NASA History questions for video
NASA history has 4 main interacting influential aspects. What are they and please describe how
they influence the history of NASA? (Technological Influence – The nature of technological
developments leads the way to what can be accomplished by NASA. However, NASA is a large
innovator of technological developments. Political Influence – The politics of the time has had a
great influence on NASA’s space development. The need for NASA came about as a response to
Sputnik the first satellite launched by Russia during the Cold War in 1957. – Budgetary
Influence has provided the money needed to accomplish the costly work of NASA. – Personal
Influence of the men and women who have devoted their lives to the work of NASA and space
Why did the Sputnik terrorize the American people? (Sputnik was terrorizing because during the
Cold War Americans were worried about the Soviet Union dropping a nuclear bomb on U.S..
Americans did not know the capability of Sputnik; they were worried that it was spying on the
U.S. to find a good location to drop a nuclear bomb.)
3. Who was Werhner Von Braun and why do some consider him the father of the space age?
(Werhner Von Braun was a German scientist who worked on the construction of rockets that the
Germans used to bomb Allied cities. The instructor believes that Von Braun was always
interested in building a rocket to go to the moon and beyond. The instructor believes that Von
Braun was glad to come to America and use his rocket expertise for peaceful space exploration.
Explorer 1 was the first successful American satellite and it was Von Braun who was
instrumental in this satellite’s success on January 31, 1958. It was also Von Braun’s expertice
that was used to help construct the powerful Saturn rocket that sent us to the moon.)
4. The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 set up NASA as a civilian agency to take over
the various programs and facilities on space exploration already in existence in the U.S.. What
was the name of the agency before NASA? (National Advisory Council of Aeronautics (NACA))
5. List the 9 space facilities that make up NASA, where they are located and their main expertise in
space exploration.
 (Langley Research Center- Langley, Virginia works on aeronautic design and research
 Glen Research Center- Cleveland, Ohio works on aircraft propulsion
 Ames Research Center- Moffett Field, California works on the computers used for orbital
 Dryden Flight Research Center- High Desert, California works on high speed
aerodynamic design
 Jet Propulsion Laboratory- Pasadena, California works on unmanned space craft
 Goddard Spaceflight Center- Greenbelt, Maryland works on communications and data
 Marshall Spaceflight Center- Huntsville, Alabama works on payloads and rocket booster
 Kennedy Space Center- Cape Canaveral, Florida works on research and launching of
 Johnson Space Center- Houston, Texas works on training of astronauts, training of flight
controllers, designing the manned spacecraft, and houses Mission Control Center.)
Stop video at 29 minutes 40 sections after slide of map of space centers and ask the
questions listed above.
What was the name of the first big project to launch a man into space? (Project Mercury) What
type of approach did they use and why? (They realized that a vehicle fitted on top of an
intercontinental ballistic missile could be used to launch human beings in space. They used this
approach because they had experience with launching missiles.)
7. What was Christopher Kraft’s role in Project Mercury? (He was put in charge of designing the
infrastructure of dealing with man in space.) What idea did he come up with that we still use
today? (Kraft came up with the pyramid structure where there would be support rooms of people
that would report to the ultimate authority, the flight director. This is the system used by Mission
Control Center today.)
8. Who was the first American to be launched in space? (Alan Shepard) Was Shepard the first man
in space? (No, the Russians had sent Yuri Gagarin into space about 3 weeks before Shepard’s
May 5, 1961 ride into space.) How long was his ride and where did he go? (Shepard was
launched for 5 minutes in suborbital space above the Atlantic Ocean.)
9. How did the technological and political influences bring about our decision to go to the moon?
(NASA’s technology was at the threshold of capability to meet the challenge of sending a man to
the moon. The political arena was such that America’s image was linked with America’s success
of meeting this challenge, especially before the Russians sent a man to the moon.)
10. Explain the three choices for getting a man on the moon? (The first approach was to build a
humongous rocket called NOVA (bigger than the Saturn V) that could take us directly to the
moon. The second approach was called an Earth Orbit Rendezvous. It would use two Saturn 1
rockets that would launch the landing portion and the human portion in orbit around Earth. The
two portions would rendezvous during orbiting around Earth and then they would travel together
to the moon. The third approach was called the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. A Saturn V (slightly
bigger than the Saturn 1) would go toward the moon carrying a command module and a lunar
module. The command module would orbit the moon while the lunar module would land on the
moon. To come back to Earth the top part of the lunar module would have to leave the surface of
the moon and rendezvous with the command module as it orbited the moon. In order for this to
happen a computer needed to be designed small enough (in the 1960’s computers were the size of
a room) to fit in the orbiting modules so that the rendezvous could be successful).
