Timeline of space exploration

Last updated

This is a timeline of space exploration which includes notable achievements, first accomplishments and milestones in humanity's exploration of outer space.

Contents

This timeline generally does not distinguish achievements by a specific country or private company, as it considers humanity as a whole. See otherwise the timeline of private spaceflight or look for achievements by each space agency.

Pre-20th century

DateEvent leading to space explorationCountryResearcher(s)Ref(s).
1610First telescopic observation of the night sky: discovery of the Galilean moons, lunar craters and the phases of Venus. Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg Venice Galileo Galilei
1668First reflecting telescope. Flag of England.svg England Isaac Newton
1781First telescopic discovery of planet (Uranus). Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Great Britain William Herschel
1801First discovery of asteroid (Ceres). Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia 4.svg Sicily Giuseppe Piazzi
1813First exposition of the rocket equation based on Newton's third law of motion: Treatise on the Motion of Rockets. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK William Moore
1840First clear telescopic photograph of another world: the Moon. US flag 26 stars.svg United States John William Draper
1845First proper observation of other galaxies which are termed "whirlpool nebulae". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK William Parsons
1861A Journey Through Space makes first proposal of using rockets for space flight. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK William Leitch
1895First proposal of space elevator. Flag of Russia.svg Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

1900–1956

DateMission successCountryMission nameRef(s).
1903Publication of Exploration of the Universe with Rocket-Propelled Vehicles [1] that showed physical space exploration was theoretically possible, including the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, multi staged rockets and using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in liquid propellant Flag of Russia.svg Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky [2]
1914Goddard files for and is subsequently awarded U.S. patents on multistage and liquid-fueled rockets. US flag 48 stars.svg United States Robert H. Goddard
1917First observation of an extrasolar planet (exoplanet) round Van Maanen 2 although it is not recognised as such at the time. Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands Adriaan van Maanen
1919Goddard's widely influential paper "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" discussed solid- and liquid-fueled rocketry. US flag 48 stars.svg United States Robert H. Goddard
15 December 1923 Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space") self-published after its rejection as a doctoral thesis. Flag of Germany.svg Germany Hermann Oberth
1924 Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel founded. Flag of the Soviet Union (1924-1936).svg USSR Members include Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Friedrich Zander, Yuri Kondratyuk
16 March 1926Goddard launches the first liquid-fueled rocket. US flag 48 stars.svg United States Robert H. Goddard
1927 Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel) formed; it includes many top European rocket scientists. Flag of Germany.svg Germany 
1927Завоевание межпланетных пространств (The Conquest of Interplanetary Space) discusses rocket mechanics and orbital effects including the gravitational slingshot. Flag of the Soviet Union (1924-1936).svg USSR Yuri Kondratyuk
1928Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel – The Rocket Motor) discusses space travel and its potential uses for scientific experiments. Flag of Germany.svg Germany Herman Potočnik
January 1933 British Interplanetary Society founded. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UKPhilip E. Cleator
April 1933First detection of radio waves from an astronomical object. US flag 48 stars.svg United States Karl Jansky
September 1933Establishment of the Soviet rocket research lab Reactive Scientific Research Institute (RNII) by combining the Group for the Study of Reactive Motion (GIRD) with the Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL). Flag of the Soviet Union (1924-1936).svg USSRKey people Sergei Korolev & Valentin Glushko [3]
20 June 1944First spaceflight in history.

First man-made object in space (later defined as above the Kármán line).

Flag of the German Reich (1935-1945).svg Germany (Wehrmacht) V-2 rocket (MW 18014)
October 1945Article in Wireless World , "Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?" makes first discussion of geostationary satellites as a means of communication. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK Arthur C. Clarke
10 May 1946First space research flight (cosmic radiation experiments). US flag 48 stars.svg United Statescaptured and improved V-2 rocket
24 October 1946First pictures of Earth from 105 km (65 mi). US flag 48 stars.svg United States V-2 [4] [5]
20 February 1947First animals in space (fruit flies). US flag 48 stars.svg United States V-2 [4] [6]
24 February 1949First two-stage liquid-fueled rocket, that sets a record altitude of 244 miles (393 km) (WAC Corporal missile mounted onto a V-2 rocket). US flag 48 stars.svg United States Bumper-5
14 June 1949First mammal in space (Albert II, a rhesus monkey).

