NASA History: The history of NASA is steeped in mystery and myth. NASA’s first space program was launched on Mariner 4 in nineteen seventy-nine as a reconnaissance mission to watch the landing of the agency’s first spaceplane. While there was actual combat involved in the program, this was mostly a low key affair that lasted no more than ten days. NASA never claimed victory in the space race, but many consider it their most significant achievement so far.
The Mariner program was a success, but NASA’s next mission to land a man on the moon failed catastrophically. The Mercury-Atlas 7 astronauts made a soft landing, but it was not to be. Three men died, and NASA lost one of their best assets at that time. Neil Armstrong, the first-ever man on the moon, took his photograph from that fateful orbit, and it still has significance to us today. His is the picture that immortalized the word astronaut. Though we have since lost contact, some believe that Neil Armstrong saw the planet Earth.
Apollo 8 was launched, hoping that a successful crewless space exploration of the moon and Mars would follow. The crewless missions did not pan out as hoped, and less than one month later, the program was terminated. Its cancellation resulted from the U.S. Space Shuttle program and the space shuttle Colombia’s loss, which was also part of the Apollo program.
The successful crewed spaceflights of Apollo 11, 12, and 13 propelled NASA to new frontiers. Neil Armstrong, the first-ever astronaut, was selected to be the first person to walk on the moon. This was a monumental and unparalleled feat in the human endeavor that launched humankind’s onward journey into the unknown. NASA never claimed that the moon was habitable for humans to live, but they did say that there was a great deal of lunar material that could be used for building habitats. The plan was to land men on the moon and then send them back through space in a crewed mission. That wasn’t the end of NASA’s moon program; in fact, it led to many more space explorations.
NASA History The first project Apollo was a response to the Soviet Sputnik satellite, which was meant to serve as a testbed for spy-in-the-sky technology. NASA kept this very secret for thirty years before it was revealed to the public. While many speculate that NASA got cold feet at the beginning of the project Apollo, others believe that NASA wanted to prove that they had the right programs in place. Either way, NASA has launched over fifty space explorations into space, many of which are working towards studying the faraway planets that our solar system is passing through.
The space shuttle program ended with the death of the space shuttle Columbia. Though many people believe that Columbia crashed because of mechanical failure, some feel that she was killed by debris from the failed launches and missions. No one was quite sure what happened to the crewless probe that went into orbit around the moon, but it was discovered later that the astronauts had intentionally put it into a deep orbit around the moon. That is NASA history in a nutshell.