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National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
- NASA -

NASA logo
State level Federal authority
position United States government
founding July 29, 1958
Headquarters Washington, DC , United States
United StatesUnited States 
Authority management Bill Nelson , administrator
Servants > 17,000
Budget volume 22.6 billion USD (2020)
Web presence

The NASA ( english [ næsə ], German mostly [ Naza ], English National Aeronautics and Space Administration , German National Aeronautics - and Space Administration ) is founded in 1958, civilian US -Bundesbehörde for space travel and flight science. Its headquarters are in Washington, DC ( NASA Headquarters , 300 E Street SW). At the same time, NASA is an important geoscientific research institution and provides most of the research funds in the United Statesclimate science research ready.

Vision and mission

NASA describes its vision as "improving life here, expanding life outside and finding life out there". This results in the mission "to understand and protect our home planet, to explore the universe and search for life and to inspire the next generation of researchers". In February 2006, NASA deleted the protection of the earth from its mission statement in order to align it with the space flight program announced by the then US President George W. Bush .


NASA was founded on July 29, 1958 by the "National Aeronautics and Space Act". It was decided by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the advice of his science advisor James R. Killian that the civil space program should be carried out by a space organization. The forerunner was inter alia. the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which came under the Air Force. The new authority began its work on October 1, 1958, taking over the approximately 8,000 employees of the NACA. Thomas Keith Glennan was appointed NASA's first administrator .

Manned spaceflight

American manned space travel began with the Mercury program initiated in 1958 . As launchers were Redstone and Atlas D missiles used. On April 14, 1959, the first launch of the Atlas D rocket took place in the Mercury program. On December 4, 1959, the Mercury-Little-Joe 2 mission made the first "manned" flight up to 85 km altitude, during which the rhesus monkey Sam was in weightlessness for about three minutes. During the “Little Joe” missions, the launcher was also called “ Little Joe ”. On January 21, 1960 there was another ballistic flight on the Mercury-Little-Joe 1B mission , this time by Miss Sam with a summit height of 14 km.

The actual Mercury flights began on November 21, 1960 with the unmanned Mercury-Redstone 1 flight . On January 31, 1961, the space capsule of the Mercury-Redstone 2 was occupied by the chimpanzee Ham .

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard carried out the first manned space flight by an American with the Mercury-Redstone 3 . This was followed by five more space flights by astronauts and a flight by the chimpanzee Enos on the Mercury-Atlas 5 mission .

The Mercury Project officially ended on June 12, 1963. With the last Mercury capsule, the Mercury Atlas 9 , Gordon Cooper flew into space from May 15, 1963 to May 16, 1963 . This was followed by the Gemini program , in which the space capsules were each manned by two astronauts.

Space shuttle

As part of the Apollo program , Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to land on the moon on July 20, 1969, and returned safely to Earth on July 24.

In 1972 the development of the space shuttle began . The first take-off took place on April 12, 1981. After 135 flights, the service period of the shuttles ended in 2011. The three remaining space shuttles were decommissioned and handed over to museums in the USA.

NASA is a co-operator of the International Space Station and has been booking flights with the Russian spacecraft Soyuz since the end of the shuttle program .

Future manned space travel

Flights to the International Space Station

On September 16, 2014, NASA awarded the US companies Boeing and SpaceX the contract as part of the Commercial Crew Program to build a space shuttle for manned space travel by 2017. With this, NASA wants to end its current dependence on Russian space travel. After numerous breakdowns and delays, the first manned flight of this program started on May 30, 2020 with the SpX-DM2 mission of the SpaceX spaceship Crew Dragon .

Lunar base

NASA announced on December 4, 2006 that a permanently manned lunar base station was being planned. These plans were abandoned under Barack Obama in the early 2010s .

After evidence of the existence of water on the moon, it became a strategic target again. Under the Trump administration , NASA launched the Artemis program in 2019 , which calls for moon landings from the mid-2020s. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in July 2019, building a US lunar base is still not a priority. Habitats on the lunar surface that could be used for stays of several weeks are now being considered for the late 2020s.