First primate in space.

US flag 48 stars.svg United States V-2
20 September 1956First rocket to pass the thermopause and enter the exosphere. At 682 miles (1,098 km) altitude and 3,335 miles range, the 3-stage Jupiter-C breaks both records and achieves MACH 18 velocity. US flag 48 stars.svg United States Jupiter-C [7] [8]

1957–1959

DateMission achievementsCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
4 October 1957First artificial satellite.
First man-made signals from space.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Sputnik 1
3 November 1957First mammal in orbit, the dog Laika. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Sputnik 2
31 January 1958Confirmed existence of the Van Allen radiation belt. US flag 48 stars.svg USA (ABMA) Explorer 1
17 March 1958First use of solar power in space.
The oldest artificial object still in space.
US flag 48 stars.svg USA (NRL) Vanguard 1
4 January 1959First rocket to reach Earth escape velocity.

First spacecraft to attempt to impact the Moon's surface.
First artificial object in heliocentric orbit.
First detection of solar wind.

Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 1
17 February 1959First weather satellite. US flag 48 stars.svg USA (NRL) Vanguard 2
7 August 1959 First photograph of Earth from Earth orbit. US flag 49 stars.svg USA (NASA) Explorer 6
13 September 1959First spacecraft to impact another celestial body (the Moon).
First delivery of national pennants to a celestial body.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 2
4 October 1959First photos of another world from space: the far side of the Moon. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 3

1960–1969

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
March 1960First solar probe. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 5
19 August 1960First plants and animals to return alive from Earth orbit. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Sputnik 5
25 September 1960First rocket engine fired in space. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer P-30 [9]
31 January 1961First hominidae in space (chimpanzee Ham).

First tasks performed in space.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) M-R 2
12 February 1961First launch from Earth orbit of upper stage into a heliocentric orbit.
First mid-course corrections.
First spin-stabilisation.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 1
12 April 1961First human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin).
First human-crewed orbital flight.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Vostok 1 [10] [11]
5 May 1961First human-piloted space flight (Alan Shepard).
First human-crewed suborbital flight.
Flag of the United States.svg USA Freedom 7
19 May 1961First planetary flyby (within 100,000 km of Venus – no data returned). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 1
6 August 1961First crewed space flight lasting over twenty four hours by Gherman Titov, who is also the first to suffer from space sickness. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Vostok 2
7 March 1962First orbital solar observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) OSO-1
26 April 1962First spacecraft to impact the far side of the Moon. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Ranger 4 [12]
11 August 1962First dual crewed spaceflight.
First communication between two crewed space vehicles in orbit.
First person to float freely in microgravity.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Vostok 3 and Vostok 4
18 August 1962First auroral research rocket launched into the ionosphere.
Flag of Norway.svg
Norway
Ferdinand 1
November 1962First Mars flyby (11,000 km) but contact was lost. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Mars 1
14 December 1962First planetary flyby with data returned (Venus).

First successful planetary science mission.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 2 [13]
16 June 1963First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Vostok 6
19 July 1963First reusable crewed spacecraft (suborbital). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) X-15 Flight 90
12 October 1964First multi-person crew (3) in orbit. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Voskhod 1
18 March 1965First space walk/extra-vehicular activity (Alexei Leonov). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Voskhod 2
March 1965First crewed spacecraft to change orbit. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 3
14 July 1965First flyby of Mars (returned pictures). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 4 [14]
14 July 1965First photographs of another planet from deep space (Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 4 [14]
15 December 1965First orbital rendezvous (parallel flight, no docking). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 6A/Gemini 7
3 February 1966First soft landing on another world (the Moon).
First photos from another world.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 9 [15]
1 March 1966First impact into another planet (Venus). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 3
16 March 1966First orbital docking between two spacecraft. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Gemini 8/Agena target vehicle
3 April 1966First artificial satellite around another world (the Moon). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 10
23 August 1966 First picture of Earth from another astronomical object (the Moon).

