NASA is the American authority responsible for the country’s space activities. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958, prior to which the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was responsible for space related activities.
The American space authority has until recently been entirely responsible for the US space programme, working with a number of commercial enterprises in rolling out a vast programme of satellite launches, manned space missions and research. However, in the last couple of decades more and more private enterprises have taken a lead role in space activities. With the emergence of the likes of Blue Origin, SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Firefly and Virgin Galactic we have seen more private companies play a lead role and work directly with NASA.
NASA have also now started to award significant contracts and grants to private companies for military and defence projects as well as communications and manned space missions.
SpaceX have been particularly fortunate in securing NASA contracts, with the company providing transport of astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station on behalf of the agency.
Firefly Aerospace have also secured NASA contracts as part of the Artemis Moon mission to deliver science and technology payloads to the surface of Earth’s moon. See below: