History of Space Exploration

  • Sir Isaac Newton writes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

    Sir Isaac Newton writes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica
    Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The works in which Newton states his 3 laws of motion. Widely considered as a revolution in the world of physics. Set the foundation for not only space exploration, but modern physics as we know it.
  • Period: to

    History of Space Exploration

    Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The works in which Newton states his 3 laws of motion. Widely considered as a revolution in the world of physics. Set the foundation for not only space exploration, but modern physics as we know it.
  • Tsiolkovsky rocket equation

    Tsiolkovsky rocket equation
    An equation that describes the motion of rocket. A rocket being any device that creates thrust by expelling mass at high speeds and using the momentum that creates to stay in motion. This is a very simple equation that is still used today in basic rocket science.
  • Jules Verne writes De la Terre à la Lune

    Jules Verne writes De la Terre à la Lune
    French for "From the Earth to the Moon." One of the first novels to talk seriously about the possibility of space travel. Some of Verne's calculations for escaping Earth's gravity are actually surprisingly accurate. This book put the idea of putting man on the moon into the cultural consciousness.
  • Robert H. Goddard is born

    Robert H. Goddard is born
    An American physicist who is credited for building the world's first liquid-feuled rocket. Considered by many to be the father of space travel.
  • H. G. Wells writes The War of the Worlds

    H. G. Wells writes The War of the Worlds
    While not particularly scientifically accurate and does not deal with humans trying to go to outer space, it is still significant because it inspired Robert H. Goddard to start studying rocketry.
  • Общество изучения межпланетных сообщений founded in Moscow

    Общество изучения межпланетных сообщений founded in Moscow
    Russian for the Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel. The first serious, government funded discussions about space travel officially begin.
  • Goddard launches first liquid fueled rocket

    Goddard launches first liquid fueled rocket
    The launch was a success. It went 41 feet into the air and landed 184 feet from the launch pad. The flight lasted about two and a half seconds.
  • Verein für Raumschiffahrt is formed.

    Verein für Raumschiffahrt is formed.
    German for Society for Space Travel. Europe begins rocket creation.
  • Wernher Von Braun and students launch first liquid fueled rocket

    Wernher Von Braun and students launch first liquid fueled rocket
    Wernher would go on to develop weaponized rockets for Nazi Germany during world war two. Would eventually develop the V-2 rocket.
  • Work begins on series of rockets that ends with the V-2 rocket

    Work begins on series of rockets that ends with the V-2 rocket
    The V-2 rocket was the world's first long-range ballistic combat missile. It was targeted specifically at London. It was also the first known human artifact to enter outer space. Over 3000 V-2 rockets were launched during world war two, resulting in the deaths of 7,250 civilians and military personel. 12,000 were also killed producing the weapon.
  • The Group for the Study of Reactive Motion launches first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket.

    The Group for the Study of Reactive Motion launches first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket.
    The rocket reached an impressive altitude for a first time launch of 1,300 feet.
  • Frank Malina begins work on the first Sounding Rocket

    Frank Malina begins work on the first Sounding Rocket
    A sounding rocket is a rocket designed to do scientific experiments and collect data during it's flight. These rockets were able to conduct experiments at sub-orbital altitudes not possible with balloons.
  • V-2 rocket reaches 62 miles from the Earth's surface

    V-2 rocket reaches 62 miles from the Earth's surface
    Otherwise known as the "boundary of space" or the Kármán line. The rocket got as close as it could to outer space without leaving the Earth's atmosphere.
  • First pictures of Earth from Karman line

    First pictures of Earth from Karman line
    Taken by a modified captured German V-2 rocket
  • First animals in space (Fruit Flies)

    First animals in space (Fruit Flies)
    Taken up in a captured Gernam V-2 rocket.
  • Sputnik 1

    Sputnik 1
    The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1 which is the first artificial Earth satellite. This was a surprise success to America, and thanks to the Cold War and America's hatred of communism, this launched the space race between the nations. It was also the beginning of the space age in American culture. The desire to beat the sovients at space exploration created a new-found national interest in human and robotic exploration of space. Funding for American space exploration increased exponentially.
  • Laika is the first dog in orbit

    Laika is the first dog in orbit
    A soviet stray who was trained to be launched into space aboard Sputnik 2. Not only was Laika the first dog launched into orbit, but also the first dog to die in orbit. She probably died within hours of the launch but the soviets never released the specifics of her final moments. She was never expected to survive.
  • NASA is created

    NASA is created
    In response to the launch of Sputnik, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act and NASA was born.
  • Luna 1 is launched

    Luna 1 is launched
    Luna 1 was a Soviet spacecraft that was the first ever to reach escape velocity and leave the Earth's atmosphere. It got to within 6,000 km of the moon, and went on to orbit between Earth and Mars where it remains to this day.
  • First picture of Earth from orbit

