NASA (/ ˈnaza /), acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (in Italian: "National Body for Space and Aeronautical Activities"), is the civil government agency responsible for the space program and aerospace research of the United States of America.
In its first ten years of activity, NASA built new centers for research and development and for the management of aerospace activities: the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Manned Spacecraft Center, the Kennedy Space Center and the Electronics Research Center.
After the Apollo Program for the exploration of the Moon, space activity has developed through the program of the US orbital station SkyLab, the launch of numerous exploration missions of the solar system with automatic probes and the exploitation of Earth's orbital space with shuttles Space Shuttle and supporting the construction of the ISS (International Space Station).
The loss of two Space Shuttles with their crews and budget cuts have led the agency to set aside plans for new manned lunar explorations and for sending astronauts to Mars, whose exploration will continue to be delegated to robotic systems. . On September 14, 2011, it announced that it had selected the design for a new manned transport system, called the Space Launch System, intended to take the place of the Space Shuttles.
Since 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had experimented with rocket aircraft such as the supersonic Bell X-1. In the early 1950s, a challenge was raised to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958), which led, among others, to the US Vanguard project. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States of America turned to its still budding space endeavors. The Congress of the United States of America, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and the technological leadership of the Soviet Union (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), called for immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers have advised more deliberate measures. On January 12, 1958, the NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by Guyford Stever. On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating:
On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed intact the NACA, its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of $ 100 million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities. Elements of the Army Balistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory have been incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's programs in the space race with the Soviet Union was the technology of the German missile program led by Wernher von Braun, who now worked for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). Previous research efforts within the US Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility run by the California Institute of Technology.
NASA has conducted many manned and unmanned space flight programs throughout its history. The Uncrewed programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth's orbit for scientific and communication purposes and sent scientific probes