First probe to map the Moon.

Flag of the United States.svg USA Lunar Orbiter 1 [16]
8 May 1967First polar orbit around the Moon. Flag of the United States.svg USA Lunar Orbiter 4 [17]
July 1967First photos of the Lunar south pole. Flag of the United States.svg USA Lunar Orbiter 4 [17]
30 October 1967First automated (crewless) docking. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Cosmos 186/Cosmos 188
17 November 1967First liftoff from another celestial body (the Moon). Flag of the United States.svg USA Surveyor 6 [18]
September 1968First animals and plants to leave Earth orbit and travel to and around the Moon.

First lunar spacecraft to be recovered successfully.

Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Zond 5 [19]
7 December 1968First orbital ultraviolet observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) OAO-2
21 December 1968First human excursion beyond low Earth orbit.

First in-person observations of Earth from a distance.
First Trans-Earth injection.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 8 [20]
24 December 1968First human flight to another celestial body (the Moon) and to enter its gravitational influence. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 8 [20]
January 1969First docking between two crewed spacecraft in Earth orbit.

First crew exchange in space.

Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5
January 1969First spacecraft to parachute in Venus's atmosphere, lost contact before landing. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 5
23 May 1969First docking of two crewed spacecraft around another celestial body.

First lunar mission to include a lunar landing module.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 10 [21]
20 July 1969First human on another celestial body (the Moon).

First words spoken from another world.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 11 [22]
21 July 1969First space launch from another celestial body.

First sample return from another celestial body.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 11 [22]
19 November 1969First rendezvous on the surface of a celestial body.

First meet up between human explorers and a robotic spacecraft in space (on the Moon).

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 12/ Surveyor 3 [23]

1970–1979

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
24 September 1970First automatic sample return from the Moon. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Luna 16
17 November 1970First rover on another celestial body (the Moon).

First lunar rover.

Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Lunokhod 1
12 December 1970First X-ray orbital observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Uhuru
15 December 1970First soft landing on another planet (Venus).
First signals from another planet.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 7
19 April 1971First space station. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 1
June 1971First crewed orbital observatory. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Orion 1
30 July 1971First motor vehicle on another celestial body (Lunar Roving Vehicle). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo 15 [24]
14 November 1971First spacecraft to orbit another planet (Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 9
27 November 1971First spacecraft to impact another planet (Mars). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Mars 2
2 December 1971First soft landing on Mars.
First signals from Martian surface.
First photograph from Martian surface.
Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Mars 3
3 March 1972First spacecraft on a trajectory out of the solar system.

First spacecraft to use all-nuclear electrical power (SNAP-19 RTGs).

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10 [25]
15 July 1972First spacecraft to enter the asteroid belt.

First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Mars.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10 [25]
15 November 1972First orbital gamma ray observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) SAS 2
3 November 1973First mission sent to study Mercury. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10 [26]
3 December 1973First flyby of Jupiter.

First spacecraft beyond the Inner Solar System.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10 [25]
January 1974First spacecraft to return data on a long-period comet. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10 [26]
5 February 1974First gravity assist.

First mission to explore two planets in a single mission (Mercury and Venus).
First photograph of Venus from space.

