Space History

Timeline created by 4school
  • Sputnik 1

    Sputnik 1
    The first man-made object to orbit the Earth is launched by the U.S.S.R. and remains in orbit until January 4, 1958.
  • Sputnik 2

    Sputnik 2
    Carrying the dog Laika for 7 days in orbit, Sputink II is launched by the U.S.S.R., and remains in orbit until April 13, 1958.
  • Explorer 1

    Explorer 1
    The first U.S. satellite in orbit lifts off at Cape Canaveral using a modified ABMA-JPL Jupiter-C rocket. It carries a scientific experiment of James A. Van Allen, and discovers the Earth's radiation belt.
  • Explorer 2

    Explorer 2
    Launched by a Jupiter-C rocket, and fails to reach orbit.
  • Vanguard 1

    Vanguard 1
    Launched into orbit, and continues to transmit for 3 years.
  • Sputnik 3

    Sputnik 3
    Launced by the U.S.S.R.
  • NASA

    NASA
    Founded, taking over existing National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics.
  • Pioneer 1

    Pioneer 1
    U.S. - IGY space probe, launched to a height of 70,700 miles.
  • Luna 1

    Luna 1
    The first man-made satellite to orbit the sun is launched by the U.S.S.R.
  • Pioneer 4

    Pioneer  4
    The fourth U.S.-IGY space probe was launched by a Juno II rocket and achieved an earth-moon trajectory, passing within 37,000 miles of the moon. It then fell into a solar orbit, becoming the first U.S. sun orbiter.
  • Luna 2

    Luna 2
    Launched, impacting on the moon on September 13 carrying a copy of the Soviet coat of arms, and becoming the first man-made object to hit the moon.
  • Luna 3

    Luna 3
    The translunar satellite is launched, orbiting the moon and photographing 70 percent of the far side of the moon.
  • Tiros 1

    Tiros 1
    The first successful weather satellite is launched by the U.S.
  • Discoverer XIV

    Discoverer XIV
    The first U.S. camera-equipped Corona spy satellite.
  • Vostok 1

    Vostok 1
    Launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying Cosmonaut Yuri A. Gargarin, the first man in space. He orbits the Earth once.
  • Mercury Freedom 7

    Mercury Freedom 7
    Carries Alan B. Shepard,Jr., the first U.S. Astronaut into space, in a suborbital flight.
  • Vostok 2

    Vostok 2
    Launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying Cosmonaut Gherman Titov, the first day-long Soviet space flight.
  • Mercury Friendship 7

    Mercury Friendship 7
    Lifts off with John H. Glenn, Jr., the first American in orbit, and orbits the Earth three times.
  • Mercury Aurora 7

    Mercury Aurora 7
    Launched with M. Scott Carpenter, making three orbits.
  • Telstar 1

    Telstar 1
    U.S. satellite, beams the first live transatlantic telecast.
  • Mariner 2

    Mariner 2
    The first successful planetary spacecraft, flies past Venus, and enters a solar orbit.
  • 3C 273

    3C 273
    Martin Schmidt interprets the behavior of 3C 273 - the first known quasar.
  • Vostok 6

    Vostok 6
    Carries Soviet Cosmonaut Valentia Tereshkova, the first woman in space and orbits the Earth 48 times.
  • Ranger 7

    Ranger 7
    Relays the first close-range photographs of the moon.
  • Voskhod 2

    Voskhod 2
    The first space walk is made by Cosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov. Duration is 12 minutes.
  • Gemini 3

    Gemini 3
    First manned flight of the GEmini program carrying Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young. Made three orbits around the earth.
  • Ranger 9

    Ranger 9
    Transmits high-quality images of the moon, many of which were shown live in the first television spectacular about the moon.
  • Gemini 4

    Gemini 4
    Edward White II makes the first U.S. space walk. Duraation is 22 minutes.
  • Mariner 4

    Mariner 4
    Returns the first close-range images about Mars.
  • Venus 3

    Venus 3
    Launced, becoming the first craft to impact Venus on March 1, 1966.
  • Gemini 7

    Gemini 7
    Launched carrying Frank Borman and James A. Lovell, Jr., making 206 orbits around Earth and providing a trip to the moon possible.
  • Gemini 6

