NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., exercises management over the space
flight centers, research centers and other installations that constitute
NASA. Responsibilities of Headquarters cover the determination of programs
and projects; establishment of management policies, procedures and performance
criteria; evaluation of progress; and the review and analysis of all phases
of the aerospace program. Planning, direction and management of NASA's
research and development programs are the responsibility of seven program
offices, which report to and receive overall guidance and direction from
an associate or assistant administrator.
Ames Research Center
Ames Research Center was established in December 1939 as the second
aeronautical research laboratory of the National Advisory Committee
on Aeronautics. Today, Ames is recognized as one of NASA's pre-eminent
research and technology development facilities with programs spanning
aeronautics, trans-atmospherics, space technology, information systems
and the space, Earth and life sciences.
Located at Moffett Federal Airfield in California, the Ames campus
employs civil service and support service contractor personnel. Ames
is a principal center for computational fluid dynamics, rotorcraft and
powered-lift technology, artificial intelligence and airborne sciences.
Other specialties include flight simulation, robotics, human factors
research in the fundamental biological sciences, origin of life and
exobiology research and wind tunnel design, development and operation.
Among its advanced facilities, Ames boasts the National Full-Scale
Aerodynamics Complex, which is the world's largest wind tunnel, and
the Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation facility -- perhaps the world's
most powerful supercomputer complex and a national pathfinder laboratory,
a unique national facility. Ames also houses the Vertical Motion Simulator
-- a six-degree-of-freedom simulator believed to be the most sophisticated
simulation facility in existence. Ames Research Center also has a number
of other facilities of critical national importance that contribute
to the stability and material well-being of the American people, the
U.S. economy and the people of the world.
Since 1947, the Hugh L. Dryden Flight Center has conducted unique and
highly specialized flight research programs. Its test organization,
consisting of pilots, scientists, engineers, technicians and mechanics,
has demonstrated its capability with high-speed research aircraft as
well as with unusual flight vehicles such as the lunar landing research
vehicle and wingless lifting bodies. Approach and landing tests for
the space shuttle were conducted at Dryden, and the facility continues
to support space shuttle landings from space as well as processing the
space shuttle for ferry flights to the launch site. Preparations are
being made for the flight test program of the X-30, an experimental
vehicle of the National Aero-Space Plane Program.
Research Center at Lewis Field
John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio, is
NASA's lead for research, technology and development in aircraft propulsion,
space propulsion, space power and satellite communication. Aircraft
propulsion activities in the early days of the jet age consisted of
the development of aircraft, which would fly higher, faster and farther.
Today's goals are fuel conservation, quieter flight and cleaner exhaust.
It is also the home of the Microgravity Materials Science Laboratory,
a unique facility to qualify potential space experiments. Other facilities
include a zero-gravity drop tower, wind tunnels, space environment tasks,
chemical rocket thrust stands and chambers for testing jet engine efficiency
Space Flight Center
Established in 1959, the Goddard Space Flight Center is named for Dr.
Robert H. Goddard, an American pioneer in rocket research. Located on
1,100 acres of Maryland countryside just outside Washington, DC, the
center is responsible for expanding the knowledge of Earth and its environment,
the solar system and the universe through observations from space. It
is NASA's lead center for two of NASA's major programs -- the Hubble
Space Telescope and the Mission to Planet Earth. It also serves as the
major center for tracking satellites and maintaining communications
with them. Thousands of people work at Goddard and its satellite sites
-- the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and the Goddard Institute
for Space Studies in New York City.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a research, development and flight
center operated for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.
JPL's primary role is the investigation of the solar system through
the use of robotic scientific spacecraft. JPL is also responsible to
NASA for supporting research and advanced development related to flight
projects. The laboratory also designs and operates the Deep Space Network
of antennas to communicate with lunar and interplanetary spacecraft
like Voyagers 1 and 2, Ulysses and missions to Mars.
Johnson Space Center
Established as the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1961, the Lyndon B. Johnson
Space Center, named in honor of the late president, is responsible for
the design, development and operation of human space flight. For more
than three decades, JSC has been the world leader in human space flight
operations for NASA. Johnson Space Center, which is located in Houston,
Texas, is the training base and home for the nation's astronauts and
the site of Mission Control, where a talented group of flight controllers
monitor the work of US astronauts in space. The operations at JSC include
the development, production and delivery of the space shuttle orbiters;
the testing of spacecraft associated systems; the development and integration
of experiments for human space flight activities; the application of
space technology and its supporting scientific engineering and medical
research; and the selection and training of astronauts; and the operation
of human space flights.
