many of the ISS's modules were delivered by the Space Shuttle. Russian ISS modules launch and dock robotically, with the exception of Rassvet. All other modules were installed by ISS and shuttle crew using the SSRMS and EVAs.

[edit] Unmanned missions (1958-2011)

Mars Global Surveyor, by artist

More than 1,000 unmanned missions have been designed to explore the earth and parts of the solar system.[35] They have been launched directly from earth or by space shuttle, which again could launch the satellite itself or a vehicle containing the satellite.[pic.] When travelling in space it is sometimes possible to take advantage of the gravity and velocity of planets to reach the destination; most notably was the Voyager program in the 1970s, which used Jupiter and Saturn to reach the outer solar system and go beyond.[36]

Galileo deployed by shuttle

The first mission was Explorer 1, which started as an ABMA/JPL project during the early space race. It was launched in January 1958, two month after Sputnik. At the creation of NASA it was transferred to this agency and still continues to this day (2011). Its missions have been focusing on the Earth and the Sun measuring among others magnetic fields and solar wind.[37] A more recent Earth mission, not related to the Explorer program, is the Hubble telescope, which was brought into orbit in 1989 by a Space shuttle.[38]

The closest planets Mars, Venus and Mercury have been the goal of at least 4 programs. The first was Mariner in the 1960s and ‘70s, which visited all three of them. Mariner was also the first to make a planetary flyby, to take the first pictures from another planet, the first planetary orbiter, and the first to make one of the above mentioned gravity assist maneuvers. The first successful landing on Mars was made by Viking I in 1976. 20 years later a rover was landed on Mars by Mars Pathfinder.[39]

Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973. More than 20 years later Galileo send a probe into the planets’ atmosphere.[40] The first spacecraft to leave the solar system was Pioneer 10 in 1983.[41] At a time it was the most distant spacecraft, but it is now passed by Voyager II.[42] Both the Pioneer and the Voyager program carries messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life[43][44]

A problem with far space travel is communication. For instance, at present it takes about 3 hours for a radio signal to reach the New Horizon spacecraft at a point little more than half way to Pluto.[45] Communications with Voyager 1 was lost in 2003, 4 years after it left the solar system.[46]

[edit] NASA's future

National Aero Space Plane, proposed for intercontineltal flights in the 1980s

[edit] Mission statement and vision

  • To improve life here, to extend life to there, to find life beyond.[47] —Mission Statement
  • NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.[48] —Mission
  • To understand and protect our home planet, to explore the Universe and search for life, and to inspire the next generation of explorers... as only NASA can.[49] — NASA Vision

A 1996 Policy document said a goal of the U.S. space program was to enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe through human and robotic exploration[50]

The Augustine Commission recommended the goals of:

  1. Space science
  2. Technology development
  3. Earth science
  4. Unmanned launch vehicle
  5. Human spaceflight

See also: Space policy of the United States

[edit] Budget pressures and planned activities (1990s-2011)

During much of the 1990s, NASA was faced with shrinking annual budgets due to congressional belt-tightening. In response, NASA's ninth administrator, Daniel Goldin, pioneered the "faster, better, cheaper" approach that enabled NASA to cut costs while still delivering a wide variety of aerospace programs (Discovery Program). That method was criticized and re-evaluated following the twin losses of Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander in 1999.

It is the current space policy of the United States that NASA, "execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe."[51] NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Some other active spacecraft missions are MESSENGER for Mercury, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (1989-2003), Cassini, and Juno (2011-).

An improved and larger planetary rover, Mars Science Laboratory, is under construction and slated to launch in 2011, after a slight delay caused by hardware challenges, which has bumped it back from the October 2009 scheduled launch.[52] The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and aiming for Pluto flyby in 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the fly-by. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.[53]

[edit] Vision for Space Exploration (2004)

Left to Right: Saturn V, which carried men to the Moon, the Space Shuttle, and the canceled Ares I, Ares IV and Ares V launch vehicles

On January 14, 2004, ten days after the landing of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, US President George W. Bush announced a new plan for NASA's future, dubbed the Vision for Space Exploration.[54] According to this plan, mankind would return to the Moon by 2018, and set up outposts as a testbed and potential resource for future missions. The Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 and Orion may replace it by 2015, capable of both docking with the International Space Station (ISS) and leaving the Earth's orbit. The future of the ISS is somewhat uncertain—construction will be completed, but beyond that is less clear. Although the plan initially met with skepticism from Congress, in late 2004 Congress agreed to provide start-up funds for the first year's worth of the new space vision.[55]

