Timeline of space exploration

Summary

This is a timeline of space exploration including notable achievements and first accomplishments or major events in humanity's exploration of outer space.

Pre-20th century

Date Event leading to space exploration Country Researcher(s) Ref(s)
1610 First telescopic observation of the night sky: discovery of Jupiter's moons, lunar craters and the phases of Venus. Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg Republic of Venice Galileo Galilei
1813 First exposition of the rocket equation based on Newton's third law of motion: Treatise on the Motion of Rockets Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK William Moore
1840 First clear telescopic photograph of another world: the Moon. Flag of the United States (1837–1845).svg United States John William Draper
1845 First proper observation of other galaxies which are termed "whirlpool nebulae". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK/Ireland William Parsons
1861 A Journey Through Space makes first proposal of using rockets for space flight Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK/Scotland William Leitch
1895 First proposal of space elevator Flag of Russia.svg Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

1900–1956

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
1903 Inspired by the writings of Jules Verne, first serious work published that showed physical space exploration was theoretically possible: Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices) Flag of Russia.svg Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
1914 Goddard files for and is subsequently awarded U.S. patents on multistage and liquid-fueled rockets Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States Robert H. Goddard
1917 First observation of an extrasolar planet (exoplanet) round Van Maanen 2 although it is not recognised as such at the time. Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands Adriaan van Maanen
1919 Goddard's widely influential paper "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" discussed solid- and liquid-fueled rocketry Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States Robert H. Goddard
15 December 1923 Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space") self-published after its rejection as a doctoral thesis. Flag of Germany.svg Germany Hermann Oberth
1924 Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel founded Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1936).svg USSR Members include Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Friedrich Zander, Yuri Kondratyuk
16 March 1926 Goddard launches the first liquid-fueled rocket Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States Robert H. Goddard
1927 Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel) formed; it includes many top European rocket scientists. Flag of Germany.svg Germany  
1927 Завоевание межпланетных пространств (The Conquest of Interplanetary Space) discusses rocket mechanics and orbital effects including the gravitational slingshot Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1936).svg USSR Yuri Kondratyuk
1928 Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel – The Rocket Motor) discusses space travel and its potential uses for scientific experiments. Flag of Germany.svg Germany Herman Potočnik
11 June 1928 Lippisch Ente, first successful rocket-powered full-size aircraft Flag of Germany.svg Germany Alexander Lippisch (designer), Fritz Stamer (pilot)
20 June 1944 V-2 Rocket (MW 18014): First man-made object to cross what would later be defined as the Kármán line and hence first spaceflight in history. Flag of Germany (1935–1945).svg Germany Wehrmacht
October 1945 Article in Wireless World, Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage? makes first discussion of geostationary satellites as a means of communication. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK Arthur C. Clarke
10 May 1946 First space research flight (cosmic radiation experiments) Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States captured and improved V-2 rocket
24 October 1946 First pictures of Earth from 105 km (65 mi) Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States V-2 [1][2]
20 February 1947 First animals in space (fruit flies) Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States V-2 [1][3]
24 February 1949 WAC Corporal missile mounted onto a V-2 rocket, producing the first two-stage liquid-fueled rocket, that sets a record altitude of 244 miles (392.68 kilometers). Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States Bumper-5

1957–1959

Date Mission achievements Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
21 August 1957 First intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR R-7 Semyorka/SS-6 Sapwood
4 October 1957 First artificial satellite
First signals from space
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Sputnik 1
3 November 1957 First mammal in orbit, the dog Laika Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Sputnik 2
31 January 1958 Confirmed existence of the Van Allen radiation belt Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg USA (ABMA) Explorer 1
4 January 1959 First rocket to reach Earth escape velocity; attempt to impact the Moon's surface; missed by 5,995 kilometers (3,237 nmi)
First artificial object in heliocentric orbit
First detection of solar wind
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 1
7 August 1959 First photograph of Earth from orbit US flag 49 stars.svg USA (NASA) Explorer 6
13 September 1959 First impact into the Moon
First delivery of national pennants to a celestial body
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 2
4 October 1959 First photos of another world from space: the far side of the Moon Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 3

