Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. becomes the first American in space. Aboard the Freedom 7, he flies above Earth for 14.8 minutes and attains a speed of 5,100 mph.
Circling the earth
Despite a loose heat shield and an autopilot failure that forces him to manually pilot the craft, John Glenn becomes the first American to circle the Earth. Glenn orbits Earth three times aboard the Friendship 7 and becomes a national hero.
Apollo 8 Orbits the Moon
The three-astronaut crew of Apollo 8 %u2014 Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr. and William A. Anders %u2014 orbits the moon. The crew arrives at the moon on Christmas Eve and sends images and Christmas greetings to the world. It is the first time that huma
Apollo 11's Giant Leap for Mankind
Apollo 11 takes Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. While Michael Collins orbits in the Apollo command module, Armstrong and Aldrin land on the lunar surface. There, Armstrong utters the now oft-quoted line "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind"
A Close Call for Apollo 13
Apollo 13 almost ends in disaster. Fifty-six hours into flight, one of the spacecraft's oxygen tanks ruptures, severely damaging the power and life-support systems.
Apollo Moon Rover
Apollo 15 completes the first long, expedition-style lunar landing mission. The crew explores the moon's surface with the first lunar rover, and they return with some of the finest samples of moon rock.
Rendezvous with Russia
The first international human space flight, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, tests the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft to pave the way for future joint missions.
The Shuttle era begins
First flight of the Columbia shuttle, the first "reusable," airplane-like craft to fly in space.
Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy
The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch, killing its crew of seven. A leak in one of the spacecraft's solid rocket boosters ignites the main liquid fuel tank as billions around the world watch. The accident prompts a thorough review.
The Columbia Disaster
Fifteen minutes before its landing time, the Space Shuttle Columbia's 28th flight ends in tragedy. Foam falling from the shuttle's external tank cracks the underside of its left wing, destroying the shuttle's protection from the intense heat upon reentering the atmosphere.