• Jul 17, 1000

    Leif Ericsson

    explored northern Atlantic, made voyage to what is now North America, first European to reach the Americas, not given credit for discovery because of no permanent settlements or return voyages
  • Period: Oct 10, 1249 to Jun 4, 1271

    Marco Polo

    traveled to China, served in Kublai Khan's court, returned to Italy with tales of glory and riches, his writings about his adventures encouraged later exploration
  • Apr 9, 1419

    Prince Henry The Navigator

    Prince Henry The Navigator
    no actual voyages, paid for and sponsored schools for improvements in sailing and boat design, increased technology available to European sailors such as the compass and astrolabe, ideas on improving ship design, and gathering information for the drawing of new, more accurate maps
  • Period: Jun 13, 1453 to Mar 1, 1524

    Giovanni da Verrazano

    explored east coast of North America from North Carolina to Labrador, looking for the Northwest Passage, later killed in Brazil while exploring the islands of the Caribbean and northern South America
  • Jan 27, 1488

    Bartolomeu Dias

    explored west coast of Africa, first European to sail around southern tip of Africa, was "blown" around Africa in a storm and wanted to call it Cape of Storms but King John II of Portugal named it Cape of Good Hope
  • Oct 12, 1492

    Christopher Columbus

    ventured west to reach the East (Asia), discovered New World, made four voyages to the Caribbean, established Spanish colonies in the New World, died still thinking he found a route to Asia
  • May 20, 1498

    Vasco Da Gama

    first man to reach India by sailing around southern tip of Africa, five ships loaded with spices and other materials, only two of his ships made it back to Portugal, but the value of his cargo paid for the expense of the trip 60 times over
  • Aug 3, 1499

    Amerigo Vespucci

    cartographer who sailed on Spanish ships exploring the northern coast of South America, drew his maps and had them printed in Europe, because of his effort, the lands of the New World received the Latinized version of his name
  • Apr 22, 1500

    Pedro Cabral

    explored Indian Ocean and defended trade routes to India to give Portugal control of trade in India, blown off course by a storm while trying to round Africa, landed in northern South America and gave Portugal a claim in the New World, claimed Brazil for Portugal
  • Apr 12, 1513

    Juan Ponce de Leon

    conquered the island of Puerto Rico for Spain and became its governor, claimed Florida for Spain, looked for the Fountain of Youth
  • Sep 25, 1513

    Vasquez Nunez de Balboa

    explored the isthmus of Panama, first European to see the Pacific Ocean, later executed for treason by fellow conquistador Pizarro
  • Period: Mar 2, 1519 to Aug 3, 1521

    Cortes Herman

    conquistador in the army that helped conquer Cuba and establish Spanish control of the island, later became commander of an expedition that was to conquer Mexico and end the great Aztec empire, established Mexico City as its capital, built on the ruins of the former Aztec capital of Tenochtilan
  • Period: Sep 20, 1519 to Sep 22, 1522

    Ferdinand Magellan

    first man to circumnavigate the globe and "prove" that the Earth is round and that all the oceans are connected, five ships left Spain but only one, The Victoria, returned, actually killed by natives in the Philippines, journal of Antonio Pigafetta tells of the expedition
  • Period: Nov 16, 1532 to Mar 23, 1534

    Francisco Pizzaria

    explored Panama with Balboa, explored Northwestern South America and claimed it for Spain, conquered the Inca Empire that controlled the area, ravaged the Inca of their mineral wealth, established Lima as the Spanish capital of northern South America
  • Jul 24, 1534

    Jacques Cartier

    explored St. Lawrence River and eastern Canada looking for the Northwest Passage, gave France a claim to inland Canada
  • Sep 22, 1540

    Fransico Vasquez de corornado

    explored present-day Southwest U.S. from Texas and the Great Plains to the Sierra Madres, looking for "Eldorado" or "City of Gold" told of in Native American folklore, first European to see the Grand Canyon
  • May 8, 1541

    Hernando de Soto

    involved with Pizarro in the conquering of the Inca in South America, explored Southeastern North America, probably traveled through North Carolina and possibly Rutherford County, first European to see the Mississippi River
  • Period: Dec 13, 1577 to Sep 26, 1580

    Francis Drake

    privateer, or government-sponsored pirate, hired by Queen Elizabeth I to raid Spanish ships and ports in the Caribbean, became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe on his ship The Golden Hind, successfully helped protect England against the Spanish Armada in 1588
  • Samuel de Champaign

    explored St. Lawrence River and eastern Canada looking for the Northwest Passage, established the first permanent French colony in America, it was the city of Quebec
  • Period: to

    Henry Hudson

    explored northeastern North America looking for a water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific called the Northwest Passage, helped the Dutch claim the area of present-day New York and the English claim Eastern Canada, Hudson River (NY) and Hudson Bay (Canada) named for him
  • Period: to

    Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle

    explored the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, established a large claim for France in the New World, looking for the Northwest Passage, helped establish the important fur trade industry with the Native Americans of the region
  • Vitus bering

    explored northern Pacific and Arctic Oceans, gave Russia a claim in the New World, explored coastline from Alaska to Oregon, proved Asia and North America were separate continents, strait between the two continents is named for him
  • Period: to

    James Cook

    explored the South Pacific and gave Great Britain a claim to Australia and New Zealand, first man to cross the Antarctic Circle, discovered the Hawaiian islands and explored the Pacific Northwest looking for the fabled Northwest Passage
  • Robert E. Peary

    Robert E. Peary
    first man to reach the North Pole
  • Roald Amundsen

    first man to successfully sail the Northwest Passage in an icebreaking cruiser, first man to reach the South Pole by land
  • Period: to

    Richard E Byrd

    first to fly an aircraft over the North Pole, first man to fly an aircraft over the South Pole
  • John Cabot

    gave England an early claim in the New World, explored the coastline of eastern Canada and New England
  • Yuri Gagarin

    Russian cosmonaut became the first man in orbital space flight on Vostok I in 1961, total time of first human space exploration was 1 hour and forty-eight minutes, never returned to space
  • Alan Shepard

    first American astronaut of the Mercury program to fly in space in 1961, total flight time was 15 minutes and 22 seconds, later was a member of the Apollo 14 mission that landed on the moon in 1974
  • John Glenn

    first American astronaut of the Mercury program in orbital space flight in 1962, orbited Earth three times in 4 hours and 55 minutes
  • Valentina Tereshkova

    first woman in orbital space flight on Vostok 6 in 1963, orbited the Earth 48 times in 2 days, 22 hours, and 50 minutes
  • Neil Armstrong

    Neil Armstrong
    member of the Apollo 11mission that became the first to successfully land on the surface of the moon, first man to step on the moon's surface and he said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
  • Sally Ride

    Sally Ride
    first American woman in space, crew member on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983
  • John Glenn

    after a distinguished political career as a Senator from Ohio he was allowed to go back in space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and became the oldest human in space at the age of 77