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About the project

NASA's vision: We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.

Thousands of people have been working around the world -- and off of it -- for decades, trying to answer some basic questions. What's out there? How do we get there? What will we find? What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?

Explore our history, see who we are and how we work, check the list of current missions, and find out what we're launching next. Here’s a look at some of the big things coming up.

Solar System and Beyond

The towering primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope inside a cleanroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for testing.Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA will add to its existing robotic fleet at the Red Planet with the InSight Mars lander set to study the planet’s interior. The Mars 2020 rover will look for signs of past microbial life, gather samples for future return to Earth and investigate resources that could someday support astronauts.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, studying every phase in the history of our Universe in infrared, while the Parker Solar Probe will “touch the sun,” travelling closer to the surface than any spacecraft before.

NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, arrives at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in August 2018, and will return a sample for study in 2023.

Launched in April 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will search for planets outside our solar system by monitoring 200,000 bright, nearby stars.

And a mission to Jupiter's ocean-bearing moon Europa is being planned for launch in the 2020s.

Sending Humans Out into Solar System: Moon to Mars

The Space Launch System rocket is shown lifting off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in this artist concept.Credits: NASA

Building on this growing scientific knowledge of our solar system, NASA is developing the most advanced rocket and spacecraft to lead the next steps of human exploration farther into space than we have ever traveled before. Launching from a revitalized NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will carry astronauts aboard NASA's Orion spacecraft to the Moon, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems needed for challenging missions to other destinations, including Mars, and deeper into space.

NASA will test its new deep space exploration system beginning with an integrated, uncrewed flight of SLS and Orion, known as Exploration Mission-1. During the second and subsequent early flights, NASA will develop new technologies and techniques and apply innovative approaches to solving problems in preparation for longer-duration missions far from Earth. NASA will build up its deep space capabilities before ultimately sending humans to the Red Planet.

International Space Station

The International Space Station in orbit.Credits: NASA

Humans are already living and working off the Earth in the one-of-a kind research laboratory in microgravity. The International Space Station serves as a blueprint for global cooperation and scientific advancements, a destination for growing a commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit, and a test bed for demonstrating new technologies. Research on the station is the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, sending humans into deep space.

A new generation of U.S. commercial spacecraft and rockets are supplying cargo to the space station and will soon launch astronauts once again from U.S. soil.

By studying astronauts living in space for six months or more -- including two who were there for nearly a year -- NASA is learning how future crews can thrive on longer missions farther into the solar system. The space station also is a test bed for exploration technologies like autonomous refueling of spacecraft, advanced life support systems and human/robotic interfaces.

A portion of the astronauts’ time aboard the space station has been designated for national laboratory investigations that provide direct benefits to improve life on Earth, and NASA is committed to using this unique resource for wide-ranging scientific research.

Illustration of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft.Credits: NASA / Lockheed Martin

Flight

NASA is helping transform aviation by developing advanced technologies for revolutionary aircraft shapes and propulsion, and for the airspace in which they fly, which dramatically improve efficiency, reduce noise and maintain safety in more crowded skies.

NASA is working now to design, build and fly new experimental aircraft – X-planes – that will prove the dramatic benefits of advanced technologies in piloted flight, including a Low Boom Flight Demonstrator which will provide data that could open the door to supersonic flights over land.

Concept image of solar electric propulsion in support of deep space missions.Credits: NASA

Space Tech

On Earth and in space, NASA is developing, testing and flying cutting-edge technologies for a new future of human and robotic exploration. Technology development at NASA provides the onramp for new space technologies, creating a pipeline that matures them from early-stage through flight.

We'll continue to evolve technologies like advanced solar electric propulsion, deep space navigation, new green propellants, and in-space manufacturing and assembly. These new space technologies will advance NASA’s capabilities to help us reach our future deep space destinations.

Earth

Concept image of ICESat-2 above Earth.Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s current and future Earth missions use the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.

NASA brings together technology, science, and unique global Earth observations to provide societal benefits and strengthen our nation. Critical to understanding how our planet’s natural resources and climate are changing, our observations form the foundation for important environmental planning and decisions by people all over the world.

In 2018, NASA will launch the next generation of two missions – ICESat-2 and GRACE Follow-On – to continue the long-term record of how Earth’s ice sheets, sea level, and underground water reserves are changing.

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