11. What were the three objectives of Gemini that needed to be proven before we could go to the
moon? (The three objectives of Gemini were to be able to send a man on a long-duration space
flight (the trip to the moon and back would take a week), to be able to do extravehicular activity
(the astronauts would have to be able to walk on the moon) and to be able to have two orbiting
vehicles to link up or rendezvous successfully (for this to occur we needed smaller computers).)
12. What were the objectives of the Apollo Project? (The Apollo Project needed to design a lunar
module, have the proper computer code to aid in lunar-orbit rendezvous, and NASA needed an
infrastructure to launch and control the spacecraft.)
Stop video at 1 hour 7 minutes and 53 seconds when the instructor gives the class a 5 minute
break. Ask the above questions.
13. What did the instructor say was one of the spinoffs of the Apollo Project that directly affected
him? (The instructor said that the landing on the moon of Apollo 11 inspired him to study math
and science and go into the field of space.) Ask someone who is in the space or science industry
that was alive during the landing on the moon if they were inspired like the instructor was by the
Apollo Project. (I was already studying science and math when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
However, I know that growing up during the Race to Space certainly influenced my decision to
study math and science.)
14. How many Apollo Missions went to the moon? (There were 6 missions, Apollo 11, 12,
14, 15, 16, and 17.) Do you know how many astronauts walked on the moon? Record
their names or any information about them? (Twelve people have walked on the Moon.
All human landings took place between July 1969 and December 1972, as part of the
Apollo program. The following table comes from
August 5, 1930
2. Buzz Aldrin
January 20,
3. Pete Conrad
June 2, 1930
4. Alan Bean
March 15, 1932
5. Alan Shepard
June 6, 1932
8. James Irwin
March 17, 1930
John W.
July 8,
November 18, July 21,
September 17,
7. David Scott
September 24,
October 3,
10. Charles Duke
March 14, 1934
July 3, 1935
August 8,
Age at
38y 11m
39y 6m
39y 5m
37y 8m
47y 2m
40y 4m
39y 1m
41y 4m
41y 6m
36y 6m
38y 9m
37y 5m
Lunar EVA
July 21, 1969[3]
November 19–20,
February 5–6,
July 31 – August
2, 1971
Air Force
Air Force
Air Force
April 21–23, 1972
December 11–14,
Air Force
15. NASA built Skylab space station from 1973-1974, which was America’s first attempt to do
research in Earth orbit. What are some lessons NASA learned from Skylab? (Skylab proved that
we can do important scientific research in space, that man could stay in space up to 84 days, and
that we could repair a spacecraft in orbit.)
16. Compare the technological, political, budgetary and personal influences of the Apollo mission
with the Space Shuttle mission. What were their similarities and differences? (Technologically
the Shuttle mission was just as challenging as the Apollo mission. The technological challenges
of Apollo were many. Three of the main hurdles were that man was going to the moon, that
spacecraft had to rendezvous in orbit, and that small computers had to be developed. The Shuttle
mission had as many new challenges. Three of their main hurdles were the fabrication of a
dependable, reusable spacecraft that could be controlled by a computer, the development of liquid
hydrogen and oxygen engines and the lack of ability to do unmanned test for the Shuttle.
Therefore, though the technological tasks were different both were equally as challenging.
Politically the arena of the 1960’s was quite different than the 1970’s. The race to space and the
Cold War if not ended were not as prevailing. President Nixon was not as big a supporter of
space exploration as President Kennedy. Apollo gained its political justification by landing a
man on the moon. Shuttle’s mission was not as politically satisfying. Shuttle’s mission
justifications were to launch commercial satellites, to aid in military activities, and to have a
scientific research center on the Shuttle called Spacelab. However, even with these important
roles for Shuttle its mission did not have nearly the public appeal as Apollo’s mission. Therefore,
the budgets for the Shuttle missions were a lot less than that for Apollo missions. The Shuttle
mission did not have funds to build new infrastructure, but simply modified the existing Apollo
infrastructure. Finally, the personnel at NASA and key scientific players’ ideas and dreams were
a dependable constant. Much of the Shuttle mission’s concepts were developed from the ideas of
earlier scientists such as Von Braun.
Video ends at 2 hours and 9 minutes ask the above questions at the end.