Spacecraft

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A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft
Craft (vehicle)
The word craft since the 17th century has denoted a vehicle or vessel that is used for transportation on the sea, in the air or in space. But it can be applied to fictional vessels such as time craft, dimensional craft, and probability craft...

 or machine designed for spaceflight
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation
Earth observation satellite
Earth observation satellites are satellites specifically designed to observe Earth from orbit, similar to reconnaissance satellites but intended for non-military uses such as environmental monitoring, meteorology, map making etc....

, meteorology
Weather satellite
The weather satellite is a type of satellite that is primarily used to monitor the weather and climate of the Earth. Satellites can be either polar orbiting, seeing the same swath of the Earth every 12 hours, or geostationary, hovering over the same spot on Earth by orbiting over the equator while...

, navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

, planetary exploration
Planetary science
Planetary science is the scientific study of planets , moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation,...

 and transportation of humans
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 and cargo
Unmanned resupply spacecraft
Unmanned resupply spacecraft are a special kind of robotic spacecraft that operate autonomously without a human crew, designed to support space station operation...

.

On a sub-orbital spaceflight
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

, a spacecraft enters space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

 and then returns to the surface, without having gone into an orbit
Orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

. For orbital spaceflight
Orbital spaceflight
An orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit. To do this around the Earth, it must be on a free trajectory which has an altitude at perigee above...

s, spacecraft enter closed orbits around the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 or around other celestial bodies
Astronomical object
Astronomical objects or celestial objects are naturally occurring physical entities, associations or structures that current science has demonstrated to exist in the observable universe. The term astronomical object is sometimes used interchangeably with astronomical body...

. Spacecraft used for human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 carry people on board as crew or passengers from start or on orbit (space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

s) only, while those used for robotic space missions operate either autonomously
Autonomous robot
Autonomous robots are robots that can perform desired tasks in unstructured environments without continuous human guidance. Many kinds of robots have some degree of autonomy. Different robots can be autonomous in different ways...

 or telerobotically
Telerobotics
Telerobotics is the area of robotics concerned with the control of robots from a distance, chiefly using wireless connections , "tethered" connections, or the Internet...

. Robotic spacecraft used to support scientific research are space probe
Space probe
A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

s. Robotic spacecraft that remain in orbit around a planetary body are artificial satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s. Only a handful of interstellar probe
Interstellar probe
An interstellar probe is a space probe that has left—or is expected to leave—the Solar System and enter interstellar space, typically defined as the region beyond the heliopause...

s, such as Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

 and 11
Pioneer 11
Pioneer 11 is a 259-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on April 6, 1973 to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter and Saturn, solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere...

, Voyager 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

 and 2
Voyager 2
The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

, and New Horizons
New Horizons
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

, are currently on trajectories that leave our Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

.

Orbital spacecraft may be recoverable or not. By method of reentry to Earth they may be divided in non-winged space capsule
Space capsule
A space capsule is an often manned spacecraft which has a simple shape for the main section, without any wings or other features to create lift during atmospheric reentry....

s and winged spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

s.

Currently, only a few nations have spaceflight technology: Russia (Russian Federal Space Agency
Russian Federal Space Agency
The Russian Federal Space Agency , commonly called Roscosmos and abbreviated as FKA and RKA , is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency .Headquarters of Roscosmos are located...

), the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 and private industry), the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (European Space Agency
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

), the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (China National Space Administration
China National Space Administration
The China National Space Administration is the national space agency of the People's Republic of China responsible for the national space program. It is responsible for planning and development of space activities...

), Japan (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The , or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the...

), and India (Indian Space Research Organisation
Indian Space Research Organisation
The Indian Space Research Organisation is an independent Indian governmental agency established in 1969 for the research and development of vehicles and activities for the exploration of space within and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Headquartered in Bangalore...

). As of 2011, only the US, Russia and China have demonstrated human spaceflight capability.

Spacecraft (spaceship) and space travel
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

 are common themes in works of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

.

History



The first Earth orbiting satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 was Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

, which was launched 4 October 1957, and remained in orbit for several months. While Sputnik 1 was the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth, other man-made objects had previously reached an altitude of 100 km, which is the height required by the international organization Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

 to count as a spaceflight. This altitude is called the Kármán line
Karman line
The Kármán line lies at an altitude of above the Earth's sea level, and is commonly used to define the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space...

. In particular, in the 1940s there were several test launches of the V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

, some of which reached altitudes well over 100 km.

Manned spacecraft




As of 2011, only three nations have flown manned spacecraft: USSR/Russia, USA, and China. India, Japan, Europe/ESA, Iran, DPRK, Denmark, and Romania have plans for manned spacecraft (for manned suborbital rockets).

The first manned spacecraft was Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

, which carried Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 into space in 1961, and completed a full Earth orbit. There were five other manned missions which used a Vostok spacecraft
Vostok spacecraft
The Vostok was a type of spacecraft built by the Soviet Union. The first human spaceflight in history was accomplished on this spacecraft on April 12, 1961, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin....

. The second manned spacecraft was named Freedom 7
Mercury-Redstone 3
Mercury-Redstone 3 was the first manned space mission of the United States. Astronaut Alan Shepard piloted a 15-minute Project Mercury suborbital flight in the Freedom 7 spacecraft on May 5, 1961 to become the first American in space, three weeks after the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had carried...

, and it performed a sub-orbital spaceflight
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

 in 1961 carrying American astronaut Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, in space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit...

 to an altitude of just over 187 kilometres (116.2 mi). There were five other manned missions using Mercury spacecraft
Project Mercury
In January 1960 NASA awarded Western Electric Company a contract for the Mercury tracking network. The value of the contract was over $33 million. Also in January, McDonnell delivered the first production-type Mercury spacecraft, less than a year after award of the formal contract. On February 12,...

.

