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exploration of space

space exploration 1912 to 1949
space exploration 1957 to 1960
space exploration 1961 to 1965
space exploration 1966 to 1970
space exploration 1971 to 1975
space exploration 1976 to 1980
space exploration 1981 to 1985
space exploration 1986 to 1990
space exploration 1991 to 1995
space exploration 1996 to 2000
space exploration 2001 to 2005

space exploration timeline

1912 - 1949

  • Balloon flight - Europe - (1912)

      Discovered cosmic rays.

  • NRL V-2 rocket - USA - (1946)

      First observation of the Sun's UV spectrum.

  • NRL V-2 rocket - USA - (1949)

      First observation of solar x rays.

 

     

     

     

     

     

     

1957 - 1960

  • Sputnik-1 - USSR - (1957)

      First artificial satellite.

  • Explorer III - USA - (1958)

      Discovered Earth's radiation belt.

  • Pioneer 0 - USA Lunar Orbiter - (August 17, 1958)

      First stage exploded.

  • Pioneer 1 - USA Lunar Orbiter - (October 11, 1958)

      Failed to reach escape velocity.

  • Pioneer 3 - USA Lunar Flyby - (December 6, 1958)

      Failed to reach escape velocity.

  • Luna 1 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 361 kg - (January 2, 1959)

      Luna 1 was the first lunar flyby. It discovered the solar wind and is now in a solar orbit.

  • Pioneer 4 - USA Distant Lunar Flyby - 5.9 kg - (March 3, 1959)

      Space probe is now in a solar orbit.

  • Luna 2 - USSR Lunar Hard Lander - 387 kg - (September 12, 1959)

      Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to impact the surface of the moon on September 14, 1959.

  • Luna 3 - USSR Lunar Far Side Flyby - 278.5 kg - (October 4, 1959)

      Encountered the Moon on October 7, 1959 and returned the first image of the Moon's hidden side. Space probe is now in a decayed earth-moon orbit.

  • Pioneer 5 - USA Solar Monitor - (March 11, 1960)

      Space probe is now in a solar orbit.

  • Mars 1960A - USSR Mars Probe - (October 10, 1960)

      Failed to reach Earth orbit.

  • Mars 1960B - USSR Mars Probe - (October 14, 1960)

      Failed to reach Earth orbit.

       

       

       

       

       

       

1961 - 1965

  • Venera 1 - USSR Venus Flyby - 643.5 kg - (February 12, 1961)

      Now in a solar orbit.

  • Aerobee Rocket - USA - (1962)

      Observed the first x-ray star.

  • Ranger 3 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 327 kg - (January 26, 1962)

      Lunar probe missed the moon and is now in a solar orbit.

  • Ranger 4 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 328 kg - (April 23, 1962)

      First US lunar impact of the Moon.

  • Mariner 2 - USA Venus Flyby - 201 kg - (August 27, 1962 - January 3, 1963)

      On December 14, 1962, Mariner 2 arrived at Venus at a distance of 34,800 kilometres and scanned its surface with infrared and microwave radiometers, capturing data that showed Venus's surface to be about 425C (800F). Three weeks after the Venus flyby Mariner 2 went off the air on January 3, 1963. It is now in a solar orbit.

  • Ranger 5 - USA Lunar Flyby - 340 kg - (October 18, 1962)

      Ranger 5 was to be a lander but became a flyby because of a spacecraft failure. It is now in a solar orbit.

  • Mars 1962A - USSR Mars Flyby - (October 24, 1962)

      Spacecraft failed to leave Earth orbit after the final rocket stage exploded.

  • Mars 1 - USSR Mars Flyby - 893 kg - (November 1, 1962)

      Communications failed en route.

  • Mars 1962B - USSR Mars Lander - (November 4, 1962)

      Failed to leave Earth orbit.

  • Luna 4 - USSR Lunar Probe - 1,422 kg - (April 2, 1963)

      Lunar 4 was intended to be a lunar lander but missed the Moon. It is now in an Earth Moon orbit.

  • Ranger 6 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 361.8 kg - (January 30, 1964)

      Cameras failed; lunar probe impacted the surface of the Moon.

  • Zond 1 - USSR Venus Flyby - 890 kg - (April 2, 1964)

      Communication lost en route; now in a solar orbit.

  • Ranger 7 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 362 kg - (July 28, 1964)

      Arrived on July 31, 1964, sent pictures back at a close range, and impacted the Moon.

  • Mariner 3 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 5, 1964)

      Mars flyby attempt. Solar panels did not open, preventing flyby. Mariner 3 is now in a solar orbit.

  • Mariner 4 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 28, 1964 - December 20, 1967)

      Mariner 4 arrived at Mars on July 14, 1965 and passed within 9,920 kilometres of the planet's surface. It returned 22 close-up photos showing a cratered surface. The thin atmosphere was confirmed to be composed of carbon dioxide in the range of 5-10 mbar. A small intrinsic magnetic field was detected. Mariner 4 is now in a solar orbit.