    Gemini 6
    American astronauts Walter Schirra, Jr. and Thomas Staffored in Gemini 6 make the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7.
  • Luna 9

    Luna 9
    The first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon.
  • Venera 3

    Venera 3
    Impacts on Venus, the first spacecraft to reach another planet. It fails to return data.
  • Luna 10

    Luna 10
    The first spacecraft to orbit the moon.
  • Surveyor 1

    Surveyor 1
    The first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon.
  • Lunar Orbiter 1

    Lunar Orbiter 1
    Enters moon orbit and takes the first picture of the Earth from the distance of the moon.
  • Soyuz 1

    Soyuz 1
    Launched carrying Vladimir M. Komarov. On April 24, it crashed, killing Komarov, the first spaceflight fatality.
  • Venera 4

    Venera 4
    Sends a descent capsule into the VEnusian atmosphere, returning data about its composition.
  • Zond 5

    Zond 5
    Launched, the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon and return.
  • Apollo 7

    Apollo 7
    The first manned Apollo mission with Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and Walter Cunningham. It orbited the earth once.
  • Apollo 8

    Apollo 8
    Launched with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders, the first Apollo to use the Saturn V rocket, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, making 10 orbits on its 6-day mission.
  • Soyuz 4 & 5

    Soyuz 4 & 5
    Perform the first Soviet spaceship docking, transferring Cosmonauts between vehicles.
  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11
    Neil Armstron and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. make the first manned soft landing on the Moon, and the first moonwalk.
  • Mariner 6

    Mariner 6
    Returns high-resolution images of the Martian surface, concentrating on the equitorial region.
  • Mariner 7

    Mariner 7
    Returns high-resolution images of the Martian surface, concentrating on the southern hemisphere.
  • Apollo 13

    Apollo 13
    Launched, suffering an explosion in its SM oxygen tanks. Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr., return safely.
  • Luna 16

    Luna 16
    Launched, conducting the first successful return of lunar soil samples by an automatic spacecraft.
  • Luna 17

    Luna 17
    Lands on the moon, with the first automatic robot, Lunokhod 1. Driven by a five-man team on earth, traveled over surface for 11 days,
  • Venera 7

    Venera 7
    The first probe to soft-land on Venus, transmitting for 23 minutes.
  • Apollo 14

    Apollo 14
    Moon mission is launched by the U.S. with the legendary Alan Shepard, along with Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell on board. The land in the planned Apollo 13 site, the Fra Mauro highlands, which they explore with the help of a two-wheeled cart that permits the transport of a significantly greater quantity of lunar material that previous missions. Shepard becomes the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon.
  • Salyut 1

    Salyut 1
    Space station is launched by the U.S.S.R. It remains in orbit until May 28, 1973.
  • Mariner 9

    Mariner 9
    The first spacecraft to survey Mars from orbit.
  • Soyuz 11

    Soyuz 11
    Carried Cosmonauts G.T. Dobrovolsky, V.N. Volkov, and V.I. Patsayev to Salyut 1, the first manned occupancy or an orbital station. However, on June 29, the Cosmonauts died upon Soyuz 11's reentry.
  • Apollo 15

    Apollo 15
    Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin drive the first moon rover. The next year, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt drives a similar rover.
  • Mariner 9

    Mariner 9
    The first spacecraft to orbit another planet, Mars. Over the next year, it mapes 100% of the Martian surface.
  • Pioneer 10

    Pioneer 10
    Launched on an Atlas/Centaur/TE364-4 towards Jupiter by the U.S., designed to familiarize alien life with humans. It returns the first close-up images of Jupiter in 1973.
  • Pioneer 10

    Pioneer 10
    The first man-made object to travel through the asteroid belt.
  • Cignus X-1

    Cignus X-1
    Scientist designate Cignus X-1 as the first probable black hole.
  • Pioneer 11

    Pioneer 11
    Launched on an Atlas/Centaur/ TE364-4, flying past Jupiter in 1974, and Saturn in 1979, where it discovers new rings.
  • Skylab Workshop

    Skylab Workshop
    Launched by the U.S., and maintained by three crews.
  • Skylab, Skylab 2

