Space timeline cover

Space Exploration Timeline

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    United States Space Exploration

  • Sputnik Launched

    Sputnik was launched into space to be the first satellite to orbit Earth. It was launched by the Soviet Union allowing them to be put in the lead of the space race. This was a huge event in the history of space exploration and really sparked scientists’ interest in space.
  • Pioneer 1 Launched

    Pioneer 1 was launched into space by NASA/TRW before exploding 77 seconds after take-off. The Pioneer program was a series of unmanned spacecraft’s that studied ionizing radiation, cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and micrometeorites around Earth. The need for the program was fueled by America’s “space race” against the Soviet Union. It cost $170 million dollars and the U.S. was the only country involved. Over the 45 year time span of the program, various spacecraft’s contained: plasma analyzers, c
  • Mercury Spacecraft Launched

    The Mercury was launched into space via NASA. It was the first American mission that put a man in space and proved that astronauts could not only travel into space, but could be there for more than a day. In this mission, an astronaut was able to pilot the spacecraft while in orbital flight and NASA was able to transport the humans and space craft home safely. The mission lasted until 1963.
  • First Mariner Spacecraft Launched

    The first Mariner spacecraft, an interplanetary probe used to capture pictures of Mars, Mercury, and Venus, was launched into space by NASA. The Mariner Program took place over a 9 year span and cost $554 million. It revealed geologic and atmospheric processes despite 3 spacecraft’s crashing due to launch problems. Mariner 10 is still the only spacecraft to obtain pictures of Mercury.
  • Gemini Spacecraft Launched

    The Gemini spacecraft was launched into space to help practice rendezcous techniques and was the first spacecraft to hold two astronauts at once. It was progress on JFK’s goal to reach the moon and helped to develop the ability to maneuver while in space. It was possible through the Space Act of 1958 which is essentially the act that created NASA.
  • First Signal Sent from a Venera Probe on Another Planet

    The first of many Venera probes sent a signal from the surface of another planet. There 16 of these probes sent in total by Soviet Union to try and explore the atmosphere and surface of Venus. The project was eventually shut down in 1983 because of low funding. It was the first piece of technology that was able to send a colored picture of space back to Earth. The spacecraft itself had magnetometer, ion traps, micrometeorite detectors, high gain antenna, and solar panels which helped it analyze
  • Salyut Launched; Space Stations Begin

    Salyut, the first space station, was launched into space by the Soviet Union, putting it ahead in the space race. Space stations are used to dock astronauts, hold space equipment, and perform scientific experiments. Other stations include SkyLab, 1973 (US), the Mir, 1986 (Russia), and the International Space Station a.k.a. ISS, 1998 (global). We still use space stations today and the ISS is currently the most used station.
  • Viking 1 Launched

    The Viking 1 was launched by NASA into space to take pictures of Mars via two probes. There was a lander and an orbiter that found no proof of life on Mars. It landed on Mars on June 19, 1976, costing $2 billion. Both landers were supposed to survive 90 days, but made 6 years of observations collectively. Viking 1 lasted longer than its sister ship Viking 2.
  • Viking 2 Launched

    The Viking 2 was launched into space by NASA to explore Mars by an orbiter and a lander. It landed on Mars on August 7, 1976 setting the new record for how far we had gone into space. It cost $2 billion and communication ended with the lander on April 11, 1980. The Viking Probes project ended November 13, 1982. The program helped us to infer things about other planets and we learned how similar rock on Mars is to rock on Earth.
  • Voyager 2 Launched

    The Voyager 2 was launched in to space to investigate Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. It cost the same as its sister ship the Voyager 1 at $250 million. It has several close approaches with each planet after travelling in the opposite direction from the Voyager 1. This mission used gravity assist which is when a spacecraft uses the gravitational pull of a planet to slingshot itself towards another planet without wasting fuel.
  • Voyager 1 Launched