Other Soviet manned spacecraft include the Voskhod
Voskhod spacecraft
The Voskhod was a spacecraft built by the Soviet Union's space program for human spaceflight as part of the Voskhod programme. It was a development of and a follow-on to the Vostok spacecraft...

, Soyuz
Soyuz spacecraft
Soyuz , Union) is a series of spacecraft initially designed for the Soviet space programme by the Korolyov Design Bureau in the 1960s, and still in service today...

, unflown as manned Zond/L1
Soyuz 7K-L1
The Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft was designed to launch men from the Earth to circle the Moon without going into lunar orbit in the context of the Soviet manned moon-flyby program in Moon race. It was based on the Soyuz 7K-OK with several components stripped out to reduce the vehicle weight...

, L3
Soyuz 7K-L3
The Soyuz 7K-LOK, or simply LOK was a Soviet spacecraft designed to launch men from Earth to circle the moon and developed in parallel to the 7K-L1. The LOK would carry two cosmonauts into orbit around the Moon, acting as "mother" spacecraft for the LK Lander, which would land one member of the...

, TKS
TKS spacecraft
TKS spacecraft was a Soviet spacecraft design in the late 1960s intended to supply the military Almaz space station. The spacecraft was designed for manned or autonomous cargo resupply use...

, and the Salyut and Mir
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

 manned space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

s. Other American manned spacecraft include the Gemini Spacecraft
Project Gemini
Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program of NASA, the civilian space agency of the United States government. Project Gemini was conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo, with ten manned flights occurring in 1965 and 1966....

, Apollo Spacecraft
Apollo Command/Service Module
The Command/Service Module was one of two spacecraft, along with the Lunar Module, used for the United States Apollo program which landed astronauts on the Moon. It was built for NASA by North American Aviation...

, the Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 space station, and the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. The orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft...

 with undetached European Spacelab
Spacelab
Spacelab was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory consisted of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay...

 and private US Spacehab
SPACEHAB
Astrotech Corporation , formerly Spacehab Inc., is an aerospace company headquartered in Austin, Texas which provides commercial space products and services to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, international space agencies, and global commercial customers...

 space stations-modules. China developed unflown Shuguang and currently using Shenzhou
Shenzhou
Shenzhou may refer to:*Shenzhou , or "Divine Land", name of China*Shenzhou City, in Hebei, China*Shenzhou , an album by ambient musician Biosphere*Shenzhou program, a manned spaceflight initiative by the People's Republic of China...

 (the first manned mission was in 2003).

All of these recovery manned spacecraft were space capsule
Space capsule
A space capsule is an often manned spacecraft which has a simple shape for the main section, without any wings or other features to create lift during atmospheric reentry....

s.

The International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

, manned since November 2000, is a joint venture between Russia, the United States, and several other countries.

Spaceplanes




Some reusable vehicles have been designed only for manned spaceflight, and these are often called spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

s. The first example of such was the North American X-15
North American X-15
The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

 spaceplane, which conducted two manned flights which reached a height over 100 km in the 1960s. The first reusable spacecraft, the X-15, was air-launched on a suborbital trajectory on July 19, 1963.

The first partially reusable orbital spacecraft, winged non-capsule, the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

, was launched by the USA on the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

's flight, on April 12, 1981. During the Shuttle era, six orbiters were built, all of which have flown in the atmosphere and five of which have flown in space. The Enterprise
Space Shuttle Enterprise
The Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight...

 was used only for approach and landing tests, launching from the back of a Boeing 747 SCA
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters...

 and gliding to deadstick landings at Edwards AFB, California. The first Space Shuttle to fly into space was the Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

, followed by the Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

, Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011...

, Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is a retired Space Shuttle orbiter in the Space Shuttle fleet belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the spaceflight and space exploration agency of the United States...

, and Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

. The Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger when it was lost
STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

 in January 1986. The Columbia broke up
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

 during reentry in February 2003.

The first automatic partially reusable spacecraft was the Buran
Shuttle Buran
The Buran spacecraft , GRAU index 11F35 K1 was a Russian orbital vehicle analogous in function and design to the US Space Shuttle and developed by Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy of Energia rocket corporation...

 (Snowstorm), launched by the USSR on November 15, 1988, although it made only one flight. This spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

 was designed for a crew and strongly resembled the U.S. Space Shuttle, although its drop-off boosters used liquid propellants and its main engines were located at the base of what would be the external tank in the American Shuttle. Lack of funding, complicated by the dissolution of the USSR, prevented any further flights of Buran. The Space Shuttle has since been modified to allow for autonomous re-entry in case of necessity.

Per the Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

, the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 due mainly to its old age and high cost of program reaching over a billion dollars per flight. The Shuttle's human transport role is to be replaced by the partially reusable Crew Exploration Vehicle
Crew Exploration Vehicle
The Crew Exploration Vehicle was the conceptual component of the U.S. NASA Vision for Space Exploration that later became known as the Orion spacecraft...

 (CEV) no later than 2014. The Shuttle's heavy cargo transport role is to be replaced by expendable rockets such as the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) or a Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle.

Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites is an aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan and currently owned by Northrop Grumman that is located at the Mojave Spaceport, Mojave, California, United States...

' SpaceShipOne was a reusable suborbital spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

 that carried pilots Mike Melvill
Mike Melvill
Michael Winston "Mike" Melvill is one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites. Melvill piloted SpaceShipOne on its first flight past the edge of space, flight 15P on June 21, 2004, thus becoming the first commercial astronaut and the 434th...

 and Brian Binnie
Brian Binnie
William Brian Binnie is a former United States Navy officer and is one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites.-History:...

 on consecutive flights in 2004 to win the Ansari X Prize
Ansari X Prize
The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

. The Spaceship Company
The Spaceship Company
The Spaceship Company is a spacecraft manufacturing company formed by Burt Rutan and Richard Branson in mid-2005, jointly owned by Virgin Group and Scaled Composites, which will own the technology created by Scaled for Virgin Galactic's Virgin SpaceShip program...

 will build its successor SpaceShipTwo. A fleet of SpaceShipTwos operated by Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is a company within Richard Branson's Virgin Group which plans to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public, along with suborbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites...

 should begin reusable private spaceflight
Private spaceflight
Private spaceflight is flight above Earth altitude conducted by and paid for by an entity other than a government. In the early decades of the Space Age, the government space agencies of the Soviet Union and United States pioneered space technology augmented by collaboration with affiliated design...

 carrying paying passengers in 2011.

