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Space Exploration Timeline

  • Sputnik 1

    Russians launch the first official satellite, Spuntink 1
  • Sputnik 2

    A dog named Laika becomes the first living creature sent from Earth into space, aboard Russia's Sputnik 2
  • Explorer 1

    Launch of the first US satellite, Explorer 1
  • Luna 3

    Russian probe Luna 3 sends first pictures of the far side of the moon.
  • Ham the Chimpanzee

    NASA launch a chimpanzee named Ham into space aboard a Mercury rocket.
  • Yuri Gagarin

    Russian Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person in space in a 108-minute flight in Vostok 1.
  • Alan Shephard

    First American in space (Alan Shephard).
  • John Glenn (USA)

    First Astronaut to orbit the Earth (John Glenn, USA)
  • Mariner 2

    NASA's Mariner 2 scans the surface of Venus.
  • Alexei Leonov

    Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov makes the first space walk.
  • Valentina Tereshkova

    Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space, aboard Vostok 6.
  • Mariner 4

    Mmariner 4 flies by Mars.
  • Luna 9

    First Moon landing (by Soviet spacecraft Luna 9)
  • Apollo 1

    A fire on the launch pad of Apollo 1 kills 3 US astronauts.
  • Vladimir Komorov

    The first death in space (Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komorok)
  • Venera 4

    Soviet craft Venera 4 lands on Venus.
  • Apollo 8

    First crewed spacecraft to orbit the moon (Apollo 8)
  • Neil Armstrong

    US astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes first person to walk on the moon.
  • Russian Rover

    Russian rover the first vehicle to drive on the moon.
  • Soviet Salyut 1

    Launch of the first space station 9the Soviet Salyut 1)
  • Pioneer 10

    First space probe to fly-by Jupiter (Pioneer 10)
  • Mariner 10

    First space probe to fly-by Mercury (Mariner 10)
  • Apollo and Soyuz

    First US and Soviet spacecraft docking (Apollo/Soyuz)
  • Viking 1

    First successful landing on Mars (by space probe Viking 1)
  • Pioneer 11

    First Saturn fly-by (Pionner 11)
  • Columbia

    First space shuttle launch (Columbia)
  • Voyager 2

    First Uranus fly-by (Voyager 2)
  • Challenger

    Space shuttle Challenger explodes during launch, killing all seven crew.
  • Mir

    Launch of Russian space station Mir.
  • Halley's Comet and Giotto

    First fly-by of Halley's comet (by European space probe Giotto)
  • Voyager 2

    First Neptune fly-by (Voyager 2)
  • Discovery and the Hubble Space Telescope

    Space shuttle Discovery launches the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
  • The International Space Station

    The first part of the International Space Station (ISS) is launched
  • Climate Orbiter

    Mars Climate Orbiter disappears after orbiting Mars.
  • Polar Lander

    Mars Polar Lander dissapears, creating further embarrassment for NASA
  • Mir

    Mir space station abandoned and crashes of the coast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Dennis Tito

    First tourist in space, Dennis Tito.
  • Spirit and Opportunity

    Twin Mars Lander missions 'spirit' and opportunity' land on Mars
  • Columbia Explodes

    Space Shuttle Columbia explodes on re-entry, killing all seven astronauts.
  • The Ligo Team

    The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to the Ligo team that has now spotted three instances of gravitational waves coming from black holes merging.
  • Super Earth was discovered.

    An exoplanet discovered 40 light years away caused excitement among astronomers in April, as it has the potential to give us the best opportunity ever to find alien life. The 'super-Earth' called LHS 1140b is around 1.4 times the size of our planet but seven times its mass. It is rocky, temperate and orbits a quiet star in our galactic neighbourhood.
  • A Merger was detected.

    In October, a merger was detected – but this time from two neutron stars. Not only this, but the team also found electromagnetic radiation coming from the event and gamma-ray bursts given off just seconds later.