Encyclopedia Astronautica
NASA Ames


American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Ames, USA.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • M1 Ames' original design for a blunt lifting body. Technical details are for single-crew version proposed in 1958 as a lower-cost alternate to Dynasoar. More...
  • M2b Version of M2 lifting body proposed in 1958 as an alternate to the Dynasoar winged glider configuraiton. More...
  • AX-Series American space suit, tested 1964-68. Between 1964 and 1968 two hard suit assemblies were developed at NASA-ARC, identified as the AX-1 (Ames Experimental) and AX-2. These suits were the first to demonstrate multiple bearing technology. More...
  • Pioneer 6-7-8-9-E American solar satellite. 5 launches, 1965.12.16 (Pioneer 6) to 1969.08.27 (Pioneer E). Pioneers 6, 7, 8, and 9 were created to make the first detailed, comprehensive measurements of the solar wind, solar magnetic field and cosmic rays. More...
  • Pioneer 10-11 American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1972.03.03 (Pioneer 10) to 1973.04.06 (Pioneer 11). Pioneers 10 and 11 were the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter (Pioneer 10 and 11) and Saturn (Pioneer 11 only). More...
  • Pioneer 12 American Venus probe. One launch, 1978.05.20, Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Part of the Pioneer program Pioneer Venus Orbiter was designed to perform long-term observations of the Venusian atmosphere and surface features. More...
  • Pioneer 13 American Venus probe. 5 launches, 1978.08.08 (Pioneer Venus 2) to (Pioneer Venus Probe 4). The Pioneer Venus Multiprobe consisted of a bus which carried one large and three small atmospheric probes. More...
  • AX-5 American space suit, tested 1985. The AX-5 high pressure, zero prebreathe hard suit was developed at NASA Ames Research Center in the 1980s. It achieved mobility through a constant volume, using a hard metal/composite rigid exoskeleton design. More...
  • Genesat American biology satellite. One launch, 2006.12.16. Genesat was a NASA Ames nanosatellite launched as a secondary payload. More...

See also
  • Agency Agencies or institutions overseeing design, development, construction, or operation of space-related systems. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Gommersall American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Edward Gomersall of NASA's Ames Research Center produced a conservative design for an SSTO in 1970. His vehicle was based on realistic structural technology and used a derivative of the J-2S engine. More...

Associated Programs
  • Discovery The Discovery program was begun by NASA in the early 1990s as the planetary counterpart to the Explorer program. More...
  • Pioneer The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and to escape from the solar system. More...

NASA Ames Chronology


1965 December 16 - . 07:31 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta E. LV Configuration: Thor Delta E 460/D35.
  • Pioneer 6 - . Payload: Pioneer A. Mass: 63 kg (138 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: Pioneer 6-7-8-9-E. USAF Sat Cat: 1841 . COSPAR: 1965-105A. Summary: Measured solar wind, Sun's magnetic field. Solar Orbit (Heliocentric). Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1966 August 17 - . 15:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta E1. LV Configuration: Thor Delta E1 462/D40.
  • Pioneer 7 - . Payload: Pioneer B. Mass: 63 kg (138 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: Pioneer 6-7-8-9-E. USAF Sat Cat: 2398 . COSPAR: 1966-075A. Apogee: 993 km (617 mi). Perigee: 246 km (152 mi). Inclination: 33.0000 deg. Period: 97.20 min. Summary: Monitored solar wind, cosmic rays. SOLAR ORB. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1966 December 14 - . 19:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta G. LV Configuration: Thor Delta G 471/D43.
  • Biosatellite 1 - . Payload: Biosat 1. Mass: 425 kg (936 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: Biosatellite. Decay Date: 1967-02-15 . USAF Sat Cat: 2631 . COSPAR: 1966-114C. Apogee: 309 km (192 mi). Perigee: 295 km (183 mi). Inclination: 33.5000 deg. Period: 90.40 min. Reentry into the Earth's atmosphere was not achieved because the retrorocket failed to ignite. The biosatellite was never recovered. Although the scientific objectives of the mission were not accomplished, the Biosatellite I experience provided technical confidence in the program because of excellent performance in most other areas.