1960–1969

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
March 1960 First solar probe. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 5
19 August 1960 First plants and animals to return alive from Earth orbit Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Sputnik 5
10 October 1960 First probe launched to Mars (failed to reach target) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Mars 1M
31 January 1961 First Hominidae in space, first tasks performed in space; Ham (chimpanzee). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) M-R 2
12 February 1961 First launch from Earth orbit of upper stage into a heliocentric orbit
First mid-course corrections
First spin-stabilisation
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 1
12 April 1961 First human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin)
First human-crewed orbital flight
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Vostok 1
5 May 1961 First human-piloted space flight (Alan Shepard)
First human-crewed suborbital flight
First human space mission that landed with pilot still in spacecraft, thus the first complete human spaceflight by FAI definitions.
Flag of the United States.svg USA Freedom 7 [4]
19 May 1961 First planetary flyby (within 100,000 km of Venus – no data returned) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 1
6 August 1961 First manned space flight lasting over twenty four hours by Gherman Titov, who is also the first to suffer from space sickness. Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Vostok 2
7 March 1962 First orbital solar observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) OSO-1
26 April 1962 First spacecraft to impact the far side of the Moon Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Ranger 4 [5]
11 August 1962 First dual manned spaceflight
First communication between two manned space vehicles in orbit.
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Vostok 3 & Vostok 4
18 August 1962 First auroral research rocket launched into the ionosphere
Flag of Norway.png
Norway
Ferdinand 1
November 1962 First Mars flyby (11,000 km) but contact was lost Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Mars 1
14 December 1962 First successful planetary flyby (Venus closest approach 34,773 kilometers) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 2
16 June 1963 First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Vostok 6
19 July 1963 First reusable crewed spacecraft (suborbital) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) X-15 Flight 90
12 October 1964 First multi-person crew (3) in orbit Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Voskhod 1
18 March 1965 First space walk/extra-vehicular activity (Alexei Leonov) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Voskhod 2
March 1965 First crewed spacecraft to change orbit Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 3
14 July 1965 First Mars flyby (closest approach 9,846 kilometers; returned pictures) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 4
14 July 1965 First close-up photographs of another planet: Mars Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 4
15 December 1965 First orbital rendezvous (parallel flight, no docking) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 6A/Gemini 7
3 February 1966 First soft landing on another world (the Moon)
First photos from another world
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 9
1 March 1966 First impact into another planet (Venus) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 3
16 March 1966 First orbital docking between two spacecraft Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 8/Agena target vehicle
3 April 1966 First artificial satellite around another world (the Moon) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 10
August 1966 First probe to map the Moon Flag of the United States.svg USA Lunar Orbiter 1
30 October 1967 First automated (crewless) docking Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Cosmos 186/Cosmos 188
September 1968 First animals and plants to leave Earth orbit, to travel to and circle the Moon, and the first Moon mission with passengers to return safely to Earth Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Zond 5
7 December 1968 First orbital ultraviolet observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) OAO-2
21 December 1968 First piloted orbital mission of another celestial body (Moon),
First Trans-Earth injection
First human space mission to enter the gravitational influence of another celestial body (25 December)
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 8
January 1969 First docking between two crewed spacecraft in Earth orbit, also the first crew exchange in space Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5
January 1969 First to parachute in Venus's atmosphere, lost contact before landing. Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 5
20 July 1969 First human on the Moon, and first space launch from a celestial body other than the Earth
First sample return from the Moon
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 11
August 4, 1969 First photograph of Phobos from Space Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 7
19 November 1969 First rendezvous on the surface of a celestial body Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 12/Surveyor 3

1970–1980

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
24 September 1970 First automatic sample return from the Moon Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Luna 16
17 November 1970 First lunar rover Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Lunokhod 1
12 December 1970 First X-ray orbital observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Uhuru (satellite)
15 December 1970 First soft landing on another planet (Venus)
First signals from another planet
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 7
19 April 1971 First space station Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 1
June 1971 First manned orbital observatory Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Orion 1
14 November 1971 First to maintain orbit around another planet (Mars) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 9
27 November 1971 First impact into Mars Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Mars 2
2 December 1971 First soft Mars landing
First signals from Mars surface
First photograph from Martian surface.
Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Mars 3
3 March 1972 First human made object sent on escape trajectory away from the Sun Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
15 July 1972 First mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave inner Solar System Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
15 November 1972 First orbital gamma ray observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) SAS 2
3 December 1973 First Jupiter flyby (at 130,000 km) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
5 February 1974 Venus flyby at 5768 kilometers, first gravitational assist manoeuvre

