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Headquarters: 300 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20546
Phone: 202-358-0000
Employees: 18,800
Administrator: Bill Nelson

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NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was created by Congress in 1958 "to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth's atmosphere, and for other purposes." The Agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 20 field centers and facilities around the nation.

NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

NASA studies Earth, including its climate, the Sun, and the solar system and beyond. The agency conducts research, testing, and development to advance aeronautics, including electric propulsion and supersonic flight. NASA helps develop and fund space technologies that will enable future exploration and benefit life on Earth.

In fiscal 2021, NASA's budget was $23.2 billion which supported 321,000 jobs across the U.S.

Bill Nelson was sworn in as the 14th NASA Administrator on May 3, 2021.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, partially in response to the Soviet Union's launch of the first artificial satellite the previous year. NASA grew out of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), which had been researching flight technology for more than 40 years.

President John F. Kennedy focused NASA and the nation on sending astronauts to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Through the Mercury and Gemini projects, NASA developed the technology and skills it needed for the journey. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first of 12 men to walk on the moon, meeting Kennedy's challenge.

In the 70s, NASA focused on creating a reusable ship to provide regular access to space: the space shuttle. First launched in 1981, the space shuttle has had 120 successful flights. In 2000, the United States and Russia established permanent human presence in space aboard the International Space Station, a multinational project representing the work of 16 nations.

NASA also has continued its scientific research. In 1997, Mars Pathfinder became the first in a fleet of spacecraft that will explore Mars in the next decade, as we try to determine if life ever existed there. The Terra and Aqua satellites are flagships of a different fleet, this one in Earth orbit, designed to help us understand how our home world is changing. NASA's aeronautics teams are focused on improved aircraft travel that is safer and cleaner.

NASA retired the space shuttles Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery in 2011 after 30 years of flight.

Updated September 16, 2021