Ares I-X test launch in October 2009

Hoping to spur innovation from the private sector, NASA established a series of Centennial Challenges, technology prizes for non-government teams, in 2004. The Challenges include tasks that will be useful for implementing the Vision for Space Exploration, such as building more efficient astronaut gloves.[56] In February 2010, NASA announced that it would be awarding $50 million in contracts to commercial spaceflight companies including Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation and United Launch Alliance to design and develop viable reusable launch vehicles.[57]

[edit] Moon base plan (2006)

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent moon base.[58] NASA Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz said the goal was to start building the moonbase by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization. Additionally, NASA plans to collaborate and partner with other nations for this project. By 2010, President Barack Obama worked with Congress to halt existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on manned missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station.[59]

[edit] Human exploration of Mars goal (2007)

On September 28, 2007 Michael D. Griffin, who was at the time Administrator of NASA, stated that NASA aims to put a man on Mars by 2037.[60]

Alan Stern, NASA's "hard-charging" and "reform-minded"[61] associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, resigned on March 25, 2008,[62] effective April 11, 2008, after he allegedly ordered funding cuts to the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Mars Odyssey that were overturned by NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin. The cuts were intended to offset cost overruns for the Mars Science Laboratory. Stern has stated that he "did not quit over MER" and that he "wasn’t the person who tried to cut MER".[63] Stern, who served for nearly a year and has been credited with making "significant changes that have helped restore the importance of science in NASA’s mission",[64][65] says he left to avoid cutting healthy programs and basic research in favor of politically sensitive projects. Griffin favored cutting "less popular parts" of the budget, including basic research, and Stern's refusal to do so led to his resignation.[66]

[edit] 2009-2010

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) established the Augustine Commission to ensure the nation is on "a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space" on May 7, 2009.[67] In its October 22, 2009 report, the Commission proposed three basic options for exploration beyond low Earth orbit:

  • Mars First, with a Mars landing, perhaps after a brief test of equipment and procedures on the Moon.
  • Moon First, with lunar surface exploration focused on developing the capability to explore Mars.
  • A Flexible Path to inner solar system locations, such as lunar orbit, Lagrange points, near-Earth objects and the moons of Mars, followed by exploration of the lunar surface and/or Martian surface.

President Barack Obama announced changes to NASA space policy, in his April 15, 2010 space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center, from the Moon-first approach adopted previously under the Vision for Space Exploration and Constellation program to a variety of destinations resembling the flexible path approach.

The new plan calls for NASA to extend the life of the ISS by five years and use launch vehicles designed, manufactured, and operated by private aerospace companies with NASA paying for flights for government astronauts to the ISS and LEO, much like the way private space tourism company Space Adventures bought Soyuz flights from the Russian government for space tourists. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have expressed doubts about the new plan,[68] while other aerospace companies, including SpaceX, have strongly endorsed it.

NASA has selected SpaceX and Orbital Sciences for its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The first launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 occurred on December 8, 2010;[69] it was the first unmanned spaceflight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which orbited the Earth. It was the first demonstration flight for the COTS program. On February 8 the idea for a new rocket to replace the aging space shuttle was presented in the form of the Liberty. Mostly a combination of the already existing Ariane 5 and the canceled Ares I; it is thought that it could be finished by 2013, and ready for launch by 2015 if approved.[70]

[edit] 2011

In 2011 NASA retired the Space Shuttle. Many of NASA's 1,100 full-time employees on the retired Space Shuttle program may have been transferred to other NASA programs. However, contractor employees are not promised work with NASA. Contractor employment on the Space Shuttle program dropped drastically from 14,000 to around 5,000 over five years prior to its end.[71]

In September 2011, the Space Launch System, a planned launch vehicle was announced. The goal is a manned variant launching the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and a even larger version after that. The Orion MPCV is planned for a test launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket around 2013.

