Can a mechanical engineer work at NASA?


History of nasa

The story of NASA begins during the so-called space race. The United States and the Soviet Union competed to develop space technology. To stay competitive, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded on July 29, 1958 and began operations in October of the same year. After its founding and to this day, the headquarters are in Washington D.C. Another important location is the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This spaceport served as the start of all manned space flights from 1968 to 2011. The space program, however, is coordinated from Houston, Texas. Mission Control and the training center for US astronauts are located in the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

Early NASA missions

From the start, manned spaceflight was on NASA's agenda. The Mercury program, begun in 1958, was designed to identify the conditions. Until the first manned missions Mercury-Redstone 3 should pass 3 years. On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard became the second person to leave the earth's atmosphere. A month earlier, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had already made a circumnavigation of the earth. Nasa only succeeded in doing this in February 1962 with Mercury Atlas 6. Nasa’s next goal was to get close to the moon.

Apollo 11 - NASA's moon landing

In 1961, the landing on the moon was set as the new destination by President Kennedy. But before this was to be carried out within the framework of the Apollo program, appropriate preparations were made within the framework of the Gemini program. As part of this series of tests, the longest space exit was achieved in 1966 with a duration of more than 5 hours. In addition, a coupling with another missile was made for the first time. After the Gemini program ended, work on the Apollo program began. On July 19, 1969, the Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface with the 3 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins. The next and, for the time being, last manned missions were to take place in 1973, 1974 and 1975. After these flights to the Skylab research station, NASA concentrated on studying different planets. The Voyager program received particular public interest.

Voyager 1 and 2

In 1977 Voyager 1 and 2 were launched as part of this. A special feature were the Golden Records on board. These gold data plates contain different images and sounds about people, earth and culture. In the event of any contact with extraterrestrial life forms, it should convey important information about our species and our whereabouts. Both probes were supposed to collect information about the outer planets and were sent on their last mission to interstellar space in the early 1990s. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in August 2012. Voyager followed in December 2018. If the multi-million dollar project is not discontinued for financial reasons, the fuel on both probes will be used up by 2025 at the latest, which would end the experiment.

NASA projects

In addition to space travel, NASA turned to the environment in the early 1990s and launched the “Mission to planet earth”. The focus was on the EOS (Earth Observing System). This consists of 3 medium-sized satellites. These cover land, oceans and the atmosphere and were launched from 1999 to 2004. In addition, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite has been running since 1991. This was created to monitor the destruction of the ozone layer. The discovery of the ozone hole in Antarctica is considered the background to earth surveillance. Nasa has also been monitoring global climate change since the late 1990s.

The NASA current

NASA is currently making a name for itself with a high-resolution image of the black hole in the M87 galaxy. The so-called Event Horizon Telescope was used for this, which results from the merging of many radio telescopes worldwide. This is the only way to get a first look at a black hole with the help of extensive post-processing. In addition, NASA dealt in the 2000s with the development of different space probes to explore our solar system. For example, on January 19, 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft set out to study Pluto and its surroundings and collect data on the heliosphere. On August 5, 2011, the Jupiter probe Juno was launched, which was supposed to examine the planet for the composition of its atmosphere, among other things. Both probes are part of the so-called New Frontiers program, which includes exploratory missions in the medium price range.

The future of NASA

In September 2018, NASA announced that it would no longer concentrate on the nearer Earth orbit as part of the National Space Exploration Campaign. In the future, private companies are to act in this area instead. As part of this restructuring, resources that are currently being used for the ISS are to be redirected to other projects. As in the 1960s, the moon will once again become the target of space travel. Unlike back then, however, they want to create permanent infrastructures there. For this purpose, the "gateway station" is to be created, which will serve as the home of the astronauts. The first parts are scheduled to be transported to the moon in 2022, while robots explore the surface and prepare it for humans. The renewed concentration, however, represents only one step on a significantly further path. Because a landing on Mars has again moved into the focus of NASA. Intensive preparations for this are already taking place as part of experiments on the ISS. In addition, Mars has been studied by the InSight probe since November 26, 2018. It should use rock studies to determine how Mars and other planets were formed. However, according to NASA, it should take until at least 2030 before humans can land on Mars.