The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronauticsand aerospace research.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. TheNational Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.
Since that time, most US space explorationefforts have been led by NASA, including theApollo moon-landing missions, the Skylabspace station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting theInternational Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System andCommercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysicsthrough the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout theSolar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysicstopics, such as the Big Bang, through theGreat Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.