[edit] Budget

Public perception of the NASA budget may be very different from reality and has been the subject of controversy since the agency's creation. A 1997 poll reported that Americans had an average estimate of 20% for NASA's share of the federal budget. In reality, NASA's budget has been between 0.5% and 1% from the late 1960s on. NASA budget briefly peaked at over 4% of the federal budget in the mid-1960s during the build up to the Apollo program.[72]

NASA leadership

Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of NASA
Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of NASA
Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA
Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA

[edit] Leadership

The administrator of NASA is the highest-ranking official of that organization and serves as the senior space science adviser to the President of the United States.

On May 24, 2009, President Obama announced the nomination of Charles Bolden as NASA administrator, and Lori Garver as deputy administrator.[73] Bolden was confirmed by the US Senate on July 15, 2009 as the twelfth administrator of NASA. Lori Garver was confirmed as NASA's deputy administrator.[74]

[edit] Facilities

NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC provides overall guidance and direction to the agency.[75] NASA's Shared Services center is located on the grounds of the John C. Stennis Space Center, near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.[76] Construction of the Shared Services facility began in August 2006 and it was completed in June 2008.[76] NASA operates a short-line railroad at the Kennedy Space Center. Various field and research installations are listed below by application. Some facilities serve more than one application for historic or administrative reasons. NASA has used or supported various observatories and telescopes, and an example of this is the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory complex in Pasadena, California
Communication and other facilities
Construction and launch facilities
Research centers
Test facilities

[edit] NASA science

The Crab Nebula NASA.ogv
A video podcast on the Crab Nebula by NASA

[edit] Ozone depletion

In the middle of the 20th century[clarification needed] NASA augmented its mission of Earth’s observation and redirected it toward environmental quality. The result was the launch of Earth Observing System (EOS) in 1980s, which was able to monitor one of the global environmental problems—ozone depletion.[77] The first comprehensive worldwide measurements were obtained in 1978 with the Nimbus-7 satellite and NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.[78]

[edit] Salt evaporation and energy management

In one of the nation's largest restoration projects, NASA technology helps state and federal government reclaim 15,100 acres (61 km2) of salt evaporation ponds in South San Francisco Bay. Satellite sensors are used by scientists to study the effect of salt evaporation on local ecology.[79]

NASA has started Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation Program as an agency-wide program directed to prevent pollution and reduce energy and water utilization. It helps to ensure that NASA meets its federal stewardship responsibilities for the environment.[80]

[edit] Medicine in space

A variety of large scale medical studies are being conducted in space via the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). Prominent among these is the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity Study in which Astronauts (including former ISS Commanders Leroy Chiao and Gennady Padalka) perform ultrasound scans under the guidance of remote experts to diagnose and potentially treat hundreds of medical conditions in space. Usually, there is no physician onboard the International Space Station and diagnosis of medical conditions is challenging. In addition, Astronauts are susceptible to a variety of health risks including decompression sickness, barotrauma, immunodeficiencies, loss of bone and muscle, orthostatic intolerance due to volume loss, sleep disturbances, and radiation injury. Ultrasound offers a unique opportunity to monitor these conditions in space. This study's techniques are now being applied to cover professional and Olympic sports injuries as well as ultrasound performed by non-expert operators in populations such as medical and high school students. It is anticipated that remote guided ultrasound will have application on Earth in emergency and rural care situations, where access to a trained physician is often rare.[81][82][83]

[edit] Earth Science Enterprise

Understanding of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment is the main objective of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. NASA currently has more than a dozen Earth science spacecraft/instruments in orbit studying all aspects of the Earth system (oceans, land, atmosphere, biosphere, cyrosphere), with several more planned for launch in the next few years.[84]

For years it has been cooperating with major environment related agencies and creating united projects to achieve their goal. Past Enterprise’s programs include:[85]

  • Carbon sequestration assessment for Carbon Management (USDA, DOE)
  • Early warning systems for air and water quality for Homeland Security (OHS, NIMA, USGS)
  • Enhanced weather prediction for Energy Forecasting (DOE, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA))
  • Environmental indicators for Coastal Management (NOAA)
  • Environmental indicators for Community Growth Management (EPA, USGS, NSGIC)
  • Environmental models for Biological Invasive Species (USGS, USDA)
  • Regional to national to international atmospheric measurements and predictions for Air Quality Management (United States Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA)
  • Water cycle science for Water Management and Conservation (EPA, USDA)