  • Zond 2 - USSR Mars Flyby - (November 30, 1964)

      Contact was lost en route.

  • Ranger 8 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 366 kg - (February 17, 1965)

      Ranger 8 arrived at the moon on February 20, 1965. It sent back high-resolution pictures until it impacted in Mare Tranquillitatis.

  • Ranger 9 - USA Lunar Hard Lander - 366 kg - (March 21, 1965)

      Lunar probe sent pictures of its impact on the moon.

  • Luna 5 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,474 kg - (May 9, 1965)

      The lunar soft-lander failed and impacted the moon.

  • Luna 6 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,440 kg - (June 8, 1965)

      Missed the moon and is now in a solar orbit.

  • Zond 3 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 959 kg - (July 18, 1965)

      Returned pictures of the lunar far side. It is now in a solar orbit.

  • Luna 7 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,504 kg - (October 4, 1965)

      Luna 7 failed and impacted the moon.

       

       

       

       

       

       

1966 - 1970

  • Venera 2 - USSR Venus Flyby - 962 kg - (November 12, 1965 - 1966)

      Communications failed just before arrival. Now in solar orbit.

  • Venera 3 - USSR Venus Atmospheric Probe - 958 kg - (November 16, 1965 - 1966)

      Communications failed just before atmosphere entry. Crashed on Venus.

  • Luna 8 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,550 kg - (December 3, 1965)

      Luna 8 failed and impacted the moon.

  • Pioneer 6 - USA Solar Probe - 63.4 kg - (December 16, 1965 - Present)

      The Probe is still transmitting from solar orbit.

  • Luna 9 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,580 kg - (January 31, 1966)

      Luna 9 landed on the lunar surface and retuned the first photographs from the surface.

  • Luna 10 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,597 kg - (March 31, 1966)

      Luna 10 is currently in a lunar orbit.

  • Surveyor 1 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 269 kg - (April 30, 1966 to 1967)

      Surveyor 1 was the first American soft landing on the lunar surface.

  • Lunar Orbiter 1 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 386 kg - (August 10, 1966)

      Lunar Orbiter 1 orbited the moon, photographed the far side, and then impacted on command.

  • Pioneer 7 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (August 17, 1966 - ?)

      Solar-orbiting probe was recently turned off.

  • Luna 11 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,638 kg - (August 24, 1966)

      Luna 11 is currently in a lunar orbit.

  • Surveyor 2 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 292 kg - (September 20, 1966)

      Surveyor 2 failed and impacted the moon.

  • Luna 12 - USSR Lunar Orbiter - 1,620 - (October 22, 1966-1967)

      Luna 12 is in a lunar orbit.

  • Lunar Orbiter 2 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 390 kg - (November 6, 1966)

      Orbited the moon, photographed the far side for potential Apollo landing sites, then impacted on command.

  • Luna 13 - USSR Lunar Soft Lander - 1,700 kg - (December 21, 1966)

      Landed on the lunar surface.

  • Lunar Orbiter 3 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 385 kg - (February 5, 1967)

      Orbited the moon, photographed the far side for potential Apollo 12 landing sites, then impacted on command.

  • Surveyor 3 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 283 kg - (April 17, 1967)

      Landed on the lunar surface.

  • Lunar Orbiter 4 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 390 kg - (May 4, 1967)

      Orbited the moon at a polar inclination and impacted on command.

  • Venera 4 - USSR Venus Atmospheric Probe - 1,104 kg - (June 12, 1967)

      Venera 4 arrived at Venus on October 18, 1967. This was the first probe to be placed directly into the atmosphere and to return atmospheric data. It showed that the atmosphere was 90-95% carbon dioxide. It detected no nitrogen. The surface temperature reading was 500C and pressure reading was 75 bar. It was crushed by the pressure on Venus before it reached the surface.

  • Mariner 5 - USA Venus Flyby - 244 kg - (June 14 to November, 1967)

      Mariner 5 arrived at Venus on October 19, 1967, one day after Venera 4. It passed within 3,900 kilometres of the planet's surface. It studied the Venusian magnetic field and found that its atmosphere was composed of 85-99% carbon dioxide. It is now in a solar orbit.

  • Surveyor 4 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 283 kg - (July 14, 1967)

      Lander failed and impacted the moon.

  • Explorer 35 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 104 kg - (July 19, 1967 - 1972)

      Orbiter acquired field and particle data.

  • Lunar Orbiter 5 - USA Lunar Orbiter - 389 kg (August 1, 1967)

      Orbited the moon at a polar inclination, took high resolution pictures of many important sites, and impacted on command.

  • Surveyor 5 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 279 kg - (September 8, 1967)

      Landed on the lunar surface.

  • Surveyor 6 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 280 kg - (November 7, 1967)

      Landed on and took off from the lunar surface.

  • Pioneer 8 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (December 13, 1967 - Present)

      Solar probe is still transmitting from solar orbit.

  • Surveyor 7 - USA Lunar Soft Lander - 1,036 kg - (January 7, 1968)

      Landed on the lunar surface.