1967 September 7 - . 22:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta G. LV Configuration: Thor Delta G 475/D51.
  • Biosatellite 2 - . Payload: Biosat 2. Mass: 507 kg (1,117 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: Biosatellite. Decay Date: 1967-09-15 . USAF Sat Cat: 2935 . COSPAR: 1967-083A. Apogee: 318 km (197 mi). Perigee: 297 km (184 mi). Inclination: 33.5000 deg. Period: 90.70 min. Biological capsule recovered. The scientific payload, consisting of 13 select biology and radiation experiments, was exposed to microgravity during 45 hours of Earth-orbital flight. Experimental biology packages on the spacecraft contained a variety of specimens, including insects, frog eggs, microorganisms and plants. The planned three-day mission was recalled early because of the threat of a tropical storm in the recovery area, and because of a communication problem between the spacecraft and the tracking systems. The primary objective of the Biosatellite II mission was to determine if organisms were more, or less, sensitive to ionizing radiation in microgravity than on Earth. To study this question, an artificial source of radiation was supplied to a group of experiments mounted in the forward part of the spacecraft.

1967 December 13 - . 14:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta E1. LV Configuration: Thor Delta E1 489/D55.
  • Pioneer 8 - . Payload: Pioneer C / TTS 1. Mass: 63 kg (138 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: Pioneer 6-7-8-9-E. USAF Sat Cat: 3066 . COSPAR: 1967-123A. Summary: Solar radiation data. Solar Orbit (Heliocentric). Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1968 November 8 - . 09:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta E1. LV Configuration: Thor Delta E1 479/D60.
  • Pioneer 9 - . Payload: Pioneer D / TTS 2. Mass: 63 kg (138 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: Pioneer 6-7-8-9-E. USAF Sat Cat: 3533 . COSPAR: 1968-100A. Summary: Solar radiation data. Solar Orbit (Heliocentric). Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B)..

1969 June 29 - . 03:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta N. LV Configuration: Thor Delta N 539/D70.
  • Biosatellite 3 - . Payload: Biosat 3. Mass: 695 kg (1,532 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: Biosatellite. Decay Date: 1970-01-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 4000 . COSPAR: 1969-056A. Apogee: 374 km (232 mi). Perigee: 363 km (225 mi). Inclination: 33.5000 deg. Period: 92.00 min. Biological capsule reentered 7/7/69. The intent had been to fly a 6 kg male pig-tailed monkey (Macaca nemestrina) named Bonnie in Earth-orbit for 30 days. However, after only 8.8 days in orbit, the mission was terminated because of the subject's deteriorating health. High development costs were a strong incentive for maximising the scientific return from the mission. Because of this, the scientific goals had become exceedingly ambitious over time, and a great many measurements were conducted on the single research subject flown. Although the mission was highly successful from a technical standpoint, the science results were apparently compromised. Additional Details: here....

1970 November 9 - . 06:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA3A. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B. LV Configuration: Scout B S174C.
  • OFO 1 - . Payload: OFO 1 / RM 1. Mass: 133 kg (293 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: OFO. Decay Date: 1971-05-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 4690 . COSPAR: 1970-094A. Apogee: 518 km (321 mi). Perigee: 304 km (188 mi). Inclination: 37.4000 deg. Period: 92.60 min. Orbiting Frog Otolith. The satellite carrying the OFO-A experiment remained in orbit for almost seven days. Recovery of the spacecraft was not planned. The payload was the Frog Otolith Experiment Package (FOEP). The objective of the experiment was to investigate the effect of microgravity on the otolith, a sensory organ that responds to changes in an animal's orientation within the Earth's gravitational field. Two bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) were used as experimental subjects in the flight experiment. Additional Details: here....

