Past Programs

The programs represented on this portal are highlighted due to their diversity and importance to NASA’s overall vision, and the technological advances they represent.


As NASA’s priorities change over time, missions are phased out or cancelled. NASA may choose to end support of successful programs after they have completed their original mission in order to support new scientific and exploratory goals. A good example of this is the Space Shuttle, which flew its last flight in July 2011 after more than thirty years of operations. [1]


Cancelled missions often represent years of work and millions of dollars of development. Despite their cancellation, these programs were a source of technological innovation and encompass many important capabilities NASA has developed over the years. Constellation was a manned spaceflight program that would have developed the capability to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020.  Funding for Constellation was cut in 2010, culminating in the eventual cancellation of the program. The program experienced many difficulties – it was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking critical technologies. [2]


Despite the cancellation of Constellation, NASA is still working towards technology solutions that will allow for U.S. human spaceflight in their new Journey to Mars Program. The goal of the program, outlined in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and in the U.S. National Space Policy, is to develop capabilities required to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s. [3]


The Trump Administration refocused the Nation’s space program on human exploration and discovery with a directive that was signed in December 2017. NASA’s new direction, called Moon to Mars, enables the organization to work with international partners and private industry to refocus exploration efforts on the moon, eventually looking to Mars and beyond. [4]

Updated September 2018 by Rachel Werth

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