    Skylab, Skylab 2
    First crew to Skylab, Skylab 2, are launched, repairing damage incurred to Skylab during its launch.
  • Mariner 10

    Mariner 10
    Launched on the first dual-planet mission. Over the next year, it returned photographs of Venus and Mercury.
  • Synchronous Meterological Satellite

    Synchronous Meterological Satellite
    NASA launches the first Synchronous Meterological Satellite, SMS-1.
  • Salyut 3

    Salyut 3
    Soviet's first millitary space station is launched. It remains in orbit until January 1975.
  • Salyut 4

    Salyut 4
    Civilian space station is launched. It remains in orbit until Feburary 2, 1977.
  • Apollo 18, Soyuz 19

    Apollo 18, Soyuz 19
    American Apollo 18 and Soviet Soyuz 19 dock, the first international spacecraft rendezvous.
  • Venera 9 & 10

    Venera 9 & 10
    Send the first pictures of the VEnusian surface to Earth.
  • Salyut 5

    Salyut 5
    Soviet military space station is launched, remaining in orbit until August 8, 1977.
  • Viking 1

    Viking 1
    Pictures of hte Martian surface are taken by Viking 12, the first U.S. attempt to soft land a spacecraft on another planet.
  • Viking 2

    Viking 2
    Lands on Mars on the Plain of Utopia where it discovered water frost.
  • Period: to

    Voyagers 1 & 2

    Leave Earth to meet with Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980.
  • Salyut 6

    Salyut 6
    Space station is launched. Its crews include members from Czechoslovakia, Poland, GDR, Bulgaria, Hungary, Vietnam, Cuba, Mongolia, and Romania.
  • Einstein Observatory

    Einstein Observatory
    The Einstein Ovservatory begins its 30-day mission.
  • Pioneer

    Pioneer
    Two Pioneer spacecraft reach Venus. One drops four probes into the atmosphere, while the other maps the surface.
  • Pioneer 11

    Pioneer 11
    Reaches Saturn, flying to within 13,000 miles and taking the first close-up photographs.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    The first manned mission of the Space Transportation System, STS-1, is launched.
  • Ariane Rocket

    Ariane Rocket
    The European Space Agency launches its third Ariane rocket.
  • Ariane Rocket

    Ariane Rocket
    The ESA launches a fourth Ariane rocket.
  • Venera 13

    Venera 13
    Lands on Venuys, and provides the first Venusian soil analysis.
  • Salyut 7

    Salyut 7
    Space station is launched.
  • Soyuz-T 5

    Soyuz-T 5
    Soviet Cosmonauts Anatoly N. Berezovoi and Valentin V. Lebedev are lauinched to rendevous with Salyut 7, the first team to inhabit the space station. They return to Earth in Soyuz-T 7, setting a duration record of 211 days.
  • Voyager 2

    Voyager 2
    Completes it flyby of Saturn.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    The space shuttle's fifth mission. its first operational one, begins, deploying two satellites. Crew: Vance Brand, Robert Overmyer, Joseph Allen, and William Lenoir.
  • Period: to

    Infrared Astronomical Satellite

    Finds new comets, asteroids, galaxies, and a dust ring around the star Vega that may be new planets.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    The space shuttle lifts off for its first mission, STS-6, and has the first American space walk in nine years. Crew: Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Donald Peterson, and Story Musgrave.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    Sally K. Ride is the first U.S. woman to travel in spave on Challenger mission STS-7.
  • Venera 15

    Venera 15
    Returns the first high-resolution images of the Venus polar area, and compiled a thermal map of most of the northern hemisphere.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    The space shuttle carries the ESA Spacelab-1 into orbit, STS-9. Its crew includes Ulf Merbold, A German, and first ESA member in space.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    Bruce McCandless takes the first untethered space walk using MMU from the space shuttle, STS-41B.
  • Soyuz-T 12

    Soyuz-T 12
    Launched, carrying Svetlana Savitskaya, who became the first woman to walk in space.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    The third space shuttle, Discovery, lifts off on it's maiden voyage, STS-41D. Crew: Henry W. Hartsfield, Michael L. Coats, Richard Mullane. Steven Hawley, Judith A. Resnik, and Charles D. Walker.
  • Salyut 7

