There’s no denying that NASA had an exciting 2014. While some of the organization’s most memorable achievements involved them bringing humankind much closer on the journey to Mars, those weren’t the only amazing accomplishments to happen in space exploration this year and NASA doesn’t want you to forget that.
In an end-of-the-year roundup, NASA is highlighting its top stories and events of the year. A number of notable events involve the International Space Station, which NASA will continue to be involved with until at least 2024, thanks to an extension of its mission at the beginning of the year by the Obama administration. Not only did NASA contract Boeing and SpaceX to develop systems for transporting astronauts to the station to end their reliance on Russia, but the first-ever 3D-printed object created in space was made on the station as well.
Beyond our orbit, NASA spotlights the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission—the spacecraft had three of NASA’s instruments on board—which landed its probe successfully on a comet, and its own Kepler mission that led to the discovery of a new exoplanet, the first Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star in a habitable zone.
But it might be the events involving Mars that many will remember most. NASA announced it would be sending a new rover to Mars in 2020 and this year sent the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft into the red planet’s orbit to study the upper atmosphere.
“We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
The success of the Orion flight test was a major accomplishment that will hopefully be looked back on as the start of a new era of manned missions to deep space, and the start of us successfully sending astronauts to Mars and beyond.
Learn more about these and NASA’s other achievements in the video below and on their website.