2014 had been a spectacular year for the American space agency NASA as it has carried many space expeditions, ranging from the Orion’s test flight towards Mars, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft to cutting-edge scientific experiments and discoveries in the study of Earth and other celestial objects.
Apart from this, the proposed next generation air travel and sending American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) are among the highlights for US space agency this year.
Releasing a statement, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said, “We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year with successful completing the first flight of Orion – the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel.”
In December this year, the space agency achieved a major milestone in its expedition to Mars when its Orion spacecraft completed its first spatial voyage during a four-and-a-half-hour test flight.
Orion is part of NASA’s plan which is integrated with the development of new capabilities and technologies in order to send astronauts to the farthest place in the space than landed by man ever before, firstly to an asteroid followed by the Red Planet.
In September, NASA had announced that the American astronauts would travel to and from the International Space Station (ISS) on the country’s spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts worked by the Commercial Crew Programme of the space agency.
The agency picked SpaceX and Boeing for the transportation of US crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with the help of their Crew Dragon and CST-100 spacecraft respectively, with the aim to end the country’s sole reliance on Russia in the year 2017.
It is in this year only when the most powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket transformed from the concept phase to the development phase.
Observing the successful journey of Mars Curiosity rover, the US space agency had in July this year announced its Mars Rover 2020, which will carry instruments for the unprecedented investigations based of scientific and exploration technology on the Red Planet. NASA is also eyeing a human mission on Mars.
On September 21, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered the orbit of the Red Planet.
Curiosity has also made spectacular observations on Martian surface about possibility of life in form of a large lake bed over tens of millions of years near the Mount Sharp.
NASA has spotted nearly 12,000 Near Earth Objects to-date.