    The Voyager 1 was launched through NASA into interstellar space to study Saturn and its rings. It cost $250 million and is still in space today. It travels at 17 km per second and the amount of data collected so far could fill 7,000 music CD’s. NASA ran this project to try and extend their knowledge of space beyond the area of the Sun’s sphere of influence. The spacecraft has 3 large, radioisotope thermoelectric generators that generate electricity from radioactive decay found in space to power
  • First Space Shuttle Launch

    This was the first flight of any one of NASA’s five space shuttles: Atlantis, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Endeavour. They took trips to Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and as close as they could get to the Sun. They were used to explore unknown areas of space, get samples of rocks and liquids, transport space station modules, and was a reusable spacecraft. It launched vertically like a rocket and was used in 135 missions in 1981–2011.
  • Magellan Spacecraft Launched

    The Magellan spacecraft is launched by NASA/JPL out of the Kennedy Space Center on a mission to explore Venus and its atmosphere. It was the first spacecraft to use an inertial upper stage booster. During the mission, it mapped out 98% of the planet in HD images by using Synthetic Aperture Radar and measured Venus’ gravity. The mission ended October 13, 1994 when the spacecraft crashed into Venus.
  • Galileo Spacecraft Launched

    Galileo spacecraft was launched into space by NASA/ESA. It cost $1.6 million to send it to record information about Jupiter, its atmosphere, and its moons. It was the first spacecraft to fly past an asteroid and it used a Doppler radar to communicate with Earth through binary code. It used energy from Venus and Earth to slingshot itself towards Jupiter and survived 20 anomalies before eventually crashing into Jupiter September 21, 2003. Through Galileo, we learned that Jupiter is like a mini-so
  • Hubble Space Telescope Launched

    The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space by NASA and the ESA, costing $1.5 billion dollars. It has gained pictures of planets, births and deaths of stars, galaxies, dark energy, evolving galaxies, and has helped us to determine an approximation of the universe’s age. It is currently in space today and has taken 570,000 images over the 20 years it has been in space.
  • N.E.A.R. Mission Began

    The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, commonly referred to as the N.E.A.R. mission, began. It was intended to orbit the asteroid 433 Eros to learn about asteroid origins, but instead landed on it causing it abort mission. It studied regrowth properties of the asteroid with an x-ray spectrometer and other devices. It was run by the John Hopkins University: Applied Physics Laboratory.
  • Cassini Mission Began

    Cassini launched into space through NASA, the ESA, and the Italian Space Agency. It was sent to explore Saturn, the 3D structure of its rings, and its moon Titan, the only known moon to have an atmosphere. It was one of the largest interplanetary spacecraft’s ever built, weighing in at 12,539 lbs. with fuel and costing $3.3 billion. It was unmanned and had radioisotope thermoelectric generators to give it power. It carried Hugyens into space to release it on Titan for further exploration. Hugye
  • Genesis Spacecraft Launched

    Genesis spacecraft launched out of Cape Canaveral, FL to collect solar wind in order to learn more about the Sun. the mission cost $264 million dollars. The space craft resembled a pocket watch and was the first to use plasma spectrometers.
  • Mars "Spirit" Rover Launched

    The Mars “Spirit” Rover was launched into space by NASA to determine the presence of life, water, or the possibility of life on Mars. It landed on Mars on January 4, 2004 and cost $820 million. It took panoramic images of the Mars terrain for 4.8 miles even though it was only predict to go for 1.4 miles. The last communication received from the “Spirit” on March 22, 2010.
  • Mars "Opportunity' Rover Launched

    The Mars “Opportunity” rover was launched by NASA to determine the presence of life/water on Mars like its sister mission, the Mars “Spirit” rover. It landed on Mars on January 24, 2004 and collected data to send to Earth about Mars.
  • The Genesis Spacecraft Crash Landed

    The Genesis crash landed in Utah after 886 days in space. They succeeded in collecting the solar winds which were later released to scientists to be compared with lunar wind samples collected from the Apollo program. They learned more about what the Sun is made of and if other parts our solar system are made up of the same things.