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What is NASA? History And Achievements

  • Utsav Mishra
  • Jun 10, 2021
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Introduction to NASA


If you have ever been interested in stars, galaxies, outer space or the study of the universe as a whole, it’s imperative that you have come across the term “NASA”. 


NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is a government agency based in the United States,in charge of air, space science and technology.


NASA's headquarters are in Washington, D.C., where it oversees the NASA Field Centers, develops management rules, and examines all aspects of the ISS (International Space Station) programme.


Since October 4, 1957, when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, we have been exploring outer space. Check exclusive tour at "We are NASA"

This occurred during the Cold War, a time of political enmity between the Soviet Union and the United States. Since then there was a quest to discover the fancy of outer space between nations.


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History of NASA


Not too long after Russia’s incredible feat with the first satellite launch, NASA began operations on October 1, 1958. The agency was established “to manage space exploration and aeronautics research in the United States.”


This was mainly done out of fear by the Americans. They saw the launch of the Sputnik - in 98 minutes, the 183-pound, basketball-sized satellite orbited the entire planet. This caught Americans off guard, and it generated fears that the Soviets may be able to transport nuclear weapons-carrying missiles from Europe to America.


Given the ongoing circumstances of the Cold War between the USSR and the USA, it immediately geared up with research and advancements in the fields of science and technology.


The birth of NASA essentially signified the commencement of the space rivalry between the two super-powerful nations. As we discuss advanced technology in science, we also learn about the history of artificial intelligence (AI).



What does NASA do?


You must be wondering, well space and technology, explorations, satellite launches all sound pretty impressive. But what has this organisation called NASA actually done to benefit humankind? 


NASA does some of the most crucial work in understanding the existence of humankind, and through its space research, strives to answer the three fundamental questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?


  • In space, NASA astronauts perform scientific research. 

  • This helps the scientists to understand more about the Earth thanks to satellites launched by NASA. 

  • The solar system we live in and the universe beyond that are studied by space probes sent by NASA.

  • Air travel and other aspects of flight have improved as a result of new research and developments. 

  • NASA is also launching a new effort to send more humans to the Moon and Mars to explore them.


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NASA has some of the most incredible achievements in the history of its existence, some of their major achievements are listed below. 



Achievements of NASA 


  • Our first astronauts were launched into space thanks to the Mercury programme by NASA. The mission's goal, which included six manned space flights, was simple: orbit the planet, examine man's ability to function in space, and successfully recover both man and spacecraft.


  • Using wind tunnels, flight testing, and computer simulations, NASA has continued to conduct cutting-edge aeronautics research on aerodynamics, wind shear, and other vital areas, building on its NACA roots. (NACA stands for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.)


  • The very successful X-15 programme, which involved a rocket-powered plane that went above the atmosphere and then drifted back to Earth unpowered, provided Shuttle designers with valuable information.


  • The groundbreaking F-8 digital-fly-by-wire programme paved the way for electronic flying in a variety of other aircraft, including the Space Shuttle and high-performance jets that would have been impossible to handle otherwise. 


  • NASA has also conducted significant research on "lifting bodies" (wingless aeroplanes) and "supercritical wings" to reduce the impact of shock waves on transonic aircraft.


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  • NASA has also pioneered work in the field of space applications satellites. New generations of communications satellites, such as the Echo, Telstar, and Syncom satellites, were developed with NASA's assistance. 


  • The Landsat and Earth Observing System missions have provided numerous important scientific results, and NASA's Earth science initiatives have practically changed the way we observe our home planet.


One of the achievements NASA takes the most pride in is the Hubble Telescope. 


  1. Hubble Telescope 


A 3-metre space telescope was proposed by NASA and the European Space Agency in the 1970s. The telescope was named after Edwin Powell Hubble, who discovered the expansion of the Universe in the 1920s. 


It was previously known just as a ‘Large space telescope’ and was renamed in 1983 in honour of astronomer Edwin Hubble. He demonstrated that there are other galaxies in our universe and that they are travelling away from our Milky Way galaxy at a faster rate as they get farther away. 


Scientists have been able to make a number of key astronomical discoveries about our universe thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope and other space science missions. NASA has also pioneered work in the field of space applications satellites.


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  1. First person to land on moon


American astronauts Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin (1930-) became the first people to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. 


On the insistence of President John F. Kennedy, the USA decided to send people to the Moon for the first time in history. 


On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched into orbit. The astronauts of Apollo 11 were Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins.


Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon four days later. In the Lunar Module, they landed on the moon. It was known as the Eagle. Collins remained in lunar orbit for the duration of his mission. He conducted experiments and took photographs.


Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon six and a half hours later. As he took his first step on the Moon, Neil Armstrong famously said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."


Between 1968 and 1972, 24 American astronauts made the journey from Earth to the Moon. James Lovell (Apollo 8 and Apollo 13), John Young (Apollo 10 and Apollo 16), and Gene Cernan (Apollo 10 and Apollo 16) were the only astronauts to go from Earth to the Moon twice (Apollo 10 and Apollo 17).


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Future scope in NASA 


NASA encourages teachers in preparing kids to become future engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other NASA employees. They are going to be the explorers who continue to explore the solar system and the universe as a whole. 


NASA has a long tradition of funding programmes and activities that engage students, educators, families, and communities in the thrill of exploration. Check the video below that describe NASA for students;

Teachers can get training from NASA to discover new approaches to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NASA always takes special attention to involve students across the globe in NASA’s space missions. 


This gets the adrenaline rushing in the veins of all the students and inspires them to become more interested in learning.





NASA has yielded extremely vital information about the solar system and universe. It has done so through the launch of numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications. 


NASA continues to amaze us with awe-inspiring photos and facts from outer space as well as places on the Earth, even after 62 years of its glorious existence. 

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