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A Journey of Eight Years

We’re taking time to highlight our progress and accomplishments over the past 8 years. Join our historical journey!

Obama Visit to NASA in 2010 

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President Barack Obama visited our Kennedy Space Center
in Florida to deliver remarks on the bold new course the administration is
charting for America’s space program. During a speech at the center, President
Obama said, “I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely
to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see
it.” R  

Commercial Crew

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Our
Commercial Crew and Cargo Program is investing financial and technical
resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop safe,
reliable and cost-effective space transportation systems. This program has
allowed us to continue to reach low-Earth orbit, even after the retirement of
the Space Shuttle Program. In the coming years, we will once again launch U.S.
astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station through this
commercial partnership.  

Revamping KSC: Vehicle Assembly Building

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Our
Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center served through the
Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, and is now undergoing renovations to
accommodate future launch vehicles…like our Space Launch System (SLS) rocket
that will carry astronauts to deep space destinations, like Mars. Already,
shuttle-era work platforms have been removed from the VAB to make way for our
advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle, SLS.  

Revamping KSC: Pad 39B

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For the first time since our Apollo-era rockets and
space shuttles lifted off on missions from Launch Complex 39 at our Kennedy
Space Center in Florida, one of the launch pads is undergoing extensive
upgrades to support our 21st century space launch complex. At launch
pad B, workers are making upgrades to support our Space Launch System (SLS)
rocket and a variety of other commercial launch vehicles. .

Commercial Resupply Program

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Our commercial partnerships with companies like SpaceX and
Orbital ATK are allowing us to find new ways to resupply the International
Space Station. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft is shown being captured
using the Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Packed with more than 5,100 pounds
of cargo and research equipment, the vehicle made Orbital ATK’s fifth
commercial resupply flight to the station in October 2016.  

Pluto Flyby

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After a seven-year journey, our New Horizons spacecraft arrived at dwarf
planet Pluto. It captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of the planet
on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the
craft’s imaging camera. Pluto’s surface sports a remarkable range of subtle
colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and
deep reds. Many land forms have their own distinct colors, which tell a complex
geological and climatological story.   

Juno at Jupiter

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Juno’s
2011 launch
brought it into orbit around Jupiter. This composite image depicts
Jupiter’s cloud formations as seen through the eyes of Juno’s Microwave
Radiometer (MWR) instrument as compared to the top layer, a Cassini Imaging
Science Subsystem image of the planet. The MWR can see several hundred miles
(kilometers) into Jupiter’s atmosphere with its largest antenna. The belts and
bands visible on the surface are also visible in modified form in each layer
below.  

Orion EFT-1

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As we strived to make
deep-space missions a reality, on Dec. 5, 2014, a
Delta IV Heavy rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral carrying our Orion
spacecraft
on an unpiloted flight test to Earth orbit. During the two-orbit,
four-and-a-half hour mission, engineers evaluated the systems critical to crew
safety, the launch abort system, the heat shield and the parachute system.  

 Building of SLS

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Meet the
Space Launch System, our latest rocket system
and see how it stacks up (no pun intended) to earlier generations of
launch vehicles. While we engaged commercial
partners to help us reach low-Earth orbit, we also were able to focus on
deep-space exploration. This resulted in the creation of SLS, the world’s most
powerful rocket and the one that will carry humans to deep-space destinations,
like Mars.  

Small Satellite Technology

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Our
latest generation of small satellite technology represents a new way of
advancing scientific research and reducing costs. These small sats are
part of a technology demonstration that were deployed from the International
Space Station in December 2016.   

Technology
Development Organization

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In 2013, we created a standalone technology
development organization at NASA. Why? This new organization was an outgrowth
of President Obama’s recognition of the critical role that space technology and
innovation will play in enabling both future space missions and bettering life
on Earth. The President’s most recent budget request included $4 million per
year for our Centennial Challenges prizes. This program seeks innovations from
diverse and non-traditional sources and competitors are not supported by
government funding. Awards are only made to successful teams when the
challenges are met. Throughout this administration (2009 – 2016), more than
$6.5 million has been awarded to winners. 

Spinoffs

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Did you
know that many technologies originally designed for space exploration are now
being used by the general public? Yes, there’s space in your life! We have a
long history of transferring technology to the private sector, things we like
to call NASA Spinoffs. From enriched baby formula, to digital camera
sensors…you may be surprised where this technology came from. 

 Space Station
Extended to 2024

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In 2014,
the Obama Administration announced that the United States would support the
extension of the International Space Station to at least 2024. This gave the
station a decade to continue its already fruitful microgravity research
mission. This offered scientists and engineers the time they need to ensure the
future of exploration, scientific discoveries and economic development.  

