Since President Dwight D. Eisenhower set up NASA in 1958, the space agency has landed men on the moon and discovered new planets. It has explored Mars and even sent a satellite to Jupiter. It is one of the most high-profile agencies in the United States. Yet there’s still plenty about the organization you probably don’t know. These eye-opening insider secrets reveal some of the crazy truths behind NASA’s incredible history.
1. NASA was once sued for landing on Mars
In 1997 three Yemeni men took legal action against NASA for landing a spacecraft on Mars. They claimed that they’d inherited the planet 3,000 years ago and could even back it up with the necessary documents. Of course, it didn’t take long for NASA to shoot down the ridiculous lawsuit. An international treaty signed in 1967 states that everything beyond Earth is the property of humanity, rather than a single nation — or three men.
2. There’s a NASA program to protect aliens from human bacteria
Just in case we ever do find life beyond Earth, NASA has set up its own Office of Planetary Protection. That’s not to protect us from them, however. It’s actually to keep them safe from us, ensuring no bacteria traveling from Earth can contaminate the other planets.
3. NASA hopes to send humans to Mars by 2030
NASA will land humans on Mars by 2030. Or at least, that’s its current aim, as outlined by former president Barack Obama. The initial mission will involve just getting astronauts there and back again. But further down the line, NASA wants to send humans there for “an extended time,” as Obama put it.
4. The original moon-landing tapes were wiped
In 2006 NASA admitted to the blunder of a lifetime: the original tapes of the 1969 moon landings were nowhere to be found. When they eventually turned up, they were blank — having been erased and re-used to cut costs. Luckily, CBS still had a few decent copies of the original news broadcast on hand, saving the blushes of pretty much the entire organization.