First use of solar wind for spacecraft orientation.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10 [26]
29 March 1974First flyby of Mercury. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10 [26]
21 Sept. 1974First spacecraft to flyby the same planet multiple times (Mercury). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mariner 10 [26]
15 July 1975First multinational crewed mission. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
20 October 1975First spacecraft to orbit Venus. Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 9
22 October 1975First successful photos from the surface of another planet (Venus). Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg USSR Venera 9
20 July 1976First successful photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Viking Lander
26 January 1978First real time remotely operated ultraviolet orbital observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)
Flag of Europe.svg ESA
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK (SERC)
International Ultraviolet Explorer
20 November 1978First spacecraft to orbit the Sun at Lagrange 1. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) ISEE-3/ICE [27]
4 December 1978First extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of Venus (from 1978 to 1992). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer Venus Orbiter
5 March 1979 Jupiter flyby (closest approach 349,000 km)
Encounters with five Jovian moons.
Discovery of volcanism on Io.
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1
1 September 1979First flyby of Saturn.

First photograph of Titan from deep space.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 11

1980–1989

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
12 November 1980Saturn flyby (closest approach 124,000 km), close encounter of Titan and encounters with a dozen other moons. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1
12 April 1981First reusable crewed orbital spacecraft (Space Shuttle). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) STS-1
1 March 1982First Venus soil samples

First sound recording of another world (Venus).

Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Venera 13
10 June 1982First spacecraft to conduct a deep survey of Earth's magnetic tail. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) ISEE-3/ICE [27]
19 August 1982First mixed gender crew aboard space station, and first woman, Svetlana Savitskaya, on space station. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 7
1982First plants grown in space ( Arabidopsis ). Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSRSalyut 7 [28] [29]
25 January 1983First Infrared orbital observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK (SERC)
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands (NIVR)
IRAS
13 June 1983First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Neptune.

First spacecraft beyond all Solar System planets.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Pioneer 10 [25]
7 February 1984First untethered spacewalk (Bruce McCandless II). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) STS-41-B
25 July 1984First spacewalk by a woman (Svetlana Savitskaya). Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Salyut 7
11 June 1985First balloon deployed on another planet (Venus). Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Vega 1
11 September 1985First spacecraft to flyby a comet (21P/Giacobini-Zinner). [note 1] Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) ISEE-3/ICE [27]
24 January 1986First spacecraft to flyby Uranus. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 2 [30]
19 February 1986First consistently inhabited long-term research space station. Flag of the Soviet Union.svg USSR Mir
13 March 1986First close up observations of a comet (Halley's Comet, 596 kilometers). Flag of Europe.svg ESA Giotto
July 1988First suspected detection of an exoplanet (Gamma Cephei Ab). [note 2] Flag of Canada.svg Canada Astronomers Bruce Campbell, Gordon Walker and Stephenson Yang. [31]
8 August 1989First astrometric satellite. Flag of Europe.svg ESA Hipparcos
25 August 1989First spacecraft to flyby Neptune.

First spacecraft to study all four of the solar system's giant planets at close range.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 2 [30]
18 November 1989First orbital cosmic microwave observatory. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) COBE

1990–1999

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
14 February 1990First photograph of the whole Solar System (Family Portrait). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1 [32]
24 April 1990First telescope designed to be repaired in space. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)
Flag of Europe.svg ESA
Hubble Space Telescope [33]
2 July 1990First time a spacecraft coming from deep space uses the Earth for a gravity-assist manoeuvre. Flag of Europe.svg ESA Giotto [34]
21 October 1991First asteroid flyby (951 Gaspra closest approach 1,600 km). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo
1992First confirmed observation of an exoplanet. Flag of Canada.svg Canada
Flag of Poland.svg Poland
Aleksander Wolszczan & Dale Frail
8 February 1992First polar orbit around the Sun.

