Space Race

  • Sputnik 1, U.S.S.R.

    U.S.S.R. launches Sputnik 1.
  • Sputnik 2, USSR

    USSR launches Sputnik 2 which carried a small dog named Laika into orbit.
  • Explorer 1, US

    Explorer 1, the first American satellite to reach orbit, is launched. It carried scientific equipment that lead to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • Explorer 2, US

    Explorer 2 is launced but it fails to reach orbit.
  • Vanguard 1, US

    The Vanguard 1 satellite is launched. It continues to function for 3 years.
  • Sputnik 3, USSR

    Sputnik 3 is launched.
  • NASA, US

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is formed, it replaces the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA).
  • Pioneer 1, US

    Pioneer 1 is launched to a height of 70,700 miles.
  • Luna 1, USSR

    Luna 1 is launched by the USSR. It is the first man made object to orbit the Sun.
  • Pioneer 4, US

    Pioneer 4 is launched on a Earth-Moon trajectory. It passed within 37,000 miles of the Moon before falling into a solar orbit.
  • Mercury Seven, US

    The "Mercury Seven" astronauts are selected by NASA.
  • Luna 2, USSR

    Luna 2 is launched. It impacts the Moon on September 13, becoming the first man-made object to do so.
  • Luna 3, USSR

    Luna 3 orbits the Moon and photographs 70% of its surface.
  • Tiros 1, US

    Tiros 1, the first successful weather satellite, is launched.
  • Discoverer XIV, US

    The US launches Discoverer XIV, its first camera equipped spy satellite.
  • JFK, US

    John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th President of the United States.
  • Yuri Gagarin, USSR

    Yuri Gagarin orbits the Earth once and becomes the first man in space.
  • Alan B. Shepard, US

    Alan B. Shepard becomes the first American in space.
  • To the Moon!, US

    President John F. Kennedy addresses Congress and challenges the nation to go to the Moon before the end of the decade
  • Gus Grissom, US

    Gus Grissom is launched on a sub-orbital flight. His Liberty-Bell capsule is lost when it fills with water and sinks after splashdown.
  • Vostok 2, USSR

    Gherman Titov spends a day in space aboard Vostok 2.
  • Gemini Program, US

    NASA announces the Gemini Program
  • John Glenn, US

    John Glenn orbits the Earth three times.
  • Aurora 7, US

    Scott Carpenter repeats John Glenn's flight aboard "Aurora 7".
  • Speech at Rice University, US

    President Kennedy gives a speech at Rice University reaffirming the importance of the Moon program.
  • NASA's Second Group, US

    NASA selects its second group of astronauts.
  • Walter Schirra, US

    Walter Schirra orbits the Earth six times.
  • Mariner 2, US

    Mariner 2 flies past Venus and enters a solar orbit.
  • L. Gordon Cooper, US

    L. Gordon Cooper spends 34 hours in space. He is the last American to fly in space alone.
  • Valentia Tereshkova, USSR

    Cosmonaut Valentia Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
  • NASA's Third Group, US

    A third group of NASA astronauts is selected.
  • JFK Assasination, US

    President Kennedy is assassinated.
  • Ranger 7, US

    Ranger 7 transmits the first close range images of the Moon.
  • Theodore Freeman, US

    Astronaut Theodore Freeman dies in a plane crash.
  • Alexei Leonov, USSR

    Alexei Leonov spends 12 minutes outside of his Voskhod spacecraft performing the first spacewalk.
  • Gemini spacecraft, US

    Gus Grissom and John Young fly the first manned Gemini spacecraft.
  • Ed White, US

    Ed White performs America's first spacewalk. Jim McDivitt remains in the Gemini capsule.
  • Mariner 4, US

    Mariner 4 returns close ranger images of Mars.
  • Venus 3, USSR

    Venus 3 is launched. It becomes the first man made object to impact Venus on March 1, 1966.
  • Gemini 7, US

    Frank Borman and James Lovell begin a two week stay in Earth orbit aboard Gemini 7.
  • Gemini 6, US

    Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford, in their Gemini 6 spacecraft, make the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7.
  • Luna 9, USSR

    Luna 9 becomes the first spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon.
  • Charles Bassett and Elliott See, US

    Astronauts Charles Bassett and Elliott See die when their plane crashes in bad weather.
  • Luna 10, USSR

    Luna 10 becomes the first satellite to orbit the Moon.
  • Surveyor 1, US

    Surveyor 1 soft-lands on the Moon.
  • Lunar Orbiter 1, US

    Lunar Orbiter 1 enters orbit around the Moon and takes the first picture of the Earth from that distance.
  • Gemini 12, US

    Gemini 12, the last flight of the Gemini Program, launches with James Lovell and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin aboard.
  • Apollo 1, US

    Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee are killed when a fire ignites in their Apollo 1 capsule while performing a test on the launch pad.
  • Soyuz 1, USSR

    Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov is killed when the parachutes of his Soyuz 1 capsule fail to open properly following re-entry.
  • Edward Givens, US

    Astronaut Edward Givens is killed in an automobile accident.
  • Clifton Williams, US

    Astronaut Clifton Williams is killed in a plane crash.
  • Venera 4, USSR

    Venera 4 transmits data about the atmosphere of Venus.
  • Yuri Gagarin Again, USSR

    Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, dies in a plane crash.
  • Zond 5, USSR

    Zond 5 is launched. It carried a biological payload (including two turtles) around the Moon and returned to Earth six days later.
  • Apollo 7, US

    The crew of Apollo 7 begin a 10 day mission to study the new spacecraft.
  • first manned journey from the Earth to the Moon, US

    Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders begin the first manned journey from the Earth to the Moon. On Christmas Eve they take turns reading Genesis in a broadcast heard around the world.
  • Soyuz 4 & 5, USSR

    Soyuz 4 & 5 perform the first Soviet spacecraft docking.
  • First Men to Walk on the Moon, US

    Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin become the first men to walk on the Moon while crewmate Michael Collins orbits around the Moon alone.
  • First Precision Lunar Landing, US

    Pete Conrad and Alan Bean perform the first precision lunar landing, touching down just 600 feet from the Surveyor 3 probe that arrived two years earlier.