The year 2009 was a mixed year of triumph and tension for NASA – while the agency triumphed in terms of captivating momentous steps towards exploration beyond the Earth’s orbit and also perking up its International Space Station research; tension for the agency consequence from the winding down of its shuttle program and the uncertainty hovering over the future direction of US human spaceflight.
With 2009 marking important achievements, like the discovery of water on the moon and Mars that would facilitate future of space exploration, and a class of newly-identified ‘Super-Earth’ planets that might some day turn out to be more habitable than Earth, the likely-to-be-stellar-studded coming year would see a growing armada of current, new and revived space telescopes.
Among the other highs for NASA this year was the go ahead by a White House panel to the growth of commercial space taxi services for US astronauts; the launch of five shuttle missions bythe agency ; the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that was launched in July 16, 1969; the launch of a new generation of space telescopes for unraveling long-standing mysteries of outer space; and the spotting of distant galaxies by the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.
Commenting on the triumphs of 2009, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations at NASA, said: “This is a tremendous time in spaceflight. We've had a very victorious year, and we need to cherish that.”
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