First mission to survey the space environment above and below the poles of the Sun.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)
Flag of Europe.svg ESA
Ulysses [35]
13 September 1992First spacecraft to map Venus in its entirety. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Magellan [36]
22 March 1995Record longest duration spaceflight to date (437.7 day by Valeri Polyakov). Flag of Russia.svg Russia (FKA) Mir
7 December 1995First orbit of Jupiter. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo
7 December 1995First spacecraft to enter the atmosphere of a gas giant (Jupiter). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Galileo's atmospheric entry probe [37]
1995First laser communication from space. Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA, NICT) ETS-VI [38]
12 February 1997First orbital radio observatory. Flag of Japan.svg Japan (ISAS) HALCA
4 July 1997First operational rover on another planet (Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mars Pathfinder / Sojourner
17 September 1997First spacecraft to use aerobraking to enter orbit (Martian orbit). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mars Global Surveyor [39]
20 November 1998First multinational space station.
Largest artificial object built in space to date.
Flag of Russia.svg Russia (FKA)
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA)
Flag of Europe.svg Europe (ESA)
Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA)
Flag of Canada.svg Canada (CSA)
International Space Station

2000–2009

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
14 February 2000First orbit of an asteroid (433 Eros). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA NEAR Shoemaker
12 February 2001First landing on an asteroid (433 Eros). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) NEAR Shoemaker
November 2001First laser communication in space between two objects. Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of France.svg France (CNES) Artemis, SPOT 4 [40]
1 July 2004First orbit of Saturn. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
8 September 2004First sample return beyond lunar orbit (solar wind). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Genesis
14 January 2005First landing in the outer Solar System (Titan).

First landing on a moon other than Earth's Moon.

Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
January–February 2005First confirmed cryovolcano (Enceladus). Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens [41]
4 July 2005First spacecraft to impact a comet (Tempel 1). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Deep Impact
19 November 2005First asteroid ascent (25143 Itokawa).
First interplanetary escape without separating and discarding the landing gear.
Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
15 January 2006First sample return from a comet (81P/Wild). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Stardust [42]
3 January 2007First confirmed lakes on the surface of another celestial body (lakes of Titan). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens [43] [44]
25 May 2008First spacecraft to photograph another spacecraft landing on another celestial body (Phoenix, on Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter [45]
8 November 2008First discovery of lunar water in the form of ice. [note 3] Flag of India.svg India (ISRO) Chandrayaan-1 [46] [47]
6 March 2009First space telescope designated to search for Earth-like exoplanets. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Kepler Mission [48]
August 2009First images of the structures in the rings of a planet (rings of Saturn). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens [49] [50]

Since 2010

DateMission successCountry/organizationMission nameRef(s).
20 May 2010First solar sail. Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) IKAROS [51]
13 June 2010First sample return from an asteroid (25143 Itokawa). Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
25 August 2010First spacecraft to orbit one of the Moon's Lagrange point (L2). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) ARTEMIS-P1 [52]
22 October 2010First spacecraft to orbit the Moon's Lagrange 1 point. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) ARTEMIS-P2 [52]
18 March 2011First orbit of Mercury. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) MESSENGER
16 July 2011First orbit of an object in the asteroid belt (4 Vesta). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Dawn
6 August 2012First use of a sky crane to land on another celestial body (Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Mars Science Laboratory [53]
25 August 2012First spacecraft to leave the heliosphere.

First spacecraft in interstellar space.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Voyager 1 [54]
January 2013First laser communication with a lunar satellite. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [55]
10 September 2014First spacecraft to orbit a comet nucleus (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko). Flag of Europe.svg ESA Rosetta [56]
12 November 2014First soft landing on a comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko). Flag of Europe.svg ESA Philae [57]
6 March 2015First flyby and orbit of a dwarf planet (Ceres).
First spacecraft to orbit two separate celestial bodies.
Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Dawn [58]
July 2015First flyby of an object beyond Neptune (Pluto and its moons).

First flyby in the Kuiper belt.

