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50 Astonishing Facts about NASA

Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
Founder: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Founded: July 29, 1958, United States
Annual Budget: 21.5 billion USD (2019)
Subsidiaries: Johnson Space Center, MORE
Video Games: Moonbase Alpha, NetworKing

  • The acronym “NASA” stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • NASA was established on July 29, 1958, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a civilian independent agency of the United States federal government executive branch.
  • NASA’s main people are Jim Bridenstine who is the Main Administrator, along with Jeff DeWit who is the Chief Financial Officer.
  • NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
  • NASA was responsible for the Apollo moon-landings, Skylab, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, Commercial Resupply Services and Crew Program, and the Beyond Low Earth Orbit program.
  • NASA has also been responsible for over 1,000 unmanned missions into space to explore the solar system and launch communication satellites.
  • Landsat was the series of revolutionary satellites that were first launched in 1972 for the purpose of systematically photographing the surface of the Earth from space.
Image Credit:
Image Credit:
  • NASA also employees many astronauts who prepare for and complete missions. There have been many missions that NASA have undertaken since the organization was founded, with the most famous mission being the moon landings.

    See below the timeline and list of NASA’s most important missions.

      • 1961 – Freedom 7. 1st space launch, launching the 1st American to space. Alan Shepard.
      • 1968 – Apollo 8. Apollo 8 spacecraft had a mission to orbit the moon.
      • 1969 – Apollo 11. 1st and very famous moon landing mission.
      • 1969 – 1972 – 5 more successful manned moon landings.
      • 1970 – Apollo 13. With the spacecraft exploding, NASA launched a rescue mission.
      • 1972 – Pioneer 10. An unmanned mission to the solar system.
      • 1972 – Space Shuttle. NASA’s first launch of the Space Shuttle.
      • 1977 – Voyager Mission. In 1977 NASA launched the Voyager missions.
      • 1986 – Challenger Launch. 73 seconds from launch the shuttle exploded killing all the crew.
      • 1990 – Voyager Pale Blue Dot Photo. The famous photo was taken at the request of Carl Sagan.
      • 1990 – Hubble Telescope. Launched from ‘Discovery’ to photograph the stars in detail.
      • 1996 – Pathfinder Mission. Mission launched to Mars to gather data of the planet’s surface.
      • 1998 – International Space Station. Joint international venture space station launched.
      • 2003 – Mars rovers Spirit & Opportunity. Launched to Mars in the search for water.
      • 2012 – Mars Curiosity Rover. Launched to explore possible Life on Mars.
  • NASA estimates that the value of minerals in the asteroid belt exceeds $600,000,000,000,000,000,000 or nearly $100 billion for every person alive.
  • NASA plan aims to bring a 23-foot-wide (7 meters) space rock into lunar orbit using a robotic space lasso. Once the asteroid is in a stable orbit around the moon, astronauts can visit as soon as 2021 using NASA’s Orion space capsule and the giant Space Launch System mega-rocket.

Asteroid apocalypse is real risk, warns NASA: Image Credit: The Times

    Asteroid apocalypse is a real risk, warns NASA: Image Credit: The Times
  • Managers at NASA claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000 chance of a catastrophic failure aboard Challenger Spacecraft, but Richard Feynman (theoretical physicist) discovered that NASA’s Engineers estimated the chance of a catastrophe to be closer to 1 in 200.
  • The inventor of the Super Soaker squirt gun was a NASA Scientist, who also helped in developing the Stealth Bomber for US Air Force and the Galileo mission to Jupiter for NASA.
  • Neil Armstrong’s NASA application was late by a week. If it weren’t for his friend, d*ck Day’s effort to secretly slip his application it into the pile, he would have been rejected.
  • NASA often shows the Hollywood movie “Armageddon” as part of its management training program and then asks its new staff to identify as many scientific inaccuracies as they can. There are at least 168 of them.
  • It is a myth that NASA spent millions of dollars producing the space pen while soviet astronauts simply used a pencil.
  • NASA has discovered a “waterworld” planet about 40 light-years away from earth that might contain exotic materials such as “hot ice” and “superfluid water.”
  • NASA invented invisible braces, scratch resistant lenses, and much more.
  • It is currently not known exactly who made the Apollo 11 Moon flag. It was either one of the three purchased by NASA secretaries on a lunch break or ordered from a government catalog for $5.50. NASA would not confirm the manufacturer because they didn’t “want another Tang.”
  • It takes NASA and Voyager I approximately 32 hours to communicate with each other, with a bandwidth of 115.2 kilobits per second.
Image Credit: Digital Trends
Image Credit: Digital Trends
  • NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building is so huge it needs about 10,000 tons of Air Conditioning equipment to prevent rain clouds from forming inside on humid days.
  • NASA has a tradition of playing a wake-up call for astronauts. These are usually songs such as “What a Wonderful World.” But they have also included other things such as a voice message from Patrick Stewart announcing the “voyage of the Space Shuttle Atlantis”.
  • In order for NASA to recognize you as an astronaut, you must travel higher than 50 miles from the Earth’s surface.
  • During the 1960s, NASA astronauts received a new Corvette of their choice, each year for just $1.
  • NASA chose Cape Canaveral as their launch site because it has higher linear velocity than other places in the continental USA.
  • Donations to US Federal agencies are tax-deductible, and you can donate money directly to NASA.
  • NASA received backlash and criticism due to an image of a naked male and a naked female on the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft.
  • NASA plans to build a radio telescope on the far side of the moon by the 2030s
  • A NASA physician recommended that crew members aboard Skylab masturbate while in space to help with the infected prostate glands.
  • NASA and ESA scientists have separately discovered a new type of bacteria in their clean rooms. Only very unusual organisms can survive the repeated sterilization procedures in clean rooms, not to mention the severe lack of nutrients available. It was so different from known organisms that it constituted not just a new species, but a new genus.
  • Towards the end of the Shuttle Program, electronic spare parts were so hard to find that NASA was forced to buy certain components off of eBay.
Nasa's Rocket; Image Credit:
Nasa’s Rocket; Image Credit:
  • NASA contemplated sending giant beach ball-like rovers to Mars that would be propelled by the wind.
  • NASA has kept a journal of the impacts that their research has had on civilian technology since 1976.
  • NASA granted a private company 500k to research and develop a model for a space elevators.
  • Three men from Yemen sued NASA for trespassing on Mars. They claimed that they inherited the planet from their ancestors 3,000 years ago.
  • NASA made the most perfect sphere ever created to test Einstein’s theory of relativity with no more than a difference of 40 atoms on its surface.
  • NASA has its own radio station called ‘Third Rock Radio,’ which plays Rock/Indie/Alternative music with NASA news items and mission updates embedded throughout.
  • A US flag that went on two separate moon missions hangs in NASA’s mission control room.
  • The NASA Dryden Flight Research Centre is in Edwards, California.
  • NASA ran a competition among elementary and secondary school students to name a new shuttle. Then-president George H.W. Bush announced the winner Endeavour in May 1989.
  • NASA is estimated to have sent over 2200 animals into space including insects, pigs, monkeys, rats, rabbits and spiders, 2000 were sent on one mission STS-90 in 1998.
  • NASA announced that, alongside the National Nuclear Security Administration, they are working on plans to possibly destroying hazardous asteroids with nuclear weapons.
  • In 2006 NASA had to get hold of and restore, copies of the original moon landing from CBS and the Johnson Space Centre after admitting to accidentally recording over their own tape recordings.
; Image Credit: The Atlantic
File photo of NASA astronaut Conrad Jr. standing with the U.S. flag on the lunar surface; Image Credit: The Atlantic
  • On Wednesday 1st June 2016 NASA met social media, broadcasting a chat between Mark Zuckerberg and 3 astronauts aboard the ISS on their Facebook page.
  • NASA actually has an Office of Planetary Protection in case life is found on another planet.
  • NASA found a solution to the dreaded breadcrumb and instrument problem after some serious contemplation. Since 1985 astronauts have used tortillas instead of bread to minimize risk.
  • NASA’s Kepler mission, launched in 2009 has found 2,325 planet candidates and 1,284 were in a single finding, the largest to date.
  • Months before Apollo 11, NASA had seriously considered placing a UN instead of an American flag on the moon.
  • NASA mapped the Earth at night and discovered that half of an uninhabited part of Australia is on fire, producing more light than the capital cities.
  • The potato has been studied by NASA as an important source of food for long manned space missions. It was found that the number of potato plants needed to sustain one astronaut equaled the amount of potato plant required to process the air to breathe by one astronaut.
  • NASA is building a bi-directional “Flying Wing” aircraft. It can fly forwards or sideways at full speed.


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