Space Exploration Timeline


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Space Exploration

1960 to Present

President John F. Kennedy May 25, 1961

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.

Project Mercury

Project Mercury

was the first human spaceflight program of the United States . It ran from 1959 through 1963 with the goal of putting a human in orbit around the Earth. The Mercury-Atlas 6 flight on February 20, 1962, was the first American flight to achieve this goal.

[1] John Glenn during the first orbital manned Mercury flight in 1962 Piloted Mercury launches

Gemini Program

Project Gemini

was the second human spaceflight program of NASA , the civilian space agency of the United States government. Project Gemini was conducted between Projects Mercury and Apollo , with ten manned flights occurring in 1965 and 1966.

Its objective was to develop techniques for advanced space travel, notably those necessary for Apollo, whose objective was to land humans on the Moon . Gemini missions included missions long enough for a trip to the Moon and back All Gemini Launches from GT-1 through GT-12.

The Apollo Program (1963 - 1972)

 The Apollo program was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth. Six of the missions (Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) achieved this goal. Apollo 16 LM on the lunar surface Buzz Aldrin during Apollo 11's first Moon landing mission in 1969

First Lunar Landing

 The

United States


Apollo 11

was the first manned mission to land on the Moon on 20 July 1969.

[4] manned landings

There have been


(between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings.



was the United States' first space station , and the second visited by a human crew after the Soviet Salyut 1 . The only station NASA has launched independently, the 77-ton [1] outpost was in Earth orbit from 1973 to 1979 and was visited by crews three times between 1973 and 1974. k y

Apollo/Soyuz Missions


Apollo –Soyuz Test Project (ASTP)

( Russian : Экспериментальный полёт «Союз» — «Аполлон») (

Eksperimantalniy polyot Soyuz-Apollon

) flew in July 1975. It was the last Apollo mission, the first joint U.S.

/ Soviet space flight , and the last manned US space mission until the first Space Shuttle flight in April 1981. Though the mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments (including an engineered eclipse of the Sun by




to take photographs of the solar corona) and provided useful engineering experience for future joint US/Russian space flights such as the Shuttle –Mir Program and the International Space Station , its primary purpose was symbolic. ASTP was a symbol of détente that the two superpowers were pursuing at the time, and it ended the tension of the Space Race .

Space Shuttle Program

  The shuttle project was proposed and discussed extensively. Finally, on January 5, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon authorized the development of reusable vehicles for space exploration. The project became known officially as the Space Transportation System, and unofficially as the Space Shuttle Program.

The first operational shuttle was the


. Between April 21, 1981, and July 4, 1982, it performed four missions to demonstrate that the vehicle could be put into space, perform useful work, and return safely to Earth. After the fourth landing, NASA declared the shuttle ready for operation. In July 1982


 Disaster struck the space shuttle program on January 28, 1986. The


disaster claimed the lives of all seven of its crew, including Christa McAuliffe , who was to be the first teacher in space. The repercussions of the


loss brought the shuttle program to a halt for two and a half years. With a revamped design and solid-fuel rockets, the


took off on September 28, 1988, marking the resumption of regular shuttle flights.


Everything went as planned for NASA as it launched the Endeavor from the Kennedy Space Center at approximately 8:56 am eastern for its 25th and final mission.

International Space Station

 The

International Space Station



) is an internationally developed research facility that is being assembled in low Earth orbit . The objective of the ISS, as defined by NASA, is to develop and test technologies for exploration spacecraft systems, develop techniques to maintain crew health and performance on missions beyond low Earth orbit, and gain operational experience that can be applied to exploration missions.