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Space Exploration Timeline

Exploring from Earth

1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres claiming that the Earth and the planets orbited the Sun.

1609 - Galileo first used the telescope to view the stars and planets.

1668 - Isaac Newton invented the first reflecting telescope.

1686 - Isaac Newton published the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy where he laid the foundations for universal gravitation and described the motion of the Sun and the planets.

1801 - The first asteroid, Ceres, is discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi.

1926 - Robert Goddard invented and launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. Goddard's work on rocket technology would make spaceflight possible.

1942 - The German V-2 rocket became the first vehicle to enter outer space.

1947 - Fruit flies became the first animals to go to outer space aboard a V-2 rocket sent by the United States.

The Space Age Begins

1957 - On August 21, 1957, Russia (USSR) launched Sputnik 1 which became the first satellite into orbit around Earth. This ushered in the Space Age. It also started Space Race between the Russians and the United States.

1957 - On November 3, 1957, the Russian dog Laika became the first animal in orbit.

1961 - On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and the first human to orbit the Earth.

1961 - Alan Shepherd became the first American in space just three weeks after Yuri Gagarin.

1962 - John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

1963 - Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

1965 - Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first man to walk in space.

1965 - The USA spacecraft Mariner 4 made the first flyby of the planet Mars.

1969 - The Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.

1971 - Russia launched the first space station called Salyut 1.

1971 - The Mariner 9 became the first space craft to orbit Mars.

1973 - The Pioneer 10 became the first space craft to flyby the planet Jupiter.

1973 - The United States launched its fist space station called Skylab.

1975 - The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project became the first multinational manned space mission. This effectively brought the Space Race between Russia and the U.S. to an end.

1976 - Viking 1 successfully landed on Mars. It sent back pictures and scientific data for the next six years.

1981 - The United States launched the first Space Shuttle, Columbia. The program eventually launched 135 space missions over the next thirty years.

1983 - Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

1986 - The Mir became the first consistently inhabited space station. It remained in orbit until 2001.

1990 - The Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle.

1998 - The International Space Station was launched into space.

2001 - The NEAR Shoemaker made the first landing on an asteroid (433 Eros).


More Astronomy Subjects

The Sun and Planets
Solar System

Black Holes
Meteors and Comets
Sunspots and Solar Wind
Solar and Lunar Eclipse

Space Exploration Timeline
Space Race
Nuclear Fusion
Astronomy Glossary

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