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Timeline of space exploration

Timeline of space exploration

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Encyclopedia
This is a timeline of 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....

including notable achievements and first accomplishments in humanity's physical exploration of outer 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....

.

Prior to 1942

Date Event leading to space exploration Country Researcher(s)
1686 Publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica
England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Sir Isaac Newton
1813 First exposition of the rocket equation based on Newton's third law of motion: Treatise on the Motion of Rockets
UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

William Moore
William Moore (British mathematician)
William Moore was a British mathematician and early contributor to rocket theory. He worked at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. His 1813 Treatise was the first exposition of rocket mechanics based on Newton's third law of motion...

1865 From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon is a humorous science fantasy novel by Jules Verne and is one of the earliest entries in that genre. It tells the story of the president of a post-American Civil War gun club in Baltimore, his rival, a Philadelphia maker of armor, and a Frenchman, who build an enormous...

published.
France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

1898 The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds is an 1898 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells.The War of the Worlds may also refer to:- Radio broadcasts :* The War of the Worlds , the 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Welles...

published. This inspired Robert Goddard to investigate rocketry.
UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

1903 Inspired by the writings of Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

, first serious work published that showed physical 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....

 was theoretically possible: Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices)
Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was an Imperial Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. Along with his followers the German Hermann Oberth and the American Robert H. Goddard, he is considered to be one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics...

1913 Goddard files for and is subsequently awarded U.S. patents on multistage and liquid fueled rockets
United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard
Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

1919 Goddard's widely influential paper "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" discussed solid and liquid fueled rocketry
United States
Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard
Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

15 December 1923 Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space") self-published after its rejection as a doctoral thesis.
Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Hermann Oberth
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Julius Oberth was an Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.- Early life :...

1924 Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel
Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel
The Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel was founded in Moscow in May 1924. It was a spin off of a military science society at the Zhukovsky Airforce Academy, and was chaired by Grigory Kramarov. Its 200 charter members included important Soviet space-exploration and rocketry experts such...

 founded in Soviet Union
Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

members include Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was an Imperial Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. Along with his followers the German Hermann Oberth and the American Robert H. Goddard, he is considered to be one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics...

, Friedrich Zander
Friedrich Zander
Friedrich Zander , often transliterated Fridrikh Arturovich Tsander, was a pioneer of rocketry and spaceflight in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union...

, Yuri Kondratyuk
Yuri Kondratyuk
Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk , was a follower, supporter and founder of cosmism, pioneer of astronautics and spaceflight. He was a theoretician and a visionary who, in the early twentieth century, foresaw ways of reaching the moon...

16 March 1926 Goddard launches the first liquid fueled rocket
United States
Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard
Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

1927 Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel) formed; it includes many top European rocket scientists.
Germany
 
1927 "The Conquest of Interplanetary Space" discusses rocket mechanics and orbital effects including the gravitational slingshot
Gravitational slingshot
In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement and gravity of a planet or other celestial body to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, typically in order to save propellant, time, and expense...

Soviet Union
Yuri Kondratyuk
Yuri Kondratyuk
Yuri Vasilievich Kondratyuk , was a follower, supporter and founder of cosmism, pioneer of astronautics and spaceflight. He was a theoretician and a visionary who, in the early twentieth century, foresaw ways of reaching the moon...

1928 Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel – The Rocket Motor) discusses space travel and its potential uses for scientific experiments.
Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

Herman Potočnik
Herman Potocnik
Herman Potočnik was an Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer and pioneer of cosmonautics . He is chiefly remembered for his work addressing the long-term human habitation of space.- Early life :Potočnik was born in Pola, southern Istria, Austria-Hungary...

1929 Oberth, with students including Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

, launches his first liquid-fueled rocket
Germany
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Julius Oberth was an Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.- Early life :...

1931 First German military liquid fueled rocket engines developed
Germany
Walter Riedel
Walter Riedel
Walter J H "Papa" Riedel was a German engineer who was the head of the Design Office of the Army Research Centre Peenemünde and the Chief Designer of the A4 ballistic rocket...