XCOR Aerospace
XCOR Aerospace
XCOR Aerospace is an American private rocket engine and spaceflight development company based at the Mojave Spaceport in Mojave, California. XCOR was formed by former members of the Rotary Rocket rocket engine development team in September, 1999...

 also plans to initiate a suborbital commercial spaceflight service with the Lynx rocketplane
Lynx rocketplane
The Lynx rocketplane is a suborbital horizontal-takeoff, horizontal-landing ,rocket-powered spaceplane being developed by the California-based company XCOR to compete in the emerging suborbital space flight market. The Lynx is projected to carry one pilot, a ticketed passenger, and/or a payload or...

 in 2012 through a partnership with RocketShip Tours
RocketShip Tours
RocketShip Tours is an American space tourism company founded by travel industry entrepreneur Jules Klar which plans to provide sub-orbital human spaceflights to the paying public, in partnership with rocketplane developer XCOR Aerospace...

. First test flights are planned for 2011.

Unmanned spacecraft






Designed as manned but flown as unmanned only spacecraft
  • Zond/L1
    Soyuz 7K-L1
    The Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft was designed to launch men from the Earth to circle the Moon without going into lunar orbit in the context of the Soviet manned moon-flyby program in Moon race. It was based on the Soyuz 7K-OK with several components stripped out to reduce the vehicle weight...

     – lunar flyby capsule
  • L3
    Soyuz 7K-L3
    The Soyuz 7K-LOK, or simply LOK was a Soviet spacecraft designed to launch men from Earth to circle the moon and developed in parallel to the 7K-L1. The LOK would carry two cosmonauts into orbit around the Moon, acting as "mother" spacecraft for the LK Lander, which would land one member of the...

     – capsule and lunar lander
  • TKS
    TKS spacecraft
    TKS spacecraft was a Soviet spacecraft design in the late 1960s intended to supply the military Almaz space station. The spacecraft was designed for manned or autonomous cargo resupply use...

     – capsule
  • Buran Soviet shuttle


Semi-manned – manned as space stations or part of space stations
  • Progress
    Progress spacecraft
    The Progress is a Russian expendable freighter spacecraft. The spacecraft is an unmanned resupply spacecraft during its flight but upon docking with a space station, it allows astronauts inside, hence it is classified manned by the manufacturer. It was derived from the Soyuz spacecraft, and is...

     – unmanned USSR/Russia cargo spacecraft
  • TKS
    TKS spacecraft
    TKS spacecraft was a Soviet spacecraft design in the late 1960s intended to supply the military Almaz space station. The spacecraft was designed for manned or autonomous cargo resupply use...

     – unmanned USSR/Russia cargo spacecraft ans space station module
  • Automated Transfer Vehicle
    Automated Transfer Vehicle
    The Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV is an expendable, unmanned resupply spacecraft developed by the European Space Agency . ATVs are designed to supply the International Space Station with propellant, water, air, payload and experiments...

     (ATV) – unmanned European cargo spacecraft
  • H-II Transfer Vehicle
    H-II Transfer Vehicle
    The H-II Transfer Vehicle , called , is an unmanned resupply spacecraft used to resupply the Kibō Japanese Experiment Module and the International Space Station . The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has been working on the design since the early 1990s. The first mission, HTV-1, was originally...

     (HTV) – unmanned Japanese cargo spacecraft


Earth Orbit satellites
  • Explorer 1 – first US satellite
  • Project SCORE
    Project SCORE
    Project SCORE was the world’s first communications satellite. Launched aboard an Atlas rocket on December 18, 1958, SCORE provided a first test of a communications relay system in space, as well as the first successful use of the Atlas as a launch vehicle...

     – first communications satellite
  • SOHO
    Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
    The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is a spacecraft built by a European industrial consortium led by Matra Marconi Space that was launched on a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS launch vehicle on December 2, 1995 to study the Sun, and has discovered over 2100 comets. It began normal operations in May...

  • Sputnik 1
    Sputnik 1
    Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

     – world's first artificial satellite
  • Sputnik 2
    Sputnik 2
    Sputnik 2 , or Prosteyshiy Sputnik 2 ), was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit, on November 3, 1957, and the first to carry a living animal, a dog named Laika. Sputnik 2 was a 4-meter high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters...

     – first animal in orbit (Laika
    Laika
    Laika was a Soviet space dog that became the first animal to orbit the Earth – as well as the first animal to die in orbit.As little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures at the time of Laika's mission, and the technology to de-orbit had not yet been developed, there...

    )
  • Sputnik 5
    Sputnik 5
    Korabl-Sputnik 2 , also known as Sputnik 5 in the West, was a Soviet artificial satellite, and the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth...

     – first capsule recovered from orbit (Vostok
    Vostok
    Vostok may refer to one of the following.Spaceflight*The Soviet Vostok programme of human spaceflight.*The Vostok spacecraft used in that programme and also the basis of a reconnaissance satellite.*The Vostok rocket, used to launch the Vostok spacecraft....

     precursor) – animals survived
  • Syncom
    Syncom
    Syncom started as a 1961 NASA program for active geosynchronous communication satellites, all of which were developed and manufactured by Hughes Space and Communications...

     – first geosynchronous communications satellite
  • Hubble Space Telescope
    Hubble Space Telescope
    The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

     – biggest orbital observatory
  • X-37
    Boeing X-37
    The Boeing X-37 is an American unmanned vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. The X-37 is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies...