    Salyut 7
    Cosmonauts L.D. Kizim, V.A. Solovyoz, and O.Y. Atkov set a 237-day record in space. They arrive at Slyut 7 in Soyuz-T 10 and depart in Soyuz-T 11.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    Launch of space shuttle, mission STS-41G, carrying the first crew with two women aboard - Sally Ride and Katherine Sullivan. Sullivan becomes the first American woman to walk in space.
  • Vega 1 & 2

    Vega 1 & 2
    Soviet/International Vega 1 & 2 are launghed, dropping probes into Venus' atmosphere before continuing to Halley's Comet.
  • Sakigake Probe

    Sakigake Probe
    The probe is launched by Japan's Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, becoming the first interplanetary probe as it rendevous with Halley's Comet.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    Carries the ESA Spacelab-3 into orbit, STS-51B.
  • Giotto Spacecraft

    Giotto Spacecraft
    The ESA launches the spacecraft from an Ariane rocket. It encounters Halley's Comet in 1986, and Comet P/Grigg-Skjellerup in 1992.
  • Spacelab D1

    Spacelab D1
    The first joint German/ESA mission is flown. Its crew consists of two German DARA astronauts and Danish Wubbo Ockels of the ESA.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    The fourth space shuttle Atlantis takes off on its first mission, STS-51J. Crew: Karol J. Bobko, Ronald J. Grabe, Robert A. Sterwart. David C. Hilmers, and William A. Pailes.
  • Voyager 2

    Voyager 2
    Flies past Uranus.
  • Challenger

    Challenger
    The space shuttle explodes shortly after liftoff of mission STS-51L.
  • Mir

    Mir
    The core unit of Soviet space station Mir is launched.
  • Halley's Comet

    Halley's Comet
    Spacecraft from the U.S.S.R., Japan, and Western Europe fly by Halley's Comet on it's 30th recorded appearance.
  • Invisible Gravity

    Invisible Gravity
    Astronomers discover an invisible gravity source that splits a quasar's light.
  • New Findings

    New Findings
    Astronomers find that our galaxy is smaller than they thought and the Sun is 23,000 light-years from it's center.
  • Supernova 1987A

    Supernova 1987A
    Blazes into view.
  • Cosmonaut Yuri V. Romaneko

    Cosmonaut Yuri V. Romaneko
    Returns from space station Mir, having arrived there from Soyuz-TM 2, and sets a space endurance record of 326 days.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched, STS-30, deploying the spacecraft Magellan.
  • Phobos 2

    Phobos 2
    Soviet/Internation Phobos 2 launched, which robits Mars to study its surface, stmosphere, and magnetic field.
  • Galileo Spacecraft

    Galileo Spacecraft
    U.S. launches the Galileo spacecraft from Shuttle Atlantis flight STS-34, which took the infrared images of Venus, and images of the asteroid Ida, before continuing to Jupiter.
  • Pegasus

    Pegasus
    Deployed from a B-52 bomber and launched the Pegsat satellite in the first demonstration of the Pegasus launch vehicle.
  • Edwin P. Hubble Space Telescope

    Edwin P. Hubble Space Telescope
    Space Shuttle Discovery launches on STS-31, deploying the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astronomical observatory.
  • Magellan

    Magellan
    U.S. spacecraft arrives at Venus where, for the enxt year, it took radar images of the surface.
  • Ulysses

    Ulysses
    Space Shuttle Discovery launches the Ulysses spacecraft with two upper stages, on mission STS-41. Ulysses flies toward Jupiter, to be slingshot towards the sun, to obtain data from high solar latitudes.
  • Salyut 7

    Salyut 7
    Falls from orbit and burns up over Argentina.
  • Compton Gamma Ray Observatory

    Compton Gamma Ray Observatory
    Space Shuttle Atlantis carries the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory into orbit. This new space telescope, built by NASA, was the first to provide an all-sky continuous survey in the gamma-ray and X-ray spectra.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Shuttle Columbia carries the Spacelab SLS-1 into orbit to conduct investigations into the effects of weightlessness on humans, STS-40.
  • Ulysses

