This category includes government establishments primarily engaged in programs for manned and unmanned space flights and space exploration. Research and development laboratories operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are classified as auxiliaries to this industry. Private establishments primarily engaged in operation of space flights on their own account are classified in SIC 4789: Transportation Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Space Research and Technology
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the primary U.S. government agency involved in space research and technology. The Department of Defense also operates extensive space research programs, many of them classified.
Other government agencies involved in space research include the Department of Commerce, which operates the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Office of Space Commercialization; the National Science Foundation, which operates several Earth-based observatories; and the Smithsonian Institution, which operates the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.
The federal space program came to prominence during the 1960s as a result of the "space race," which pitted the United States against the Soviet Union in a contest to be first to land a man on the moon. Over the years, the space program has enjoyed spectacular successes, but also suffered several disappointments, including the tragic explosion of the Challenger shuttle and the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.
NASA, the government's largest space research organization, is divided into several "enterprises," each responsible for a different aspect of the U.S. space program. In addition to enterprises devoted to Education, as well as Safety and Mission Assurance, NASA accomplishes its objectives via five main enterprises: Aerospace Technology, Space Science, Earth Science, Biological and Physical Research, and Space Flight.
The Aerospace Technology Enterprise is primarily involved in aeronautical research, including development of high-speed aircraft and air-traffic control aids for civil transport, rather than space flight. According to NASA, this office is driven by four main themes: the administration's Space Launch Initiative, aeronautics technology, mission and science measurement technology, and innovative technology transfer partnerships. The Aerospace Technology Enterprise also manages the Ames Research Center, Dryden Flight Research Facility, Langley Research Center, and the Glenn Research Center.
The Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, was established in 1939 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to conduct aircraft research. It was named for Dr. Joseph S. Ames, NACA chairman from 1927 to 1939. The center became part of NASA in 1958. The center has continued to conduct a broad range of research, including computer space-flight simulations.
The Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Facility at the Edwards Air Force Base in Edwards, California, was established in 1946. Dryden is involved in testing high-speed aircraft and wingless lifting bodies. Dryden developed the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle during the Apollo program and was involved in developing and testing the space shuttle Enterprise. Space shuttles that land at Edwards Air Force Base were supported by the Dryden Research Facility.
The NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio, was established in 1941. It formerly was named the Lewis Research Center for George W. Lewis, NACA director of research from 1924 to 1947. However, on March 1, 1999, this facility was renamed to also reflect legendary astronaut John Glenn. The research center is best known for its work in jet propulsion, although it also was instrumental in developing liquid hydrogen as a fuel for space flight in the 1960s. It was responsible for developing an electrical power system for the space station program, and also includes the Microgravity Science Division, which is responsible for experimenting with microgravity science technology.
Located on an 800-acre site in Hampton, Virginia, the NASA Langley Research Center was established in 1917 as the United States' first civil aeronautics laboratory. More than 50 percent of the center's work is devoted to the field of civil and military aeronautics. In addition, its other areas of concentration include the development of next-generation spaceships, as well as aviation safety. The Center for Excellence for Structures and Materials also is located at Langley.
The Space Sciences Enterprise is primarily responsible for programs involving the unmanned scientific investigation of the solar system and deep space. NASA's Space Science Program seeks to understand the nature of the Universe, to explore the solar system, to better understand the relationship between the Earth and sun, and to study the origin and possible distribution of life in the Universe.
The Space Sciences Enterprise conducts many of its projects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. NASA operates the JPL under contract with the California Institute of Technology. Founded in 1944, JPL built the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, in 1958. JPL also was responsible for the Ranger probes that provided the first close-up pictures of the moon between 1964 and 1965. Since then, probes launched by JPL have explored every planet in the solar systems except Pluto. Projects under its direction have included Voyager, Galileo, Magellan, Mars Observer, and Ulysses. JPL also developed a wide-field planetary camera for the Hubble Space Telescope that was launched in 1990. The Office of Space Sciences continued to manage the Hubble telescope into the early 2000s. In recent years, it has outfitted the device with a Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). These enhancements extended HST's wavelength range into the near infrared and greatly enhanced its ability for ultraviolet spectroscopy.
As its name suggests, the Earth Science Enterprise is responsible for NASA's earth science and environmental programs, which include space-based research. The division also has responsibility for the Goddard Space Flight Center. The center, located in Greenbelt, Maryland, has boasted the largest scientific staff of all NASA centers. It was named for Robert H. Goddard, considered the father of modern rocketry. In the early 1990s, the Goddard center was responsible for monitoring more than 20 major space projects, including the Cosmic Background Explorer, which was launched in 1989 to investigate the origins of the universe, and the Hubble Space Telescope. Other projects managed by Goddard included the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the International Ultraviolet Explorer, and the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, launched in 1991 as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The center also operated the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
Earth Science has funded research projects including: Synthesis and Modeling Project of the U.S. Joint Global Ocean Flux Study; Satellite Remote Sensing Measurement, Accuracy, Variability, and Validation Studies; The Effects of Tropical Forest Conversion: Ecological Research in the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA); and Remote Sensing Research—Biological Oceanography.
This NASA office is responsible for researching the effect of zero gravity and space flight on humans and other biological organisms.
The Space Flight Enterprise is responsible for the operation of the space shuttle. It also is responsible for the International Space Station, which serves as a habitable space laboratory where scientists can conduct a wide array of experiments. The Space Flight Enterprise oversees all space and flight support, including advanced systems, space communications, and rocket propulsion testing. Finally, it has managerial oversight for the Kennedy Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, and the Stennis Space Center.
The Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Cape Canaveral is NASA's primary launch facility. The Air Force established a missile test center on Cape Canaveral in 1949, and the first U.S. manned space flights were launched from there. The Kennedy Space Center, named for President John F. Kennedy, was built in the early 1960s for the Apollo program. The main complex was on Merritt Island, separated from Cape Canaveral by the Banana River, but the actual launch sites were on the cape. The first space shuttle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 1981.
The Marshall Space Flight Center at the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, was NASA's primary rocket research center and played a key role in the development of the space shuttle. The center continued to be responsible for the space shuttle's main engines and operated the Spacelab Mission Operations Control Center. Marshall also managed the Michoud Assembly Facility, the Slidell Computer Complex, and the Advanced Rocket Motor program...