Timeline of Space Exploration

Timeline created by el18501@students.dce.k12.wi.us
  • Aggregate Rocket Series

    Work begins in Germany on the Aggregate series of rockets. Under the direction of German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, this program eventually leads to development of the V-2 rocket, one of Nazi Germany's most powerful weapons of destruction.
  • First American-Designed Rocket Reaches Space

    The United States launches its first American-designed rocket. Known as the Wac Corporal, the rocket reaches the edge of space at an altitude of 50 miles after being launched from the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.
  • First Animals in Space

    First Animals in Space
    Fruit flies become the first animals in space as a V-2 rocket is launched from the White Sands Proving Ground. Inside are several vials containing fruit flies, rye seeds, and cotton seeds. The flight reaches an altitude of 60 miles, and the payload is later retrieved intact.
  • First Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

    The Soviet Union launches the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Known as the R-7 Semyorka, it travels a total distance of 6000 km (3728 miles). A modified version of this missile would be used later to launch the world's first artificial satellite.
  • First Artificial Satellite

    First Artificial Satellite
    The USSR beat the United States into space by launching Sputnik 1. At 184 pounds, it was the world's first artificial satellite. Sputnik transmitted radio signals back to Earth for only a short time, but it was a major accomplishment.
  • First American Satellite

    First American Satellite
    America launched its first satellite. Weighing only 30 pounds, Explorer 1 was launched into orbit by the Army on a Jupiter-C rocket. The satellite contained several scientific instruments. This mission discovered the radiation belts surrounding the Earth.
  • First Spacecraft to Impact on the Moon

    The Russian satellite Luna 2 is launched. On September 13, it becomes the first man-made object to hit the Moon. The spacecraft was sterilized to avoid contaminating the Moon with terrestrial bacteria.
  • First View of Moon's Far Side

    The Russian satellite Luna 3 is launched, orbiting the Moon and photographing 70 percent of the Moon's far side.
  • First Weather Satellite

    Tiros 1, the first successful weather satellite, is launched by the United States. Two television cameras in the satellite returned views of clouds above the Earth. Tiros 1 was only operational for 78 days, but proved that satellites could be useful tools for surveying weather conditions from space.
  • First Close-up Images of Mars

    Mariner 4 arrived at Mars and gave scientists their first views of the planet at close range. The resulting photos showed no sign of the famous "canals" and no evidence of life.
  • First Space Shuttle Launch

    First Space Shuttle Launch
    The first manned mission of the Space Transportation System (STS-1), Columbia, is launched. This mission, as well as the next three, will be a test flight to try out the spacecraft's systems.
  • First American Woman in Space

    Astronaut Sally K. Ride becomes the first American woman to travel into space on Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-7.
  • Galileo Arrives at Jupiter

    The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter and a probe is dropped into the planet's atmosphere. The orbiter will spend the next two years orbiting and studying the planet and its moons.
  • First Landing on an Asteroid

    The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft is successfully landed on the surface of the asteroid Eros. NEAR sends back unprecedented images of the asteroid's surface during its hour-long descent. NEAR had been in orbit around Eros since February 14, 2000. It was never designed to land on the asteroid. The landing is a last minute idea to get some additional data as the spacecraft as it runs out of fuel and nears the end of its mission.
  • Largest Space Telescope Launched

    Largest Space Telescope Launched
    Russia launches the Spektr-R which becomes largest space telescope to be placed into orbit. Spektr-R is a radio telescope designed to study astronomical objects with an angular resolution up to a few millionths of an arcsecond. The telescope is intended for radio-astrophysical observations of extragalactic objects with ultra-high resolution. At launch, the giant telescope weighed 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilograms).
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    Early space Exploration

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    Space Explorations - 1958-1980

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    Present space Exploration