NASA is an acronym for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is an independent US government institution that engages in the exploration of space and aeronautics research. NASA, which is currently located in Washington, D.C. was founded in 1958. Its formation was propelled by two major events namely the Soviet launch of the Sputnik 1 in 1957 and the Sputnik Crisis. The Sputnik Crisis threatened America’s national security and technological prowess. Thus, the then National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) led the country’s quest to join the world in the space conquest. To achieve this, NASA was formed as an institution that would spearhead the conquest. Today, NASA has 10 centers in the United States for its operations. NASA employs a large workforce that comprises of engineers, scientists, secretaries, writers, teachers, and lawyers, and other professionals.
Functions Of NASA
The first major role of NASA is to champion space exploration which helps scientists to learn more about the earth and the entire Solar System. To achieve this, the institution organizes for space missions. Such exploration aims to study both the Earth and space. Secondly, NASA also facilitates scientific experiments through supporting the astronauts and scientists that live and work in the International Space Station. Thirdly, NASA is also mandated to perform the role of disaster management which it executes through programs such as TERA, CloudSat, GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Land Rapid Response System. Fourthly, NASA also tests new aircraft before the commencement of their official use. Other activities that go on at NASA include creating new space technologies, educating the public on scientific and aeronautical discoveries, robotic exploration, and sustaining human activities across the Solar System.
Achievements Of NASA
The primary achievement of NASA is making space exploration a reality. For many years, humans had only dreamed of going to the moon or space. Through three of its programs, namely Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, NASA mastered the art of flying in space. Consequently, it facilitated the landing of the first human on the moon in 1969. NASA also supported astronaut Ed White’s trip to space which made him the first American to have walked in space. Secondly, NASA joined other world organizations that engage in space exploration which led to the installation of the International Space Station.
NASA’s Plans For The Future
One of the ongoing and planned NASA activities include the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). It was to be launched in 2018. However, the launch was postponed to March 30, 2021, to allow for further tests with regards to its ability to withstand high temperatures and other conditions in space. Another project involves an in-depth study of Mars and Saturn. NASA plans to send humans to Mars by 2033 as per President Donald Trump’s directive. Leading to this, the organization plans to perform a mission called Mars 2020 rover to assess whether there are any signs of past life on the planet. These are only two of the many ongoing activities in NASA.