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US Space Research Agency NASA Completes 60 Years

The agency remembered the sacrifices laid down by astronauts during space research.

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

US space agency NASA has completed 60 years of human space exploration, discovering the world beyond Earth and developing new technologies.

“For six decades, NASA has led peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe,” the agency posted on its website late on Monday.

NASA has not just launched spacecrafts to unlock mysteries of the universe, dispatched probes to make close-up observations of every planet in the solar system, but has also, in August, sent a probe named Parker Solar Probe to the Sun.

The historic small car-sized probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles.

NASA
NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. VOA

The agency has also conducted nine manned missions and is planning for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially opened for business for the first time on October 1, 1958.

It was created by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower to lead America’s civilian space programme in response to the then USSR’s advances in space exploration.

In just 10 days after opening its doors, NASA launched its first spacecraft — Pioneer 1. Although it did not achieve its intended mission to orbit the Moon due to a rocket malfunction, Pioneer 1 did reach a record altitude of about 70,000 miles, highest till then.

Parker-Solar-2, NASA
The Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. VOA

The probe returned scientific data confirming the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts until it burned up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere 43 hours after launch, the post said.

In the US, NASA’s research made great advances in aviation, helped to develop a commercial space industry, enriched the economy, created jobs, and strengthened national security.

The agency also remembered the sacrifices laid down by astronauts during space research. “The tragic loss of lives including aviation pilots and the crewmembers of Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia (which included Indian-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla)…,” the post said.

Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003.

Also Read: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Launches Successfully

“Sacrifice has also come in the countless hours dedicated by the NASA personnel — on the ground and in space — (that they) have spent away from families to plan and execute missions.”

“We will go back to the Moon to learn more about what it will take to support human exploration to Mars and beyond… We will continue to try to answer the question: “Are we alone?” NASA said. (IANS)

Next Story

Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

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Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

Also Read: Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)