Editor's note: At 3:42 pm ET, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka will ride a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. Kornienko and Kelly will stay at the ISS for 342 days, twice as long as any U.S. astronaut has ever stayed on the space station, CNN reports. NASA is studying the impact of long-duration spaceflights on the human body and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, Scott's twin brother, has volunteers to see how they change over the year in different environments. During this trip, Padalka will be setting a record for the most total time in space for a human. - Stephanie
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States government agency that is responsible for the civilian space program as well as for aeronautics and aerospace research.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.
Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.