     – spaceplane

As of June 2011, there are more than 2,000 spacecraft in orbit.
Lunar probes
  • Clementine – US Navy mission, orbited Moon, detected hydrogen at the poles
  • Kaguya JPN – Lunar orbiter
  • Luna 1
    Luna 1
    Luna 1 , first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.While traveling through the outer Van Allen...

     – first lunar flyby
  • Luna 2
    Luna 2
    Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

     – first lunar impact
  • Luna 3
    Luna 3
    The Soviet space probe Luna 3 of 1959 was the third space probe to be sent to the neighborhood of the Moon, and this mission was an early feat in the spaceborne exploration of outer space...

     – first images of lunar far side
  • Luna 9
    Luna 9
    Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth.The automatic lunar station that achieved the...

     – first soft landing on the Moon
  • Luna 10
    Luna 10
    Luna 10 was a Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10.The Luna 10 spacecraft was launched towards the Moon from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. It was the first artificial satellite of the Moon...

     – first lunar orbiter
  • Luna 16
    Luna 16
    -External links:*...

     – first unmanned lunar sample retrieval
  • Lunar Orbiter – very successful series of lunar mapping spacecraft
  • Lunar Prospector
    Lunar Prospector
    The Lunar Prospector mission was the third selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible...

     – confirmed detection of hydrogen at the lunar poles
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
    Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
    The Lunar Precursor Robotic Program is a program of robotic spacecraft missions which NASA will use to prepare for future human spaceflight missions to the Moon. Two LPRP missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite , were launched in June 2009...

     – Identifies safe landing sites & Locates moon resources
  • SMART-1
    SMART-1
    SMART-1 was a Swedish-designed European Space Agency satellite that orbited around the Moon. It was launched on September 27, 2003 at 23:14 UTC from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. "SMART" stands for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology...

     ESA – Lunar Impact
  • Surveyor
    Surveyor program
    The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon...

     – first USA soft lander
  • Chandrayaan 1 – first Indian Lunar mission




Planetary probes
  • Akatsuki JPN – a Venus
    Venus
    Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

     orbiter
  • Cassini–Huygens – first Saturn
    Saturn
    Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

     orbiter + Titan
    Titan (moon)
    Titan , or Saturn VI, is the largest moon of Saturn, the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found....

     lander
  • Galileo
    Galileo spacecraft
    Galileo was an unmanned spacecraft sent by NASA to study the planet Jupiter and its moons. Named after the astronomer and Renaissance pioneer Galileo Galilei, it was launched on October 18, 1989 by the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-34 mission...

     – first Jupiter
    Jupiter
    Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

     orbiter+descent probe
  • IKAROS
    IKAROS
    IKAROS is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency experimental spacecraft. The spacecraft was launched on 21 May, 2010, aboard an H-IIA rocket, together with the Akatsuki probe and four other small spacecraft...

     JPN – first solar-sail spacecraft
  • Mariner 4
    Mariner 4
    Mariner 4 was the fourth in a series of spacecraft, launched on November 28, 1964, intended for planetary exploration in a flyby mode and performed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars, returning the first pictures of the Martian surface...

     – first Mars
    Mars
    Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

     flyby, first close and high resulution images of Mars
  • Mariner 9
    Mariner 9
    Mariner 9 was a NASA space orbiter that helped in the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 13 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit...

     – first Mars orbiter
    Orbiter
    An orbiter is a space probe that orbits a planet.-Asteroids:*NEAR Shoemaker...

  • Mariner 10
    Mariner 10
    Mariner 10 was an American robotic space probe launched by NASA on November 3, 1973, to fly by the planets Mercury and Venus. It was launched approximately two years after Mariner 9 and was the last spacecraft in the Mariner program...

     – first Mercury
    Mercury (planet)
    Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

     flyby, first close up images
  • Mars Exploration Rover
    Mars Exploration Rover
    NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an ongoing robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet Mars...

     – a Mars rover
  • Mars Express
    Mars Express
    Mars Express is a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency . The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. "Express" originally referred to the speed and efficiency with which the spacecraft was...

     – a Mars orbiter
    Orbiter
    An orbiter is a space probe that orbits a planet.-Asteroids:*NEAR Shoemaker...

  • Mars Global Surveyor
    Mars Global Surveyor
    The Mars Global Surveyor was a US spacecraft developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched November 1996. It began the United States's return to Mars after a 10-year absence. It completed its primary mission in January 2001 and was in its third extended mission phase when, on 2...

     – a Mars orbiter
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a NASA multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and Exploration of Mars from orbit...

     – an advanced climate, imaging, sub-surface radar, and telecommunications Mars orbiter
  • MESSENGER
    MESSENGER
    The MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging space probe is a robotic NASA spacecraft in orbit around the planet Mercury. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004 to study the chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field of Mercury...

     – first Mercury orbiter (arrival 2011)
  • Mars Pathfinder
    Mars Pathfinder
    Mars Pathfinder was an American spacecraft that landed a base station with roving probe on Mars in 1997. It consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner.Launched on December 4, 1996 by NASA aboard a Delta II booster a...

     – a Mars lander + rover
  • New Horizons
    New Horizons
    New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

     – first Pluto
    Pluto
    Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

     flyby (arrival 2015)
  • Pioneer 10
    Pioneer 10
    Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

     – first Jupiter
    Jupiter
    Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

     flyby, first close up images
  • Pioneer 11
    Pioneer 11
    Pioneer 11 is a 259-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on April 6, 1973 to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter and Saturn, solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere...

     – second Jupiter
    Jupiter
    Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

     flyby + first Saturn flyby (first close up images of Saturn)
  • Pioneer Venus – first Venus
    Venus
    Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

     orbiter+landers
  • Vega 1
    Vega 1
    Vega 1 is a Soviet space probe part of the Vega program. The spacecraft was a development of the earlier Venera craft...

