Headquarters: 300 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20546
Administrator: Charles Bolden
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 10 field centers, and other facilities around the nation.
NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.
NASA oversees the space shuttle missions, construction of the International Space Stations and the Mars Rover.
Here are NASA's 10 major field centers:
Ames Research Center -- Mountain View, CA -- research and development, supercomputing, nanotechnology, space biology, astrobiology, aeronautics
Dryden Research Center -- Edwards, CA -- flight research and testing
Glenn Research Center -- aeronautics, propulsion, turbomachinery, microgravity science, Space Communications
Goddard Space Flight Center -- Greenbelt, MD -- astronomy, ozone depletion and climate change, Earth science, solar science, Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra Space Telescope, MESSENGER, Aura
Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- Pasadena, CA -- Solar System Exploration, Earth science, Mars exploration Rovers, Cassini-Huygens, Genesis, Spitzer Space Telescope, Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX)
Johnson Space Center -- Houston, TX -- Space Shuttle and International Space Station operations
Kennedy Space Center -- Cape Canaveral, FL -- Space Shuttle launches and landings, Space Shuttle and International Space Station processing, Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) launches
Langley Research Center -- Hampton, VA -- Aeronautics, aerospace, atmospheric sciences
Marshall Space Flight Center -- Huntsville, AL -- Space Shuttle propulsion, advance propulsion technology, microgravity research
Stennis Space Center -- Bay St. Louis, MS -- Rocket propulsion testing, remote sensing technology
NASA had a 2010 budget of $18.72 billion and proposes the same amount for fiscal 2012.
NASA is planning to retire the space shuttle this year after 30 years of flight. The shuttles are the Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery.
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.
Updated April 2, 2011