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NASA

NASA

Timeline

1915   NACA, the predecessor of NASA, is founded.

1958   U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

1958   NASA is created to replace NACA.

1958   Pioneer program: NASA launches the lunar probe Pioneer 1 (the probe falls back to Earth and burns up).

1959   Project Mercury: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts, whom the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".

1959   President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring Wernher von Braun and other German scientists from the United States Army to NASA.

1960   In Huntsville, Alabama, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicates the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA had already activated the facility on July 1).

1961   NASA launches the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.

1962   Apollo Project: NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.

1962   NASA's Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.

1962   The Mariner 2 unmanned space mission is launched to Venus by NASA.

1962   NASA "Relay 1" launch, first active repeater communications satellite in orbit.

1962   NASA's ''Mariner 2'' becomes the first spacecraft to fly by Venus.

1964   Mariner program: NASA launches the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.

1965   Ranger program: NASA launches Ranger 9 which is the last in a series of unmanned lunar space probes.

1965   NASA launches Gemini 3, the United States' first two-man space flight (crew: Gus Grissom and John Young).

1965   NASA spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to convert its signals into a form suitable for showing on domestic television, brings images of the Moon into ordinary homes before crash landing.

1965   Launch of ''Gemini 4'', the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Crew-member Ed White performs the first American spacewalk.

1966   One of the XB-70 Valkyrie prototypes is destroyed in a mid-air collision with a F-104 Starfighter chase plane during a photo shoot. NASA pilot Joseph A. Walker and United States Air Force test pilot Carl Cross are both killed.

1966   NASA launches Gemini 12.

1967   Apollo program: NASA launches the unmanned Apollo 4 test spacecraft atop the first Saturn V rocket from Cape Kennedy, Florida.

1968   Apollo program: NASA launches Apollo 6.

1968   Apollo program: NASA launches ''Apollo 7,'' the first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham aboard.

1969   Apollo program: NASA launches Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the Moon.

1970   NASA announces the cancellation of two Apollo missions to the Moon, Apollo 15 (the designation is re-used by a later mission), and Apollo 19.

1973   Mariner program: NASA launches the ''Mariner 10'' toward Mercury. On March 29, 1974, it becomes the first space probe to reach that planet.

1973   Skylab program: NASA launches Skylab 4 with a crew of three astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida for an 84-day mission.

1974   NASA's Mariner 10 becomes the first spaceprobe to fly by Mercury. It was launched on November 3, 1973.

1974   Western Union (in cooperation with NASA and Hughes Aircraft) launches the United States' first commercial geosynchronous communications satellite, Westar 1.

1975   Viking Program: NASA launches the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars.

1976   The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, is unveiled by NASA.

1980   The NASA space probe ''Voyager I'' makes its closest approach to Saturn and takes the first images of its rings.

1982   NASA launches the Intelsat V-508 satellite.

1982   NASA's Space Shuttle ''Columbia'', is launched from the Kennedy Space Center on its third mission, STS-3.

1988   Space Shuttle: NASA launches STS-26, the return to flight mission, after the Space Shuttle ''Challenger'' disaster. 160px

1992   NASA launches Space Shuttle ''Endeavour'' on STS-47 which marked the 50th shuttle mission. On board are Mae Carol Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly in a US spaceship, and Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space.

1993   NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft.

1994   NASA loses radio contact with the Magellan spacecraft as the probe descends into the thick atmosphere of Venus (the spacecraft presumably burned up in the atmosphere).

1996   NASA's Discovery Program begins as the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft lifts off on the first mission ever to orbit and land on an asteroid, 433 Eros.

1996   NASA announces that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contains evidence of primitive life-forms.

1996   NASA launches the Mars Global Surveyor.

1997   NASA's Pathfinder space probe lands on the surface of Mars.

1997   NASA's Mars Global Surveyor reaches Mars.

1999   NASA announces that it has lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter.

1999   NASA loses radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere.

1999   NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

2001   NASA's Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter's moon Io.

2002   NASA's Mars Odyssey space probe begins to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

2002   The last successful telemetry from the NASA space probe Pioneer 10.

2003   The Spirit Rover is launched, beginning NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission.

2004   Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, lands successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.

2004   NASA's MER-A (the Mars Rover ''Spirit'') ceases communication with mission control. The problem lies in the management of its flash memory and is fixed remotely from Earth on February 6.

2004   NASA's unmanned spacecraft ''Genesis'' crash-lands when its parachute fails to open.

2005   Space Shuttle program: STS-114 Mission – Launch of ''Discovery'', NASA's first scheduled flight mission after the ''Columbia'' Disaster in 2003.

2005   STS-114: NASA grounds the Space Shuttle, pending an investigation of the continuing problem with the shedding of foam insulation from the external fuel tank. During ascent, the external tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery sheds a piece of foam slightly smaller than the piece that caused the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; this foam does not strike the spacecraft.

2006   The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto.

2006   NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.

2007   Johnson Space Center Shooting: A man with a handgun barricades himself in NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself.

2007   NASA's Phoenix spaceship is launched.

2009   First lunar impact of the Centaur and LCROSS spacecrafts as part of NASA's Lunar Precursor Robotic Program.