- Top: The uncrewed resupply vessel Progress M-06M (upper-left). Galileo space probe, prior to departure from Earth orbit in 1989 (right). The uncrewed ATV-2 Johannes Kepler approaches the crewed space station ISS (lower-left).
- Bottom: Spaceplane Buran was launched, orbited Earth, and landed as an uncrewed spacecraft in 1988 (shown at an airshow).
Uncrewed spacecraft or unmanned spacecraft are spacecraft without people on board, used for robotic spaceflight. Uncrewed spacecraft may have varying levels of autonomy from human input; they may be remote controlled, remote guided or even autonomous, meaning they have a pre-programmed list of operations, which they will execute unless otherwise instructed.
Many habitable spacecraft also have varying levels of robotic features. For example, the space stations Salyut 7 and Mir, and the International Space Station module Zarya, were capable of remote guided station-keeping and docking maneuvers with both resupply craft and new modules. The most common uncrewed spacecraft categories are robotic spacecraft, uncrewed resupply spacecraft, space probes and space observatories. Not every uncrewed spacecraft is a robotic spacecraft; for example, a reflector ball is a non-robotic uncrewed spacecraft.
For a more detailed list, see List of Solar System probes.
Selected lunar probes
- Zond program — failed USSR flyby probe
- Mars probe program — USSR orbiters and landers
- Viking program — two NASA orbiters and landers (1974)
- Phobos program — failed USSR orbiters and Phobos landers
- Mars Pathfinder — NASA lander and rover (1997)
- Mars Surveyor '98 program (Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander) — failed NASA probes
- Mars Global Surveyor — NASA orbiter
- Mars Odyssey — NASA orbiter, reached Mars on October 24, 2001
- Mars Observer — failed NASA Mars orbiter
- Mars Express (Mars Express Orbiter and Beagle 2) — European orbiter and failed lander 2003
- Mars Exploration Rovers — NASA rovers (2004)
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter — NASA orbiter, entered Martian orbit March 10, 2006
- Phoenix — NASA lander, landed May 25, 2008
- Mars Science Laboratory — NASA rover, launched November 26, 2011
- Mars Orbiter Mission — Indian orbiter launched by ISRO on 5 November, 2013
- Mars 2020 — NASA rover and helicopter, launched July 30, 2020
Gas giant probes
Comet and asteroid probes
9P/Tempel collides with Deep Impact'
- International Cometary Explorer — passed through gas tail of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner (1985)
- Giotto — European — flyby of comet 1P/Halley (1986)
- Vega 1 & 2 — USSR — flyby of comet 1P/Halley (1986)
- Sakigake — Japanese — flyby of comet 1P/Halley (1986)
- Suisei — Japanese — flyby of comet 1P/Halley (1986)
- NEAR Shoemaker — US — asteroid 433 Eros orbiter, which later landed on the asteroid's surface, launched 1996
- Deep Space 1 — US — comet 19P/Borrelly and asteroid flyby, 1998–2000
- Stardust — US — comet 81P/Wild flyby and sample return, launched 1999, flew-by 2004, returned January 15, 2006
- CONTOUR — US — comet flyby mission (comets 2P, 73P and 6P); lost due to solid rocket motor failure shortly after launch in 2002
- Hayabusa — Japanese — asteroid rendezvous, lander and sample return, launched 2003, returned June 13, 2010
- Rosetta — European — comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko orbiter and lander (Philae); launched 2004
- Deep Impact — successful US comet 9P/Tempel impactor, launched 2005
- Deep Impact/EPOXI — US — comet 103P/Hartley flyby (extended Deep Impact mission) — 2010
- Stardust/NExT — US — comet 9P/Tempel flyby (extended Stardust mission) — 2011
- Dawn — US launched on September 27, 2007 — orbited Vesta in 2011, and currently orbiting Ceres since 2015
Solar observation probes
- Ulysses — solar particles and fields (ended 2009)
- Genesis — first solar wind sample return mission, 2001–2004 (crash)
- Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) — launched October 19, 2008.
- Advanced Composition Explorer — solar particles and fields observation at Earth-Sun L1 point
- STEREO — pair of probes in solar orbits providing 3D observations of Sun
- SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, observer for Sun's corona and core located at L1 point
Other Solar System probes
Interstellar or cosmic observation probes
- OREX (Orbital Re-Entry EXperiment) — Japanese atmospheric reentry and heat shield demonstrator (successfully flown in February 1994)
- Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) — European atmospheric reentry and heat shield demonstrator (successfully flown in October 1998)
- HYFLEX (Hypersonic Flight Experiment) — Japanese uncrewed spaceplane atmospheric reentry demonstrator (successfully flown in February 1996)
- Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) — European uncrewed spaceplane atmospheric reentry demonstrator (successfully flown in February 2015)
Uncrewed resupply spacecraft