Space Briefing Book:
Civil Space Agencies
Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team
Within the U.S. government, civil space endeavors are managed primarily by NASA or NOAA, with input from other civil agencies.
Founded in 1958, NASA is the primary space agency for the U.S. government. With its headquarters in Washington, DC, NASA’s research, development and operations are spread across centers around the country.
NOAA is charged with studying Earth’s climate, weather and oceans, as well as how solar phenomena affect Earth. Among its space-related functions, NOAA manages the National Weather Service, remote-sensing satellite constellations and the Space Weather Prediction Center.
The FAA is a regulatory and policymaking body in commercial space activities through its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). Via AST, the FAA grants licenses, permits, and approvals for launch and reentry, and it sets regulations and policies for commercial spaceflight.
Probes, satellites and rovers require long-term power sources. DOE oversees the production of nuclear-fueled radioisotope power systems (RPSs), which convert heat from the decay of radioactive material into electrical power.