NASA is working in cooperation with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The goal is to obtain~to produce worldwide solar resource maps with great local detail.[86] NASA was also one of the main participants in the evaluation innovative technologies for the clean up of the sources for dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). On April 6, 1999, the agency signed The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, DOE, and USAF authorizing all the above organizations to conduct necessary tests at the John F. Kennedy Space center. The main purpose was to evaluate two innovative in-situ remediation technologies, thermal removal and oxidation destruction of DNAPLs.[87] National Space Agency made a partnership with Military Services and Defense Contract Management Agency named the “Joint Group on Pollution Prevention”. The group is working on reduction or elimination of hazardous materials or processes.[88]

On May 8, 2003, Environmental Protection Agency recognized NASA as the first federal agency to directly use landfill gas to produce energy at one of its facilities—the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.[89]

[edit] Awards and decorations

To commemorate Hubble Telescope's 20th Birthday, NASA, with ESA and STI, released this Wide Field Camera 3 shot of a portion of Carina Nebula. Oxygen is colorized blue, hydrogen and nitrogen green, and sulfur red

NASA presently bestows a number of medals and decorations to astronauts and other NASA personnel. Some awards are authorized for wear on active duty military uniforms. The highest award is the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, which has been awarded to 28 individuals (17 posthumously), and is said to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind."[90]

The second highest NASA award is the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, which may be presented to any member of the federal government, including both military astronauts and civilian employees. It is an annual award, given out at the National Aeronautics Space Foundation plant, located in Orlando, Florida.[90]

[edit] Spinoffs

Modern space ice cream

Hundreds of NASA's research projects resulted in "spinoffs" or "successes." The economic and human impact of these spinoff technologies is very real but difficult to measure quantitatively. Some feature in NASA's annual Spinoff journal. Many available to the public have proven utility outside the realm of space-related research.[91]

Astronaut ice cream (space ice cream) is a special ice cream developed by Whirlpool Corporation under contract to NASA for the Apollo missions.[92] Apollo 7 in 1968 was the first NASA mission on which space ice cream flew in space.[93][94] The spinoff is various commercially sold freeze-dried ice creams, although official space ice cream is licensed.[95] By, 1972 astronauts ate classic ice cream on the Skylab space station, thanks to its freezer, and regular ice cream has also been eaten on the International Space Station.[96] The original space ice cream is a specially made food developed by U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, consisting of "coconut fat, milk solids, and sugar was homogenized, frozen, then freeze-dried, ground and compressed into cubes under high pressure. The cubes were then coated with an edible gelatin coating to prevent crumbs".[97] This was the ice cream flown on Apollo 7, which can differ from modern space ice cream.[97]

[edit] Mistakenly attributed Spinoffs

The following is a list of technologies sometimes mistakenly attributed to NASA.[98] In some cases NASA popularized technology or aided its development.

  • Barcodes (NASA developed a special type of barcode, but this should not be mistaken for the original one.)
  • Cordless power tools (The first cordless power tool was unveiled by Black & Decker in 1961. It was used by NASA and a number of spinoff products came out of that.)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (NASA has, however, contributed to its advances over the years. MRI is best known as a device for body scanning.)
  • Quartz clocks (The quartz clock dates back to 1927. However in the late 1960s, NASA partnered with a company to make a quartz clock that was on the market for a few years.)
  • Smoke detectors (NASA’s connection to the modern smoke detector is that it made one with adjustable sensitivity as part of the Skylab project.)
  • Tang juice powder (Tang was developed by General Foods in 1957, and it has been for sale since 1959. It was used in the first orbit missions, which gave awareness to it.)
  • Teflon (Invented for DuPont in 1938 and used on frying pans from the 1950s.[99] It has been applied by NASA to heat shields, space suits, and cargo hold liners.)
  • Velcro (A Swiss invention from the 1940s. Velcro was used during the Apollo missions to anchor equipment for astronauts’ convenience in zero gravity situations.)

[edit] NASA seal and logos

The NASA seal, shown to the left below, was approved by the President of the United States.[100] NASA worm logo and anniversary logos are shown to the right.

Author:Bling King
Published:Sep 24th 2011
Modified:Jan 10th 2012

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