Year in Space Mission

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Former
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent a year
in space to help us understand the impacts of long-duration spaceflight on the
human body. The studies performed throughout their stay will yield beneficial
knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by
astronauts that will one day travel to Mars. Scott Kelly was a particularly
interesting candidate for the job, as he has a twin brother. While Scott spent
a year on the International Space Station, his brother Mark spent the year on
Earth. Comparing test results from both subjects will provide an even deeper
understanding of the human body and how it reacts to the space environment.  

EPIC Earth Images

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From one
MILLION miles away, our EPIC camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory
(DSCOVR) satellite returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth
in 2015. Because of this spacecraft, you can now see a daily series of images
of our home planet! These images are available 12 to 36 hours after they are
acquired. 

James Webb Space
Telescope

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The James Webb Space Telescope represents
a giant leap forward in our quest to understand the universe and our
origins.  The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST is designed to
examine every phase of cosmic history: from the first luminous glows after the
Big Bang to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets to the evolution of
our own solar system. More: 

Green Aviation

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Our commitment to advancing aeronautics
has led to developments in today’s aviation that have made air travel safer
than ever. In fact, every U.S. aircraft flying today and every U.S. air traffic
control tower uses NASA-developed technology in some way. Streamlined aircraft
bodies, quieter jet engines, techniques for preventing icing, drag-reducing
winglets, lightweight composite structures, software tools to improve the flow
of tens of thousands of aircraft through the sky, and so much more are an
everyday part of flying thanks to our research that traces its origins back to
the earliest days of aviation. Our green aviation technologies are dramatically
reducing the environmental impact of aviation and improving its efficiency
while maintaining safety in more crowded skies, and paving the way for
revolutionary aircraft shapes and propulsion. 

X-Planes

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History is about to repeat itself as the Quiet Supersonic Technology, or
QueSST, concept  begins its design phase
to become one of the newest generation of X-planes. Over the past seven
decades, our nation’s best minds in aviation designed, built and flew a series
of experimental airplanes to test the latest fanciful and practical ideas
related to flight. Known as X-planes, we are again are preparing to put in the
sky an array of new experimental aircraft, each intended to carry on the legacy
of demonstrating advanced technologies that will push back the frontiers of
aviation.  

Drones

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Blazing
the trail for safely integrating drones into the national airspace, we have
been testing and researching uncrewed aircraft. The most recent “out of sight”
tests are helping us solve the challenge of drones flying beyond the visual
line of sight of their human operators without endangering other aircraft. 

Solar Dynamics Observatory

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Our Solar Dynamics Observatory, which launched in 2010, observes the sun in
unparalleled detail and is yet another mission designed to understand the space
in which we live. In this image, the sun, our system’s only star seems to be
sending us a message. A pair of giant filaments on the face of the sun form
what appears to be an enormous arrow pointing to the right. If straightened
out, each filament would be about as long as the sun’s diameter—1 million miles
long. Such filaments are cooler clouds of solar material suspended above the
sun’s surface by powerful magnetic forces. Filaments can float for days without
much change, though they can also erupt, releasing solar material in a shower
that either rains back down or escapes out into space, becoming a moving cloud
known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME.  

Curiosity Launch and Landing

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There are selfies and there are selfies—from a world more than 33 million miles
away. When the Curiosity Rover launched on Nov. 6, 2011, to begin a 10-month
journey to the Red Planet, who knew it would be so photogenic. Not only has
Curiosity sent back beauty shots of itself, its imagery has increased our
knowledge of Mars manyfold. But it’s not just a camera; onboard are an array of
scientific instruments designed to analyze the Red Planet’s soil, rocks and
chemical composition. 

Astronaut
Applications

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On Dec.
14, 2015, we announced that astronaut applications were open on USAJOBS. The
window for applications closed on Feb. 18 with a record turnout! We received
more than 18,300 applications from excited individuals from around the country,
all hoping to join the 2017 astronaut class. This surpassed the more than 6,100
received in 2012, and the previous record of 8,000 applicants in 1978.  

OSIRIS-REx

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Asteroids are a part of our solar system
and in our quest to learn more about their origins, we sent the OSIRIS-Rex, the
Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith
Explorer, to rendezvous with comet Bennu and
return a sample of the comet to scientists here on Earth. Along the way, the
mission will be multitasking during its two-year outbound cruise to search for
elusive “Trojan” asteroids. Trojans are asteroids that are constant companions
to planets in our solar system as they orbit the sun, remaining near a stable
point 60 degrees in front of or behind the planet. 

 Habitable Zone
Planets

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In December 1995, the first exoplanet (a
planet outside our solar system) was found. Since then, our Kepler mission has
surveyed the Milky Way to verify 2,000+ exoplanets. On July 23, 2015, the
Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of the first Earth-sized planet in the
habitable zone. Not only that, but the planet orbits a sun very much like our
own. 

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Source: NASA

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A Journey of Eight Years

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