     – Balloon release into Venus
    Venus
    Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

     atmosphere and lander (joint mission with Vega 2), mothership continued on to fly by Halley's Comet
  • Venera 4
    Venera 4
    Venera 4 ) was a probe in the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus. Venera-4 was the first successful probe to perform in-place analysis of the environment of another planet. It was also the first probe to land on another planet...

     – first soft landing on another planet (Venus)
  • Viking 1
    Viking 1
    Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. It was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and perform its mission, and until May 19, 2010 held the record for the second longest Mars surface mission of 6 years and 116 days .- Mission :Following...

     – first soft landing on Mars
  • Voyager 2
    Voyager 2
    The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

     – Jupiter flyby + Saturn flyby + first flybys/images of Neptune
    Neptune
    Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

     and Uranus
    Uranus
    Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...



Other – deep space
  • Cluster
    Cluster mission
    Cluster II is a space mission of the European Space Agency, with NASA participation, to study the Earth's magnetosphere over the course of an entire solar cycle. The mission is composed of four identical spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation...

  • Deep Space 1
    Deep Space 1
    Deep Space 1 is a spacecraft of the NASA New Millennium Program dedicated to testing a payload of advanced, high risk technologies....

  • Deep Impact
  • Genesis
    Genesis (spacecraft)
    The Genesis spacecraft was a NASA sample return probe which collected a sample of solar wind and returned it to Earth for analysis. It was the first NASA sample return mission to return material since the Apollo Program, and the first to return material from beyond the orbit of the Moon...

  • Hayabusa
    Hayabusa
    was an unmanned spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to return a sample of material from a small near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa to Earth for further analysis....

  • Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous
    NEAR Shoemaker
    The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous - Shoemaker , renamed after its 1996 launch in honor of planetary scientist Eugene M. Shoemaker, was a robotic space probe designed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for NASA to study the near-Earth asteroid Eros from close orbit over a...

  • Stardust
    Stardust (spacecraft)
    Stardust is a 300-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on February 7, 1999 to study the asteroid 5535 Annefrank and collect samples from the coma of comet Wild 2. The primary mission was completed January 15, 2006, when the sample return capsule returned to Earth...

  • STEREO
    STEREO
    STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

     – Heliospheric and solar sensing; first images of the entire Sun
  • WMAP


Fastest spacecraft:
  • Helios
    Helios probes
    Helios-A and Helios-B , were a pair of probes launched into heliocentric orbit for the purpose of studying solar processes. A joint venture of the Federal Republic of Germany and NASA, the probes were launched from the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Dec. 10, 1974,...

     I & II Solar Probes (252792 km/h (157,077.7 mph))


Furthest spacecraft from the Sun:
  • Pioneer 10
    Pioneer 10
    Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

     at 89.7 AU
    Astronomical unit
    An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

     as of 2005, traveling outward at about 2.6 AU/year
  • Pioneer 11
    Pioneer 11
    Pioneer 11 is a 259-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on April 6, 1973 to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter and Saturn, solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere...

  • Voyager 1
    Voyager 1
    The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

     at 106.3 AU
    Astronomical unit
    An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

     as of July 2008, traveling outward at about 3.6 AU/year
  • Voyager 2
    Voyager 2
    The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

     at 85.49 AU
    Astronomical unit
    An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

     as of July 2008, traveling outward at about 3.3 AU/year

Unfunded/canceled programs



Manned spacecraft
  • Shuguang – Chinese capsule
  • Soyuz Kontakt – USSR capsule
  • Almaz
    Almaz
    The Almaz program was a series of military space stations launched by the Soviet Union under cover of the civilian Salyut DOS-17K program after 1971....

     – USSR space station
  • Manned Orbiting Laboratory
    Manned Orbiting Laboratory
    The Manned Orbiting Laboratory , originally referred to as the Manned Orbital Laboratory, was part of the United States Air Force's manned spaceflight program, a successor to the cancelled Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar military reconnaissance space plane project...

     – US space station
  • Altair – US lunar lander of Orion spacecraft


Multi-stage spaceplanes
  • X-20 – US shuttle
  • Soviet Spiral Shuttle
    Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-105
    The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-105 was a manned test vehicle to explore low-speed handling and landing.It was a visible result of a Soviet project to create an orbital spaceplane...

  • Soviet Buran Shuttle
  • ESA Hermes
    Hermes (shuttle)
    Hermes was a proposed spaceplane designed by the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales in 1975, and later by the European Space Agency. It was superficially similar to the US X-20. France proposed in January 1985 to go through with Hermes development under the auspices of the ESA. Hermes was...

     shuttle
  • Kliper
    Kliper
    Kliper is a partly reusable manned spacecraft, proposed by RSC Energia.Designed primarily to replace the Soyuz spacecraft, Kliper has been proposed in two versions: as a pure lifting body design and as spaceplane with small wings...

     Russian semi-shuttle/semi-capsule
  • Japanese HOPE-X
    HOPE-X
    HOPE was a Japanese experimental spaceplane project designed by a partnership between NASDA and NAL , started in the 1980s. It was positioned for most of its lifetime as one of the main Japanese contributions to the International Space Station, the other being the Japanese Experiment Module...

     shuttle
  • Chinese Shuguang Project 921-3
    Project 921-3
    Project 921-3 is Manned Spacecraft sub-system of Project 921. The term 921-3 is often used for the Chinese space shuttle program.- History :The Chinese National Manned Space Program was given the designation of Project 921 in 1992...

     shuttle


SSTO spaceplanes
  • RR/British Aerospace HOTOL
    HOTOL
    HOTOL, for Horizontal Take-Off and Landing, was a British air-breathing space shuttle effort by Rolls Royce and British Aerospace.Designed as a single-stage-to-orbit reusable winged launch vehicle, it was to be fitted with a unique air-breathing engine, the RB545 called the Swallow, to be...