First flyby of a trans-neptunian object.
Last original encounter with one of the nine major planets recognized before 2006.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) New Horizons [59]
10 August 2015First food grown in space eaten (lettuce). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) International Space Station [60]
14 September 2015 First observation of gravitational waves. LSCEGO LIGO Virgo [61] [62]
23 November 2015First propulsive landing of a rocket after sending something into space (suborbital). Flag of the United States.svg USA (Blue Origin) New Shepard 2 [63]
21 December 2015First propulsive landing of an orbital rocket. Flag of the United States.svg USA (SpaceX) Falcon 9 first-stage landing tests
16 April 2016First inflatable space habitat. [note 4] Flag of the United States.svg USA (Bigelow Aerospace) BEAM [64]
15 September 2017First spacecraft to enter the atmosphere of Saturn. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Italy.svg Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens [65]
19 October 2017First known interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System. Flag of the United States.svg USA (Haleakalā Observatory) Oumuamua
21 September 2018First operational rover on an asteroid (162173 Ryugu). Flag of Japan.svg Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa2 [66]
1 December 2018First recorded sounds from Mars. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) InSight [67]
1 January 2019First flyby of a classical Kuiper belt object (486958 Arrokoth).

First flyby of a contact binary.

First spacecraft to make two different flybys in the Kuiper belt.

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) New Horizons [68]
3 January 2019First soft landing on the far side of the Moon.

First germination of seeds on another celestial body.

Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China (CNSA) Chang'e 4 [69]
10 April 2019First direct photograph of a black hole and its vicinity. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Event Horizon Telescope [70]
6 April 2021First confirmed quake on another planet (marsquake). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) InSight [71]
19 April 2021First aerodynamically powered flight on another celestial body (Mars). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Ingenuity [72]
20 April 2021First in situ resource utilization.

First production of oxygen on another celestial body (Mars).

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) MOXIE [73] [74]
14 December 2021First spacecraft to fly through the atmosphere of a star (the Sun's corona). Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Parker Solar Probe [75]
25 December 2021Launch of the largest space telescope to date. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA) Flag of Europe.svg ESA Flag of Canada.svg Canada (CSA) James Webb Space Telescope [76]
26 September 2022First asteroid measurably deflected by a spacecraft.

First spacecraft to make contact with an asteroid moon (impact on Dimorphos).

Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA, SpaceX) DART [77]
23 August 2023First landing at the lunar south pole. Flag of India.svg India (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 [78]
22 February 2024First commercial spacecraft to land on the Moon and first to do so with cryogenic propellants. Flag of the United States.svg USA (NASA, SpaceX, Intuitive Machines) IM-1 [79]

Notes

  1. Soviet spacecraft Vega 1 and Vega 2 and ESA spacecraft Giotto all made a flyby of Halley's Comet the year after, in 1986.
  2. Although the discovery was retracted in 1994, and not confirmed until 2002.
  3. On December 3, 1996 (prior to 2008), the US Department of Defense announced that Clementine data suggested evidence of ice at the lunar south pole. However, the discovery was not confirmed and Clementine data might have been misinterpreted.
  4. The reason why it is BEAM (2016) rather than Genesis I (2006) is that BEAM was specifically designed for human habitation and was attached to the ISS, while Genesis I and Genesis II (2007) were technology demonstration prototypes for future space habitats.

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Space exploration</span> Exploration of space, planets, and moons

Space exploration is the use of astronomy and space technology to explore outer space. While the exploration of space is currently carried out mainly by astronomers with telescopes, its physical exploration is conducted both by uncrewed robotic space probes and human spaceflight. Space exploration, like its classical form astronomy, is one of the main sources for space science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mariner 9</span> Successful 1971 Mars robotic spacecraft

Mariner 9 was a robotic spacecraft that contributed greatly to the exploration of Mars and was part of the NASA Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971, from LC-36B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and reached the planet on November 14 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet – only narrowly beating the Soviet probes Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived at Mars only weeks later.

Space technology is technology for use in outer space. Space technology Includes space vehicles such as spacecraft, satellites, space stations and orbital launch vehicles; deep-space communication; in-space propulsion; and a wide variety of other technologies including support infrastructure equipment, and procedures.

