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NASA, A 16-Billion-Dollar-A-Year Space Research Giant

Cape Canaveral (AFP) Jul 10, 2005
NASA, the US government's famed space agency, is a research giant with an annual budget in excess of 16 billion dollars, created at the height of the Cold War's space race.

Its stated goal is to advance US scientific, security and economic interests through its space exploration program.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established on October 1, 1958, as the United States struggled to catch up with the Soviet Union, which the previous year had launched Sputnik 1, the world's first man-made satellite.

Today, more than 19,000 people work for the agency, which is headquartered in Washington and has 10 centers across the United States. An additional 40,000 people work for NASA as contractors.

NASA's installations include the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, the launching pad for the space shuttle, and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, which houses the manned spacecraft mission control center.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California builds and operates most of NASA's unmanned spacecraft, including missions to Mars, comets and the outer reaches of the solar system.

In addition to its Apollo lunar missions and its space shuttle program, which helped build the International Space Station, NASA has led key scientific missions, including launching the Hubble Space Telescope, whose groundbreaking images helped explain some of the mysteries of the universe.

NASA is headed by scientist Michael Griffin, who was picked by President George W. Bush to slash spending by an agency many view as too costly.

Its stated mission is to "protect our home planet, to explore the universe and search for life, and to inspire the next generation of explorers."

The agency suffered a major setback when the Space Shuttle Columbia burst into flames upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board and grounding the shuttle fleet.

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Administrator Griffin Testifies On The Future Of NASA
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 28, 2005
Dr. Michael Griffin, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), testified Tuesday before the House Science Committee at a wide-ranging hearing examining the future of NASA.

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