For almost 60 years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been writing history and expanding our horizons – literally.
Since its founding in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower, NASA has delivered some of the most famous interstellar missions from the Apollo Moon landings to 135 Space Shuttle flights.
But the government agency is more than blockbuster movies, the International Space Station and future life on Mars. Watch six of NASA's underrated space missions – including a series of forgotten premieres, encouraging pioneers, and ongoing operations to learn the origins of our solar system.
Gemini 8 (1
The sixth manned space flight in the Gemini program of the NASA, 12th manned American flight and 22nd manned space flight of all time, Gemini 8 still managed to be the first.
Launched in 1966 with a crew of two by Neil Armstrong and David Scott, the planned three-day mission marked the first docking of two spaceships in orbit. In its fourth cosmic revolution, the shuttle was to meet and dock with an Agena target vehicle; four separate dockings were planned.
"Flight, we are docked!" Armstrong radioed after a successful first attempt to ground control. "Yes, it's really a smoothie."
But he spoke too early: the Gemini 8 began to ache, and as soon as she was undressed by the Agena she fell endlessly across the room. With a few switch flicks, the former naval aviator was able to stop the pitching and reentry of the maneuver (albeit only three days earlier).
The only other time this happened was Apollo 13.
Surveyor 1 (1966-67)
Although its mission took only 65 hours, Surveyor 1 is guaranteed to be one of the best anecdotes at any party.  Launched in 1966, the Lunar Module is the first US spacecraft to land gently on the moon. During his brief career (first contacted in January 1967), Surveyor 1 transmitted 11,237 photos of the lunar surface, allowing Earthbound scientists to collect substantial amounts of data for future Apollo flights.
Apollo 7 (1968)
The Apollo 7 United States program is one of the most famous in the world. But it's easy to forget the numerous attempts before we finally landed two people on the moon. One of the most important forerunners is Apollo 7.
Despite tensions between crew and ground control, the first three-headed US space mission (and the first to bring a live television broadcast from a US spacecraft) was a NASA success was the confidence to send Apollo 8 into orbit around the moon two months later
Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) (1989-1993)
From 1989 to 1993, the Cosmic Background Explorer (also known as Explorer 66) examined the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) of the Universe. His collected measurements provided two important pieces of evidence supporting the Big Bang theory.
Two of the main COBE investigators, George Smoot and John Mather, received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on this project.
Stardust was more of a touching romantic fantasy adventure by Neil Gaiman, but a robotic spacecraft whose Main task was to collect cosmic and comet dust for analysis.
During his nearly seven-year journey, the spacecraft traveled 3.5 billion miles, took pictures of the asteroid Annefrank, and collected samples of the comet Wild 2. The capsule returned to Earth in early 2006.
An extended mission codenamed NExT saw the Stardust Intercept Comet Temple 1, a small celestial body previously visited by Deep Impact in 2005. The probe ended operation in 2011.
as Part of NASA's Discovery program, Dawn is on a mission to visit the two largest bodies in the asteroid belt – Vesta and Ceres. 19659002] Almost four years after launch in 2007, the spacecraft entered the orbit of the protoplanet Vesta to complete a 14-month survey before turning to the dwarf planet Ceres in late 2012. More than two years later, Dawn reached her second destination and became the first spacecraft orbiting two alien bodies.
A third goal, though considered, was finally dismissed; The mission will continue until Dawn's hydrazine fuel expires (expected by the end of the year) and is expected to remain in stable orbit around Ceres.
The mission gives scientists new knowledge about how the solar system made 4.6 billion years ago.
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