  • ESA Hopper
    Hopper (spacecraft)
    Hopper was a proposed European Space Agency orbital and reusable launch vehicle. The shuttle prototype spaceplane was one of several proposals for a European reusable launch vehicle planned to cheaply ferry satellites into orbit by 2015...

     Orbiter
  • McDonnell Douglas DC-X
    McDonnell Douglas DC-X
    The DC-X, short for Delta Clipper or Delta Clipper Experimental, was an unmanned prototype of a reusable single stage to orbit launch vehicle built by McDonnell Douglas in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense's Strategic Defense Initiative Organization from 1991 to 1993...

     (Delta Clipper)
  • Roton
    Rotary Rocket
    Rotary Rocket, Inc, was a rocketry company headquartered in a facility at Mojave Airport that developed the Roton concept in the late 1990s as a fully reusable single-stage-to-orbit manned spacecraft. Roton was intended to reduce costs of launching payloads into low earth orbit by a factor of...

     Rotored-Hybrid
  • Lockheed-Martin VentureStar
    VentureStar
    VentureStar was a proposed spaceplane design for a single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch system by Lockheed Martin. The program's primary goal as a United States federally funded program was to develop a reusable unmanned spaceplane for launching satellites into orbit at a fraction of the cost of...


Spacecraft under development



Manned

  • (USA-NASA) Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle – capsule
  • (Russia-RKA) Prospective Piloted Transport System
    Prospective Piloted Transport System
    PPTS , unofficially called Rus, is a project being undertaken by the Russian Federal Space Agency to develop a new-generation manned spacecraft...

     (PPTS) – capsule
  • (USA-SpaceX ) Dragon
    Dragon (spacecraft)
    The Dragon is a reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX, a private space transportation company based in Hawthorne, California. During its unmanned maiden flight in December 2010, it became the first commercially-built and -operated spacecraft to ever be successfully recovered from orbit.The Dragon...

     – capsule
  • (USA-Boeing) CST-100 – capsule
  • (USA-Sierra Nevada Corporation) Dream Chaser – suborbital spaceplane
  • (USA-Blue Origin) New Shepard
    Blue Origin New Shepard
    The Blue Origin New Shepard reusable launch vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing , suborbital manned rocket that is being developed by Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon.com founder and businessman Jeff Bezos, as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism.The New Shepard makes...

     – VTVL
    VTVL
    Vertical takeoff, vertical landing is a form of takeoff and landing using rockets . Multiple VTVL craft have flown. , at least five VTVL rocket vehicles are currently under development at four different aerospace companies...

     capsule
  • (India-ISRO) Orbital Vehicle
    ISRO Orbital Vehicle
    The Indian manned spacecraft temporarily named Orbital Vehicle is intended to be the basis of the indigenous Indian human spaceflight program. The capsule will be designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability.In its maiden...

     – capsule
  • (Europe-ESA) Advanced Crew Transportation System – capsule
  • (China-CNSA) Shenzhou – capsule
  • (Iranian Space Agency
    Iranian Space Agency
    The Iranian Space Agency is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran is an active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009...

    ) Orbital Vehicle – capsule
  • (USA-XCOR) Lynx rocketplane
    Lynx rocketplane
    The Lynx rocketplane is a suborbital horizontal-takeoff, horizontal-landing ,rocket-powered spaceplane being developed by the California-based company XCOR to compete in the emerging suborbital space flight market. The Lynx is projected to carry one pilot, a ticketed passenger, and/or a payload or...

     – suborbital spaceplane

Unmanned

  • SpaceX Dragon – cargo delivery to the ISS
  • Orbital Sciences Cygnus
    Cygnus spacecraft
    The Cygnus spacecraft is an unmanned resupply spacecraft being developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation and Thales Alenia Space as part of NASA's COTS project. It is designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station after the retirement of the Space Shuttle...

     – cargo delivery to the ISS
  • CNES
    CNES
    The is the French government space agency . Established under President Charles de Gaulle in 1961, its headquarters are located in central Paris and it is under the supervision of the French Ministries of Defence and Research...

     Mars Netlander
  • James Webb Space Telescope
    James Webb Space Telescope
    The James Webb Space Telescope , previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope , is a planned next-generation space telescope, optimized for observations in the infrared. The main technical features are a large and very cold 6.5 meter diameter mirror, an observing position far from Earth,...

     (delayed)
  • ESA Darwin
    Darwin (ESA)
    Darwin was a suggested ESA Cornerstone mission which would have involved a constellation of four to nine spacecraft designed to directly detect Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars and search for evidence of life on these planets...

     probe
  • Mars Science Laboratory
    Mars Science Laboratory
    The Mars Science Laboratory is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission with the aim to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. The MSL was launched November 26, 2011, at 10:02 EST and is scheduled to land on Mars at Gale Crater between August 6 and 20, 2012...

     rover
  • Shenzhou spacecraft
    Shenzhou spacecraft
    Shenzhou is a spacecraft developed and operated by the People's Republic of China to support its manned spaceflight program. The name is variously translated as "Divine Craft," "Divine Vessel of God," "Magic Boat" or similar and is also homophonous with an ancient name for China...

     Cargo
  • Terrestrial Planet Finder
    Terrestrial Planet Finder
    The Terrestrial Planet Finder was a proposed project by NASA to construct a system of telescopes for detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets. TPF was postponed several times and finally cancelled...

     cancelled probe
  • System F6—a DARPA Fractionated Spacecraft
    Fractionated Spacecraft
    A fractionated spacecraft is a satellite architecture where the functional capabilities of a conventional monolithic spacecraft are distributed across multiple modules which interact through wireless links...

     demonstrator
  • Reaction Engines Limited
    Reaction Engines Limited
    Reaction Engines Limited is a British aerospace company based in Oxfordshire, England.- History & personnel :Reaction Engines was founded in 1989 by Alan Bond and Richard Varvill and John Scott-Scott...

