NASA planned to send astronauts to Mars in 1981 using Nerva nuclear rockets but congress cut NASA’s funding and Nixon cancelled the Nerva project entirely in 1973, causing Nasa to focus on the development of the Space Shuttle instead.
NASA only uses 15 digits of pi for calculating interplanetary travel. At 40 digits, you could calculate the circumference of a circle the size of the visible universe to an accuracy equal to the diameter of a hydrogen atom.
In 1999, a $125m orbiter around mars disappeared from existence due to an error in the software control system caused by two teams who were using different systems of measurement.
Dr. Story Musgrave, a NASA astronaut, made history on STS-80 by not getting into his seat before re-entry. He instead stood up on the flight deck “surfing” the Space Shuttle while it decelerated from 17,000mph to 0mph. He is the only person to have seen re-entry plasma with his bare eyes.
The guy is absolutely nuts:
NASA officially banned consuming alcohol in space in 1972 after sherry was proposed for Skylab meals, but it never really went away. “NASA will tell you there is no alcohol aboard the ISS” says astronaut Clayton Anderson. “As a person who lived there for five months, I’ll tell you that’s bogus.”
Landing humans on the Moon required the most sudden burst of technological creativity and the largest commitment of resources ever made by any nation in peacetime. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.
In early 1990s, NASA sent jellyfish to space to test how spaceflight would affect their development. The jellies did not develop the proper gravity-sensing capabilities and had trouble figuring how to swim around in normal gravity, with abnormal pulsing and movement when returned to Earth.
In 1977 Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were entering a rare alignment that occurs every 175 years. This happened to be when humans were first attempting space exploration so we were coincidentally able to send Voyager 2 on a flyby of all four planets on its way out of the solar system.
In 2013, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover hummed Happy Birthday to itself by vibrating its sample-analysis unit to obtain the musical tune, but did so only on its first “birthday”.