History Of Nasa Essay, Research Paper
Perhaps there should have been a cold war. Without it, many of the things that we use everyday would not be in existence. There would be no global communications, but most importantly there would have been no space-race. The war between the Soviet Union and the United States was one with virtually no casualties. There were many technological advances in a feud between two countries. However, there were some failures as well. Some Americans gave their lives for the sake of social movement, not to mention some of the botched missions costing the American public millions to billions of dollars. On the other hand, it is believed that for every dollar that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration spends, there is a six dollar return in the government system.
Key Moments in NASA History
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially began its operations on October 1, 1958. It had an annual budget of $100 million, and employed 8,000 people. NASA had inherited the organization before it, the National Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and a few other governmental organizations. NASA s inception sparked a melee of achievements in almost all scientific fields. Almost immediately after NASA was founded, it had begun working on options for human flight outside of the Earth s atmosphere. The first publicized project was dubbed Project Mercury. Its primary purpose was to see if humans could survive a trip into space. Gemini, the following project that was built on the successes of Mercury, used a spacecraft designed to carry to astronauts.
Catastrophe Strikes on January 27, 1967. At that time, during a routine simulation aboard one of the Apollo spacecraft, a flash fire broke out in a pure oxygen atmosphere. Flames engulfed the lunar capsule, and the three astronauts aboard, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, died of asphyxiation. These were the first deaths directly attributed to the U.S. space program. The program stopped, but restarted after a redesign of the craft in October of 1968.
The culmination of years of design and redesign, and a country willing still willing to send man to the moon was the Apollo project. This occurred in 1969 when a spacecraft effectively carried tow astronauts to the moon s surface, and brought them safely back to Earth. Not far afterwards, there was an almost disastrous mission. It would live in infamy as Apollo 13; NASA s only successful failure. Midway on the way to the moon, an oxygen tank ruptured, disabling some critical systems on the craft. The top thinkers of the time had to think creatively to bring the heroes back home safely. The near cataclysmic tragedy solidified the notion that NASA was indeed the smartest organization within the government.
The Apollo-Soyuz project was the first international human space flight taking place at the crest of turbulent relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was to test the rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet Union spacecraft. NASA developed the docking materials, and the test was set to take place. The two craft stayed docked together for as long as 44 hours. The flight was more important symbolically than physically. It was a sign that tensions between the two superpowers were finally dying out.
February 18, 1977 the first Space Shuttle takes its maiden voyage. Nicknamed the Enterprise for the popular TV series, it was first flown on top of a Boeing 747 aircraft. This first basic design is the same one that we still have today. Thus proving that the technology that NASA is using today is outdated.
Almost a decade later disaster strikes again. On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed in a horrific chain of events. The shuttle launched from its platform at about 11:40 a.m. The explosion that killed the seven astronauts occurred 73 seconds into the flight. Among the seven was Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher that was scheduled to teach her students about space from the shuttle. The explosion was caused by a leak in one of the two solid rocket boosters that ignited the main liquid fuel tank. As a result of the accident, the Space Shuttle program went into hiatus as investigations took place.
April 24, 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched. The telescope was researched and developed for more than a decade, but controllers found out a flaw in the high priced piece of equipment. Apparently, there was a spherical aberration, a defect in the mirror only 1/25th the width of a human hair. That minute imperfection prevented the telescope from telescope from focusing all light to a single point. NASA sent up a repair crew to correct the mistake, and now the Hubble Space Telescope has made many important astronomical discoveries.
July 4, 1997, The inexpensive Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars. The probe also contained a small robotic rover, named Sojourner. The small rover was on a 30-day mission to collect weather patterns, atmospheric opacity, and the chemical composition of rocks in the Ares Vallis flood plain. The vehicle completed its mission on August 30, 1997, and returned far more detailed results than scientists had expected. The little rover had sent more than 1.2 gigabits of data and over 10,000 detailed pictures of the Martian landscape. This new breed of space probe is both inexpensive and effective. The whole project was only $267 million.
In more recent headlines is the International Space Station. Many countries are putting their hand in on the operation. Some of the nations include Russia, Japan, Canada, Belgium Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. As of now, the space station is well over budget and is also behind schedule.
As time goes on, so does the human race. Much of the technology we have today would not be possible if not for the space program. It is a shame that not many people have an interest in it any more. For that reason, NASA is getting less funding every year. With less funding, the same programs that have brought great innovations are being cut or suspended. Some think that we should be looking at our own planet more because so much of it is unknown. NASA is concentrated on looking outward because that’s where the future is. Who is doing the research to see if any other planet is habitable? NASA is. If only for that reason, NASA should have more funding. Don t forget; the next time you talk on your cell phone, it s because of a silly dispute between two countries.
1 February, 2001