    Ulysses
    Flies around Jupiter on its way to the sun.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off on its first mission, STS-49, repairing the Intelesat VI satellite. Cres: Daniel C. Brandenstein, Kevin P. Chilton, Richard J. Hieb, Bruce E. Melnick, Pierre J. Thout, Kathryn C. Thornton, and Thomas D. Akers.
  • Mars Ovserver

    Mars Ovserver
    Lifts off, the first American probe to Mars in 17 years since Viking 2. This probe is intended as an orbital mapper to study the red planet's atmosphere, surface, and geological make-up. The spacecraft functions well during its cruise to Mars, then all contact was lonst on August 21, 1993, three days before orbital insertion.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Launches on STS-61, making the first on-orbit service of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
  • Clementine

    Clementine
    A DOD satellite that performs a lunar mapping mission using advanced ballistic missile defense technologies. It suffers a malfunction on May 10, 1994, ending its mission.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    A Russian Cosmonaut, Sergei Krikalev, flies on board the U.S. space shuttle Discovery for the first time, STS-60.
  • Ulysses

    Ulysses
    Reaches a maximum Southern latitude of 80.2 degrees at the sun, proceeding towards the Northern latitudes, maintaining an orbital period of six years.
  • Magellan

    Magellan
    Enters the atmosphere of Venus, burning up following the completion of its mapping mission.
  • Asteroid XM1

    Asteroid XM1
    Passes within 65,000 miles of Earth.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Maneuvers to within 37 feet of Russian space station Mir in preperation for a shuttle-Mir docking, STS-63. This is the first shuttle mission to be flown by a female pilot.
  • Mir

    Mir
    Cosmonaut Valeriy Polyakov returns to Earth after a 438-day mission aboard russian space station Mir, setting a new space endurance record.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Rendezvous with Russian space station, Mir, during a ten-day mission on STS-71. Cosmonauts are transferred to and from Atlantis, and Astronaut Norman Thagard returns from Mir, having arrived on Soyuz-TM 21, and making a new American space record of 115 days.
  • Pioneer 11

    Pioneer 11
    Ceases making scientific observations, its power source nearly depleted.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off on mission STS-74, making the second docking with Russian space station Mir. It delivers two solar arrays and a docking module for fuuture Shuttle dockings.
  • Galileo

    Galileo
    Arrives at Jupiter, performing an orbit while dropping a probe into the atmosphere and putting a satellite into orbit, which will spend the next two years orbiting the planet.
  • ESA

    ESA
    Thomas Reiter becomes the first European Space Agency astronaut to make two spacewalks, both from the Russian Mir station. His previous spacewalk was on October 21, 1995 and lasted 5 hours and 11 minutes.
  • NEAR

    NEAR
    NASA launches the first in the Discovery series of spacecraft, the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, NEAR, spacecraft aboard a Delta II-7925-8 rocket.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off on STS-76 performing the third docking with Space Station Mir. Astronaut Shannon Lucide was left on Mir, becoming the first female Astronaut to crew a Space Station.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Touches down after mission STS-79. It brings back Shannon Lucid, who becomes the longest US astronaut in space and the longest female astronaut in space.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off on its 21st space flight, setting a new shuttle in-space endurance record of almost 18 days. This flight carries Story Musgrave, the oldest man at 61 years of age.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off for the fifth docking with the Mir space station and Jerry Linenger replaces John Blaha as the American crew member.
  • Soyuz TM25

    Soyuz TM25
    Lifts off to dock with the Mir space station. New Russion crew members, Vasily Tsibliyev and Alexander Lazutkin, relieve Russians Korzun and Kaleri for the beginnings of an eventful and difficult tour of duty. Before the resident crew leaves, a fierce fire breaks out on board which is contained and put out before serious damage is done. After the old crew leaves, an attept to re-dock with the Progress supply freighter fails, with the freighter just missing collision with Mir.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off on the second maintenance mission for the Hubble Space Telescope, installing a new spectrograph, infrared camera, new guidance sensors, a new computer and data recorder, and repairing the telescope
    s insulation.
  • Pioneer 10

