What Do You Know About American Space Programs?

By: Allison Lips
Image: Image Ideas/Stockbyte/GettyImages

About This Quiz

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. The United States immediately responded by creating plans for a space program of its own. In fact, the first successful American satellite's launch predates NASA's creation. A few months later, on July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established NASA. 

Four years later, President Kennedy announced that the United States would go to the moon by the end of the 1960s. To make his dream a reality, NASA created the Mercury and Gemini programs. The former established that humans were capable of space flight. The latter proved that humans could live in space for a short period of time. In 1969, the Apollo program put man on the moon. 

After the Apollo program ended, NASA developed space stations to find out if humans can live in space for an extended period of time. It has also sent Voyagers 1 and 2 out of the solar system and sent multiple rovers to Mars. Along the way, NASA's discoveries have become a part of everyone's lives. For example, the LED light started as a NASA creation. 

NASA's existed for 60 years. How many of those have you followed? Find out how much you know about the American space program with this quiz!


What are Space X's crafts called?

Falcon 9 was named after the Millennium Falcon from "Star Wars." It is used to launch Dragon into orbit. In May 2012, Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully attach to the International Space Station.

Which dwarf planet is New Horizons primarily gathering information about?

On Dec. 6, 2014, New Horizons was woken up from months of hibernation with the "Star Trek: Enterprise" theme song, "Where My Heart Will Take Me" also known as "Faith of the Heart." When New Horizons was launched in January 2006, NASA included a portion of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh's ashes and a 1991 U.S. postage stamp that said "Pluto: Not Yet Explored" with seven other items.

Which space probe completed the first mission to Jupiter?

On Dec. 3, 1973, Pioneer 10 came within 81,000 miles of Jupiter. Its sister ship, Pioneer 11, was the first spacecraft to make direct observations of Saturn.

What was the first man-made craft to exit the solar system?

Voyager 1 is currently in interstellar space. NASA defines interstellar space as the place where the sun's magnetic field stops affecting its surroundings.

Who were the only married couple to fly together in space?

Mark Lee and Jan Davis flew together aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. After their mission, NASA policy changed to forbid married couples from being on the same mission.

Who was the first American woman in space?

In 1963, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. In 1978, Sally Ride would become the first American woman in space. Ride flew on Challenger for the seventh Space Shuttle mission.

Which franchise did the Space Shuttle Enterprise take its name from?

In 1976, Enterprise left the plant it was manufactured. The cast from "Star Trek: The Original Series" was on hand to welcome it to the world. Gene Roddenberry, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols and Leonard Nimoy were all there.

What series of spacecraft was retired in 2011 after Atlantis's final flight?

The Space Shuttle program began on April 12, 1981. During the course of the program, there were 6 space shuttles built. The program officially ended on Aug. 31, 2011.

Which astronaut was not one of the Mercury 7?

The Mercury Seven were Scott Carpenter, Deke Slayton, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Alan Shepard and Wally Schirra. A group of women called the Mercury 13 were trained at the same time, but there project was not funded by NASA and none of the women ever made it to space.

Who were the first pair of siblings to travel in space?

In 2015 and 2016, Scott Kelly was on the International Space Station, while his brother Mark stayed on Earth. At the end of The Twin Study, NASA found that the way Scott's genes were expressed changed by 7 percent. the genes themselves remained the same.

What Russian spacecraft does NASA rely on to get astronauts to the International Space Station?

The Soyuz can hold 3 people at a time. There is always a Soyuz attached to the International Space Station in case the ISS needs to be evacuated.

What was the name of the rocket used to launch astronauts to the moon?

The first Saturn V rocket was used on Apollo 4. The first one to launch a crew was Apollo 8, which orbited the moon.

Who holds the record for longest time spent on the International Space Station consecutively?

Scott Kelly was in space for 340 consecutive days. The previous record holder was Michael López-Alegría, who spent 215 consecutive days in space.

Which space shuttle was the first one launched?

John W. Young and Robert Crippen were the first astronauts to fly on Columbia. Columbia successfully completed 27 missions. On Feb. 1, 2003, Columbia was destroyed upon reentry on its 28th mission.