1933 Work begins on the Aggregate series
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

 of rockets which leads to the V2 rocket.
Germany
Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

25 November 1933 Group for the Study of Reactive Motion (GIRD) launches the first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket
Soviet Union
Sergey Korolev (group leader), Friedrich Zander
Friedrich Zander
Friedrich Zander , often transliterated Fridrikh Arturovich Tsander, was a pioneer of rocketry and spaceflight in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union...

 (designer)
1935 Graduate student Frank Malina
Frank Malina
Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.-Early life:...

 under his professor Theodore von Kármán
Theodore von Karman
Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization...

 begins work on a sounding rocket
Sounding rocket
A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary, where to sound is to throw a weighted line from a ship into...

United States
Frank Malina
Frank Malina
Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.-Early life:...


1942–1957
Date Mission Achievements Country/Organization Mission Name
3 October 1942 First vehicle to reach 62 mi (100 km) from the Earth's surface (boundary of space
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...

)
Nazi Germany
V2 rocket, military program
10 May 1946 First space research flight (cosmic radiation experiments)
United States
captured and improved V2 rocket
22 May 1946 First U.S.-designed rocket to reach edge of space (80 km (49 mi))
United States
Wac Corporal
Wac Corporal
The WAC or WAC Corporal was the first sounding rocket developed in the United States. Begun as a spinoff of the Corporal program, the WAC was a "little sister" to the larger Corporal. It was designed and built jointly by the Douglas Aircraft Company and the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.The...

10 October 1946 First pictures of earth from 62 mi (100 km)http://www.wsmr.army.mil/pao/FactSheets/V2/v-2.htmhttp://www.airspacemag.com/issues/2007/december-january/FEATURE-FirstPhoto.php
United States
V2
1947 First animals in space
Animals in space
Animals in space originally only served to test the survivability of spaceflight, before manned space missions were attempted. Later, animals were also flown to investigate various biological processes and the effects microgravity and space flight might have on them...

 (fruit flies)http://www.wsmr.army.mil/pao/FactSheets/V2/v-2tab.htmhttp://history.nasa.gov/afspbio/part1.htm
USA (ABMA
Army Ballistic Missile Agency
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency was the agency formed to develop the US Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. It was established at Redstone Arsenal on February 1, 1956 and commanded by Major General John B...

)
V2
21 August 1957 First intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 (ICBM)
USSR
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

R-7 Semyorka/SS-6 Sapwood
R-7 Semyorka
The R-7 was a Soviet missile developed during the Cold War, and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 made 28 launches between 1957 and 1961, but was never deployed operationally. A derivative, the R-7A, was deployed from 1960 to 1968...


1957–1961
Date Mission Achievements Country/Organization Mission Name
4 October 1957 First artificial satellite
First signals from space
USSR
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...

3 November 1957 First animal in 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 dog 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...

USSR
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...

31 January 1958 Confirmed the existence of the Van Allen belts
Van Allen radiation belt
The Van Allen radiation belt is a torus of energetic charged particles around Earth, which is held in place by Earth's magnetic field. It is believed that most of the particles that form the belts come from solar wind, and other particles by cosmic rays. It is named after its discoverer, James...

USA (ABMA)
Explorer 1
2 January 1959 First firing of a rocket in Earth orbit
First reaching Earth escape velocity
Escape velocity
In physics, escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero gravitational potential energy is negative since gravity is an attractive force and the potential is defined to be zero at infinity...

 or Trans Lunar Injection
Trans Lunar Injection
A Trans Lunar Injection is a propulsive maneuver used to set a spacecraft on a trajectory which will arrive at the Moon.Typical lunar transfer trajectories approximate Hohmann transfers, although low energy transfers have also been used in some cases, as with the Hiten probe...

 
First detection of solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

USSR
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...

4 January 1959 First artificial satellite in heliocentric orbit
Heliocentric orbit
A heliocentric orbit is an orbit around the Sun. All planets, comets, and asteroids in our Solar System are in such orbits, as are many artificial probes and pieces of debris. The moons of planets in the Solar System, by contrast, are not in heliocentric orbits as they orbit their respective planet...

USSR
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...

7 August 1959 First photograph of Earth from orbit
USA (NASA)
Explorer 6
Explorer 6
Explorer 6 was a United States satellite launched on August 7, 1959. It was a small, spheroidal satellite designed to study trapped radiation of various energies, galactic cosmic rays, geomagnetism, radio propagation in the upper atmosphere, and the flux of micrometeorites...