    Pioneer 10
    After 25 years of operation, routine telemetry and ground control is terminated. The probe, at that moment, is 6.7 billion miles from Earth, traveling at 28,000 miles per hour. In two million years, it will reach the red giant Aldeberan in the constellation of Taurus.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off for the shortest shuttle flight in 12 years, four days. The flight is cut short due to a failure of one of the spacecraft's three fuel cells.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Performs its sixth docking with Mir. Jerry Linenger is relieved by Michael Foale as the American crewmember on Mir. Atlantis returned to Earth on May 24th and Mir continued with its troubles. On June 24th, the cfrew attempts a test with a new docking system to dock with a Progress freighter. The failure of the new system results in the collision of the freighter into Mir, causing a serious air leak and damage to the electrical power of the station.
  • NEAR

    NEAR
    Probe passes the asteroid Mathilde on its way to meeting up with 433 Eros.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off again to complete the flight aborted in April. The shuttle is outfitted with Spacelab, set up as a microgravity science labroatory with 33 different experiments that fill the cargo bay.
  • Mars Pathfinder

    Mars Pathfinder
    The first probe to successfully land on Mars since Viking 2 in 1976. It is also the first planetary probe to include a seperate roving robot probe, Sojourner, since the Soviet Union's Luna 21 in 1973.
  • Soyuz TM26

    Soyuz TM26
    Arrives at Mir with a relief crew. The fresh Russian crew, along with Michael Foale, undertake seven internal and external spacewalk missions over a six month period in order to repair the crippled station. During the repairs, the station has a near collision with an abandoned satellite, MSTI 2, which speeds past to within 500 meters of Mir.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off for a 12-day mission to deploy and retrieve the Crista-Spas 2 satellite, which studied the Earth's middle atmosphere. THis flight also tested various infrared and ultraviolet instrumentation and tested the Japanese robot-arm to be used for the International Space Station.
  • Mars Global Surveyor

    Mars Global Surveyor
    Arrives at Mars and begins the process of adjusting its highly elliptical orbit into a circular one using aerobraking - friction with the top of the Martian atmosphere to slow the craft down. Taking about 2,000 images of the planet, this probe shows the entire life of a dust storm, evidence of Martian streams, ponds, oceans, and undgerground water drainage systems.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Performs its seventh docking with Mir to support the repair and upgrade process and bringing additional experiments for the space station.
  • Cassini/Huygens

    Cassini/Huygens
    Launch of the double probe Cassini/Huygens aimed at Saturn. This is probably the most ambitious and complex unmanned planetary project ever attempted, costing more than $2.5 billion and involving 17 nations and hundreds of scientists from the U.S. and Europe. It carries a sophisticated camera package and 11 other instruments aimed at performing 19 experiments on the ringed planet. It will arrive at Saturn in 2004, will orbit Saturn up to 60 times, sending back close-up photos of Saturns rings.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off with three American astronauts, one Japanese, and the first Ukranian astronaut, Leonid Kadenyuk. This mission, mostly dedicated to science and the testing of new space technologies, releases one free-flying satellite.
  • Lunar Prospector

    Lunar Prospector
    The first NASA mission to the Moon in 25 years, and the first dedicated to lunar research since Apollo 17 in 1972. The spacecraft is placed in lunar orbit to make a careful spectroscopic analysis of the entire lunar surface including its North and South poles, and soon confirms what the Department of Defense Clementines mission had found in 1994 - that trapped within some craters at the Moon's two poles is about 6.6 trillion tons of permanently frozen ice water.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off the rendezvous with Mir, the eight U.S. docking with the Russian space station and the first by a shuttle other than Atlantis.
  • Globalstar 1, 2, 3, & 4

    Globalstar 1, 2, 3, & 4
    The four satellites are the first in Globalstar's planned 44-satellite constellation of medium-Earth-orbit, 900 miles altitude, communications satellites for providing voice and data links worldwide from both remote and home telephones. This system is planned as a direct sompetitor to Iridium's cluster, which began launching in May of 1997.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off on a 16-day mission, its 25th. THe mission is dedicated to the study of the effects of weightlessness on the human neurological system, with the astronauts serving as both researchers and experimental subjects.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off on a 10-day mission, its 24th and the last shuttle docking with Mir.
  • Nozomi

    Nozomi
    Japan launches the probe to Mars, the first planetary mission by a country other than the U.S. or the Soviet Union/Russia. Using a combination of lunar gravity, Earth gravity, and rocket burns, Nozomi is scheduled to arrive at Mars in December 2003.
  • STEX

