Wednesday, 23 May 2012


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed by the United States government in direct response to the Soviet space program. On July 29, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the "National Aeronautics and Space Act" to conduct all non-military space activity for the US. Operations for NASA began on October 1, 1958. The "Space Race" with the Soviet Union was on.
The early primary misison of NASA was to try to keep pace with the Soviet Union, who seemed to be having great success with space flight. During NASA's early years, they were always playing catch-up with Russia. As was with the Soviet Sputnik and Vostok programs, early research was for the sole purpose of studying the effect of space on humans, and whether or not humnas could even survive in space.
NASA's first major undertaking was the Mercury Program. It was this program that launched Alan B. Shepard Jr. into space, about a month after the Soviet Union put their first human into space. John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the earth, flew on Mercury 6.
After the success of Merury, NASA turned its attention to landing humans on the moon. Project Gemini was the platform used to do the bulk of the research. Most of the Gemini flights dealt with the long-term effects of weightlessness on astronauts. The information gathered was used directly in the Apollo Program. During this time, NASA also started to launch unmanned probes into the solar system to study other planets.
After the Gemini Program, came the Apollo Program. This program was designed to land humans on the moon. This goal was reached on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Alderin, and Michael Collins became the first people to land on the moon. The Apollo program is considered to be NASA's finest acheivement.
Following the success of the Apollo Program, the Space Race cooled off, and NASA turned to a more research-oriented mode. In 1973, NASA launched Skylab, the United State's first orbial space station. During the rest of the 1970s, the Space Shuttle fleet was being designed to provide a way to reuse space vehicles. This vision came to fruition on April 12, 1982 with the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia.
Since the Apollo program, NASA has launched numerous deep space probes that have returned a wealth of information about other objects in our solar system.
NASA's motto is, "For the benefit of all."

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