Mars missions

The United States has had various plans for manned missions to Mars since the 1990s. In the 2010s, the Orion spaceship was intended for this. Meanwhile, with the Deep Space Transport, a new spaceship has been proposed that could not be available until the late 2030s at the earliest. Starts to Mars are to be made with the Space Launch System ; Landings are not planned for the time being.

List of NASA administrators

If there was a gap between the terms of office, a temporary administrator was appointed. In most cases, this function was taken over by the acting deputy administrator.


NASA is made up of a number of bodies. This includes

Affiliated institutions

Independent NASA facilities

NASA space programs



Running unmanned programs

Completed unmanned programs


  • NASA owns two ocean tugs, the Freedom Star and the Liberty Star . These were used to recover and transport spent launch vehicles in the space shuttle program.
  • NASA TV (NASA Television) is the in-house television station of the US space agency NASA. The station can be received in the USA as a normal television station via satellite, cable and via the app, but also worldwide as an IPTV station.
  • For some time now, NASA has been publishing apps for smartphones and tablets on a regular basis in order to clearly illustrate goals and missions and to make them known to the general public. One example is an app that can be used to control a virtual equivalent of the Mars rover Curiosity .
  • In July 2012, NASA released their first game for the Xbox 360 . It can be downloaded free of charge and allows the Curiosity mission to be controlled using the Kinect interface.
  • In August 2013, NASA released video footage of Operation IceBridge . The video material shows impressive scenes from the Arctic and Antarctic , which were created during the research mission.
  • NASA publishes new, industrially interesting technologies in so-called NASA Tech Briefs .
  • To date, NASA is the only space agency that has successfully landed humans on the moon and space probes on the surface of Mars.

Use of the NASA logo

As of 2019, clothing, especially t-shirts and hoodies , with the NASA logo became popular in everyday fashion. One possible trigger is the resumption of our own manned space flight in the USA. The logo is in the public domain in the USA because of NASA's status as a government agency, so that commercial providers can also use it without license payments. However, the use of NASA logos, crests, and symbols is restricted by US law 14 CFR 1221 . It may z. B. does not create the impression that NASA is working with the company or supporting it in any way. In addition, the logo may not be combined with other characters or company names.

See also

Web links

Commons : NASA  album with pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: NASA  - in the news

Individual evidence

  1. NASA Workforce> headcount . Accessed April 6, 2014.
  2. NASA's FY 2020 budget. The Planetary Society , accessed April 14, 2020 .
  3. ^ NASA definition, meaning -… - Cambridge Dictionaries Online , accessed June 2, 2015.
  4. - About - Visiting NASA (Engl.). Accessed June 12, 2010.
  5. Erik M. Conway , Bringing NASA back to Earth: A search for Relevance during the Cold War. In: Naomi Oreskes , John Krige (Eds.) Science and Technology in the Global Cold War . MIT Press 2014, 251-272, p. 251.
  6. "NASA's Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet" , New York Times , July 22 of 2006.
  7. order, Boeing and SpaceX to build new manned US space shuttle , accessed on September 16, 2014.
  8. NASA: Lunar Architecture ( en , .pdf; 74 kB) NASA. 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  9. Obama doesn't want a new moon mission. Archived from the original on February 3, 2010 ; Retrieved February 1, 2010 .
  10. Loren Grush in an interview with Jim Bridenstine: NASA administrator on recent personnel shakeup: 'There's no turmoil at all'. In: The Verge . July 12, 2019, accessed July 18, 2019 .
  11. ^ NASA's Plans For a Lunar Base Camp . Universe Today, April 9, 2020.
  12. Annika Demgen: Controlling Mars rover Curiosity with the iPhone. In: netzwelt. July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2012 .
  13. Thomas Freund: Xbox 360: NASA releases free Kinect game. In: netzwelt. July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2012 .
  14. NASA shows aerial photographs of the Arctic and Antarctic , from August 22, 2013, accessed on August 22, 2013.
  15. Why is everyone suddenly wearing Nasa shirts? In: July 28, 2019, accessed December 22, 2020 .
  16. Dirk Lorenzen: Clever PR of the US space agency. In: Deutschlandfunk . May 15, 2019, accessed December 22, 2020 .