Timeline of space exploration

  (Redirected from Space exploration records)

This is a timeline of space exploration including notable achievements and first accomplishments or major events in humanity's exploration of outer space.

Pre-20th centuryEdit

Date Event leading to space exploration Country Researcher(s) Ref(s)
1610 First telescopic observation of the night sky: discovery of Jupiter's moons, lunar craters and the phases of Venus.   Republic of Venice Galileo Galilei
1813 First exposition of the rocket equation based on Newton's third law of motion: Treatise on the Motion of Rockets   UK William Moore
1840 First clear telescopic photograph of another world: the Moon.   United States John William Draper
1845 First proper observation of other galaxies which are termed "whirlpool nebulae".   UK/Ireland William Parsons
1861 A Journey Through Space makes first proposal of using rockets for space flight   UK/Scotland William Leitch
1895 First proposal of space elevator   Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky


Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
1903 Inspired by the writings of Jules Verne, first serious work published that showed physical space exploration was theoretically possible: Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices)   Russia Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
1914 Goddard files for and is subsequently awarded U.S. patents on multistage and liquid-fueled rockets   United States Robert H. Goddard
1917 First observation of an extrasolar planet (exoplanet) round Van Maanen 2 although it is not recognised as such at the time.   Netherlands Adriaan van Maanen
1919 Goddard's widely influential paper "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" discussed solid- and liquid-fueled rocketry   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.   Germany Hermann Oberth
1924 Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel founded   USSR Members include Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Friedrich Zander, Yuri Kondratyuk
16 March 1926 Goddard launches the first liquid-fueled rocket   United States Robert H. Goddard
1927 Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel) formed; it includes many top European rocket scientists.   Germany  
1927 Завоевание межпланетных пространств (The Conquest of Interplanetary Space) discusses rocket mechanics and orbital effects including the gravitational slingshot   USSR Yuri Kondratyuk
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.   Germany Herman Potočnik
11 June 1928 Lippisch Ente, first successful rocket-powered full-size aircraft   Germany Alexander Lippisch (designer), Fritz Stamer (pilot)
20 June 1944 V-2 Rocket (MW 18014): First man-made object to cross what would later be defined as the Kármán line and hence first spaceflight in history.   Germany Wehrmacht
October 1945 Article in Wireless World, Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage? makes first discussion of geostationary satellites as a means of communication.   UK Arthur C. Clarke
10 May 1946 First space research flight (cosmic radiation experiments)   United States captured and improved V-2 rocket
24 October 1946 First pictures of Earth from 105 km (65 mi)   United States V-2 [1][2]
20 February 1947 First animals in space (fruit flies)   United States V-2 [1][3]
24 February 1949 WAC Corporal missile mounted onto a V-2 rocket, producing the first two-stage liquid-fueled rocket, that sets a record altitude of 244 miles (392.68 kilometers).   United States Bumper-5


Date Mission achievements Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
21 August 1957 First intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)   USSR R-7 Semyorka/SS-6 Sapwood
4 October 1957 First artificial satellite
First signals from space
  USSR Sputnik 1
3 November 1957 First mammal in orbit, the dog Laika   USSR Sputnik 2
31 January 1958 Confirmed existence of the Van Allen radiation belt   USA (ABMA) Explorer 1
4 January 1959 First rocket to reach Earth escape velocity; attempt to impact the Moon's surface; missed by 5,995 kilometers (3,237 nmi)
First artificial object in heliocentric orbit
First detection of solar wind
  USSR Luna 1
7 August 1959 First photograph of Earth from orbit   USA (NASA) Explorer 6
13 September 1959 First impact into the Moon
First delivery of national pennants to a celestial body
  USSR Luna 2
4 October 1959 First photos of another world from space: the far side of the Moon   USSR Luna 3


Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
March 1960 First solar probe.   USA (NASA) Pioneer 5
19 August 1960 First plants and animals to return alive from Earth orbit   USSR Sputnik 5
10 October 1960 First probe launched to Mars (failed to reach target)   USSR Mars 1M
31 January 1961 First Hominidae in space, first tasks performed in space; Ham (chimpanzee).   USA (NASA) M-R 2
12 February 1961 First launch from Earth orbit of upper stage into a heliocentric orbit
First mid-course corrections
First spin-stabilisation
  USSR Venera 1
12 April 1961 First human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin)
First human-crewed orbital flight
  USSR Vostok 1
5 May 1961 First human-piloted space flight (Alan Shepard)
First human-crewed suborbital flight
First human space mission that landed with pilot still in spacecraft, thus the first complete human spaceflight by FAI definitions.
  USA Freedom 7 [4]
19 May 1961 First planetary flyby (within 100,000 km of Venus – no data returned)   USSR Venera 1
6 August 1961 First manned space flight lasting over twenty four hours by Gherman Titov, who is also the first to suffer from space sickness.   USSR Vostok 2
7 March 1962 First orbital solar observatory   USA (NASA) OSO-1
26 April 1962 First spacecraft to impact the far side of the Moon   USA (NASA) Ranger 4 [5]
11 August 1962 First dual manned spaceflight
First communication between two manned space vehicles in orbit.
  USSR Vostok 3 & Vostok 4
18 August 1962 First auroral research rocket launched into the ionosphere Norway Ferdinand 1
November 1962 First Mars flyby (11,000 km) but contact was lost   USSR Mars 1
14 December 1962 First successful planetary flyby (Venus closest approach 34,773 kilometers)   USA (NASA) Mariner 2
16 June 1963 First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova)   USSR Vostok 6
19 July 1963 First reusable crewed spacecraft (suborbital)   USA (NASA) X-15 Flight 90
12 October 1964 First multi-person crew (3) in orbit   USSR Voskhod 1
18 March 1965 First space walk/extra-vehicular activity (Alexei Leonov)   USSR Voskhod 2
March 1965 First crewed spacecraft to change orbit   USA (NASA) Gemini 3
14 July 1965 First Mars flyby (closest approach 9,846 kilometers; returned pictures)   USA (NASA) Mariner 4
14 July 1965 First close-up photographs of another planet: Mars   USA (NASA) Mariner 4
15 December 1965 First orbital rendezvous (parallel flight, no docking)   USA (NASA) Gemini 6A/Gemini 7
3 February 1966 First soft landing on another world (the Moon)
First photos from another world
  USSR Luna 9
1 March 1966 First impact into another planet (Venus)   USSR Venera 3
16 March 1966 First orbital docking between two spacecraft   USA (NASA) Gemini 8/Agena target vehicle
3 April 1966 First artificial satellite around another world (the Moon)   USSR Luna 10
August 1966 First probe to map the Moon   USA Lunar Orbiter 1
30 October 1967 First automated (crewless) docking   USSR Cosmos 186/Cosmos 188
September 1968 First animals and plants to leave Earth orbit, to travel to and circle the Moon, and the first Moon mission with passengers to return safely to Earth   USSR Zond 5
7 December 1968 First orbital ultraviolet observatory   USA (NASA) OAO-2
21 December 1968 First piloted orbital mission of another celestial body (Moon),
First Trans-Earth injection
First human space mission to enter the gravitational influence of another celestial body (25 December)
  USA (NASA) Apollo 8
January 1969 First docking between two crewed spacecraft in Earth orbit, also the first crew exchange in space   USSR Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5
January 1969 First to parachute in Venus's atmosphere, lost contact before landing.   USSR Venera 5
20 July 1969 First human on the Moon, and first space launch from a celestial body other than the Earth
First sample return from the Moon
  USA (NASA) Apollo 11
August 4, 1969 First photograph of Phobos from Space   USA (NASA) Mariner 7
19 November 1969 First rendezvous on the surface of a celestial body   USA (NASA) Apollo 12/Surveyor 3


Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
24 September 1970 First automatic sample return from the Moon   USSR Luna 16
17 November 1970 First lunar rover   USSR Lunokhod 1
12 December 1970 First X-ray orbital observatory   USA (NASA) Uhuru (satellite)
15 December 1970 First soft landing on another planet (Venus)
First signals from another planet
  USSR Venera 7
19 April 1971 First space station   USSR Salyut 1
June 1971 First manned orbital observatory   USSR Orion 1
14 November 1971 First to maintain orbit around another planet (Mars)   USA (NASA) Mariner 9
27 November 1971 First impact into Mars   USSR Mars 2
2 December 1971 First soft Mars landing
First signals from Mars surface
First photograph from Martian surface.
  USSR Mars 3
3 March 1972 First human made object sent on escape trajectory away from the Sun   USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
15 July 1972 First mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave inner Solar System   USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
15 November 1972 First orbital gamma ray observatory   USA (NASA) SAS 2
3 December 1973 First Jupiter flyby (at 130,000 km)   USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
5 February 1974 Venus flyby at 5768 kilometers, first gravitational assist manoeuvre

