National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), independent U.S. governmental agency established in 1958 for the research and development of vehicles and activities for the exploration of space within and outside Earth’s atmosphere.


The organization is composed of four mission directorates: Aeronautics Research, for the development of advanced aviation technologies; Science, dealing with programs for understanding the origin, structure, and evolution of the universe, the solar system, and Earth; Space Technology, for the development of space science and exploration technologies; and Human Exploration and Operations, concerning the management of crewed space missions, including those to the International Space Station, as well as operations related to launch services, space transportation, and space communications for both crewed and robotic exploration programs. A number of additional research centers are affiliated, including the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; and the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Headquarters of NASA are in Washington, D.C.