10 Things You Didn't Know About NASA

Astronauts recently repaired the Hubble Space Telescope.

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  1. NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 in response to the Soviet Union's launch of the first artificial satellite the previous year.
  2. President John F. Kennedy gave NASA the goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. On July 20, 1969, the first men walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
  3. Twelve men have walked on the moon, all during the Apollo missions.
  4. In 1970, the Apollo 13 lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded.
  5. The space shuttle Enterprise was the first shuttle built for the reusable spacecraft fleet, though it was created for testing and never flew in space.
  6. Enterprise was initially to be named Constitution, but fans of the TV show Star Trek ran a successful write-in campaign to change the name.
  7. The space shuttle program has had more than 120 successful flights but also two disasters in which the shuttles and crews were lost (Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003).
  8. Within the next year and a half, the 51-year-old agency is slated to finish construction of the international space station and retire the three remaining shuttles—Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour.
  9. Space shuttle Endeavour was built using spare parts from Discovery and Atlantis.
  10. The next generation of spacecraft won't be ready until 2015, so U.S. astronauts will travel with the Russians aboard their Soyuz spacecraft to visit the space station.

Sources:

  • The New York Times
  • NASA