First photograph of Venus from Space

  USA (NASA) Mariner 10
29 March 1974 First Mercury flyby at 703 kilometers   USA (NASA) Mariner 10
30 May 1975 Formation of European Space Agency, which pools the resources of several European countries.   ESA
15 July 1975 First multinational manned mission   USSR   USA (NASA) Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
20 October 1975 First orbit around Venus   USSR Venera 9
22 October 1975 First successful photos from the surface of another planet (Venus)   USSR Venera 9
17 April 1976 Closest flyby of the Sun (43.432 million kilometers)
Maximum speed record among spacecraft (252,792 km/h)
  USA (NASA)   West Germany (DFVLR) Helios 2
20 July 1976 First successful photos and soil samples from the surface of Mars   USA (NASA) Viking Lander
26 January 1978 First real time remotely operated ultraviolet orbital observatory   USA (NASA)   ESA   UK (SERC) International Ultraviolet Explorer
4 December 1978 First extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of Venus from 1978 to 1992   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
  USA (NASA) Voyager 1
1 September 1979 First Saturn flyby at 21,000 km, first photographs of Titan from Space   USA (NASA) Pioneer 11
12 November 1980 Saturn flyby (closest approach 124,000 kilometers), close encounter of Titan and encounters with a dozen others.   USA (NASA) Voyager 1


Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
12 April 1981 First Reusable manned orbital spacecraft   USA (NASA) STS-1
1 March 1982 First Venus soil samples and sound recording of another world   USSR Venera 13
19 August 1982 First mixed gender crew aboard space station, and first woman on space station.   USSR Salyut 7
25 January 1983 First Infrared orbital observatory   USA (NASA)   UK (SERC)   Netherlands (NIVR) IRAS
13 June 1983 First spacecraft beyond the orbit of Neptune (first spacecraft to pass beyond all Solar System planets)   USA (NASA) Pioneer 10
7 February 1984 First untethered spacewalk, Bruce McCandless II   USA (NASA) STS-41-B
25 July 1984 First spacewalk by woman, Svetlana Savitskaya   USSR Salyut 7
11 June 1985 First balloon deployed on another planet (Venus)   USSR Vega 1
24 January 1986 First Uranus flyby (closest approach 81,500 kilometers (44,000 nmi)   USA (NASA) Voyager 2
28 January 1986 First major American space loss, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, an explosion soon after liftoff which killed, among others, Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher   USA (NASA) STS-51-L
19 February 1986 First consistently inhabited long-term research space station   USSR Mir
4 March 1986 First flyby of a comet (Halley's Comet, 8,889 kilometers)   USSR Vega 1 & Vega 2
13 March 1986 First close up observations of a comet (Halley's Comet, 596 kilometers)   ESA Giotto
July 1988 First suspected detection of an exoplanet Gamma Cephei Ab, although the discovery was retracted in 1994, and not confirmed until 2002.   Canada Team of astronomers, led by Bruce Campbell, Gordon Walker, and Stephenson Yang; existence announced by Anthony Lawton & P. Wright in 1989
8 August 1989 First astrometric satellite   ESA Hipparcos
25 August 1989 First Neptune flyby (closest approach at 29,240 km)   USA (NASA) Voyager 2
18 November 1989 First orbital cosmic microwave observatory   USA (NASA) COBE
14 February 1990 First photograph of the whole Solar System   USA (NASA) Voyager 1 [6]
24 April 1990 Optical orbital observatory   USA (NASA)   ESA Hubble Space Telescope
2 July 1990 First time a spacecraft coming from deep space uses the Earth for a gravity-assist manoeuvre   ESA Giotto [7]
15 September 1990 Extended (multi-year) orbital exploration of Venus   USA (NASA) Magellan
21 October 1991 First asteroid flyby (951 Gaspra closest approach 1,600 kilometers)   USA (NASA) Galileo
1992 First confirmed observation of an exoplanet   Canada   Poland Aleksander Wolszczan & Dale Frail
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 (FKA) Mir
7 December 1995 First orbit of Jupiter   USA (NASA) Galileo
7 December 1995 First mission into the atmosphere of a gas giant (Jupiter)   USA (NASA) Galileo's atmospheric entry probe
12 February 1997 First orbital radio observatory   Japan (ISAS) HALCA
4 July 1997 First operational rover on another planet (Mars)   USA (NASA) Mars Pathfinder
20 November 1998 First multinational space station,
Largest man-made object built in space to date
  Russia (FKA)   USA (NASA)   Europe (ESA)   Japan (JAXA)   Canada (CSA) International Space Station

