For the Benefit of All: The NASA Quiz

By: Ed Grabianowski

For the Benefit of All: The NASA Quiz
Image: © Bryan Allen/Corbis

About This Quiz

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been exploring space for more than 50 years. How much do you know about the scientists, engineers, pilots and machines that carried America into space?
Which program lead to the United States' first crewed space flight?
Serenity
Apollo
Mercury
Between 1958 and 1961, Project Mercury put six men into space, including Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

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The first major repairs conducted by astronauts in space were performed on which spacecraft?
Skylab
Skylab was damaged at launch, but in 1973 the first crew was able to deploy a replacement heat shield and fix some jammed solar panels.
the Hubble Space Telescope
Sputnik II

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How many custom-tailored space suits did each primary crew member of an Apollo mission have?
one
three
Each primary crew member had a flight suit, a training suit and a backup flight suit. Depending on the specific Apollo mission, the suits cost roughly $100,000 to $400,000 each.
10

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Which space shuttle was the first to be launched into space?
Challenger
Columbia
Columbia's first launch was on April 12, 1981. It was destroyed during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003.
Discovery

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NASA was built on an existing government agency that had been doing space and rocketry research in the 1940s and 1950s. What was that agency?
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
When NASA was created in 1958, it took over NACA, including all of its employees and research projects.
Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Earth Defense Force (EDF)

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TIROS-1 was the first operational satellite to do what?
fire ballistic missiles at a moving target
observe weather from space
TIROS-1's success at observing weather significantly improved weather forecasting and led to the network of weather satellites in use today.
take clear photos of Russian military bases

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What species was the first living being launched into space by the U.S.?
dog
guinea pig
monkey
Albert I was a rhesus monkey, launched by NASA precursor NACA in 1948 aboard a V-2 Blossom rocket. The early animal launches were not intended to be recoverable, so all the animals died on impact when the rockets returned to Earth.

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Hundreds of human artifacts have been left on the moon, but only the Apollo 15 landing site contains money. How much cash is on the moon?
$1 million in gold bars
a single Kennedy 50-cent piece
$200
It was a tradition to bring currency on NASA flights then sell it as "space-flown currency" to collectors. However, 100 $2 bills were accidentally left on the lunar surface by the Apollo 15 crew.

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Which unmanned spacecraft performed the first flyby of Mars?
Mariner 4
Mariner 4 flew past Mars at a distance of roughly 6,100 miles in 1965. Mariner 3 and several Russian Mars missions had previously failed to reach the red planet.
Mariner 3
Telus 1

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The Apollo 13 mission was aborted for what reason?
A micrometeor strike punctured the command module.
A short circuit caused an explosion that left the craft with insufficient battery power.
The explosion forced the crew and NASA engineers to make fast, unorthodox repairs under extreme pressure to return the crew to Earth safely.
The heat shield was torn away at launch, making it likely the craft would overheat on re-entry.

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When was the last time humans walked on the moon?
2003
1967
1972
Apollo 17 put two men on the lunar surface in 1972. Not only has no human walked on the moon since then, but no human has left low Earth orbit.

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The National Aeronautics and Space Act is the law that created NASA. Which president signed it?
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Before reaching Eisenhower's desk, Congress added a declaration of policy to the bill that "activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind."
John F. Kennedy
Harry S. Truman

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Which space shuttle was the first to be built?
Columbia
Atlantis
Enterprise
Construction on Enterprise was completed in 1976. It flew a series of atmospheric test flights in 1977 but was never launched into space.

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In August 2013, the Mars Curiosity rover played the first song ever played on another planet. What song was it?
"Happy Birthday"
Performed by vibrating the rover's soil analysis tool at different frequencies, "Happy Birthday" was played to celebrate its one-year anniversary since arrival on Mars.
The Beatles' "Good Morning"
Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'"

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In what two years were the most new astronauts selected to join NASA?
1963 and 2002
1970 and 1985
1978 and 1996
The record for most astronauts selected in a single year is 35, which happened in both 1978 and 1996.

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Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, but who was the first American woman in space?
Linda M. Godwin
Shannon Lucid
Sally Ride
Tereshkova went to space for the Soviets in 1963; Sally Ride became NASA's first woman in space in 1983.

