Space Travel

  • Sputnik 1

    On October 4, 1957, Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the earth is launched into space.
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    Space Travel and Exploration

  • Sputnik 2

    Sputnik 2 is launched, carrying the dog Laika for seven days in orbit.
  • Explorer 1

    The first American atttempt to compete with Sputnik, Explorer 1, blows up on the launchpad.
  • NASA

    NASA is signed into law.
  • Luna 1

    Luna 1, the first man-made satellite to orbit the moon, is launched.
  • First Man in Space

    Vostok 1 is launched, carrying the first man in space, Cosmonaut Yuri A. Gargarin.
  • First Human in Space

    Soviet Union man, Yuri A. Gagarin, was launched into space in a 5-ton spaceship.
  • First U.S. Man in Space

    Mercury Freedom 7 carries Alan B. Shepard,Jr., the first U.S. Astronaut into space, in a suborbital flight.
  • First American in Orbit

    John H. Glenn orbits the earth three times.
  • First Space Walk

    The first space walk is made from Soviet Voskhod 2 by Cosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov. Duration is 12 minutes.
  • First U.S. Space Tragedy

    As the U.S. is gearing up for its three-man Apollo moon missions, a fire breaks out in a routine ground test. Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee are killed.
  • First Spacecraft Fatility

    April 23, 1967 - Soviet Soyuz 1 is launched, carrying Vladimir M. Komarov. On April 24 it crashed, killing Komarov, the first spaceflight fatality.
  • First Manned Apollo Mission

    Astronauts Walter Schirra, Jr., Donn Eisle, and Walter Cunningham were launched in the Apollo 7.
  • First Manned Moon Orbital Launch

    Apollo 8 is launched with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders, the first Apollo to use the Saturn V rocket, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, making 10 orbits on its 6-day mission.
  • First Manned Moon Landing

    The lunar module of Apollo 11, nicknamed the Eagle, touches down on the moon, with 30 seconds' worth of fuel to spare. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr., descend to the surface.
  • First Ocupation of Space Station

    After an earlier attempt that failed due to a jammed hatch, three cosmonauts from the Soviet Union's Soyuz 11 mission successfully board the Salyut 1 space station.
  • First Rover on the Moon

    Apollo 15 carries an electric cart to the moon. The rover, capable of carrying two astronauts plus supplies, greatly extends their exploration range. Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin are the first drivers, putting 17 miles on the moon buggy.
  • Black Hole

    Scientists designate Cignus X-1 as the first probable black hole.
  • First American Space Station Launched

    Skylab is launched on what will prove to be a six-year mission. Three crews totaling nine astronauts occupy the station in 1973 and 1974, creating experiments and making spacewalks to repair a damaged solar panel and rig a sunshade to keep the station from overheating.
  • First International Space Rendezvous

    U.S. and Russian astronauts practice détente in space. In a mission called the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (or Soyuz-Apollo Test Project, depending on point of view), crews from Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 meet in Earth orbit, shake hands on live TV, and spend two days together.
  • First U.S. Mars Landing

    Viking 1 soft-lands on Mars. Pictures show a stark, rocky landscape much like some Earthly deserts, and chemical tests designed to search for life show anomalies in the soil that have yet to be fully explained.
  • First Space Shuttle Launched

    NASA debuts its manned cosmic commuter, the space shuttle, with the first-ever launch of Columbia.
  • First Operational Space Shuttle Mission

    After four test flights in 1981 and 1982, the first space shuttle, Columbia, carries a crew of four—the largest crew ever to be launched into space on a single vehicle—on its first true mission.
  • First U.S. Woman in Space

    Sally K. Ride is the first U.S. woman to travel in space.
  • First Untethered Spacewalk

    In the first test of NASA's new Manned Maneuvering Unit, a sort of rocket backpack designed to fit over the astronauts' normal spacesuits, astronaut Bruce McCandless exits the space shuttle Challenger without a safety line.
  • Challenger Explosion

    In a disaster seen live on television, the space shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after liftoff. All seven astronauts are killed.
  • Hubble Space Telescope Deployed

    A day after launching, the space shuttle Discovery opens its cargo bay doors to deploy the 12-ton Hubble Space Telescope.
  • Dscovery

    Discovery was the first shuttle to be flown by a female pilot.
  • Pathfinder Probe Landing on Mars

    Descending by parachute and protected by inflated airbags, the Mars Pathfinder probe breaks through the thin Martian atmosphere, settles to the surface, and bounces at least 15 times before coming to rest.
  • John Glenn's Return to Space

    Thirty-six years after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, former astronaut John Glenn boards the space shuttle Discovery for a triumphant return.
  • Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia

    Returning from its 28th mission, America's oldest space shuttle breaks up on reentry high over Texas. All seven astronauts die.
  • Spirit Rover Landing on Mars

    NASA's most complex robotic rover yet, Spirit Rover, parachutes to the surface and bounces to an air-bag-cushioned halt in Gusev Crater.
  • First Manned Private Spaceflight

    A winged spacecraft called SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately financed vehicle to officially make it into space. The spacecraft is piloted by Mike Melvill, built by the Scaled Composites corporation, and partially financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
  • First Landing on Other World's Moon

    An adjunct of the Cassini mission, the European-built Huygens probe detaches and parachutes to the cloud-shrouded surface of Titan.
  • First Impact With a Comet

     A two-part probe called Deep Impact meets Comet Tempel 1. One piece of the probe, weighing 816 pounds hits the comet at a speed of 6.3 miles per second.
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

    The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a Moon orbiting mission launched in June 2009. The first mission of NASA's Robotic Lunar Exploration Program, it is designed to map the surface of the Moon and characterize future landing sites in terms of terrain roughness, usable resources, and radiation environment.