This timeline of artificial satellites and space probes includes uncrewed spacecraft including technology demonstrators, observatories, lunar probes, and interplanetary probes. First satellites from each country are included. Not included are most Earth science satellites, commercial satellites or crewed missions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spaceflight</span> Flight into or through outer space

Spaceflight is an application of astronautics to fly objects, usually spacecraft, into or through outer space, either with or without humans on board. Most spaceflight is uncrewed and conducted mainly with spacecraft such as satellites in orbit around Earth, but also includes space probes for flights beyond Earth orbit. Such spaceflight operate either by telerobotic or autonomous control. The more complex human spaceflight has been pursued soon after the first orbital satellites and has reached the Moon and permanent human presence in space around Earth, particularly with the use of space stations. Human spaceflight programs include the Soyuz, Shenzhou, the past Apollo Moon landing and the Space Shuttle programs. Other current spaceflight are conducted to the International Space Station and to China's Tiangong Space Station.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of Solar System exploration</span>

This is a timeline of Solar System exploration ordering events in the exploration of the Solar System by date of spacecraft launch. It includes:

<i>Luna 20</i> 1972 lunar sample retrieval mission as part of the USSRs Luna program

Luna 20 was the second of three successful Soviet lunar sample return missions. It was flown as part of the Luna program as a robotic competitor to the six successful Apollo lunar sample return missions.

Kosmos 419, also known as 3MS No.170 was a failed Soviet spacecraft intended to visit Mars. The spacecraft was launched on 10 May 1971, however due to an upper stage malfunction it failed to depart low Earth orbit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lunar lander</span> Spacecraft intended to land on the surface of the Moon

A lunar lander or Moon lander is a spacecraft designed to land on the surface of the Moon. As of 2023, the Apollo Lunar Module is the only lunar lander to have ever been used in human spaceflight, completing six lunar landings from 1969 to 1972 during the United States' Apollo Program. Several robotic landers have reached the surface, and some have returned samples to Earth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sample-return mission</span> Spacecraft mission

A sample-return mission is a spacecraft mission to collect and return 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 loose material and rocks. These samples may be obtained in a number of ways, such as soil and rock excavation or a collector array used for capturing particles of solar wind or cometary debris. Nonetheless, concerns have been raised that the return of such samples to planet Earth may endanger Earth itself.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Exploration of the Moon</span> Missions to the Moon

The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to that the only available means of exploration had been observation from Earth. The invention of the optical telescope brought about the first leap in the quality of lunar observations. Galileo Galilei is generally credited as the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes; having made his own telescope in 1609, the mountains and craters on the lunar surface were among his first observations using it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of spaceflight</span>

Spaceflight began in the 20th century following theoretical and practical breakthroughs by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert H. Goddard, and Hermann Oberth. First successful large-scale rocket programs were initiated in Nazi Germany by Wernher von Braun. The Soviet Union took the lead in the post-war Space Race, launching the first satellite, the first man and the first woman into orbit. The United States caught up with, and then passed, their Soviet rivals during the mid-1960s, landing the first men on the Moon in 1969. In the same period, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and China were concurrently developing more limited launch capabilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of space exploration</span> Overview of and topical guide to space exploration

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to space exploration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">NASA</span> American space and aeronautics agency

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for the civil space program, aeronautics research, and space research. Established in 1958, it succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to give the U.S. space development effort a distinctly civilian orientation, emphasizing peaceful applications in space science. It has since led most American space exploration, including Project Mercury, Project Gemini, the 1968–1972 Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and the Space Shuttle. It currently supports the International Space Station and oversees the development of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System for the crewed lunar Artemis program, the Commercial Crew spacecraft, and the planned Lunar Gateway space station.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flyby (spaceflight)</span> Flight event at some distance from the object

A flyby is a spaceflight operation in which a spacecraft passes in proximity to another body, usually a target of its space exploration mission and/or a source of a gravity assist to impel it towards another target. Spacecraft which are specifically designed for this purpose are known as flyby spacecraft, although the term has also been used in regard to asteroid flybys of Earth for example. Important parameters are the time and distance of closest approach.

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