Space Race Timeline

  • USSR: Launching of Sputnik I

    USSR: Launching of Sputnik I
    It was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957, and was the first in a series of satellites collectively known as the Sputnik program.
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    Space Race Timeline

  • USSR: First dog in space

    USSR: First dog in space
    On the space craft, Sputnik 2, was a dog named Laika. Scientist knew the dog would die, however sent her up into space just so that they could beat USA to it.
  • First US satellite: Explorer I

    First US satellite: Explorer I
    It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt, returning data until its batteries were exhausted after nearly four months. It remained in orbit until 1970, and has been followed by more than 90 scientific spacecraft in the Explorer series.
  • USA: weather satellite

    USA: weather satellite
    Vangaurd 2 was sent into space to measure cloud-cover distribution over the daylight portion of its orbit, for a period of 19 days, and to provide information on the density of the atmosphere for the lifetime of its orbit. The satellite was still in orbit until about 2 years ago.
  • USA: photo from earth to space

    USA: photo from earth to space
    It was a small, spheroidal satellite designed to study trapped radiation of various energies, galactic cosmic rays, geomagnetism, radio propagation in the upper atmosphere, and the flux of micrometeorites. It also tested a scanning device designed for photographing the Earth's cloud cover, and transmitted the first pictures of Earth from orbit.
  • USSR: probe to the moon

    USSR: probe to the moon
    It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon. It successfully impacted with the lunar surface east of Mare Serenitatis near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus.
  • USSR: Luna 3's photo of the far side of the moon

    USSR: Luna 3's photo of the far side of the moon
    Though it returned rather poor pictures by later standards, the historic, never-before-seen views of the far side of the Moon caused excitement and interest when they were published around the world.
  • USSR sends a human into orbit: Yuri Gagarin

    USSR sends a human into orbit: Yuri Gagarin
    The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer space, as well as the first orbital flight of a manned vehicle.
  • USA: First active communications satellite

    USA: First active communications satellite
    The first two Telstar satellites were experimental and nearly identical. Telstar 1 was launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket on July 10, 1962. It successfully relayed through space the first television pictures, telephone calls, fax images and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.
  • USSR: first women in orbit: Valentina Tereshkova

    USSR: first women in orbit:  Valentina Tereshkova
    The first human spaceflight mission to carry a woman, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, into space. This also made her the first civilian in space. Like other cosmonauts on Vostok missions, she maintained a flight log, took photographs, and manually oriented the spacecraft. Her photographs of the horizon from space were later used to identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere.
  • USSR: probe lands on Venus

    USSR: probe lands on Venus
    The probe crash-landed on Venus on March 1, 1966 becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet's surface. It impacted on the night side of Venus, near the terminator, probably around -20° to 20° N, 60° to 80° E. However, its communications systems failed before it could return any information about the planet.
  • USA: Gemini 8

    USA: Gemini 8
    Gemini 8 was the 6th manned mission by NASA for the Gemini program. The mission conducted the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, but suffered the first critical in-space system failure of a U.S. spacecraft which threatened the lives of the astronauts and required immediate abort of the mission. The crew was returned to earth safely.
  • USA: manned lunar orbit

    USA: manned lunar orbit
    The three-man crew of mission Commander Frank Borman, navigator James Lovell, and flight engineer William Anders became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, and then the first to directly see the far side of the Moon.
  • USA: Apollo 11

    USA: Apollo 11
    Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon on July 20, 1969. Launched from Florida on July 16, the fifth manned mission, and the third lunar mission of NASA's Apollo program, was crewed by Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility and on July 21 became the first humans to walk on the Moon.
  • USA: Apollo 17's return from the moon

    USA: Apollo 17's return from the moon
    It was a "J-type mission", missions including three-day lunar surface stays, extended scientific capability, and the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Cernan, Evans, and Schmitt returned to Earth on December 19 after an approximately 12-day mission. Apollo 17 also broke several records set by previous flights, including the longest manned lunar landing flight; the longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities; the largest lunar sample return, and the longest time in lunar orbit.