This summer, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Take this quiz to find find out how NASA knowledgeable you really are.

You consider yourself a staunch supporter of space travel. As a child, you spent many a day lying under your mother's dining room table, pushing imaginary overhead buttons in your very own spaceship. When Apollo 13 opened in movie theaters, you spent all 140 excruciating minutes questioning its historic accuracy while your date slumped over snoozing. You even know that Starfleet Headquarters is located in San Francisco.

But how much do you really know about NASA, the US agency that's been pushing to explore that final frontier for the last fifty years?

1) In 2008, Speedo launched the LZR Racer suit, a swimsuit made from high-technology swimwear fabric, developed in association with NASA. Since its debut, how many world records have been broken by swimmers wearing the LZR Racer?*

a. 39

b. 45

c. 58

d. 62

*1 Point bonus question: FS Pro is the precursor to Speedo's LZR Racer. How many swimming world records did FS Pro break? 

2) In 1958, which US President signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, officially establishing NASA?

a. John F. Kennedy

b. Harry S. Truman

c. Dwight D. Eisenhower

d. Lyndon B. Johnson

3) Who is the only astronaut to have hit a golf ball on the moon?

a. James Lovell Jr. 

b. John Glenn

c. Alan B. Shepard

d. Michael Phelps

4) What is NASA's motto?

a. For the benefit of all.

b. Through space and time.

c. For tomorrow's future. 

d. To infinity and further. 

5) We've all heard the joke--NASA spent $11 million developing a zero-g capable space pen, when the Soviets just used pencils. The truth is:

a. The lead and wood from a broken pencil tip caused an explosion during NASA testing, so it's lucky they designed it. 

b. An inventor named Fisher created the space pen and marketed it to NASA

c. Regular ballpoint pens work just fine and are still NASA's number one pick

d. NASA really spent twice that amount

6) Following the USSR's launch of Sputnik, the first successful launch of an artificial satellite, NASA launched Explorer 1 in 1958, which is known for discovering what? 

a. Earth's magnetic field

b. Venus's dense carbon dioxide atmosphere

c. The Van Allen Radiation Belt

d. The Northwest Passage

7) NASA's first human spaceflight program specialized in orbital and sub-orbital flight, with capsules only large enough to hold one pilot. What was the program called?

a. Project Mercury

b. Space Surveyor Program

c. STARS Mission

d. Project Gemini

8) Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first people to walk on the moon, traveled there on which Apollo spacecraft?

a. Apollo 9

b. Apollo 10 

c. Apollo 11

d. Apollo 12

9) What is Skylab?

a. A US space laboratory based in Puerto Rico

b. The first space station launched into orbit by the United States

c. A future space station stop for astronauts traveling to Mars 

d. A totally made up lab in a sci-fi movie starring a cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger

10) On December 4, 2006, NASA announced what? 

a. Data supporting life on Mars

b. The exclusion of Pluto as a planet

c. Plans to build a permanent moon base

d. A joint venture with SETI 

11) The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint collaboration between NASA and who?

a. The European Space Agency

b. The Russian Federal Space Agency

c. China Aerospace Science And Technology Corporation

d. The United Federation of Planets

12) John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA's space vehicle launch facility and Launch Control Center is located where?

a. Merritt Island, Florida

b. Alamogordo, New Mexico

c. Houston, Texas

d. Roswell, New Mexico

13) The Shuttle-Mir Program was a collaborative effort between Russia and the US, where US space shuttles and astronauts visited Russian space station Mir, and Russian cosmonauts flew on US shuttles. 'Mir' is the Russian word for what?

a. Future

b. Community

c. Both 'Peace' and 'World'

d. Both 'Sun' and 'Star' 

14) In 1989, Space Shuttle Atlantis launched Galileo, an unmanned NASA spacecraft sent to study which planet?

a. Neptune

b. Jupiter

c. Uranus

d. Saturn

15) In 1992, NASA and CNES, the French space agency, launched a joint satellite mission called TOPEX/Poseidon? What is its purpose?

a. To map Callisto, one of Jupiter's moons, which is suspected to have a salt water ocean

b. To map the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of the Moon

c. To map Neptune's atmosphere shifts

d. To map Earth's ocean surface topography 


1)   d. 62. The LZR Racer suit ranges from $300-$550 depending on the style. But then again, Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in 2008, and Speedo awarded him a cool $1 million, so the suit might be worth it. 

*1 Point bonus answer: The FS Pro saw swimmers break 21 world records. 

2)  c. Dwight D. Eisenhower. NASA's earliest programs were conducted under pressure of competition between the US and the USSR.

3)  c. Alan B. Shepard. Shepard claimed that the golf ball went for "miles and miles and miles," but it later was estimated to have traveled 200-400 yards. 

4)  a. For the benefit of all. 

5)  b. An inventor named Fisher created the space pen and marketed it to NASA. Paul C. Fisher invented the Space Pen, which uses pressurized ink cartridges and is claimed to write in zero gravity, underwater, upside down, over wet paper and in extreme temperatures. 

6)  c. The Van Allen Radiation Belt. The belt is a revolution of energetic charged particles around Earth. 

7)  a. Project Mercury. Mercury launched 20 robotic flights, but four included non-human primates. One was named Sam, a Rhesus Macaque.

8)  c. Apollo 11. Armstrong's first words on the moon were, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Contrary to popular belief, there was no mention of a Mr. Gorsky.

9)  b. The first space station launched into orbit by the United States. In 1979, Skylab reentered the Earth's atmosphere over portions of the Indian Ocean and Western Australia. 

10)  c. Plans to build a permanent moon base. NASA's lunar architecture team decided a permanent base would be better than conducting individual missions, as in the Apollo in the 1960's and 1970's. 

11)  a. The European Space Agency. The telescope was named after Edwin Powell Hubble, an American astronomer, who was often called a "pioneer of distant stars."

12)  a. Merritt Island, Florida. The site is near Cape Canaveral.

13)  c. Both 'Peace' and 'World'. The last NASA astronaut aboard Mir was Andy Thomas, who wrote several letters to friends and family documenting, "A Typical Day on Space Station Mir."

14)  b. Jupiter. The spacecraft was named after Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer who discovered Jupiter's four largest satellites, which are today called Galilean moons.

15)  d. To map Earth's ocean surface topography. After 62,000 orbits, TOPEX/Poseidon stopped providing science data after a momentum wheel malfunctioned, and was turned off in January of 2006.


Cosmo NOT
0-4 Correct

Sorry. Box up your Tang and freeze-dried snacks, because you'll be waiting until NASA begins civilian shuttle transport to the moon before you travel into space. 

Quasi Stellar
5-9 Correct

Almost there. Sci-fi is more your gig, but you enjoy the occasional meteor shower and lunar eclipse. Visit Cape Canaveral to watch a launch--the sight might inspire your dormant space aspirations. 

Houston, We Have A Winner
10-13 Correct

Stellar performance! You're a big space fan, but not quite ready to abandon your earthly roots for cold space. Head over to Houston where there's a place for you at NASA's Mission Control Center.

14-15 Correct

Congratulations! You've eclipsed them all! Ditch your desk job and give NASA a call. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the next astronaut to tee off on the moon!