    STEX
    Launched by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the Space Technology EXperiement, STEX, satellite tests 29 new spacecraft designs, including an almost four-mile-long tether, advanced solar panels and an ion engine test.
  • Deep Space 1

    Deep Space 1
    Launched by NASA, it is a technology test spacecraft which evalutes a dozen advanced spacecraft engineering designs from mirror-enhanced solar panels to the first use of an ion engine to leave Earth orbit and rendezvous with the asteroid Braille.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off with John Glenn aboard, first American to orbit Earth, and at 77, the oldest man to fly in space. The flight is the last purely scientific shuttle flight focusing on astronomy, life sciences, and materials. One satellite is deployed, one is released and retrieved. Most subsequent shuttle flights are ferry and constructrion flights for the International Space Station.
  • ZARYA

    ZARYA
    The first component of the International Space Station, it is launched on a Russian rocket. This Russion built, U.S. financed module provides communications, electrical power, and attitude control for the station until the arrival of the third modul, Zvezda in July 2000.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off on its thirteenth space flight, with the International Space Station's second module, Unity. This module provides the docking ports and connections for every other docked module.
  • Mars Climate Orbiter

    Mars Climate Orbiter
    Launched by Nasa with the objective of studying Martian weather. The probe is lost as it approaches Mars on September 23, 1999, dues to an error in propulsion software, using English instead of metric unites. The probe passes too close to Mars and burns up in the atmosphere.
  • NEAR

    NEAR
    Space probe lifes to within 2,400 miles of the asteroid 433 Eros, taking 222 photographs of nearly two-thirds of its surface. A software problem prevents the spacecraft from going into orbit around the asteroid, but a secfond engine burn on January 2, 1999, brings the spacecraft back to Eros in Feburary of 2000.
  • Mars Polar Lander

    Mars Polar Lander
    Lifts off on its ill-fated mission to Mars. This NASA probe is to land within about 600 miles of the Martian South Pole, along with dropping two-surface penetrating darts. Contact with the probe is lost on December 3, 1999 as it is descending through the Martian atmosphere and is never heard from again. the first failure of a U.S. planetary soft landing in 30 years.
  • Stardust

    Stardust
    Lifts off for a rendezvous with the Comet WIld-2 in January of 2004.
  • Soyuz TM29

    Soyuz TM29
    Lifts off for the Mir space station. This is scheduled to be the final mission to Mir, and when the crew of TM29 departs Mir in August of 1999, they leave the space station empty for the first time in almost exactly 10 years.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off for the International Space Station. They bring supplies and perform a spacewalk of nearly eight hours to install two exterior cranes along with a variety of tools and equipment for future astronaut use. They deploy the satellite Starshine for studying atmospheric density changes.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Lifts off carerying the Chandra X-Ray Observatory into orbit.
  • Deep Space 1

    Deep Space 1
    Flies to within 16 miles of the asteroid Braille and continues on its course to rendezvous with COmet Wilson-Harrington in January 2001.
  • Shenzhour

    Shenzhour
    The first unmanned test of their manned capsule.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off for the third maintenance mnission to the Hubble Space Telescope. They perform three space walks, installing six new gyroscopes, a new guidance sensor, a new computer, a voltage/temperature kit for the spacecraft's batteries, a new transmitter, a new solid state recorder and thermal insulation blankets.
  • Galileo

    Galileo
    Safely completes its encounter with Jupiter's ice moon, Europe, at an altitude of 343 km. Later in the year, on May 30, Galileo flies by Jupiter's largest moon Ganymede at an altitude of 808 km.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off to carry out the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, cosponsored by NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, A large radar antenna in the payload bay and a smaller element deployued on a 60-meter boom work together in the synthetic-aperture mode to produce the effect of a much larger antenna. The mission produces a three-dimensional map of about 80% of the world's landmass.
  • NEAR

    NEAR
    Settles into orbit around the asteroid 433 Eros, producing a series of stunning close-up images. Ground controllers start tightening its orbit for an eventual soft impact with the tumbling, potato-shaped asteroid.
  • Soyuz TM30

