Space Travel

  • Sputnik 1

    Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth, is launched by the U.S.S.R., and remains in orbit until January 4, 1958
  • Explorer 1

    Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite in orbit, lifts off at Cape Canaveral using a modified ABMA-JPL Jupiter-C rocket. It carries a scientific experiment of James A. Van Allen, and discovers the Earth's radiation belt.
  • Vanguard 1

    Vanguard 1 satellite is launched into orbit, and continues to transmit for 3 years.
  • Pioneer 1

    Pioneer 1, U.S. - IGY space probe, launched to a height of 70,700 miles.
  • Luna 1

    Luna 1, first man-made satellite to orbit the moon, is launched by the U.S.S.R.
  • Tiros 1

    Tiros 1, the first successful weather satellite, is launched by the U.S.
  • Discover XIV

    Discoverer XIV launches the first U.S. camera-equipped Corona spy satellite.
  • Vostok 1

    Vostok 1 is launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying Cosmonaut Yuri A. Gargarin, the first man in space. He orbits the Earth once.
  • Freedom 7

    Mercury Freedom 7 carries Alan B. Shepard,Jr., the first U.S. Astronaut into space, in a suborbital flight.
  • Friendship 7

    Mercury Friendship 7 lifts off with John H. Glenn, Jr., the first American in orbit, and orbits the Earth three times
  • Auora 7

    Mercury Aurora 7 is launched with M. Scott Carpenter, making three orbits.
  • Telstar 1

    Telstar 1, U.S. satellite, beams the first live transatlantic telecast.
  • Mariner 2

    U.S. Mariner 2, the first successful planetary spacecraft, flies past Venus, and enters a solar orbit.
  • Ranger 7

    U.S. Ranger 7 relays the first close-range photographs of the Moon.
  • Gemini 3

    First manned flight of the Gemini program, Gemini 3 carrying Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young. Made three orbits around the earth.
  • Venus 3

    Soviet Venus 3 is launched, becoming the first craft to impact Venus on March 1, 1966.
  • Gemini 6 Rendezvous

    American astronauts Walter Schirra, Jr. and Thomas Stafford in Gemini 6 make the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7.
  • Venera 3

    Soviet Venera 3 impacts on Venus, the first spacecraft to reach another planet. It fails to return data.
  • Surveyor 1

    Surveyor 1 is the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon.
  • U.S. Lunar Orbiter 1

    U.S. Lunar Orbiter 1 enters moon orbit, and takes the first picture of the Earth from the distance of the moon.
  • Lunar Orbiter 1

    U.S. Lunar Orbiter 1 enters moon orbit, and takes the first picture of the Earth from the distance of the moon.
  • Soviet Soyuz 1

    Soviet Soyuz 1 is launched, carrying Vladimir M. Komarov. On April 24 it crashed, killing Komarov, the first spaceflight fatality.
  • Apollo 8

    Apollo 8 is launched with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr. and William A. Anders, the first Apollo to use the Saturn V rocket, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, making 10 orbits on its 6-day mission.
  • Apollo 11

    Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. make the first manned soft landing on the Moon, and the first moonwalk, using Apollo 11.
  • Apollo 13

    Apollo 13 is launched, suffering an explosion in its SM oxygen tanks. Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr. and Fred W. Haise, Jr., return safely.
  • Apollo 14

    Apollo 14 moon mission is launched by the U.S. with the legendary Alan Shepard, along with Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell on board. They land in the planned Apollo 13 site, the Fra Mauro highlands, which they explore with the help of a two-wheeled cart that permits the transport of a significantly greater quantity of lunar material than previous missions. Shepard becomes the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon.
  • International Rendezvous

    American Apollo (18) and Soviet Soyuz 19 dock, the first international spacecraft rendezvous.
  • Challenger

    The space shuttle Challenger lifts off for its first mission (STS-6) and has the first American space walk in nine years. Crew: Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Donald Peterson, and Story Musgrave.
  • Galaxy is Small

    Astronomers find that our galaxy is smaller than they thought and the Sun is 23,000 light-years from it's center.
  • Galileo

    U.S. launches the Galileo spacecraft from Shuttle Atlantis flight STS-34, which took infrared images of Venus, and images of the asteroid Ida, before continuing to Jupiter.
  • Hubble Space Telescope

    Space Shuttle Discovery launches on STS-31, deploying the Edwin P. Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astronomical observatory.
  • NEAR

    NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) probe passes the asteroid Mathilde on its way to meeting up with 433 Eros.
  • Cassini/Higgins

    launch of the double probe Cassini/Huygens aimed at Saturn. This is probably the most ambitious and complex unmanned planetary project ever attempted, costing more than $2.5 billion and involving 17 nations and hundreds of scientists from the U.S. and Europe. It carries a sophisticated camera package and 11 other instruments aimed at performing 19 experiments on the ringed planet. It will arrive at Saturn in 2004 will orbit Saturn up to 60 times sending back closeup photographs of Saturn's rings
  • Lunar Prospector

    Lunar Prospector is the first NASA mission to the Moon in 25 years, and the first dedicated to lunar research since Apollo 17 in 1972. The spacecraft is placed in lunar orbit to make a careful spectroscopic analysis of the entire lunar surface, including its North and South poles, and soon confirms what the Department of Defense Clementine mission had found in 1994 - that trapped within some of the craters at the Moon's two poles is about 6.6 trillion tons of permanently frozen water ice.
  • Mir is de-orbited

    fifteen years after its first launch, and after nearly 10 years of continuous occupation by astronauts, the Mir space station is de-orbited, breaking up in the atmosphere and impacting in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Mars Odyessy

    the 2001 Mars Odyssey probe is launched on a trajectory for Mars orbit to be achieved in October, with a mission similar to that of the Mars Climate Orbiter launched December 1998. Mars Odyssey successfully enters Mars orbit on October 24th.
  • Microwave Anisotropy Probe

    NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) is launched on a trajectory for a gravity boost past the moon to a position 1.5 million km outside Earth's orbit. From that position it is to measure cosmic background radiation from the dark extragalactic sky.
  • Genesis

    Launch of Genesis, which would collect samples of atoms from solar wind. Genesis would be the first attempt to return samples to Earth since the Apollo moon mission in 1972.
  • Deep Space 1

    Deep Space 1 successfully completes its flyby of comet 19P/Borrelly.
  • Spirit and Opportunity

    Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity launch.
  • SpaceShipOne

    SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately built craft to reach outer space.
  • Phoenix

    Phoenix lander launches on its way to explore the northern pole of Mars.
  • Herschel and Planck

    The Herschel space observatory and the probe Planck launched. Planck is Europe's first mission to study the relic radiation from the Big Bang. Also this year, ESA astronaut Frank De Winne became the first European commander of an ISS expedition. And ESA has selected new astronauts, for the first time since 1992: there are two Italian, one French, one Dane, one German and one Briton, Timothy Peake.