First photograph of Venus from Space

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10
29 March 1974 First Mercury flyby at 703 kilometers Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10
30 May 1975 Formation of European Space Agency, which pools the resources of several European countries. Flag of Europe.svg ESA
15 July 1975 First multinational manned mission Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
20 October 1975 First orbit around Venus Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 9
22 October 1975 First successful photos from the surface of another planet (Venus) Flag of the Soviet Union (dark version).svg USSR Venera 9
17 April 1976 Closest flyby of the Sun (43.432 million kilometers)
Maximum speed record among spacecraft (252,792 km/h)
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Germany.svg West Germany (DFVLR) Helios 2
20 July 1976 First successful photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Viking Lander
26 January 1978 First real time remotely operated ultraviolet orbital observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK (SERC) International Ultraviolet Explorer
4 December 1978 First extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of Venus from 1978 to 1992 Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer Venus Orbiter
5 March 1979 Jupiter flyby (closest approach 349,000 km)
encounters with Five Jovian moons, discovery of volcanism on Io
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1
1 September 1979 First Saturn flyby at 21,000 km, first photographs of Titan from Space Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 11
12 November 1980 Saturn flyby (closest approach 124,000 kilometers), close encounter of Titan and encounters with a dozen others. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1

1981–1999

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
12 April 1981 First Reusable manned orbital spacecraft Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) STS-1
1 March 1982 First Venus soil samples and sound recording of another world Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Venera 13
19 August 1982 First mixed gender crew aboard space station, and first woman on space station. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 7
25 January 1983 First Infrared orbital observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK (SERC) Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands (NIVR) IRAS
13 June 1983 First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Neptune (first spacecraft to pass beyond all Solar System planets) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
7 February 1984 First untethered spacewalk, Bruce McCandless II Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) STS-41-B
25 July 1984 First spacewalk by woman, Svetlana Savitskaya Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 7
11 June 1985 First balloon deployed on another planet (Venus) Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Vega 1
24 January 1986 First Uranus flyby (closest approach 81,500 kilometers (44,000 nmi) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 2
28 January 1986 First major American space loss, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, an explosion soon after liftoff which killed, among others, Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) STS-51-L
19 February 1986 First consistently inhabited long-term research space station Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Mir
4 March 1986 First flyby of a comet (Halley's Comet, 8,889 kilometers) Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Vega 1 & Vega 2
13 March 1986 First close up observations of a comet (Halley's Comet, 596 kilometers) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Giotto
July 1988 First suspected detection of an exoplanet Gamma Cephei Ab, although the discovery was retracted in 1994, and not confirmed until 2002. Flag of Canada.svg Canada Team of astronomers, led by Bruce Campbell, Gordon Walker, and Stephenson Yang; existence announced by Anthony Lawton & P. Wright in 1989
8 August 1989 First astrometric satellite Flag of Europe.svg ESA Hipparcos
25 August 1989 First Neptune flyby (closest approach at 29,240 km) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 2
18 November 1989 First orbital cosmic microwave observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) COBE
14 February 1990 First photograph of the whole Solar System Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1 [6]
24 April 1990 Optical orbital observatory Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Hubble Space Telescope
2 July 1990 First time a spacecraft coming from deep space uses the Earth for a gravity-assist manoeuvre Flag of Europe.svg ESA Giotto [7]
15 September 1990 Extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of Venus Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Magellan
21 October 1991 First asteroid flyby (951 Gaspra closest approach 1,600 kilometers) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo
1992 First confirmed observation of an exoplanet Flag of Canada.svg Canada Flag of Poland.svg Poland Aleksander Wolszczan & Dale Frail
8 February 1992 First polar orbit around the Sun Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Ulysses
22 March 1995 Record longest duration spaceflight (437.7 days) set by Valeri Polyakov Flag of Russia.svg Russia (FKA) Mir
7 December 1995 First orbit of Jupiter Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo
7 December 1995 First mission into the atmosphere of a gas giant (Jupiter) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo's atmospheric entry probe
12 February 1997 First orbital radio observatory Flag of Japan.svg Japan (ISAS) HALCA
4 July 1997 First operational rover on another planet (Mars) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mars Pathfinder
20 November 1998 First multinational space station,
Largest man-made object built in space to date
Flag of Russia.svg Russia (FKA) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg Europe (ESA) Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Flag of Canada.svg Canada (CSA) International Space Station