13 September 1959 First impact into another world (the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

)
First delivery of national (USSR) pennants in a celestial body
USSR
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...

4 October 1959 First photos of far side of the Moon
Far side of the Moon
The far side of the Moon is the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away, and is not visible from the surface of the Earth. The far hemisphere was first photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959, and was first directly observed by human eyes when the Apollo 8 mission orbited the Moon...

USSR
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...

August 19, 1960 First plants and animals to return alive from Earth orbit
USSR
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...

1961 First launch from orbit
First mid-course corrections
First spin-stabilisation
Spin-stabilisation
Spin-stabilisation is the method of stabilizing a satellite or launch vehicle by means of spin. For most satellite applications this approach has been superseded by three-axis stabilisation. It is also used in non-satellite applications such as rifle and artillery.Despinning can be achieved by...

USSR
Venera 1
Venera 1
On February 12, 1961, 00:34:36 UTC, was the first planetary probe launched to Venus by the Soviet Union. The Venus-1 Automatic Interplanetary Station, or Venera 1, was a 643.5 kg probe consisting of a cylindrical body 1.05 metres in diameter topped by a dome, totalling 2.035 metres...


1961–1969
Date Mission Success Country/Organization Mission Name
12 April 1961 First 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....

–(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....

)
First human-crewed orbital flight
USSR
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...

7 March 1962 First orbital solar observatory
Space observatory
A space observatory is any instrument in outer space which is used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects...

USA (NASA)
OSO-1
Orbiting Solar Observatory
The Orbiting Solar Observatory Program was the name of a series of nine American science satellites primarily intended to study the Sun, though they also included important non-solar experiments. Eight were launched successfully by NASA between 1962 and 1975 using Delta rockets...

14 December 1963 First planetary flyby (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...

 closest approach 34,773 kilometers)
USA (NASA)
Mariner 2
Mariner 2
Mariner 2 , an American space probe to Venus, was the first space probe to conduct a successful planetary encounter . The first successful spacecraft in the NASA Mariner program, it was a simplified version of the Block I spacecraft of the Ranger program and an exact copy of Mariner 1...

16 June 1963 First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Soviet cosmonaut, and was the first woman in space. She was selected out of more than four hundred applicants, and then out of five finalists, to pilot Vostok 6 on the 16 June, 1963, becoming both the first woman and the first civilian to fly in...

)
USSR
Vostok 6
Vostok 6
-Backup crew:-Reserve crew:Vostok VI-Mission parameters:*Mass: *Apogee: *Perigee: *Inclination: 64.9°*Period: 87.8 minutes9090...

19 July 1963 First reusable crewed spacecraft (suborbital)
USA (NASA)
X-15 Flight 90
X-15 Flight 90
-Crew:-Mission parameters:*Mass: 15,195 kg fueled; 6,577 kg burnout; 6,260 kg landed*Maximum Altitude: 106.01 km*Range: 534 km*Burn Time: 84.6 seconds*Mach: 5.50*Launch Vehicle: NB-52B Bomber #008...

18 March 1965 First extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

USSR
Voskhod 2
Voskhod 2
Voskhod 2 was a Soviet manned space mission in March 1965. Vostok-based Voskhod 3KD spacecraft with two crew members on board, Pavel Belyaev and Alexei Leonov, was equipped with an inflatable airlock...

14 July 1965 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 (closest approach 9,846 kilometers)
USA (NASA)
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...

15 December 1965 First orbital rendezvous
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 (parallel flight, no docking)
USA (NASA)
Gemini 6A
Gemini 6A
-Backup crew:-Mission parameters:* Mass: * Perigee: * Apogee: * Inclination: 28.97°* Period: 88.7 min-Stationkeeping with GT-7:* Start: December 15, 1965 19:33 UTC* End: December 16, 1965 00:52 UTC-Objectives:...

/Gemini 7
Gemini 7
Gemini 7 was a 1965 manned spaceflight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the 4th manned Gemini flight, the 12th manned American flight and the 20th spaceflight of all time . The crew of Frank F. Borman, II and James A...

