Space Timeline

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    U.S. and Soviet Union Space Race

    the 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, for dominance in spaceflight capability
  • Pioneer 0

    Pioneer 0
    Lunar orbiter, destroyed (Thor failure 77 seconds after launch)
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    Pioneer Series

  • Pioneer 1

    Pioneer 1
    Lunar orbiter, missed Moon (third stage partial failure)
  • Pioneer 2

    Pioneer 2
    Lunar orbiter, reentry (third stage failure)
  • Pioneer 3

    Pioneer 3
    Lunar flyby, missed Moon due to launcher failure
  • Pioneer 4

    Pioneer 4
    Lunar flyby, achieved Earth escape velocity
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    Moon Exploration

    The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. NASA's Apollo program was the first, and to date only, mission to successfully land humans on the Moon, which it did six times.
  • Pioneer P-1

    Pioneer P-1
    Launch vehicle lost
  • Pioneer P-3

    Pioneer P-3
    Lunar probe, lost in launcher failure
  • Pioneer 5

    Pioneer 5
    interplanetary space between Earth and Venus
  • Pioneer P-30

    Pioneer P-30
    Lunar probe, failed to achieve lunar orbit
  • Pioneer P-31

    Pioneer P-31
    Lunar probe, lost in upper stage failure
  • Venera 1

    Venera 1
    Venera 1 is launched
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    Venera Series

    The Venera series were Soviet unmanned missions to Venus
  • Mariner 1

    Mariner 1
    Mariner 1 was the first spacecraft of the American Mariner program, designed for a planetary flyby of Venus. It cost $18.5 million in 1962. It was launched aboard an Atlas-Agena rocket on July 22, 1962.
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    Mariner Series

  • Mariner 2

    Mariner 2
    Mariner 2 (Mariner-Venus 1962), an American space probe to Venus, was the first robotic space probe to conduct a successful planetary encounter. The first successful spacecraft in the NASA Mariner program, it was a simplified version of the Block I spacecraft of the Ranger program and an exact copy of Mariner 1.
  • Mariner 3

    Mariner 3
    Designed for a fly by of Mars and to transmit information of the area surrounding Mars, and the Martian surface itself. The launch ended up being a failure.
  • Mariner 4

    Mariner 4
    It was designed for a fly by of Mars and Planetary exploration. It's main purpose was to make scientific observations of Mars and transmit them back to Earth.
  • Pioneer 6

    Pioneer 6
    in solar orbits with 0.8 AU distance to the Sun
  • Venera 2

    Venera 2
    Venera 2 is launched
  • Pioneer 7

    Pioneer 7
    in solar orbits with 1.1 AU distance to the Sun
  • Venera 3

    Venera 3
    Venera 3 became the first human-made object to impact another planet's surface as it crash-landed on Venus
  • Pioneer 8

    Pioneer 8
    in solar orbits with 1.1 AU distance to the Sun
  • Mariner 5

    Mariner 5
    Mariner 5 carried instruments designed to probe Venus's atmosphere.
  • Venera 4

    Venera 4
    Venera 4 became the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet
  • Pioneer 9

    Pioneer 9
    in solar orbits with 0.8 AU distance to the Sun
  • Pioneer Venus Orbiter

    Pioneer Venus Orbiter
    The Pioneer Venus Orbiter was inserted into an elliptical orbit around Venus
  • Pioneer E

    Pioneer E
    lost in launcher failure
  • Venera 5

    Venera 5
    Venera 5 was launched as an atmospheric probe
  • Mariner 6

    Mariner 6
    The mission's goals were to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars during close flybys, in order to establish the basis for future investigations, particularly those relevant to the search for extraterrestrial life, and to demonstrate and develop technologies required for future Mars missions
  • Mariner 7

    Mariner 7
    The mission's goals were to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars during close flybys, in order to establish the basis for future investigations, particularly those relevant to the search for extraterrestrial life, and to demonstrate and develop technologies required for future Mars missions
  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11
    The first mission to land humans on the moon
  • Apollo 12

    Apollo 12
  • Apollo 14

    Apollo 14
  • Pioneer 10

    Pioneer 10
    Jupiter, interstellar medium
  • Pioneer 11

    Pioneer 11
    Jupiter, Saturn, interstellar medium
  • Exploration of Mercury

    Exploration of Mercury
    Mariner 10 was a probe whose objective was to observe the atmosphere, surface, and physical characteristics of Mercury
  • Pioneer H

    Pioneer H
    Proposed out-of-the-ecliptic mission for 1974, but was not built
  • Viking 1

    Viking 1
    Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. On July 20, 1976, it became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission.
  • Viking 2

    Viking 2
    The Viking 2 mission was part of the American Viking program to Mars, and consisted of an orbiter and a lander essentially identical to that of the Viking 1 mission. The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1316 days, or 1281 sols, and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed
  • Pioneer Venus Multiprobe

    Pioneer Venus Multiprobe
    a bus which carried one large and three small atmospheric probes
  • Magellan

    to map the surface of Venus by using synthetic aperture radar and to measure the planetary gravitational field
  • Galileo

    Galileo was an American unmanned spacecraft that studied the planet Jupiter and its moons, as well as several other Solar System bodies
  • Hubble Telescope

    Hubble Telescope
    Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra. Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes. Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time
  • Mars Global Surveyor

    Mars Global Surveyor
    an American robotic spacecraft developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched November 1996. Mars Global Surveyor was a global mapping mission that examined the entire planet, from the ionosphere down through the atmosphere to the surface
  • Sojourner

    the Mars Pathfinder Mars rover that landed in the Ares Vallis region, and explored Mars for around three months
  • Mariner 8

    Mariner 8
    It was intended to go into Mars orbit and return images and data, but a launch vehicle failure prevented Mariner 8 from achieving Earth orbit and the spacecraft reentered into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after launch
  • Mariner 9

    Mariner 9
    After months of dust storms it managed to send back clear pictures of the surface
  • Voyager 2

    Voyager 2
    a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977, to study the outer planets.
  • Voyager 1

    Voyager 1
    a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977. Part of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System
  • Cassini

    a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites
  • Odyssey

    a robotic spacecraft orbiting the planet Mars. Its mission is to use spectrometers and a thermal imager to detect evidence of past or present water and ice, as well as study the planet's geology and radiation environment
  • Express

    a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency.
  • Spirit

    also known as MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover – A) or MER-2, is a robotic rover on Mars, active from 2004 to 2010
  • Opportunity

    also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) or MER-1, is a robotic rover active on Mars since 2004
  • Curiosity

    The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration
  • InSight

    objectives are to place a seismometer, called SEIS, on the surface of Mars to measure seismic activity and provide accurate 3D models of the planet's interior; and measure internal heat flow using a heat probe called HP3 to study Mars' early geological evolution. This could bring a new understanding of the Solar System's terrestrial planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars — and Earth's Moon