  • Luna 14 - USSR Lunar Probe - 1,700 kg - (April 7, 1968)

      Luna 14 is in a lunar-solar orbit.

  • Zond 5 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,375 kg - (September 14, 1968)

      Lunar fly-around and earth return.

  • Pioneer 9 - USA Solar Probe - 63 kg - (November 8, 1968 - March 3, 1987)

      Still in solar orbit. Died on March 3, 1987.

  • Zond 6 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,375 - (November 10, 1968)

      Lunar fly-around and earth return.

  • Apollo 8 - USA Lunar Manned Orbiter - 28,883 kg - (December 21-27, 1968)

      Crew: Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., William Anders.
      The crew undertook the first manned lunar fly-around and Earth return. The astronauts made 10 orbits of the moon on Christmas Eve.

  • Venera 5 - USSR Venus Atmosphere Probe - 1,128 kg - (January 5, 1969)

      Venera 5 arrived at Venus on May 16, 1969. Along with Venera 6, atmospheric data was returned indicating an atmosphere composed of 93-97% carbon dioxide, 2-5% nitrogen, and less than 4% oxygen. The probe returned data down to within 26 kilometres of surface and was then lost - crushed by the pressure on Venus.

  • Venera 6 - USSR Venus Atmosphere Probe - 1,128 kg - (January 10, 1969)

      Venera 6 arrived at Venus on May 17, 1969. Along with Venera 5, atmospheric data was returned indicating an atmosphere composed of 93-97% carbon dioxide, 2-5% nitrogen, and less than 4% oxygen. The probe returned data down to within 11 kilometres of surface and was then lost - crushed by the pressure on Venus.

  • Mariner 6 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (February 24, 1969)

      Mariner 6 arrived at Mars on February 24, 1969, and passed within 3,437 kilometres of the planet's equatorial region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 6 is now in a solar orbit.

  • Mariner 7 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (March 27, 1969)

      Mariner 7 arrived at Mars on August 5, 1969, and passed within 3,551 kilometres of the planet's south pole region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 7 is now in a solar orbit.

  • Apollo 10 - USA Lunar Manned Orbiter - 42,530 kg - (May 18-26, 1969)

      Crew: Thomas Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan, John W. Young.
      Manned lunar fly-around and Earth return. Stafford and Cernan tested the Lunar Module, separating it from the Command and Service Module and descended to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface. The astronauts acquired a large number of excellent 70-mm photographs.

  • Luna 15 - USSR Lunar Lander - 2,718 kg - (July 13, 1969)

      Unsuccessful sample return attempt. Crashed during landing.

  • Apollo 11 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 43,811 kg - (July 16-24, 1969)

      Crew: Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Michael Collins.
      Apollo 11 was the first manned lunar landing, which took place on July 20, 1969. The landing site was Mare Tranquillitatis at latitude 067' N and longitude 2349' E. Armstrong and Aldrin collected 21.7 kilograms of soil and rock samples and deployed experiments.

  • Zond 7 - USSR Lunar Flyby - 5,979 kg - (August 8, 1969)

      Lunar fly-around and Earth return.

  • Apollo 12 - USA Lunar Manned Lander - 43,848 kg - (November 14-24, 1969)

      Crew: Charles Conrad Jr., Alan L. Bean, Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
      Apollo 12 was a manned lunar landing which took place on November 19, 1969. The landing site was Oceanus Procellarum at latitude 312' S and longitude 2323' W. This was the landing site for Surveyor 3. Conrad and Bean retrieved portions of Surveyor 3, including the camera. Samples amounting to 34.4 kilograms were returned from the moon. Astronauts also deployed the Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP), an automated research station which was also deployed by all subsequent lunar crews.

  • Apollo 13 - USA Lunar Flyby - 43,924 kg - (April 11-17, 1970)

      Crew: James A. Lovell, Jr., Fred W. Haise, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr.
      The Apollo 13 mission became one of survival for the astronauts on board. During the translunar coast an explosion destroyed both power and propulsion systems of the Command Service Module. The Lunar Module was used as a lifeboat for the astronauts.

  • Venera 7 - USSR Venus Lander - 1180 kg - (August 17, 1970)

      Venera 7 arrived at Venus on December 15, 1970 and was the first successful landing of a spacecraft on another planet. It used an external cooling device which allowed it to send back 23 minutes of data. The surface temperature was 475C, and surface pressure was 90 bar.

  • Luna 16 - USSR Lunar Lander - 5,600 kg - (September 12, 1970)

      Landed on September 20, 1970 at Mare Fecunditaits located at latitude 041' S and longitude 5618' E. 100 grams of lunar samples were returned to the Earth.

  • Zond 8 - USSR Lunar Flyby - (October 20, 1970)

      Lunar flyby and earth return.

  • Luna 17 - USSR Lunar Lander and Rover - 5,600 kg - (November 10, 1970 - 1971)

      Made lunar landing with an automated Lunokhod 1 rover.