3 February 1966 First soft landing
Soft landing (rocketry)
A soft landing is any type of aircraft or rocket landing that does not result in the destruction of the vehicle or anything onboard. Unlike a hard landing, soft landings are very smooth and steady. They are often called 'good landings' because of the smooth way the aircraft lands....

 on another world (the Moon)
First photos from another world
USSR
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...

1 March 1966 First impact into another planet (Venus)
USSR
Venera 3
Venera 3
Venera 3 was a Venera program space probe that was built and launched by the Soviet Union to explore the surface of Venus. It was launched on November 16, 1965 at 04:19 UTC from Baikonur, Kazakhstan....

16 March 1966 First orbital docking between two spacecrafts
USA (NASA)
Gemini 8
Gemini 8
-Backup crew:-Mission parameters:* Mass: * Perigee: * Apogee: * Inclination: 28.91°* Period: 88.83 min-Objectives:Gemini VIII had two major objectives, of which it achieved one...

/Agena target vehicle
Agena Target Vehicle
The Agena Target Vehicle was an unmanned spacecraft used by NASA during its Gemini program to develop and practice orbital space rendezvous and docking techniques and to perform large orbital changes, in preparation for the Apollo program lunar missions.-Operations:Each ATV consisted of an Agena-D...

3 April 1966 First artificial satellite around another world (the Moon)
USSR
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...

2 June 1966 soft landing
Soft landing
A soft landing in the business cycle is the process of an economy shifting from growth to slow-growth to potentially flat, as it approaches but avoids a recession. It is usually caused by government attempts to slow down inflation...

 on the Moon
photos from the Moon
USA (NASA)
Surveyor 1
Surveyor 1
Surveyor 1 was the first lunar soft-lander in the unmanned Surveyor program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . This lunar soft-lander gathered data about the lunar surface that would be needed for the manned Apollo Moon landings that began in 1969...

30 October 1967 First automated (crewless) docking
Docking
Docking may refer to:* for ships, the use of a Dock, e.g. mooring or drydocking.* Spacecraft docking, the process of joining one spacecraft or space station module to another.* Docking , the practice of trimming the tail of an animal....

USSR
Cosmos 186/Cosmos 188
7 December 1968 First orbital ultraviolet observatory
USA (NASA)
OAO-2
Orbiting Astronomical Observatory
The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory satellites were a series of four American space observatories launched by NASA between 1966 and 1972, which provided the first high-quality observations of many objects in ultraviolet light...

21 December 1968 First piloted orbital mission of another celestial body (Moon),
First-ever Trans-Earth injection (25 December)
USA (NASA)
Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

21 July 1969 First human on the Moon and first space launch from a celestial body
USA (NASA)
Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

19 November 1969 First rendezvous
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 on the surface of a celestial body
USA (NASA)
Apollo 12
Apollo 12
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the American Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon . It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L...

/Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3 was the third lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. Launched on April 17, 1967, Surveyor 3 landed on April 20, 1967 at the Mare Cognitum portion of the Oceanus Procellarum...


1970–1980
Date Mission Success Country/Organization Mission Name
24 September 1970 First automatic sample return
Sample return mission
A sample return mission is a spacecraft mission with the goal of returning tangible samples from an extraterrestrial location to Earth for analysis. Sample return missions may bring back merely atoms and molecules or a deposit of complex compounds such as dirt and rocks...

 from the Moon
USSR
Luna 16
Luna 16
-External links:*...

23 November 1970 First lunar rover
Lunar rover
The Lunar Roving Vehicle or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972...

USSR
Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1 was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod program. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17...

12 December 1970 First X-ray orbital observatory
Space observatory
A space observatory is any instrument in outer space which is used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects...

USA (NASA)
Uhuru (satellite)
Uhuru (satellite)
Uhuru was the first satellite launched specifically for the purpose of X-ray astronomy. It was also known as the X-ray Explorer Satellite, SAS-A , SAS 1, or Explorer 42.The observatory was launched on 12 December 1970 into an initial orbit of about 560 km apogee, 520 km...