     Skylon (spacecraft)

Subsystems


A spacecraft system comprises various subsystems, dependent upon mission profile. Spacecraft subsystems comprise the spacecraft "bus" and may include: attitude determination and control (variously called ADAC, ADC or ACS), guidance, navigation and control (GNC or GN&C), communications (Comms), command and data handling (CDH or C&DH), power (EPS), thermal control (TCS), propulsion, and structures. Attached to the bus are typically payloads.

Life support : Spacecraft intended for human spaceflight must also include a life support system
Life support system
In human spaceflight, a life support system is a group of devices that allow a human being to survive in space.US government space agency NASA,and private spaceflight companies...

 for the crew.

Attitude control : A Spacecraft needs an attitude control subsystem to be correctly oriented in space and respond to external torque
Torque
Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

s and forces properly. The attitude control subsystem consists of sensor
Sensor
A sensor is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument. For example, a mercury-in-glass thermometer converts the measured temperature into expansion and contraction of a liquid which can be read on a calibrated...

s and actuator
Actuator
An actuator is a type of motor for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. It is operated by a source of energy, usually in the form of an electric current, hydraulic fluid pressure or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into some kind of motion. An actuator is the mechanism by which...

s, together with controlling algorithms. The attitude control subsystem permits proper pointing for the science objective, sun pointing for power to the solar arrays and earth-pointing for communications.

GNC : Guidance refers to the calculation of the commands (usually done by the CDH subsystem) needed to steer the spacecraft where it is desired to be. Navigation means determining a spacecraft's orbital elements
Orbital elements
Orbital elements are the parameters required to uniquely identify a specific orbit. In celestial mechanics these elements are generally considered in classical two-body systems, where a Kepler orbit is used...

 or position. Control means adjusting the path of the spacecraft to meet mission requirements. On some missions, GNC and Attitude Control are combined into one subsystem of the spacecraft.

Command and data handling : The CDH subsystem receives commands from the communications subsystem, performs validation and decoding of the commands, and distributes the commands to the appropriate spacecraft subsystems and components. The CDH also receives housekeeping data and science data from the other spacecraft subsystems and components, and packages the data for storage on a data recorder or transmission to the ground via the communications subsystem. Other functions of the CDH include maintaining the spacecraft clock and state-of-health monitoring.
Power : Spacecraft need an electrical power generation and distribution subsystem for powering the various spacecraft subsystems. For spacecraft near the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

, solar panels
Solar panels on spacecraft
Spacecraft operating in the inner solar system usually rely on the use of photovoltaic solar panels to derive electricity from sunlight. In the outer solar system, where the sunlight is too weak to produce sufficient power, radioisotope thermal generators are used as a power source.-History:The...

 are frequently used to generate electrical power. Spacecraft designed to operate in more distant locations, for example Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

, might employ a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator
Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
A radioisotope thermoelectric generator is an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay. In such a device, the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material is converted into electricity by the Seebeck effect using an array of thermocouples.RTGs can be...

 (RTG) to generate electrical power. Electrical power is sent through power conditioning equipment before it passes through a power distribution unit over an electrical bus to other spacecraft components. Batteries are typically connected to the bus via a battery charge regulator, and the batteries are used to provide electrical power during periods when primary power is not available, for example when a Low Earth Orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

 (LEO) spacecraft is eclipsed
Eclipsed
In chemistry an eclipsed conformation is a conformation in which two substituents X and Y on adjacent atoms A, B are in closest proximity, implying that the torsion angle X-A-B-Y is 0°. Such a conformation exists in any open chain single chemical bond connecting two sp3 hybridised atoms, and is...

 by the Earth.

Thermal control : Spacecraft must be engineered to withstand transit through the Earth's atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

 and the space environment
Space environment
Space environment is a branch of astronautics, aerospace engineering and space physics that seeks to understand and address conditions existing in space that affect the operation of spacecraft...

. They must operate in a vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 with temperatures potentially ranging across hundreds of degrees Celsius
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 as well as (if subject to reentry) in the presence of plasmas. Material requirements are such that either high melting temperature, low density materials such as beryllium
Beryllium
Beryllium is the chemical element with the symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is a divalent element which occurs naturally only in combination with other elements in minerals. Notable gemstones which contain beryllium include beryl and chrysoberyl...

 and reinforced carbon-carbon
Reinforced carbon-carbon
Carbon fibre-reinforced carbon is a composite material consisting of carbon fibre reinforcement in a matrix of graphite. It was developed for the nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and is most widely known as the material for the nose cone and wing leading edges of the Space Shuttle...

 or (possibly due to the lower thickness requirements despite its high density) tungsten
Tungsten
Tungsten , also known as wolfram , is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74.A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as...

 or ablative
Ablation
Ablation is removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes. This occurs in spaceflight during ascent and atmospheric reentry, glaciology, medicine, and passive fire protection.-Spaceflight:...

 carbon/carbon composites are used. Depending on mission profile, spacecraft may also need to operate on the surface of another planetary body. The thermal control subsystem can be passive, dependent on the selection of materials with specific radiative properties. Active thermal control makes use of electrical heaters and certain actuators such as louvers to control temperature ranges of equipments within specific ranges.