Who was selected to be the first teacher in space?

Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan were selected for NASA's Teacher in Space Project. On Jan. 28, 1986, Christa McAuliffe was killed shortly after the Space Shuttle Challenger launched. In 2007, Barbara Morgan would go into space in on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Which astronaut was not aboard Apollo 1?

Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee died in a fire during a preflight test of Apollo 1. After their deaths, the next Apollo mission was designated Apollo 4. There are no flights called Apollo 2 or 3.

Which Apollo craft was the first to take men to the moon?

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men to walk on the moon. Michael Collins joined them in space, but did not walk on the moon. He stayed in the command module.

Which spaceflight was intended to land on the moon, but had an accident that forced the crew to abort those plans?

Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise were aboard Apollo 13. The plans for the mission were changed after an explosion occurred and damaged an oxygen tank.

How many Gemini missions were there?

Each Gemini spacecraft held two people. The Gemini missions took place in 1965 and 1966.

Which of these is not a name of a Mars rover?

There have been seven Mars Rovers, 2 Soviet, 1 British and 4 Americans. In order of launch date, the rovers are Mars 2, Mars 3, Sojourner, Beagle 2, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.

Where did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon?

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon's surface. While there, they left medallions with the names of the three astronauts who died in the Apollo 1 accident and two cosmonauts who died in accidents.

What was the first successfully launched American satellite?

On Jan. 31, 1958, Explorer 1 was launched. A few months earlier, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union had successfully launched the first satellite ever. It was named Sputnik.

What does NASA stand for?

President Dwight Eisenhower proposed the creation of NASA to Congress on April 2, 1958. On July 29, 1958, NASA was created.

Which invention did NASA not have a hand in creating?

NASA's work has advanced more than space exploration. The organization has also helped create LEDs, water purification systems, wireless headsets and the Jaws of Life.

What is the name of the space craft that orbited Jupiter for almost 8 years?

Galileo discovered that Jupiter's moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water under its icy surface. The spacecraft also found that Jupiter's outermost ring is one ring with another one embedded in it.

From which Florida location does NASA launch?

NASA has five launch sites, including Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The other sites are Vandenberg Air Force Base, Wallops Island Flight Facility, Reagan Test Site and Kodiak Island.

What telescope was launched on April 24, 1990?

The space shuttle Discovery released the Hubble Space Telescope into space. Since its launch, Hubble has had five servicing missions to keep it operational. The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to replace the Hubble Space Telescope.

Who was the first person to record an original song on the International Space Station?

Chris Hadfield was not the first astronaut to play an instrument in space. That title goes to Walter M. Schirra Jr. and Thomas P. Stafford, who played "Jingle Bells" with some bells and a harmonica. They snuck the instruments onto Gemini 6.

Who was the oldest person in space?

In October 1998, John Glenn returned to space to became the oldest person to visit it. He was 77 years old and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Who was the only person to go to the moon twice, but never walked on it?

Jim Lovell was on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13. Over the course of his career, he logged over 700 hours in space.

Who was the second man to walk on the moon?

Buzz Aldrin was born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. In 1988, he made his nickname his legal first name. The name "Buzz" comes from his sister's mispronunciation of brother.

What body is the Parker Solar Probe going to explore?

On Nov. 5, 2018, the Parker Solar Probe became the first man-made object to explore the sun. Toward the end of the probe's mission, it will come within 4 million miles of the sun.

Which late night talk show host has a piece of equipment named after him?

Stephen Colbert ended up with a space treadmill named after him. Originally, the name "Colbert' won a contest to name a room on the International Space Station. When NASA declined to name the room Colbert, the organization decided to name the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT).

What was the name of the first American space station?

Skylab was launched on May 14, 1973. Its first crew launched approximately 10 days later. While Skylab would orbit the earth until it crashed back to earth on July 11, 1979, its last crew left in February 1974.

Which president gave NASA the goal of landing on the moon?

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the United States' intention to go to the moon. His goal was to overtake the Soviet Union in the Space Race. On July 20, 1969, Kennedy's vision was achieved.

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