Goals, Missions, Technology, and Accomplishments
Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States. Two goals: putting a human in orbit around the Earth, and doing it before the Soviet Union. It succeeded in the first , but not the second.
Apollo set several major human spaceflight milestones. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit; Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while the final Apollo 17 mission marked the sixth Moon landing and the ninth manned mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program returned 842 pounds (382 kg) of lunar rocks and soil to Earth, greatly contributing to the understanding of lunar geology. Apollo also spurred advances in many areas of technology incidental to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers.
Goals: To subject man and equipment to space flight up to two weeks in duration.
To rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles and to maneuver the docked combination by using the target vehicle's propulsion system.
To perfect methods of entering the atmosphere and landing at a preselected point on land.
Its goals were also met, with the exception of a land landing, which was cancelled in 1964.
Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface 6 hours later on July 21. It completed it's goal to perform a crew lunar landing and return to Earth.
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.
Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the United States' Apollo space program, the fourth to land on the Moon, and the eighth successful manned mission. It was also the first mission on which the Lunar Roving Vehicle was used.
At the time, NASA called it the most successful manned flight ever achieved.
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the United States Apollo space program. Goals: To explore and sample the materials and surface features at Taurus-Littrow.
To set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface for long-term relay of data.
To conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks. . It carried the only trained geologist to walk on the lunar surface, lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt. Compared to previous Apollo missions, Apollo 17 astronauts traversed the greatest distance using the Lunar Roving Vehicle and returned the greatest amount of rock and soil samples. Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, still holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon, as no humans have visited the Moon since December 14, 1972.
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA and was the U.S.'s first space station. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. Skylab was used to study
the sun and conduct microgravity research. It was used to learn more about Earth, to test the effects of long-duration space flights and to see how the human body reacts in space. It was also used to learn to live and work in space, to conduct a variety of scientific and technological experiments, such as metallic-crystal growth in the weightless state, and to function as a laboratory in Earth's orbit.
The Space Shuttle program has been primarily used for carrying stock to the Space station.
Two of the seven space shuttles built have crashed - Challenger and Columbia. The cost of launching a shuttle is $450 million as of 2011. NASA can hardly sustain those costs if it plans to expand its capabilities in space - including manned missions outside of Earth’s orbit to moons and planets in the solar system.
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida.
The Shuttle-Mir Program was a collaborative space program between Russia and the United States, which involved American Space Shuttles visiting the Russian space station Mir, Russian cosmonauts flying on the shuttle, and an American astronaut flying aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to engage in long-duration expeditions aboard Mir.
The project was intended to allow the United States to learn from Russian experience with long-duration spaceflight and to foster a spirit of cooperation between the two nations and their space agencies. During the four-year program, many firsts in spaceflight were achieved by the two nations, including the first American astronaut to launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, the largest spacecraft ever to have been assembled at that time in history, and the first American spacewalk using a Russian Orlan spacesuit.
The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields. The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is the first privately owned aerospace transportation company. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both of which were designed from conception to eventually become reusable. On May 25, 2012, SpaceX made history as the world's first privately held company to send a cargo payload, carried on the Dragon spacecraft, to the International Space Station.
Explorer was the first Earth satellite of the United States, launched as part of its participation in the International Geophysical Year. The mission followed the first two Earth satellites the previous year, the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 and 2, beginning the Cold War Space Race between the two nations. It's purpose was to measure cosmic radiation, temperature in space, and micrometeroic hit's.
Mission type was fly-by to study the environment around Saturn and Jupiter. Probes Pioneer 11, and twin Pioneer 10. They had the first footage ever of Jupiter’s polar regions, and determined the mass of Calisto, Jupiter’s moon. The Pioneers discovered three of Saturn’s moons: Janus, Mimas and Epimetheus.
Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft (along with Viking 2) sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. It was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and perform its mission, and held the record for the longest Mars surface mission, until that record was broken by Opportunity. The primary mission objectives were to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life.
Voyager 1 and 2 were designated officially to study just the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn. The space probes were able to continue their mission into the outer solar system, and they are expected to push through the heliosheath in deep space. Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn't known was there.
Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Its purpose was to study Jupiter and its satellites. It discovered that Jupiter's faint ring system consists of dust from impacts on the four small inner moons.
The instruments delivered to the surface of Mars investigate the structure of the Martian atmosphere and surface meteorology, surface geology, form, and structure, and the elemental composition of Martian rocks and soil. No previous spacecraft had landed on a planet without first orbiting it. The landing gear consisted of a parachute and a series of airbags; the module landed on a bed of rocks unharmed, and the rover took off. The mission was a success. Not only did Mars Pathfinder return a total of 2.3 billion bits of data back to NASA (more than 17,000 photos among that mass of information), but it outlived its projected life.
In 2004, Cassini-Huygens reached Saturn and its moons. The purpose of the Cassini mission was to observe, measure and photograph the rings of Saturn, to observe and photograph Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and to observe the rest of the moons of Saturn.
Stardust's primary mission was to collect dust samples from the coma of comet Wild 2, as well as samples of cosmic dust, and return these to Earth for analysis. It was the first sample return mission of its kind. En route to Comet Wild 2, the craft also flew by and studied the asteroid 5535 Annefrank.
The Genesis spacecraft was a NASA sample return probe which collected a sample of solar wind and returned it to Earth for analysis. It was the first NASA sample return mission to return material since the Apollo Program, and the first to return material from beyond the orbit of the Moon. Genesis crash-landed in Utah on September 8, 2004, after a design flaw prevented the deployment of its drogue parachute. The crash contaminated many of the sample collectors, and although most were damaged, many of the collectors were successfully recovered.
The mission's scientific objective was to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars.
The Deep Impact mission was planned to help answer fundamental questions about comets, which included what materials make up the composition of the comet's nucleus, what depth the crater would reach from the impact, and where the comet originated in its formation.
The Phoenix’s mission was to find environments suitable for microbiological life. The spacecraft discovered permafrost under the surface of Mars and remanence of ice-wedging.
IRIS aka Internet Routing in Space, quickens communication and recovery after disasters. IRIS was built to prevent radiation from satellites and other spacecrafts and is being used to dramatically increase flexibility and Internet traffic handling.
The rover's goals include the investigation of the Martian climate and geology, the assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water, and to conduct planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration. So far Curiosity has found traces of carbon and organic compounds on Mars.
NuSTAR is a space-based X-ray telescope Its primary scientific goals are to conduct a deep survey for black holes a billion times more massive than the sun, understand how particles are accelerated to within a fraction of a percent below the speed of light in active galaxies, and to understand how the elements are created in the explosions of massive stars by imaging the remains, which are called supernova remnants.
Hubble: The telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble. Carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. Among its many discoveries, Hubble has revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years. Hubble played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate. It discovered that gamma-ray bursts, strange, incredibly powerful explosions of energy, occur in far-distant galaxies when massive stars collapse. The purpose of the Hubble space telescope is so that astronauts, astronomers, and the public can discover new images of our galaxy, other planets, and other galaxies.
Chandra allows scientists from around the world to obtain X-ray images of exotic environments to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe. It discovered: X-ray emissions from materials falling from a protoplanetary disc into a star. Sound waves from violent activity around a super massive black hole were observed in the Perseus Cluster (2003). Chandra found much more cool gas than expected spiraling into the center of the Andromeda Galaxy. The first light image, of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, the purpose was to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the universe.
The goal of James Webb is to find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. Webb's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It has been planned to be launched in the future.
"In the longer term, it is our goal to undertake bold and noble challenges and to share the excitement of NASA's future programs with our fellow citizens. Our long-term goals include conducting international human missions to planetary bodies in our solar system such as the Moon and Mars; enabling advances to air and space systems to support "highways in the sky," "smart aircraft," and revolutionary space endeavors; supporting the maturation of established aeronautics and space industries and the development of new high-tech industries; enabling humans to forecast and assess the health of the Earth system; and establishing a virtual presence throughout our solar system." -NASA Strategic Plan