2000–present

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
14 February 2000 First orbiting of an asteroid (433 Eros) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA NEAR Shoemaker
12 February 2001 First landing on an asteroid (433 Eros) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) NEAR Shoemaker
1 July 2004 First orbit of Saturn Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
8 September 2004 First sample return beyond lunar orbit (solar wind) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Genesis
14 January 2005 First soft landing on Titan
First soft landing in the outer Solar System
Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
19 November 2005 First asteroid ascent (25143 Itokawa)
First interplanetary escape without undercarriage cutoff
Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
15 January 2006 First sample return from comet (81P/Wild) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Stardust
6 March 2009 Kepler Mission is launched, first space telescope designated to search for Earth-like exoplanets Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Kepler Mission [8]
13 June 2010 First sample return from asteroid (25143 Itokawa) Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
18 March 2011 First orbit of Mercury Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) MESSENGER
16 July 2011 First orbit of giant asteroid Vesta Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Dawn'
25 August 2012 First manmade probe in interstellar space. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1
12 November 2014 First man-made probe to make a planned and soft landing on a comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko). Flag of Europe.svg ESA Rosetta [9]
6 March 2015 First orbit of dwarf planet (Ceres).
First spacecraft to orbit two separate celestial bodies.
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Dawn
July 2015 First flyby of dwarf planet (Pluto).
Last original encounter with one of the nine major planets recognized in 1981.
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) New Horizons
10 August 2015 First food grown in space eaten (lettuce). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) International Space Station [10]
21 December 2015 First propulsive landing for an orbital rocket. Flag of the United States.svg USA (SpaceX) Falcon 9 first-stage landing tests
21 September 2018 First operational rover on asteroid (162173 Ryugu) Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa2
1 January 2019 First contact binary explored by spacecraft (486958 Arrokoth) Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) New Horizons [11]
3 January 2019 First soft landing on the far side of the Moon; also first germination of seeds on another celestial body. China China (CNSA) Chang'e 4 [12]
30 May 2020 First human orbital spaceflight launched by a private company. Flag of the United States.svg USA (SpaceX) SpaceX Demo-2 [13]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Chronology: Cowboys to V-2s to the Space Shuttle to lasers". Wsmr.army.mil. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2013-01-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Part 1". History.nasa.gov. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Geek Trivia: A leap of fakes". Techrepublic.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Discussion". Space Policy. 14 (1): 6. 1998-02-01. doi:10.1016/S0265-9646(97)00038-6.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-07-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Giotto overview". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  8. ^ "NASA launches Kepler Mission: Search for Earth-like worlds". Spacechornology.com. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  9. ^ Chang, Kenneth (November 12, 2014). "European Space Agency's Spacecraft Lands on Comet's Surface". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  10. ^ "Meals Ready to Eat: Expedition 44 Crew Members Sample Leafy Greens Grown on Space Station". Nasa. 7 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Ultima Thule: Clearest image yet of 'snowman' space rock released by NASA". Sky News. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  12. ^ Lyons, Kate (2019-01-03). "Far side of the moon: China's Chang'e 4 probe makes historic touchdown". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  13. ^ "SpaceX Speeding Astronauts to Space Station in Landmark Trip". www.bloomberg.com. 2020-05-30. Retrieved 2020-05-31.

External links

  • Chronology of Space Exploration archive of important space exploration missions and events, including future planned and proposed endeavors
  • Manned spaceflight 1961-1980
  • Manned spaceflight chronology
  • History of manned space missions
  • Timeline of the Space Race/Moon Race
  • Chronology: Moon Race at russianspaceweb.com
  • Space Timeline in 3d

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