The Future of the US Space Program

   By Willard Davis

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a self-governing agency of the United States government. The vision of NASA is to “Reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the advantage of humankind.” The following are some of the current and future missions of NASA.

Un-Manned Missions

NASA is trying to add to the existing robotic fleet with the Insight Mars lander, aimed at the red planet to learn about the interior of the planet. In2020, Insight will be seeking signs of microbial life and collecting samples for return to earth, to see whether Mars’ resources could support astronauts.

The next premier observatory in space, the James Webb Space Telescope, will study the history of the universe in the infrared, while the Parker Solar Probe will touch the sun, traveling nearer to the surface than any spacecraft before.

By June 2018, NASA will launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, which will research planets outside of our solar system, examining 200,000 bright objects close by other stars.

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

And an assignment to Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa is intended to launch in 2020.

Sending Humans Out into our Solar System and Beyond

Building on rising scientific knowledge of the solar system, NASA is developing more advanced spacecraft and rockets, leading to the next steps of human exploration into space than we ever have traveled before. Launching from a re-invigorated NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, a powerful Space Launch System (SLS) will carry the astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft to the Moon, where astronauts will begin testing the systems which are needed for the demanding operations to other destinations, such as Mars and deeper into space.

NASA will test the exploration systems for deep space starting with an un-crewed flight of Orion and SLS, called the Exploration Mission-1. During subsequent flights, NASA will create new techniques and technologies and will apply inventive approaches for solving the issues in preparing for the longer duration operations far from the earth. NASA will develop its deep space capacities before finally sending humans to Mars.

International Space Station

Humans already are working and living off Earth in one research laboratory in micro-gravity. The International Space Station provides a blueprint for scientific advancements and global cooperation, a way for raising the commercial marketplace into low earth orbit, and as a test bed for representing the latest technologies and sending humans into deep space.

Spacecraft Launch Into Space. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

A latest generation of commercial US spacecraft and rockets, which are supplying cargo to the space station, later will launch astronauts again from American soil.

By having space explorers living in space for a half year or more – including two who were there for about a year – NASA is figuring out how future teams can flourish with longer missions more remotely into our solar system. The space station likewise is a proving ground for investigation of advances, like self-governing refueling of rockets, emotionally supportive networks, and human/automated interfaces.

A bit of the space on board the space station has been assigned for national laboratory investigations that may give ways to enhance life on Earth, and NASA is focused on utilizing this interesting asset for far reaching logical research.


NASA is assisting the transformation of aviation by creating advanced technologies for propulsion, innovative aircraft shapes, and for the airspace in which they can fly, that radically increase the efficiency, decrease the noise, and maintain the safety in more of the crowded skies.

NASA is designing and flying the new experiment aircraft known as the X-planes, which should provide dramatically advanced technologies for piloted flights, such as the Low (Sonic) Boom Flight demonstrator, which could give information to open the door to the supersonic flights over land.


On Space and in Earth, NASA is making, testing and flying cutting edge technologies for the coming future of the human robotic examination. Technology development of NASA gives an on ramp for new space technologies, making a pipeline which matures them from the beginning stage via flight.

They will continue to develop technologies such as advanced solar electric propulsion, new green propellants, deep space navigation, and in-space assembly and manufacturing. These kinds of new space technologies will advance the capabilities of NASA for helping people to reach deep space destinations in the future.


Current and future earth missions of NASA provide the vantage point for understanding and exploring our home planet, increasing the safeguards and lives of our future.

NASA will bring together the technologies, unique global observations, and science to societal advantage, aiming to strengthen nature. Critical to the understanding of how climate and natural resources are changing on our planet, the observations make the base work for significant environmental planning and the decisions taken by people all over the world.

In 2018, NASA will ready to launch the next generation of two missions: ICESat-2 and GRACE Follow On – for continuing to record the long term record of ice sheets, underground water reserves, and how sea levels are changing.

Author Bio

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