1971 June 20 - . 15:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Kindley. LV Family: Arcas. Launch Vehicle: Arcas.
  • PAET Arcasonde Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 55 km (34 mi).

1971 June 20 - . 17:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Kindley. LV Family: Viper. Launch Vehicle: Viper-Dart.
  • PAET Sphere Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 85 km (52 mi).

1971 June 20 - . 22:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Kindley. LV Family: Arcas. Launch Vehicle: Arcas.
  • PAET Arcasonde Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 55 km (34 mi).

1971 June 21 - . 00:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Kindley. LV Family: Viper. Launch Vehicle: Viper-Dart.
  • PAET Sphere Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 85 km (52 mi).

1972 March 3 - . 01:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-27 / Centaur D-1A 5007C.
  • Pioneer 10 - . Payload: Pioneer F. Mass: 259 kg (570 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 10-11. USAF Sat Cat: 5860 . COSPAR: 1972-012A. Jupiter flyby December 1973; first man-made object to leave solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on December 3, 1973, when it reached approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km). As of Jan. 1, 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. Additional Details: here....

1973 April 6 - . 02:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3D. LV Configuration: SLV-3D Centaur AC-30 / Centaur D-1AR 5011D.
  • Pioneer 11 - . Payload: Pioneer G. Mass: 259 kg (570 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 10-11. USAF Sat Cat: 6421 . COSPAR: 1973-019A. Jupiter flyby December 1974; Saturn flyby September 1979. Solar system escape trajectory. Pioneer 11 was the second mission to investigate Jupiter and the outer solar system and the first to explore the planet Saturn and its main rings. Pioneer 11, like Pioneer 10, used Jupiter's gravitational field to alter its trajectory radically. It passed close to Saturn and then it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. During its closest approach, December 4, 1974, Pioneer 11 passed to within 34,000 km of Jupiter's cloud tops. It passed by Saturn on September 1, 1979, at a distance of 21,000 km from Saturn's cloud tops. The spacecraft has operated on a backup transmitter since launch. Instrument power sharing began in February 1985 due to declining RTG power output. Science operations and daily telemetry ceased on September 30, 1995 when the RTG power level was insufficient to operate any experiments. As of the end of 1995 the spacecraft was located at 44.7 AU from the Sun at a nearly asymptotic latitude of 17.4 degrees above the solar equatorial plane and was heading outward at 2.5 AU/year. Routine tracking and project data processing operations were terminated on March 31, 1997 for budget reasons.

1978 May 20 - . 13:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3D. LV Configuration: SLV-3D Centaur AC-50 / Centaur D-1AR 5030.
  • Pioneer Venus Orbiter - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 1. Mass: 582 kg (1,283 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 12. Decay Date: 1992-10-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 10911 . COSPAR: 1978-051A. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter was inserted into an elliptical orbit around Venus on December 4, 1978. After entering orbit around Venus in 1978, the spacecraft returned global maps of the planet's clouds, atmosphere and ionosphere, measurements of the atmosphere-solar wind interaction, and radar maps of 93 percent of the planet's surface. Additionally, the vehicle made use of several opportunities to make systematic UV observations of several comets. From Venus orbit insertion to July 1980, periapsis was held between 142 and 253 km (at 17 degrees north latitude) to facilitate radar and ionospheric measurements. The spacecraft was in a 24 hour orbit with an apoapsis of 66,900 km. Thereafter, the periapsis was allowed to rise (to 2290 km at maximum) and then fall, to conserve fuel. In 1991 the Radar Mapper was reactivated to investigate previously inaccessible southern portions of the planet. In May 1992 Pioneer Venus began the final phase of its mission, in which the periapsis was held between 150 and 250 km until the fuel ran out and atmospheric entry destroyed the spacecraft. With a planned primary mission duration of only eight months, the spacecraft remained in operation until October 8, 1992 when it finally burned up in Venus' atmosphere after running out of propellant.