15 December 1970 First soft landing on another planet (Venus)
First signals from another planet
USSR
Venera 7
Venera 7
The Venera 7 was a Soviet spacecraft, part of the Venera series of probes to Venus. When it landed on the Venusian surface, it became the first man-made spacecraft to successfully land on another planet and to transmit data from there back to Earth.*Launch date/time: 1970 August 17 at 05:38...

23 April 1971 First 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...

USSR
Salyut 1
Salyut 1
Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days...

June, 1971 First Manned orbital observatory
Space observatory
A space observatory is any instrument in outer space which is used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects...

USSR
Orion 1
Orion 1 and Orion 2 Space Observatories
The Orion 1 Space Observatory and Orion 2 Space Observatory were space observatories installed in spacecraft launched by the space program of the Soviet Union during the 1970s.- Orion 1 :...

14 November 1971 First to maintain orbit around another planet (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...

)
USA (NASA)
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...

27 November 1971 First impact into Mars
USSR
Mars 2
Mars 2
The Mars program was a series of Mars unmanned landers and orbiters launched by the Soviet Union in the early 1970s.The Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical spacecraft, each with an orbiter and an attached lander; they were the first human artifacts to impact the surface of Mars...

2 December 1971 First soft Mars landing
First signals from Mars surface
USSR
Mars 3
Mars 3
The Mars 3 was an unmanned space probe of the Mars program, a series of unmanned Mars landers and orbiters launched by the Soviet Union in the early 1970s....

3 March 1972 First human made object sent on escape trajectory away from the Sun
USA (NASA)
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...

15 July 1972 First mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave inner solar system
USA (NASA)
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...

15 November 1972 First orbital gamma ray observatory
USA (NASA)
SAS 2
Second Small Astronomy Satellite
The Small Astronomy Satellite 2, also known also as SAS-2, SAS B or Explorer 48, was a NASA gamma ray telescope. It was launched on 15 November 1972 into low Earth orbit with a periapsis of 443 km and an apoapsis of 632 km...

3 December 1973 First Jupiter flyby (at 130,000 km)
USA (NASA)
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...

5 February 1974 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...

 flyby at 5768 kilometers, first gravitational assist manoeuvre
USA (NASA)
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...

29 March 1974 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 at 703 kilometers
USA (NASA)
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...

15 July 1975 First multinational manned mission
USSR
USA (NASA)
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
-Backup crew:-Crew notes:Jack Swigert had originally been assigned as the command module pilot for the ASTP prime crew, but prior to the official announcement he was removed as punishment for his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp scandal.-Soyuz crew:...

20 October 1975 First orbit around Venus
USSR
Venera 9
Venera 9
Venera 9 was a USSR unmanned space mission to Venus. It consisted of an orbiter and a lander. It was launched on June 8, 1975 02:38:00 UTC and weighed 4,936 kg...

22 October 1975 First photos from the surface of another planet (Venus)
USSR
Venera 9
Venera 9
Venera 9 was a USSR unmanned space mission to Venus. It consisted of an orbiter and a lander. It was launched on June 8, 1975 02:38:00 UTC and weighed 4,936 kg...

20 July 1976 First photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars
USA (NASA)
Viking Lander
Viking program
The Viking program consisted of a pair of American space probes sent to Mars, Viking 1 and Viking 2. Each spacecraft was composed of two main parts, an orbiter designed to photograph the surface of Mars from orbit, and a lander designed to study the planet from the surface...

26 January 1978 First real time remotely operated ultraviolet orbital observatory
USA (NASA)
ESA 
UK-SERC
Science and Engineering Research Council
The Science and Engineering Research Council used to be the UK agency in charge of publicly funded scientific and engineering research activities including astronomy, biotechnology and biological sciences, space research and particle physics...

International Ultraviolet Explorer
International Ultraviolet Explorer
The International Ultraviolet Explorer was an astronomical observatory satellite primarily designed to take ultraviolet spectra. The satellite was a collaborative project between NASA, the UK Science Research Council and the European Space Agency...

5 March 1979 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 (closest approach 349,000 km)
USA (NASA)
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...

1 September 1979, 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,...

 flyby at 21,000 km
USA (NASA)
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...

12 November 1980 Saturn flyby (closest approach 124,000 kilometers)
USA (NASA)
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...