    Soyuz TM30
    Lifts off on a return mission to Mir, reversing Russia's actions of the previous year to shut the space station down. THe idea is to re-open the soace station for commercial operations, including a Mir version of the Survivor TV show. The cosmonauts remain until mid-June, and two Progress freighters are flown up, one in April, one in October, before financial support dissapears and the venture falls through.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off for the International Space Station for maintenance on the crane and a faulty antenna, installation of a Russian boom arm, handrails, and upgrades to the ventilation system, and delivery of new batteries, supplies, and equipment.
  • Zvezda

    Zvezda
    The service module for the Internation Space Station, ISS, is launched from Russia on a Proton rocket. THe automated docking of this until with the first linked pair of modules already in orbit, Zarya and Unity, allows the U.S. to start a series of space shuttle launches to add American-built components which will be followed by labratory modeules from Europe and Japan. Zvezda will act as the control center and living quarters for the intial space station crews.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off on a 12-day mission to outfit the ISS, completing the installation of the Zvezda module.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off on a 14-day mission to install the Z1 segment, the first piece of the space station truss and a third docking port, PMA-3, for the Unity adapter. THey also test the new 'SAFER' spacesuit backpack propulsion units.
  • Expedition One

    Expedition One
    Launched on a Soyuz transport to become the first crew of the ISS.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off on a 12-day mission to the ISS. They install the first set of ISS's solar panels and radiators for removing heat.
  • Shenshour

    Shenshour
    The first launch of the "true' milenium is Chinese, with the second test flight of the manned Shenshou spaceship, reported to be carrying a monkey, a dog, and a rabbit.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off for the ISS, carrying the U.S.'s Destiny labratory module. In three psace wsalks, the astronauts install Destiny, a grappler for the station's robotic arm, and radio antenna.
  • NEAR

    NEAR
    Soft impacts on the asteroid 433 Eros at 2 m/s. Signals continue to be recieved from the probe hours after the landing, confirming its survival.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Launched on a 14-day ISS construction mission. In two spacewalks, the astronauts install new equipment including the Leonardo logisitics module, built by the Italian Space Agency, to move racks of experimental equipment to the ISS, docking to the station as the equipment is used & transferred, then carrying equipment back in the shuttle after use.
  • Mir

    Mir
    Fifteen years after its first launch, and after nearly 10 years of continuous occupation by astronauts, the Mir space station is de-orbited, breaking up in the atmosphere and impacting in the Pacific Ocean.
  • 2001 Mars Odessey

    2001 Mars Odessey
    Launched on a trajectory for Mars orbit to be achieved in October, with a mission similar to that of the Mars Climate Orbiter launched December 1998. Mars Odessey successfully enters Mars orbit on October 24th.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Lifts off for the ISS with the Leonardo labratory module and SimpleSat, an experiment low-cost astronomical telescope.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Lifts off for the ISS on a construction mission. The crew will install the mobile robot arm on the station, Canadarm 2, and supple the Destiny labratory module with new experiments using the Rafaello logistic module.
  • Soyuz TM-32

    Soyuz TM-32
    Lifts off for the ISS with the first space tourist, buisness executive Dennis Tito, who pays the Russians $20 million for the ride.
  • MAP

    MAP
    NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe is launched on a trajectory for a gravity boost past the moon to a position 1.5 billion km outside Earth's orbit. From that position, it is to measure cosmic background radiation from the dark exragalactic sky.
  • Atlantis

    Atlantis
    Lifts off in the pre-dawn darkness for the ISS with the Joint Airlock which will enable space walks to be performed directly from the space station itself.
  • Deep Space 1

    Deep Space 1
    Successfully completes its flyby of comet 19P/Borrelly.
  • Galileo

    Galileo
    Completes another flyby of Jupiter's moon Io, passing only 181 km from Io's south polar region.
  • Endeavour

    Endeavour
    Launched carrying the Raffaello logistics module back to the ISS with new supplies.
  • Columbia

    Columbia
    Disintergrates on reentry, killing seven.
  • Shenzou 5

    Shenzou 5
    China's first manned space mission is a success.
  • Space Ship One

    Space Ship One
    The first privately built craft to enter space.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Foam shreds during Discovery launch, NASA postpones future flights.
  • Discovery

    Discovery
    Launches, only the second by a shuttle since Columbia.