The Mission Control Center for US human space flights is at JSC. Scientists
and technicians at Johnson Space Center continue to analyze the precious
collection of lunar samples brought back from the Moon during Project
Apollo. Also, Johnson is the host center for the International Space
Station Program Office. The program office is responsible for the design
and integration of the US Laboratory and Habitat modules and works in
close coordination with the international partners in the development
of their modules.
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the nation's spaceport -- the liftoff
site for all manned missions into space. About 3 million people a year
visit KSC, which is located near Cape Canaveral, Fla., and most take
tours of the shuttle launch facilities. Today, Kennedy Space Center
performs the highly specialized function of preparing space shuttles
and their cargoes for launch. In the 13 years after its first launch
in 1981, the space shuttle fleet completed over 60 missions. Most were
scientific in nature, but some included launching applications satellites
and performing on-board experiments in the fields of communications,
meteorology and Earth sensing. All manned Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab,
Apollo-Soyuz and space shuttle flights were launched by the center from
launch pads on KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Station.
Prior to 1990, KSC also was responsible for launching unmanned spacecraft
on Delta and Atlas-Centaur vehicles, from pads on Cape Canaveral. Delta
vehicles were also launched from pads at Vandenburg Air Force Base in
California. Unmanned launch responsibilities were assumed by the vehicle
builders and the US Air Force in 1989. Before that, KSC had launched
over 250 vehicles, with spacecraft operating in every field from technological
innovation to interplanetary exploration.
KSC also will perform the checkout, assembly and launch of the component
parts of the International Space Station and serve as the primary site
for launching space shuttles to provide logistics support and personnel
Langley Research Center
The Langley Research Center, established in 1917 as the first national
civil aeronautical laboratory, has been instrumental in shaping aerospace
history for more than seven decades. Today, Langley, which is located
near Hampton, Va., remains dedicated to serving traditional aerospace
customers and to transferring aerospace technology to nontraditional
aerospace customers in response to changing national priorities. Langley's
primary mission is basic research in aeronautics and space technology.
Research fields include aerodynamics, materials, structures, acoustics,
flight systems, information systems, spacecraft analysis and atmospheric
LaRC is the lead center for management of the agency's technology
development programs for future High-Speed Civil Transport, for hypersonic
vehicle concepts and for general aviation. Langley manages a dynamic
program in atmospheric sciences, seeking a more detailed understanding
of the origins, chemistry and transport mechanisms that govern the Earth's
atmosphere, with a special emphasis on the impact of human activity.
Marshall Space Flight Center
NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., leads
the agency in space transportation and propulsion development. It furnishes
the solid rocket boosters, main engines and external tank for every
space shuttle flight. Center engineers are now designing the next generation
of space launch vehicles to provide the nation with continued safe,
economical and reliable access to space.
MSFC has a vital role in key scientific missions. It is a leader in
science research in the fields of microgravity, space physics and astrophysics.
Marshall is developing NASA's next large space observatory, the Advanced
X-ray Astrophysics Facility. It provides payload integration and operations
for experiments aboard the shuttle and Spacelab and has the major role
in developing and integrating space station payloads. MSFC is NASA's
center of excellence for Earth Observing System global water studies.
MSFC uses its extensive research, technology and advanced development
facilities to build a strong technological base for future space activities,
then transfers that technology to American history.
Stennis Space Center
The John C. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi provides the facilities,
equipment and technical support necessary to develop and flight certify
the Space Shuttle Main Engines. Because of its important role in engine
testing over the past three decades, SSC has been designated as NASA's
center of excellence for large propulsion systems testing. The center
also has the assignment to build the facilities and capabilities to
test the propulsion systems hardware for the future.
Personnel at SSC are also involved in a broad range of research and
technology projects, including the development of remote sensing technology,
Earth sciences research, associated data systems development and technology
transfer. SSC is NASA's lead center for commercial remote sensing activities.
Included in the center's remote sensing mission is the management of
the commercial aspects of NASA's Small Satellite Technology Program.
SSC personnel also work on numerous science projects to increase understanding
of each planet, including preserving the tropical rain forest in Central
America, studying sea surface temperatures to determine conditions for
red tide outbreak, plant stress analysis and monitoring cultural and
SSC is unique in NASA in that the center serves as host to 22 other
federal and state agencies and university elements in residence involved
in environmental and oceanographic programs.
Wallops Flight Facility
Wallops Flight Facility, located on Virginia's eastern shore, is one
of the oldest and busiest ranges in the world. Some 300 experiments
are sent aloft each year on vehicles which vary in size from small meteorological
rockets to the four-stage Scout with orbital capability. The launches
increase knowledge of the upper atmosphere and the space environment.
A sizable portion of Wallops' effort is devoted to aeronautical research
and development and in reporting the nation's space technology to the