1978 August 8 - . 07:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3D. LV Configuration: SLV-3D Centaur AC-51 / Centaur D-1AR 5031.
  • Pioneer Venus 2 - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 2. Mass: 904 kg (1,992 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 13. Decay Date: 1978-12-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 11001 . COSPAR: 1978-078A. The Pioneer Venus Multiprobe consisted of a bus which carried one large and three small `atmospheric probes. The large probe was released on November 16, 1978 and the three small probes on November 20. All four probes entered the Venus atmosphere on December 9, followed by the bus. The small probes were each targeted at different parts of the planet and were named accordingly. The North probe entered the atmosphere at about 60 degrees north latitude on the day side. The night probe entered on the night side. The day probe entered well into the day side, and was the only one of the four probes which continued to send radio signals back after impact, for over an hour. With no heat shield or parachute, the bus survived and made measurements only to about 110 km altitude before burning up. It afforded the only direct view of the upper Venus atmosphere, as the probes did not begin making direct measurements until they had decelerated lower in the atmosphere.
  • Pioneer Venus Probe 4 - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 2. Mass: 90 kg (198 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 13. Decay Date: 1978-12-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 12106 . COSPAR: 1978-078G.
  • Pioneer Venus Probe 1 - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 2. Mass: 315 kg (694 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 13. Decay Date: 1978-12-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 12103 . COSPAR: 1978-078D.
  • Pioneer Venus Probe 2 - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 2. Mass: 90 kg (198 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 13. Decay Date: 1978-12-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 12104 . COSPAR: 1978-078E.
  • Pioneer Venus Probe 3 - . Payload: Pioneer-Venus 2. Mass: 90 kg (198 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 13. Decay Date: 1978-12-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 12105 . COSPAR: 1978-078F.

1998 January 7 - . 02:28 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC46. Launch Pad: SLC46. LV Family: Athena. Launch Vehicle: Athena-2. LV Configuration: Athena-2 LM-004.
  • Lunar Prospector - . Payload: Discovery 3. Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Program: Discovery. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Lunar Prospector. Decay Date: 1999-07-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 25131 . COSPAR: 1998-001A. The Lunar Prospector was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events. Data from the 1 to 3 year mission will allow construction of a detailed map of the surface composition of the Moon, and will improve understanding of the origin, evolution, current state, and resources of the Moon. After launch, the Lunar Prospector had a 105 hour cruise to the Moon, followed by insertion into a near-circular 100 km altitude lunar polar orbit with a period of 118 minutes. The nominal mission duration was one year.

1998 September 18 - . 15:00 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Black Brant. Launch Vehicle: Black Brant 9. LV Configuration: Black Brant IX NASA 36.150NP.
  • SOAREX-1 Hypersonic test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

2002 December 18 - . 11:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Vehicle: HYSR.
  • SOAREX-2 Technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Apogee: 70 km (43 mi). First test flight of a large hybrid propulsion system. The Suborbital Aerodynamic Reentry Experiment payload, a joint project between Ames and Wallops, included a 'wave rider' flying wedge, a linear aerobrake (or hypersonic parachute), and a Slotted Compression Ramp Probe (SCRAMP), a super stable planetary reentry probe. The wedge was 127 centimeters long and was to free fly like a glider after deployment.

2006 December 16 - . 12:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA0B. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1.
  • GeneSat-1 - . Mass: 7.00 kg (15.40 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Manufacturer: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 29654 . COSPAR: 2006-058B. Apogee: 426 km (264 mi). Perigee: 410 km (250 mi). Inclination: 40.0100 deg. Period: 92.93 min. Nanosatellite launched as a secondary payload. A collaboration of NASA, industry, and local universities resulted in this fully-automated, miniaturized spaceflight system that provided life support, nutrient delivery, and performed assays to monitor genetic changes of E. coli bacteria in space conditions.

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