The United States programme has its origin rooted in the Intermediate Range and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Programs that became known at the end of World War II when the military wanted to be able to launch larger and heavier payloads into space with the use of rockets.
This is why a lot of the earliest spacecrafts launched like the Titan, Thor and Atlas originated as IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) and ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).
In the mid-1950s, the United States had access and technology to launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit. The country planned to launch this satellite into Earth’s orbit by the end of the century, but the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957 prompted the country to adjust their previous schedule. And, about a year and a half after the launch of the Sputnik 1, the United States was able to successfully send the American Explorer 1 into Earth’s orbit followed by Vanguard.
In the summer of 1958, the United States established the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). This space agency slowly took over the responsibilities that were previously played by the country’s armed forces. This was done to reinforce the United States claim that it is interested in preserving space for peaceful activities.
OBJECTIVES OF NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is in charge of unique scientific and technological achievements in human spaceflight, space science, aeronautics, and space applications that have proven to have significant impacts on the public and the world in general. The establishment of the agency was prompted by the early achievement of the Soviet Union in launching the Sputnik 1. The agency was developed on the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and other government agencies, as the center of the United States aerospace research and development.
NASA’S SPACE PROGRAMME
On October 1, 1958, after the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it increased the speed of ongoing projects on human and robotic spaceflight. The agency’s first high profile program was Project Mercury, which was an attempt to learn if humans are capable of surviving in space.
The second high profile program was Project Gemini, which used spacecraft that were designed for two astronauts to perfect the capabilities required for the national objective of a human trip to the surface of the Moon by the end of the 1960s. this mission was achieved by Project Apollo in July 1969 and this led to the successful landing of five additional lunar missions through 1972. Following the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Projects in the mid-1970s, the agency resumed its human spaceflight efforts in 1981, with the Space Shuttle program that continued for about 30 years. The Space Shuttle was a revolutionary shuttle that was vital to the next step of the country’s space programme, which was the development of the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA has been able to reach significant milestones in their space program for the past 60 years with the help of their cutting edge aeronautics research that has significantly improved the way we design and build aircraft. The agency has also been able to finish the reconnaissance of the solar system with a deep study of all the planets. The agency has also used orbital spacecraft like the Hubble Space Telescope to significantly change human’s knowledge of the universe around us and our own planet as well.
The agency’s early work on launch vehicles, weather satellites, and communication satellites has also fundamentally changed daily life and developed new industries. The agency acts as a catalyst for international cooperation and has improved how and why humans conduct space activities. And currently, the agency is planning on improving space travel by helping humans encourage a strong commercial space economy near Earth. It also plans to lead the way for further human and robotic exploration of space.
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has also signed inter-governmental space cooperation agreements with other countries like Chile, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Ukraine, Russia, the United States, France, India, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, and some other countries. The governmental space cooperation agreements have resulted in significant achievements. It also has partnerships with private organizations like Space X, the space company founded by Elon Musk.
NASA is planning on increasing the number of its robotic probes on Mars, the Red Planet, in order to study the planet’s interior. It also plans to use the Mars 2020 rover to search for evidence of past microbial life, collect samples for future return to Earth and study resources that could someday support astronauts.
The agency will also be studying every phase in the history of the Universe in infrared with the aid of the James Webb Space Telescope for the next decade. It will also use the Parker Solar Probe to attempt to touch the sun (This will travel closer to the surface of the sun than any spacecraft).
In April 2018, it has also launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite which is tasked with searching for planets outside our solar system by monitoring 200,000 bright, nearby stars. It is also planning a mission to Europa, Jupiter’s ocean bearing Moon in the 2020s.
NASA is currently using the growing scientific knowledge of our solar system to design and build the most advanced rockets and spacecraft to lead the next steps of human exploration farther into space that humans have ever traveled before. These spacecraft will carry astronauts to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.
The agency is also planning to launch more astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and develop a new generation of commercial spacecraft and rockets to supply cargo to the station. It is also studying the astronauts that spend a long time in space to learn how future crews can thrive on longer missions farther into the solar system.
NASA has maintained its goal to use the vantage point of space to gain a better knowledge of Earth and explore it in order to improve lives and safeguard humankind’s future. The agency launched two space missions ICESat-2 and GRACE Follow-On to continue the long-term record of how Earth’s ice sheets, sea level, and underground water reserves are changing.