    First picture of Earth from orbit
    It was taken by Explorer 6, an American satellite used to study geomagnetism and radio waves. It took 2 months to send this image from the satellite back to Earth.
  • The Soviets beat us to the Moon

    The Soviets beat us to the Moon
    Luna 2 was launched by the Soviets with the sole intention of getting to the moon. Luna 2 was the first ever spacecraft to physically touch another world. On board were two Soviet pennants, one of them engraved with the USSR coat of arms. Long before Armstrong planted the stars and stripes, the Soviets planted symbols of their nation.
  • First animals to return from orbit alive

    First animals to return from orbit alive
    The Soviets launched Sputnik 5 (as it was known in the west) containing 2 dogs, 40 mice, two rats, and various plants. One of the dogs that came back had puppies, one of which was sent to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy as a sign of goodwill from the Soviets. John Kennedy's advisors didn't want to accept this gift because they feared the Soviets had planted a microphone in it's body.
  • First human in space

    First human in space
    Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut, was launched into space aboard the Vostok 1. He only orbited the Earth once and was up there for a mere 108 minutes. It is still the shortest recorded manned space flighty in history.
  • First spacewalk

    First spacewalk
    Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov launched into orbit in the Voskhod 2 spacecraft. The one purpose of this mission was to complete extra-vehicular activity. Leonov became the first man to leave his spacecraft and "walk" in space. The walk lasted 12 minutes.
  • First soft landing on the Moon

    First soft landing on the Moon
    Luna 9 was a Soviet spacecraft which was the first to achieve a soft landing on the moon. It also transmitted photos of the Lunar surface back to Earth. This was very significant because it was proof that you could land humans safely on another world.
  • First U.S. soft landing on Moon

    First U.S. soft landing on Moon
    Surveyor 1 landed on the moon just four months after the Soviet's Luna 9.
  • First human on the moon

    First human on the moon
    Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins set course for the moon on July 20th, 1969 at 8:18 in the evening. The three men were on the surface of the moon 6 hours later.
  • First space station

    First space station
    The Soviet Salyut 1 was the first ever space station of any kind. The first spacecraft to try and dock, the Soyuz 10, failed and had to return to Earth. The second spacecraft, the Soyuz 11, had a successful docking but the crew died on re-entry. The Salyut 1 was only operational for 175 days.
  • First soft landing on Mars

    First soft landing on Mars
    The Soviet Mars 3 probe touched down on Mars on December 2nd. 14 seconds after it landed, communication with the probe stopped and was never restored.
  • First joint Soviet-U.S. spaceflight

    First joint Soviet-U.S. spaceflight
    The main purpose of this multi-national flight was to show that tensions had eased between the two nations.
  • First photos and soil samples from Mars

    First photos and soil samples from Mars
    The Viking program was an American program consisting of two different spacecrafts. One was designed to land on the surfact to obtain soil samples, and the other was designed to stay in orbit and take photos of the martian surface. It was the most expensive mission to Mars to date but it was a highly successful mission. NASA recieved the most high-resolution pictures of the red planet to date, and the mission was the foundation for most of what we know about Mars.
  • First reusable spacecraft

    First reusable spacecraft
    NASA kicked off it's shuttle program with the launch of Colombia. The shuttle program would last for 30 years.
  • Mir

    Mir
    Mir was a Soviet space station that was the first long-term operational space station. It remained in operation till 2001. The station was visited by astronauts from 12 different nations throughout it's life.
  • First photograph of the entire solar system

    First photograph of the entire solar system
    In 1977, NASA launched a space probe named Voyager 1 for the sole purpose of studying the outer solar system. It has been in operation for 35 years and is getting further from us every day. It is the farthest man made object ever sent out into space. As of today, Voyager is on the verge of exiting our solar system and entering interstellar space. On February 14th 1990, Voyager snapped the last in a series of photos that would later be composited into a picture of our entire solar system.
  • Spirit rover

    Spirit rover
    Spirit rover was one of two twin rovers sent to the red planet in 2004. Spirit went above and beyond all expectations, exploring Mars far longer than ever intended. The rover became stuck in 2009 and has since ceased communication with Earth.
  • Opportunity rover

    Opportunity rover
    Opportunity arrived on Mars 3 weeks after it's twin, Spirit, on the other side of the planet. Like Spirit, Opportunity far exceeded mission expectations and has surpassed it's expected operation time by 8 years. Opportunity is still active to this day.
  • Kepler mission

    Kepler mission
    Kepler is a space observatory and telescope that was designed to look for Earth-like planets in our galaxy. As of January 2012, the Kepler team has found that each star in the Milky Way has an average of 1.6 planets, meaning there are over 160 billion star-bound planets in our galaxy alone.
  • Curiosity rover

    Curiosity rover
    This latest rover was designed to find out if Mars every could have supported life, as well as finding out more about the past climate and geology of Mars. This mission will also help prepare for human exploration.