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What spacecraft is farther from Earth than any other human-made object?
Cassini
New Horizons
Voyager I
Voyager I, launched in 1977, has left the solar system entirely and is currently travelling through interstellar space. It was 1.99×1010 km away from Earth as of late 2015.

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Astronaut Scott Kelly holds an important record among American astronauts. What is it?
longest single space flight
Kelly (who definitely has a college degree) had been in space for more than 400 days as of December 2015, and his scheduled return to Earth in March 2016 would give him the international record for longest space flight as well, surpassing Russian Valeri Polyakov.
first astronaut without a college degree
first selfie in space

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What year did the space shuttle Challenger disintegrate shortly after launch?
1986
Following the 1986 disaster, there were no shuttle flights for nearly three years while the incident was investigated.
1999
1979

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When NASA selected the first astronauts in 1959, they had to meet a very specific physical requirement. What was it?
They had to be able to deadlift 250 pounds (113 kilograms).
They had to be 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) or shorter.
Anyone taller than 5 feet 11 inches would have had trouble fitting into the cramped space modules of the time. The space shuttle allowed astronauts up to six feet four inches tall.
They had to weigh 180 pounds or less.

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What was the largest, most powerful rocket ever made?
Antares 300
Saturn V
The Saturn V rockets were designed for the Apollo program but were also used to launch Skylab. The Soviet Energia rocket was nearly as powerful.
Atlas V

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Mariner 9 was the first U.S spacecraft to orbit Mars (or any other planet). What happened to it after its experiments were completed in 1972?
It crashed onto the Martian surface.
NASA mysteriously lost contact with it.
It remains in orbit around Mars today.
Its mission was an unqualified success, providing over 7,000 photos of the Martian surface. But Mariner 9 has been dormant, silently orbiting Mars for more than 40 years. In about 2022 its orbit will decay enough that it enters the Martian atmosphere and crashes to the surface.

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Gus Grissom, Edward White III and Roger Chaffee were the first Americans killed in a NASA spacecraft. On which mission were they killed?
Apollo 1
The three astronauts were killed during testing for Apollo 1, when faulty wiring ignited the pure oxygen in the command module.
Gemini 5
Mercury 5

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A 1993 NASA mission sent astronauts into space to complete a major repair. What did they fix?
faulty landing gear on space shuttle Atlantis
the Hubble Space Telescope's optics
Hubble has been repaired and upgraded five times since it was launched in 1990.
damaged solar cells on the Mir space station

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Space shuttle Discovery holds the record for orbiting Earth the most times during its career. How many orbits did it complete?
278
2,004
5,830
Discovery also holds the record for the most total time spent in-flight at just under 365 days.

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What was the goal of Project Gemini, which ran from 1961 to 1966?
to put an astronaut into orbit around Venus
to make astronomical observations from beyond Earth's atmosphere
to test and refine the equipment and techniques necessary to accomplish the planned moon missions
Gemini established that both crews and equipment could endure lengthy periods in space — long enough to get to the moon and back.

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The Telstar satellite performed the first publically available satellite television broadcast in 1962. What was the first broadcast?
a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs
The broadcast eventually included a speech by President Kennedy, but the baseball game was used as filler until he was ready.
a performance by Elvis Presley
a parade of U.S. troops at the National Mall in Washington

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When was the last time there were no Americans in space?
June 8, 2012
Nov. 2, 2000
The first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) docked on Nov. 2, 2000. There's been at least one American on the ISS ever since.
Aug. 28, 1987

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What were the first U.S. missions to reach the surface of Mars?
Centurion 4 and 5
Viking 1 and 2
Both Viking landers touched down on Martian soil in 1976.
Minuteman 8 and 9

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All space shuttle missions had the prefix "STS." What did this stand for?
Shuttle Technical Sequence
Shuttle Transport Schedule
Space Transportation System
Although the mission numbering system was changed several times, resulting in a mix of numbers and letters, all shuttle missions had the "Space Transportation System" prefix.

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You Got:
/30
© Bryan Allen/Corbis

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