Discovering the principles of space travel and rocketry
America was one of three nations that independently developed the fundamental principles of space travel and rocketry (the others being Russia and Germany). Robert Goddard, Hermann Oberth and Konstantin Tsiokovskii are the three fundamental discoverers of space flight.
From 1945 onward, the US was co-equal in developing large space launchers. Despite the myth of Von Braun and the "German rocket scientists", most large rocket development in the US came from indigenous designs and technology, developed by American teams. The Germans primarily contributed solutions to specific technical problems in rocketry encountered in the V-2 program. The Atlas launcher, the mainstay of American launches even to this day, used unique solutions distinct from those developed by the Germans.
The US was the leader in developing lightweight, miniaturized electronics for spaceflight
These technologies subsequently became the foundation of the Information Revolution. America’s space-application electronics are still the best in the world.
The US is the only nation that has sent humans beyond Low Earth Orbit or to other celestial bodies
America is also the only nation that has sent unmanned probes beyond Mars to the outer solar system.
The US created the Global Positioning System
The services of the GPS are available without charge or limitation to all people on Earth. Its only restriction is that it cannot be used to fire precision-guided missiles in combat without US permission.
The US created the basis for the international satellite communications system
It then made its technology available to start Intelsat, the original international satellite communications organization. This brought good communications to Third World nations decades sooner than other options would have allowed, and spurred the growth of many of the world’s emerging economies.
The US expanded its space station program to serve as the core of the International Space Station
This now includes the UK and other European nations as partners, as well as Canada, Japan and Russia. This is the broadest participation of any human exploration effort since the beginning of space travel.
The US is the centre of the growing private, entrepreneurial space launch and orbital facilities industry
This includes dozens of firms including Space Composites, which in 2004 launched the first privately financed, privately developed human-crewed flight to space, the SpaceShipOne. This industry now includes companies like Virgin Galactic, launched by the British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
The Moon and Mars: America’s vision for future space exploration
This programme, whose hardware is currently under development, envisions a long-term program for exploration and permanent occupation of the Moon and eventually Mars, which will be open to international participation in the same manner as the International Space Station.