One of the first institutions that come to our mind when space is mentioned is the US Aviation and Space Agency (NASA). The agency has left behind 64 years. According to the information compiled, NASA was founded on July 29, 1958 by then-US President Dwight David Eisenhower. Although NASA was founded in 1958, the knowledge and experience of the institution is based on the National Aviation Advisory Committee (NACA), which was established in 1915.
NACA, working on airplanes, continues on its way as NASA in order for the USA to achieve success in the field of space in the early 1950s, when there was competition between countries in sending satellites to space. NASA, which has carried out important works since its establishment, stands out in space exploration.
Headquartered in Washington, NASA continues its work with approximately 18 thousand employees. Working with many partners from different national and international fields, the institution aims to discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity by carrying out space studies.
The institution, which carried out its activities with a budget of 23.2 billion dollars last year, has 20 centers and facilities throughout the USA. NASA, which conducts research, testing and development to advance aviation, including supersonic flight, funds these technologies by developing space technologies that will benefit life on Earth.
NASA, which has a lunar-to-Mars exploration approach, shares the information it has obtained in its studies, making the lives of people all over the world better. Companies use NASA’s inventions and technologies to develop new products for society.
“A GREAT STEP FOR HUMANITY” WITH APOLLO 11 IN 1969
When NASA was founded in 1958, it accelerated the work that had begun on manned and robotic space flights. The institution’s first high-profile program was the “Project Mercury,” which aimed to find out if humans could survive in space. Following this program, NASA developed first the 2-person Gemini space shuttle and then the 3-person Apollo space shuttle for the purpose of sending humans to the moon.
The space shuttle Apollo 8 succeeded in orbiting the moon 10 times in December 1968. Following this development, the Apollo 11 space shuttle, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, landed on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon during this expedition, and Armstrong’s words “One small step for me, one giant leap for mankind” went down in history.
By 1972, the United States had brought 10 more astronauts to the lunar surface. The shuttle Apollo and the Russian Soyuz 19 docked in space in 1975, and the astronauts of the two countries shook hands in space to contribute in a symbolic gesture to the diplomatic efforts.
NASA’s manned spaceflight efforts continued with the Space Shuttle Program, which began in 1981 and continued for 30 years. In addition to being a groundbreaking technology, this program was also important for the construction of the International Space Station.
THE WORLD’S MOST ADVANCED SPACE TELESCOPE JAMES WEBB STARTED
After continuing the Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor space shuttle programs, respectively, after the Apollo program, NASA started to encourage private sector initiatives in this field by ending all publicly funded manned flight programs in 2011.
In the same year, the decision to involve the business world in outer space studies was made and the “NASA Commercial Crew Development Program” was implemented.
NASA has signed contracts with prominent companies SpaceX and Boeing, following its decision to work with the private sector to end its reliance on another country and bring manned spaceflights back to the United States.
Having studied all the planets intensively, NASA has completed the exploration of the solar system. Following the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been used in space exploration since 1990, NASA launched the world’s largest and most advanced space telescope, James Webb, into space on December 25, 2021.
The first full-color photograph taken by the telescope, which will serve at least 5 years with its 6.5-meter mirror, was shared on July 12, 2022. The images that James Webb will present are important for the formation of the universe and the discovery of possible other habitable planets.
A LOT OF WORK IS CONDUCTED FROM THE MOON TO MARS
NASA has many missions underway. Highlights of these missions include the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which was developed to test technology that would propel asteroids at risk of hitting Earth and change their trajectories.
DART is expected to hit the 160-meter-diameter asteroid Dimorphos at a speed of about 24 thousand kilometers in September 2022.
The rover named Juno, which NASA launched into space in 2011, has been continuing its exploration activities in the orbit of the planet since it arrived at Jupiter in July 2016.
Another rover, Perseverance, was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and landed on Mars on February 18, about 7 months after launch on July 30, 2020. The vehicle, built as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, made its longest distance walk on Mars in February of this year, at 245.76 meters.
The Parker Solar Probe, which is described as a “Solar Explorer” performing one of the most important missions ever undertaken by NASA, was also launched in 2018 and in February of this year, it was able to photograph the surface of Venus in visible light for the first time.
In addition, NASA plans to send a male and female astronaut to the lunar surface by 2025 as part of the exploration mission called Artemis.
The first phase of the program, Artemis 1, is scheduled to take place on August 29. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket program manager, John Honeycutt, reported that the test of the rocket engine to be used for lunar expeditions was successfully completed at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, USA.
The SLS rocket is expected to be sent to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and later integrated into the Orion spacecraft.
After the expeditions, which are planned to last until 2028, it is aimed to establish a space station in lunar orbit and to organize manned expeditions to Mars by using this place as a stepping stone. (AA)