Propulsion : Spacecraft may or may not have a propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion is any method used to accelerate spacecraft and artificial satellites. There are many different methods. Each method has drawbacks and advantages, and spacecraft propulsion is an active area of research. However, most spacecraft today are propelled by forcing a gas from the...

 subsystem, depending upon whether or not the mission profile calls for propulsion. The Swift
Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission consists of a robotic spacecraft called Swift, which was launched into orbit on 20 November 2004, 17:16:00 UTC on a Delta II 7320-10C expendable launch vehicle. Swift is managed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and was developed by an international...

 spacecraft is an example of a spacecraft that does not have a propulsion subsystem. Typically though, LEO spacecraft (for example Terra (EOS AM-1)
Terra (satellite)
Terra is a multi-national NASA scientific research satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth. It is the flagship of the Earth Observing System...

 include a propulsion subsystem for altitude adjustments (called drag make-up maneuvers) and inclination
Inclination
Inclination in general is the angle between a reference plane and another plane or axis of direction.-Orbits:The inclination is one of the six orbital parameters describing the shape and orientation of a celestial orbit...

 adjustment maneuvers. A propulsion system is also needed for spacecraft that perform momentum management maneuvers. Components of a conventional propulsion subsystem include fuel, tankage, valves, pipes, and thruster
Rocket engine
A rocket engine, or simply "rocket", is a jet engineRocket Propulsion Elements; 7th edition- chapter 1 that uses only propellant mass for forming its high speed propulsive jet. Rocket engines are reaction engines and obtain thrust in accordance with Newton's third law...

s. The TCS interfaces with the propulsion subsystem by monitoring the temperature of those components, and by preheating tanks and thrusters in preparation for a spacecraft maneuver.

Structures : Spacecraft must be engineered to withstand launch loads imparted by the launch vehicle, and must have a point of attachment for all the other subsystems. Depending upon mission profile, the structural subsystem might need to withstand loads imparted by entry into the atmosphere of another planetary body, and landing on the surface of another planetary body.

Payload : The payload is dependent upon the mission of the spacecraft, and is typically regarded as the part of the spacecraft "that pays the bills". Typical payloads could include scientific instruments (camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s, telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

s, or particle detectors
Particle detector
In experimental and applied particle physics, nuclear physics, and nuclear engineering, a particle detector, also known as a radiation detector, is a device used to detect, track, and/or identify high-energy particles, such as those produced by nuclear decay, cosmic radiation, or reactions in a...

, for example), cargo, or a human crew
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

.

Ground segment : The ground segment, though not technically part of the spacecraft, is vital to the operation of the spacecraft. Typical components of a ground segment in use during normal operations include a mission operations facility where the flight operations team conducts the operations of the spacecraft, a data processing and storage facility, ground stations
Earth station
A ground station, earth station, or earth terminal is a terrestrial terminal station designed for extraplanetary telecommunication with spacecraft, and/or reception of radio waves from an astronomical radio source. Ground stations are located either on the surface of the Earth, or within Earth's...

 to radiate signals to and receive signals from the spacecraft, and a voice and data communications network to connect all mission elements.

Launch vehicle : The launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

 propels the spacecraft from the Earth's surface, through the atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

, and into an orbit
Orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

, the exact orbit being dependent upon mission configuration. The launch vehicle may be expendable
Expendable launch system
An expendable launch system is a launch system that uses an expendable launch vehicle to carry a payload into space. The vehicles used in expendable launch systems are designed to be used only once , and their components are not recovered for re-use after launch...

 or reusable
Reusable launch system
A reusable launch system is a launch system which is capable of launching a launch vehicle into space more than once. This contrasts with expendable launch systems, where each launch vehicle is launched once and then discarded.No true orbital reusable launch system is currently in use. The...

.

See also



  • Timeline of Solar System exploration
    Timeline of solar system exploration
    This is a timeline of Solar System exploration ordered by date of spacecraft launch. It includes:*All spacecraft that have left Earth orbit for the purposes of Solar System exploration , including lunar probes....

  • Astrionics
    Astrionics
    Astrionics is the science and technology of the development and application of electronic systems, sub-systems, and components used in spacecraft. The electronic systems on board a spacecraft include attitude determination and control, communications, command and telemetry, and computer systems...

  • List of spacecraft (Redirects Here)
  • List of spaceflights
  • Spacecraft design
    Spacecraft design
    - Origin :Spacecraft design was born as a discipline in the 50s and 60s with the advent of American and Russian space exploration programs. Since then it has progressed, although typically less than comparable terrestrial technologies. This is for a large part due to the challenging space...

  • Spacecraft propulsion
    Spacecraft propulsion
    Spacecraft propulsion is any method used to accelerate spacecraft and artificial satellites. There are many different methods. Each method has drawbacks and advantages, and spacecraft propulsion is an active area of research. However, most spacecraft today are propelled by forcing a gas from the...

  • Space exploration
    Space exploration
    Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

  • U.S. Space Exploration History on U.S. Stamps
    U.S. space exploration history on U.S. stamps
    With the advent of unmanned and manned space flight a whole new era of American history had presented itself. Keeping with the tradition of honoring the country's history on the face of U.S. postage stamps, the U.S. Post Office began honoring the various events with its commemorative postage stamp...

  • Space suit
    Space suit
    A space suit is a garment worn to keep an astronaut alive in the harsh environment of outer space. Space suits are often worn inside spacecraft as a safety precaution in case of loss of cabin pressure, and are necessary for extra-vehicular activity , work done outside spacecraft...

  • Spaceflight records
    Spaceflight records
    This is a list of spaceflight records. Most of these records relate to human spaceflights, but some unmanned and canine records are included.-First independent human spaceflight by country:-Ten longest human space flights:...

  • Starship
    Starship
    A starship or interstellar spacecraft is a theoretical spacecraft designed for traveling between the stars, as opposed to a vehicle designed for orbital spaceflight or interplanetary travel....

  • Ansari X Prize
    Ansari X Prize
    The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

  • Atmospheric reentry
    Atmospheric reentry
    Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

  • Earth to orbit
    Earth to orbit
    Earth to Orbit describes the process or means of placing a payload into an orbit around the Earth. Traditionally this has used rockets, however ETO can also include much more exotic forms of transportation such as railguns and hypersonic cannons and Space elevators.- Methods :Earth to orbit...

  • List of fictional spacecraft
  • Flying saucers

External links