2000- presentEdit

Date Mission success Country/organization Mission name Ref(s)
14 February 2000 First orbiting of an asteroid (433 Eros)   USA (NASA)   ESA NEAR Shoemaker
12 February 2001 First landing on an asteroid (433 Eros)   USA (NASA) NEAR Shoemaker
1 July 2004 First orbit of Saturn   USA (NASA)   ESA   Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
8 September 2004 First sample return beyond lunar orbit (solar wind)   USA (NASA) Genesis
14 January 2005 First soft landing on Titan   ESA   USA (NASA)   Italy (ASI) Cassini–Huygens
19 November 2005 First asteroid ascent (25143 Itokawa)
First interplanetary escape without undercarriage cutoff
  Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
15 January 2006 First sample return from comet (81P/Wild)   USA (NASA) Stardust
6 March 2009 Kepler Mission is launched, first space telescope designated to search for Earth-like exoplanets   USA (NASA) Kepler Mission [8]
13 June 2010 First sample return from asteroid (25143 Itokawa)   Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa
18 March 2011 First orbit of Mercury   USA (NASA) MESSENGER
16 July 2011 First orbit of giant asteroid Vesta   USA (NASA) Dawn'
25 August 2012 First manmade probe in interstellar space.   USA (NASA) Voyager 1
12 November 2014 First man-made probe to make a planned and soft landing on a comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko).   ESA Rosetta [9]
6 March 2015 First orbit of dwarf planet (Ceres).
First spacecraft to orbit two separate celestial bodies.
  USA (NASA) Dawn
July 2015 First flyby of dwarf planet (Pluto).
Last original encounter with one of the nine major planets recognized in 1981.
  USA (NASA) New Horizons
10 August 2015 First food grown in space eaten (lettuce).   USA (NASA)  Japan (JAXA) International Space Station [10]
21 December 2015 First propulsive landing for an orbital rocket.   USA (SpaceX) Falcon 9 first-stage landing tests
21 September 2018 First operational rover on asteroid (162173 Ryugu)   Japan (JAXA) Hayabusa2
1 January 2019 First contact binary explored by spacecraft (486958 Arrokoth)   USA (NASA) New Horizons [11]
3 January 2019 First soft landing on the far side of the Moon; also first germination of seeds on another celestial body.   China (CNSA) Chang'e 4 [12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Chronology: Cowboys to V-2s to the Space Shuttle to lasers". Wsmr.army.mil. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2013-01-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Part 1". History.nasa.gov. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Geek Trivia: A leap of fakes". Techrepublic.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Discussion". Space Policy. 14 (1): 6. 1998-02-01. doi:10.1016/S0265-9646(97)00038-6.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2009-07-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Giotto overview". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  8. ^ "NASA launches Kepler Mission: Search for Earth-like worlds". Spacechornology.com. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  9. ^ Chang, Kenneth (November 12, 2014). "European Space Agency's Spacecraft Lands on Comet's Surface". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  10. ^ "Meals Ready to Eat: Expedition 44 Crew Members Sample Leafy Greens Grown on Space Station". Nasa. 7 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Ultima Thule: Clearest image yet of 'snowman' space rock released by NASA". Sky News. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  12. ^ Lyons, Kate (2019-01-03). "Far side of the moon: China's Chang'e 4 probe makes historic touchdown". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-03.

External linksEdit