NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Overview Updated January 20, 2021

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

The agency that oversees US space exploration and aeronautics research

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205 'NASA' stories

February 2020 - January 2021


NASA opened for business on October 1, 1958, tasked with handling space exploration and aeronautics research in the United States. The agency currently leads an innovative space exploration program using both commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system. The lessons learned from this are also brought back to Earth to provide new information, technologies, and opportunities.

Arguably the largest ongoing space mission that NASA is involved in is the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is a habitable modular space station involving five space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA. It was initially launched on November 20, 1998.

NASA’s four enduring strategic goals are as follows:

  • Expand human knowledge via new scientific discoveries
  • Extend human presence deeper into space for sustainable, long-term utilization
  • Address national issues and catalyze economic growth
  • Optimize capabilities and operations

NASA’s headquarters is located in Washington DC, and the current administrator is Steve Jurczyk.

 

NASA Stories Yesterday

NASA released a statement this week detailing information about some of the findings that contributed to the early shutdown of the Artemis 1 Core Stage during the Green Run Hot Fire test on Saturday. The test was originally supposed to last about 8 minutes, but ended up only lasting 67.2 seconds, far short of the minimum amount of time needed to certify the core.

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Steve Jurczyk becomes Acting Administrator of NASA as Jim Bridenstine shares farewell video

The United States has a new President, and NASA has a new top boss. NASA’s Associate Administrator has been elevated to the position of Acting Administrator following the resignation of Jim Bridenstine.

NASA Stories January 18

NASA recently submitted a permit detailing facility construction and modification plans to support its next Mobile Launch Platform for Space Launch System, the agency’s nearly complete rocket to the Moon. We first have to go back to where SLS all started with the Constellation program to understand why NASA is building a new Mobile Launch Platform.

The current Mobile Launcher, ML-1, was initially built for the Constellation program between 2009 and 2010. When the Constellation program was canned in October 2010, NASA started reworking ML-1 to support their new program for the Space Launch System. With the increased complexity and weight of SLS, issues quickly began to arise.

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The other side of the Solid Rocket Booster pictured before has the iconic Worm logo
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NASA invited media to Kennedy Space Center to witness the progress being made with the stacking of the SLS Solid Rocket Motors and to see the Orion Crew Capsule as it is being prepared to be moved to one of the final processing facilities before being stacked later this year.

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NASA is returning astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s, but first the space agency must develop a new rocket capable of reaching lunar orbit. Space Launch System is that rocket, and it’s been in development for several years.

Over the weekend, NASA’s Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi conducted a critical engine test on the core stage of Space Launch System and its four RS-25 engines. While these engines aren’t new — they actually date back to use on the space shuttle — but being configured on a rocket to the Moon is untested.

The epic engine test wasn’t a total success, however, as the vehicle detected an anomaly and stopped firing its engines well before the required test duration. The good news is NASA says both the rocket core stage and its engines remain in good shape.

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Virgin Orbit attempted its second demonstration launch on Sunday after their first attempt failed shortly after the first stage ignition last year. This time around they didn’t just launch a mass simulator but actual payloads from NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program ElaNa 20 which contained several CubeSats from universities across the nation.

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NASA Stories January 15

Signed on the 45th anniversary of the final crewed mission to the Moon, Space Policy Directive 1 directed NASA to begin a mission to send the next man and first woman to the Moon with a pathway to continue onto the crewed exploration of Mars. Since then, the Artemis program has expanded to include already existing programs as well as new commercialized contracts for new services.

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How would history divert from reality if the United States had lost the Space Race to the Soviet Union in the 1960s? Ronald Moore’s “For All Mankind” on Apple TV+ explores an alternative timeline in which America is second to the Moon in season one of the sci-fi series.

“We’re concerned the Soviets might be trying to introduce a new weapon.” That’s how the alt history storyline picks up in the midst of a Cold War escalation during the 1980s in season two. Today we have the most detailed look at what unfolds next as NASA struggles with a takeover by the Department of Defense.

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NASA Stories January 14

NASA released a new analysis today that concludes that 2020 tied for the warmest year on record with 2016, continuing our planet’s trend of slowly but surely getting warmer over the past seven years.

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NASA’s InSight lander was launched back in 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on an Atlas V rocket and was the first interplanetary mission from California. The lander made it safely to the surface of Mars on November 26, carrying new experiments to learn more about Mars subsurface science.

The two big experiments that took the ride to the Red Planet were a seismometer and “self-hammering nail” to study the thermal properties below the surface of Mars nicknamed “the mole”. The mole ran into problems almost right away after it was lifted off the top of the lander and placed on the ground in late 2019.

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