1981–present
Date Mission Success Country/Organization Mission Name
12 April 1981 First Reusable manned spacecraft
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...

 (orbital)
USA (NASA)
STS-1
STS-1
STS-1 was the first orbital flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Space Shuttle Columbia launched on 12 April 1981, and returned to Earth on 14 April, having orbited the Earth 37 times during the 54.5-hour mission. It was the first American manned space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project...

1 March 1982 First Venus soil samples & sound recording of another world
USSR
Venera 13
Venera 13
Venera 13 was a probe in the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus.Venera 13 and 14 were identical spacecraft built to take advantage of the 1981 Venus launch opportunity and launched 5 days apart, Venera 13 on 1981-10-30 at 06:04:00 UTC and Venera 14 on 1981-11-04 at 05:31:00 UTC,...

25 January 1983 First Infrared orbital observatory
Space observatory
A space observatory is any instrument in outer space which is used for observation of distant planets, galaxies, and other outer space objects...

USA (NASA)
UK-SERC
Science and Engineering Research Council
The Science and Engineering Research Council used to be the UK agency in charge of publicly funded scientific and engineering research activities including astronomy, biotechnology and biological sciences, space research and particle physics...

 
Netherlands-NIVR
Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes
The Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes was the official space-exploration agency of the Dutch government until 2009....

IRAS
IRAS
The Infrared Astronomical Satellite was the first-ever space-based observatory to perform a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths....

23 March 1983 Ultraviolet orbital observatory
USSR
France
Astron
Astron (spacecraft)
Astron was a Soviet spacecraft launched on 23 March 1983 at 12:45:06 UTC, using Proton launcher, which was designed to fulfill an astrophysics mission. It was based on the Venera spacecraft design and was operational for six years as the largest ultraviolet space telescope during its lifetime...

13 June 1983 First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Neptune (first spacecraft to pass beyond all Solar System planets)
USA (NASA)
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...

7 February 1984 First untethered spacewalk, Bruce McCandless II
Bruce McCandless II
Bruce McCandless II is a former naval aviator with the United States Navy and former NASA astronaut. During the first of his two Space Shuttle missions he made the first ever untethered free flight, using the Manned Maneuvering Unit.-Education:McCandless is the son of Bruce McCandless, a decorated...

USA (NASA)
STS-41-B
STS-41-B
STS-41-B was the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission, launching on 3 February 1984 and landing on 11 February. It was the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Following STS-9, the flight numbering system for the Space Shuttle program was changed...

24 January 1986 First 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...

 flyby (closest approach 81,500 kilometers)
USA (NASA)
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...

19 February 1986 First consistently inhabited long-term research 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...

USSR
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...

25 August 1989 First 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...

 flyby
USA (NASA)
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...

18 November 1989 First orbital cosmic microwave observatory
USA (NASA)
COBE
1 December 1989 Ultraviolet to gamma ray spectrum orbital observatory
USSR
France
Denmark
Bulgaria
Granat
Granat
The International Astrophysical Observatory "GRANAT" , was a Soviet space observatory developed in collaboration with France, Denmark and Bulgaria. It was launched on 1 December 1989 aboard a Proton rocket and placed in a highly eccentric four-day orbit, of which three were devoted to observations...

14 February 1990 First photograph of the whole solar system
Family Portrait (Voyager)
The Family Portrait, or sometimes Portrait of the Planets, is an image of the Solar System acquired by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990 from a distance of approximately 6 billion kilometers....

USA (NASA)
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...

24 April 1990 Optical orbital observatory
USA (NASA)
ESA
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...

21 October 1991 First asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 flyby (951 Gaspra
951 Gaspra
951 Gaspra is an S-type asteroid that orbits very close to the inner edge of the asteroid belt. Gaspra was the first asteroid ever to be closely approached when it was visited by the Galileo spacecraft, which flew by on its way to Jupiter on 29 October 1991.-Characteristics:Apart from a multitude...

 closest approach 1,600 kilometers)
USA (NASA)
Galileo
8 February 1992 First polar orbit around the Sun
USA (NASA)
ESA
Ulysses
22 March 1995 record longest duration spaceflight (437.7 days) set by Valeri Polyakov
Russia
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...

