Everybody must have heard of NASA or at least come across it in books, movies, the internet, etc. NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an independent agency of the US federal government.
NASA deals with all the space programs sanctioned by the US government and was formed on July 29, 1958. It has programs where astronauts are sent on missions to space and other planets to explore the secrets of the universe for the benefit of humankind.
Though many people know of NASA as a space agency, it has many other interesting facts that will blow your mind. Let’s look at some of the most interesting facts about NASA that you may not be aware of.
1. First Meal On The Moon
When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin landed on the moon, it was apparent that everything they did would go down in history as a first. The first person to set foot on the surface of the moon was Neil Armstrong, followed by Buzz Aldrin.
The two astronauts had their food stored in the lunar module, which they were supposed to eat after landing on the moon. The food items for their first meal consisted of salted and dried bacon, coffee, pineapple and grapefruit drink, sugar cookies, and peaches.
Bacon cubes were the most common among these food items in American space program history. It has a long history, going back as far as the early Gemini missions. Bacon was a staple in American culture, so it was not a surprise to see bacon cubes on the menu when Neil Armstrong and Edwin Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
However, bacon cubes became a thing of the past, as NASA replaced it with freeze-dried sausage patties as part of an astronaut’s meal options. There are more food options for NASA’s astronauts, but bacon is missing from the menu.
2. The 1999 Orbiter Disaster
The Mars Climate Orbiter was on a mission to travel to Mars but was met with an unfortunate turn of events due to something silly. The spacecraft burned and broke into pieces just before landing on Mars due to the failure of the usage of the correct unit of measurement.
The spacecraft was on a mission to research the climate and atmosphere on Mars, and also to act as a point of passing communication for the Mars Polar Lander. The Mars Climate Orbiter ended up in jeopardy because the navigation team and the spacecraft’s designers were on different wavelengths regarding the unit of measurement.
The navigation team used millimeters and meters to calculate each measurement, whereas Lockheed Martin Astronautics used the British measurement system of inches, feet, and pounds. The problem was in the software controlling the orbiter’s thrusters, whose force was measured using pounds.
However, the propulsion engineers at Lockheed Martin should have used the standard metric units for space missions. The difference in the measurement units gave wrong navigations and took the spacecraft dangerously close to Mars’ atmosphere, where it, unfortunately, broke down.
3. NASA Vehicle Assembly Building
The NASA Vehicle Assembly Building is one of the most significant artificial structures in the world and is the only facility where a space rocket was assembled. This spacecraft was used to carry humans to the moon.
The NASA Vehicle Assembly Building hosts different spacecraft and rockets simultaneously. It is NASA’s central hub and is used as the premier multi-user spaceport.
The NASA VAB is a historic structure that accommodates different rockets going into the earth’s orbit or space. The VAB has the infrastructure to prepare spacecraft and rockets designed and built by aerospace engineers and mechanics from some of the top trade schools in the world.
This facility was constructed in the 60s to assemble the Apollo moon rocket, the largest ever artificial rocket. It covers one of the largest land areas worldwide when it comes to artificial buildings, measuring up to almost 8 acres.
The high bay doors in the Vehicle Assembly Building take almost an hour to completely open or close. The building is so huge you can see clouds on the ceiling during humid days.
The VAB has a massive air-conditioning system to control the humidity in the building.
4. Office Of Planetary Protection
NASA has a dedicated planetary protection office to ensure that humans do not contaminate other planets and vice-versa. They also ensure that alien organisms do not contaminate the earth and cause harm to humans.
They have different policies that sanction the exploration of alien life on other planets in the solar system. The Office of Planetary Protection ensures the safety of other planets when astronauts go on exploration missions. They guarantee that other planets are not contaminated by terrestrial organisms and organic material carried by spacecraft.
NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection also uses the same policies to protect against the contamination of life on earth by alien organisms or bioactive molecules when astronauts return with samples from other planets. They do this to prevent potentially harmful impacts on humans and the earth’s biosphere.
They develop plans to protect the planetary bodies of interest. Still, their ultimate goal is to support the scientific study of chemical evolution and the origins of life in the solar system.
5. NASA Sued For Trespassing
If you thought you had seen or heard it all, you are in for a surprise! In 1997, three Yemeni men sued NASA for taking pictures of Mars and sending them to earth. They even presented documents to prove their claim over Mars.
They argued that the US spacecraft took pictures and information of Mars without their consent. The Yemeni men demanded that all exploration missions to Mars be halted until they heard a court verdict.
However, NASA’s representative referred to the 1967 international treaty, which read that everything in the solar system belonged to everyone except Earth. So, the claims made by the Yemenis were ridiculed and termed false.
NASA is one of the leading space agencies worldwide, but only a few know a whole lot about them. From the first meal ever on the moon to the claims of Mars by Yemeni men, this article has covered some of the most interesting facts about NASA.
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