section européenne Lycée VINCI à AMBOISE

section européenne Lycée VINCI à AMBOISE

NASA 's 60th anniversary

NASA  turned 60 on Monday, Oct. 1.

Over six decades, it's had a remarkable run of rocketeering and exploratory achievements, from the moon landings to the space shuttles, from the surface of Mars to destinations far beyond our solar system. And as space becomes just another place to do business, NASA looks to keep its edge as it is facing an identity crisis. 

Blame people like SpaceX's Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos in part for that. They're in the vanguard of a new wave of commercial activity that's launching into what had for so long been the exclusive domain of government agencies, both in the US and abroad.


Logo for NASA's 60th anniversary


It isn't a proper anniversary without an official logo.




NASA's 60th anniversary is an occasion, then, to look both back to a settled past and ahead to an uncertain future. The agency long-associated with America's scientific prowess and can-do spirit got its start in one space race. Its next challenges lie in a new race to return humans to the moon and to push onward to Mars.

There's a lot to keep track of. Here's a handy cheat sheet to get you started, with more to come.

How did NASA get its start?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration officially opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1958, two months after it was established through a law signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. The US government had been spurred into action by the Soviet Union's launch a year earlier of Sputnik, the first satellite to go into orbit around the Earth. The space race with America's Cold War foe was on. But even though there was a subtext of military posturing, NASA was founded with a nonmartial mission. "It is the policy of the United States," the law said, "that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind."

NASA wasn't started from scratch, however. It took over from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, which had been created during World War I and which had already begun experimenting with rockets.




What are some of NASA's other most memorable moments?

There's one that stands out from all others: Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong's "one small step" on the surface of the moon. That achievement in July 1969 probably remains NASA's most iconic moment after almost half a century.


But there have been others. 

For three decades, launches of the US space shuttles -- with their airplane-like design, they were the first reusable spacecraft  -- made regular headlines, including numerous trips to the International Space Station, where astronaut Scott Kelley set a record by living in orbit for an entire year. Let's not forget the landing of multiple rovers on Mars, sending the Voyager spacecraft beyond the edge of the solar system and all the many discoveries and breathtaking images sent back by spacecraft including Cassini, Hubble and Kepler. 



What has NASA been doing lately?  

At any given time, NASA has myriad projects, missions and research under way or in various stages of development.

Right now the Juno spacecraft is surveying Jupiter, Curiosity is still roving around Mars, the newly launched Parker Solar Probeis on its way to the sun, OSIRIS-REx is approaching the asteroid Bennu, new low-boom supersonic aircraft are being developed and on Sept. 15, a NASA satellite to observe Earth's sea ice and ice sheets will be launched. 

There are also the ongoing expeditions aboard the International Space Station, next-generation rockets under development and other big plans for the futur





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