7 December 1995 First orbit of 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,...

USA (NASA)
Galileo
7 December 1995 First mission into the atmosphere of a gas giant (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,...

)
USA (NASA)
Galileo's atmospheric entry probe
14 February 2000 First orbiting of an asteroid (433 Eros
433 Eros
433 Eros is a near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1898, and the first asteroid to be orbited by a probe . It is an S-type asteroid approximately 34.4×11.2×11.2 km in size, the second-largest NEA after 1036 Ganymed, and belongs to the Amor group.Eros is a Mars-crosser asteroid, the first known...

)
USA (NASA)
NEAR Shoemaker
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...

12 February 2001 First landing on an asteroid (433 Eros
433 Eros
433 Eros is a near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1898, and the first asteroid to be orbited by a probe . It is an S-type asteroid approximately 34.4×11.2×11.2 km in size, the second-largest NEA after 1036 Ganymed, and belongs to the Amor group.Eros is a Mars-crosser asteroid, the first known...

)
USA (NASA)
NEAR Shoemaker
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...

4 January 2004 Free ranging Mars rover
USA (NASA)
Spirit rover
Spirit rover
Spirit, MER-A , is a robotic rover on Mars, active from 2004 to 2010. It was one of two rovers of NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars at 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity , landed on the other side of the planet...

25 January 2004 Free ranging Mars rover
USA (NASA)
Opportunity rover
Opportunity rover
Opportunity, MER-B , is a robotic rover on the planet Mars, active since 2004. It is the remaining rover in NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission...

1 July 2004 First orbit of 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,...

USA (NASA)
ESA 
ASI
Italian Space Agency
The Italian Space Agency is a government agency established in 1988 to fund, regulate and coordinate space exploration activities in Italy...

Cassini–Huygens
14 January 2005 First soft landing on 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....

ESA 
USA (NASA)
ASI
Italian Space Agency
The Italian Space Agency is a government agency established in 1988 to fund, regulate and coordinate space exploration activities in Italy...

Cassini–Huygens
7 May 2006 First extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of 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...

ESA
Venus Express
Venus Express
Venus Express is the first Venus exploration mission of the European Space Agency. Launched in November 2005, it arrived at Venus in April 2006 and has been continuously sending back science data from its polar orbit around Venus. Equipped with seven science instruments, the main objective of the...

24 October 2007 First stage of China's lunar probe program, the satellite Chang'e I
China
Chang'e I
6 March 2009 Kepler Mission is launched, first space telescope designated to search for Earth-like exoplanets
USA
Kepler Mission
Kepler Mission
The Kepler spacecraft is an American space observatory, the space-based portion of NASA's Kepler Mission to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft is named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler...

18 March 2011 First orbit of 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...

USA (NASA)
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...

16 July 2011 First orbit of Vesta
4 Vesta
Vesta, formally designated 4 Vesta, is one of the largest asteroids, with a mean diameter of about . It was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807, and is named after the Roman virgin goddess of home and hearth, Vesta....

USA (NASA)
Dawn
18 July 2011 Radio orbital observatory. Largest observatory ever launched.
Russia (Astro Space Center
Astro Space Center (Russia)
This enclave of scientific research is officially known as Astro Space Center of PN Lebedev Physics Institute, and is under the purview of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Generally speaking, the space center's mission focuses on astrophysics, which includes cosmology. The emphasis is on...

)
RadioAstron
RadioAstron
Spektr-R is a Russian orbital radio telescope, and currently the largest space telescope in orbit. It is funded by the Russian Astro Space Center, and was launched into Earth orbit on 18 July 2011, with a perigee of and an apogee of , about 700 times of the orbital height of the Hubble Space...

26 November 2011 Nuclear-powered NASA rover toward Mars to seek out life clues.
USA (NASA)
Curiosity rover


1Project Vanguard was transferred from the NRL to NASA in late 1958.
See also

  • Discovery and exploration of the Solar System
    Discovery and exploration of the Solar System
    For many thousands of years, civilizations, with a few notable exceptions, did not recognize the existence of the Solar System. It was believed the Earth to be stationary at the centre of the universe and categorically different from the divine or ethereal objects that moved through the sky...

  • 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....


External links