Space Exploration Timeline

Space Exploration Timeline
By: Mary Claire Paddock
• Konstantin Tsiolkovsky(1857-1935) was a self
educated Russian scientist known as the
father of cosmonautics and rocket dynamics.
In 1926 he defined 16 steps for human
expansion into space as part of his “Plan of
Space Exploration.”
• In 1914 American scientist, Robert H.
Goddard, had his first two patents accepted
and registered. The first described a multistage rocket. The second described a rocket
fueled with nitrous oxide. These two patents
would become important milestones in the
history of rocketry.
• American professor, physicist, and inventor,
Robert H. Goddard, is credited with creating
and building the world’s first liquid-fueled
rocked on March 16, 1926. During his life,
Goddard obtained 214 patents relating to
rocket design.
• Wernher von Braun (1912 – 1977), a GermanAmerican rocket scientist was responsible for
the design and realization of the deadly V-2
combat rocket for the Nazi’s during World War
II. After the war, he and his team were
“scooped up” and send to America. He later
became a director of NASA.
On September 4, 1944, the V2 spacecraft
leaves the Earth’s atmosphere during World
War II. The German’s fired the V2 against
Paris, but it mistakenly hit London.
On May 24, 1954, Americans launched Viking
11 for a suborbital flight from White Sands
Missile Range in southern New Mexico.
Viking 11 rose to 158 miles, an altitude
record for a western single-stage rocket.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the
first earth orbiting satellite. The launch ushered in
new political, military, technological, and scientific
developments and marked the start of the Space Age.
On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut, Yuri
Gagarin, became the first human in space,
making a 108 minute orbital flight in his Vostok
1 spacecraft.
• Mercury Redstone 3, a U.S. manned space
mission, launched on May 5,1961, from Cape
Canavarel, Florida. The Mercury space craft
was named Freedom 7 and was manned by
astronaut Alan Shepard who beacme the first
American in space. The flight was less than 16
minutes and attained an altitude of just over
116 miles.
Lunar Orbitor missions were operated by the
U.S. from 1961-1967. The Lunar Orbitor
programs consisted of five unmanned
spacecraft which returned photography of
99% of the moon.
• On July 21,1969, American aviator, Neil
Armstrong, became the first person to set
foot on the moon. When he made that step
he spoke the now famous words, “That’s one
small step for man, one giant leap for
• On April 19, 1971, Soviets launched Salyut 1,
the first space station put into orbit. It
completed 362 orbits before before deorbiting and reentering the atmosphere over
the Pacific Ocean in October. It was
destroyed by frictional heating during its
• Mariner 9 was launched by the U. S. on May
30, 1971. On November 13, it reached Mars
and became the first artificial satellite to
orbit Mars. The spacecraft took 7,329 photos
of the moon and stayed in orbit for 349 days.
Apollo 16 was the 10th manned mission in the
United State’s Apollo program. The mission
was launched on April 16, 1972, and
concluded on April 27. In route to the moon,
Apollo 16 astronauts took several photos of
the Earth.
• On May 14, 1973, the U. S. landed its first
space station, Skylab, in order to establish a
permanent foothold in space. Additionally,
Skylab performed many scientific studies. In
1979 Skylab fell out of orbit and into the
Indian Ocean because of increased solar
• On July 20, 1976, the Viking I Lander
separated from the Orbitor and began its
descent to the surface of Mars. This was the
first U.S. space probe to land on another
planet. Viking I released Martian images and
conducted experiments studying the
atmospheric and soil composition of Mars.
On March 28, 1979, Skylab, the first U.S. Space
Station, presents the first satellite
observations of the outer cornea of the sun.
Soft x-ray images of the sun were taken with
a S-054 x-ray telescope on Skylab.
• On April 12, 1981, the first U.S. reusable
space shuttle, Columbia, roared into the sky
from Kennedy Space Center. Of its three
components, the orbiter space plane, rocket
boosters, and external fuel tank, only the fuel
tank is not recovered after a mission.
• On April 24, 1983, the United States Space
Shuttle Challenger takes photographs of the
Earth showing the continent of Australia.
• On February 20, 1986, (three weeks after the
Challenger disaster) the Soviets launch the
world’s largest Space Station, Mir. Mir, which
means both peace and world in Russian, is
intended to provide a base for a permanently
manned complex orbiting Earth.
On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space
Telescope was carried into orbit by the U. S.
Space Shuttle Discovery. Although not the
first space telescope, it was one of the largest
and most versatile. The telescope was
named after astronomer, Edwin Hubble. This
is the only telescope designed to be serviced
in space by astronauts.
• The Galileo spacecraft was designed by the
United States to study Jupiter’s atmosphere,
satellites, and surrounding magnetosphere
for two years. Galileo was launched on
October 18, 1995, and entered Jupiter’s
atmosphere on December 7, 1995. Galileo
sent back valuable photos and data relating
to Jupiter’s composition.
• On December 4, 1996, the Mars Pathfinder,
an American spacecraft, was launched in
order to deploy the first roving probe on
another planet. Rover rolled onto Mars’
surface on July 6. This mission had the
primary objective of demonstrating the
feasibility of low-cost landings on and the
exploration of the Martian surface.
• On November 20, 1998, the first module of
the International Space Station (ISS), Zyra,
was launched by Russia on a proton rocket.
Two weeks later, the U. S. launched Unity, the
first of three modules aboard Space Shuttle
flight STS-88. Primarily a research
laboratory, the ISS offered an advantage over
spacecraft because of its long-term platform
in the space environment, where extended
studies would be performed.