For the Benefit of All: The NASA Quiz

Staff

Which program lead to the United States' first crewed space flight?

Between 1958 and 1961, Project Mercury put six men into space, including Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

The first major repairs conducted by astronauts in space were performed on which spacecraft?

Skylab was damaged at launch, but in 1973 the first crew was able to deploy a replacement heat shield and fix some jammed solar panels.

How many custom-tailored space suits did each primary crew member of an Apollo mission have?

Each primary crew member had a flight suit, a training suit and a backup flight suit. Depending on the specific Apollo mission, the suits cost roughly $100,000 to $400,000 each.

Which space shuttle was the first to be launched into space?

Columbia's first launch was on April 12, 1981. It was destroyed during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003.

NASA was built on an existing government agency that had been doing space and rocketry research in the 1940s and 1950s. What was that agency?

When NASA was created in 1958, it took over NACA, including all of its employees and research projects.

TIROS-1 was the first operational satellite to do what?

TIROS-1's success at observing weather significantly improved weather forecasting and led to the network of weather satellites in use today.

What species was the first living being launched into space by the U.S.?

Albert I was a rhesus monkey, launched by NASA precursor NACA in 1948 aboard a V-2 Blossom rocket. The early animal launches were not intended to be recoverable, so all the animals died on impact when the rockets returned to Earth.

Hundreds of human artifacts have been left on the moon, but only the Apollo 15 landing site contains money. How much cash is on the moon?

It was a tradition to bring currency on NASA flights then sell it as "space-flown currency" to collectors. However, 100 $2 bills were accidentally left on the lunar surface by the Apollo 15 crew.

Which unmanned spacecraft performed the first flyby of Mars?

Mariner 4 flew past Mars at a distance of roughly 6,100 miles in 1965. Mariner 3 and several Russian Mars missions had previously failed to reach the red planet.

The Apollo 13 mission was aborted for what reason?

The explosion forced the crew and NASA engineers to make fast, unorthodox repairs under extreme pressure to return the crew to Earth safely.

When was the last time humans walked on the moon?

Apollo 17 put two men on the lunar surface in 1972. Not only has no human walked on the moon since then, but no human has left low Earth orbit.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act is the law that created NASA. Which president signed it?

Before reaching Eisenhower's desk, Congress added a declaration of policy to the bill that "activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind."

Which space shuttle was the first to be built?

Construction on Enterprise was completed in 1976. It flew a series of atmospheric test flights in 1977 but was never launched into space.

In August 2013, the Mars Curiosity rover played the first song ever played on another planet. What song was it?

Performed by vibrating the rover's soil analysis tool at different frequencies, "Happy Birthday" was played to celebrate its one-year anniversary since arrival on Mars.

In what two years were the most new astronauts selected to join NASA?

The record for most astronauts selected in a single year is 35, which happened in both 1978 and 1996.

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, but who was the first American woman in space?

Tereshkova went to space for the Soviets in 1963; Sally Ride became NASA's first woman in space in 1983.

What spacecraft is farther from Earth than any other human-made object?

Voyager I, launched in 1977, has left the solar system entirely and is currently travelling through interstellar space. It was 1.99×10<sup>10</sup> km away from Earth as of late 2015.

Astronaut Scott Kelly holds an important record among American astronauts. What is it?

Kelly (who definitely has a college degree) had been in space for more than 400 days as of December 2015, and his scheduled return to Earth in March 2016 would give him the international record for longest space flight as well, surpassing Russian Valeri Polyakov.

What year did the space shuttle Challenger disintegrate shortly after launch?

Following the 1986 disaster, there were no shuttle flights for nearly three years while the incident was investigated.

When NASA selected the first astronauts in 1959, they had to meet a very specific physical requirement. What was it?

Anyone taller than 5 feet 11 inches would have had trouble fitting into the cramped space modules of the time. The space shuttle allowed astronauts up to six feet four inches tall.

What was the largest, most powerful rocket ever made?

The Saturn V rockets were designed for the Apollo program but were also used to launch Skylab. The Soviet Energia rocket was nearly as powerful.

Mariner 9 was the first U.S spacecraft to orbit Mars (or any other planet). What happened to it after its experiments were completed in 1972?

Its mission was an unqualified success, providing over 7,000 photos of the Martian surface. But Mariner 9 has been dormant, silently orbiting Mars for more than 40 years. In about 2022 its orbit will decay enough that it enters the Martian atmosphere and crashes to the surface.

Gus Grissom, Edward White III and Roger Chaffee were the first Americans killed in a NASA spacecraft. On which mission were they killed?

The three astronauts were killed during testing for Apollo 1, when faulty wiring ignited the pure oxygen in the command module.

A 1993 NASA mission sent astronauts into space to complete a major repair. What did they fix?

Hubble has been repaired and upgraded five times since it was launched in 1990.

Space shuttle Discovery holds the record for orbiting Earth the most times during its career. How many orbits did it complete?

Discovery also holds the record for the most total time spent in-flight at just under 365 days.

What was the goal of Project Gemini, which ran from 1961 to 1966?

Gemini established that both crews and equipment could endure lengthy periods in space — long enough to get to the moon and back.

The Telstar satellite performed the first publically available satellite television broadcast in 1962. What was the first broadcast?

The broadcast eventually included a speech by President Kennedy, but the baseball game was used as filler until he was ready.

When was the last time there were no Americans in space?

The first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) docked on Nov. 2, 2000. There's been at least one American on the ISS ever since.

What were the first U.S. missions to reach the surface of Mars?

Both Viking landers touched down on Martian soil in 1976.

All space shuttle missions had the prefix "STS." What did this stand for?

Although the mission numbering system was changed several times, resulting in a mix of numbers and letters, all shuttle missions had the "Space Transportation System" prefix.

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About This Quiz

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been exploring space for more than 50 years. How much do you know about the scientists, engineers, pilots and machines that carried America into space?

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