History Of The Space Age

Born from World War II technology, rockets have enabled mankind to put satellites in orbit, send probes to the furthest regions of the solar system and even put men on the Moon! Learn about when, and where, these all happen by reading this timeline of the coolest major milestones and dates of first accomplishments during humanity’s exploration of outer space! Enjoy!


Space Exploration In The 1940’s!

  • June 20th 1944 – A V-2 Rocket launched by Nazi Germany during World War II is the first man-made object to go beyond 100 km – the Kármán line – and reach space!
  • October 24th 1946 ­– A captured V-2 rocket in US is launched to 105 km (65 miles) and records the first pictures from space.
  • February 20th 1947 ­– The first animal (fruit flies) reaches space aboard an American V-2.

Space Exploration In The 1950’s!

  • July 22nd 1951 – A Soviet R-1 rocket launches the first dogs (Dezik & Tsygan) into space!
  • October 4th 1957 ­– The Soviet Union launches the first satellite into orbit called Sputnik-1 which transmits for 22 days! The Space Race begins!
  • November 3rd 1957 – A Soviet rocket launches the first dog (Laika) into orbit!
  • January 31st 1958 ­ - The America’s launch their first satellite called Explorer-1 into orbit.

  • January 4th 1959 ­– The USSR launches Luna-1 and is the first satellite to reach the vicinity of the Moon and first to enter heliocentric orbit.
  • September 13th 1959 ­– The USSR launches Luna-2 and is the first probe to touch another world when it impacts with the Moon.
  • October 4th 1959 ­– The USSR launches Luna-3 the first probe to image the far side of the Moon.

Space Exploration In The 1960’s!

  • January 31st 1961 – The US launches the first Chimpanzee into space who performs tasks and survives.
  • April 12th 1961 – The USSR launches the first human into space - Yuri Gagarin.
  • May 5th 1961 – The US launches the first American into space – Alan Shepard.
  • February 20th 1962 – The US launches their first man into orbit – John Glenn.

  • February 3rd 1966 – First soft landing on another world (the Moon) and the first images from the surface.
  • March 16th 1966 ­– During Project Gemini, Gemini 8 completed the first orbital docking between two spacecraft.
  • December 21st 1968 Apollo 8 carries 3 astronauts to the Moon, for the first time humans leave low Earth orbit.
  • July 20th 1969 – First human walks on the Moon during Apollo 11 mission!

Space Exploration In The 1970’s

  • November 17th 1970 – The USSR lands Lunokhod 1- the first lunar rover.
  • December 15th 1970 – USSR conducts the first soft landing on another planet with Venera 7 on Venus.
  • November 14th 1971 Mariner 9 becomes the first probe to orbit another planet.
  • March 3rd 1972 Pioneer 10 becomes the first probe to reach escape velocity of the Solar System and crosses the asteroid belt enroute to Jupiter.
  • February 5th 1974 Mariner 10 uses a gravity assist for the first time enroute to flyby Mercury for the first time!
  • August 20th 1977 Voyager 2 launches on its epic journey through the outer planets.
  • September 5th 1977 Voyager 1 launches bound for Jupiter, Saturn and Titan!

Space Exploration In The 1980’s

  • February 19th 1986Mir Space Station becomes the first consistently inhabited space station.
  • May 4th 1989 – The Magellan spacecraft launches from the payload bay of the Space Shuttle bound for Venus to map the surface through the dense clouds.
  • August 25th 1989 – First Neptune flyby by Voyager 2.

Space Exploration In The 1990’s

Space Exploration In The 2000’s

  • February 14th 2000 – The first spacecraft (NEAR Shoemaker) to orbit an asteroid!
  • April 28th 2001 – American Dennis Tito became the first paying space tourist to go to space on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and spent 8 days at the ISS.
  • February 2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia burns up during re-entry killing 7 astronauts.

Space Exploration In The 2010’s

  • March 18th 2011 – A spacecraft orbits Mercury for the first time – MESSENGER.
  • July 21st 2011 – The final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis signals the end of the Shuttle Program.
  • May 25th 2012 – A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with and attach to the ISS.
  • August 25th 2012 – A man-made probe reaches interstellar space – Voyager 1!

  • August 10th 2015 – Lettuce became the first food to be grown and eaten in space.
  • December 21st 2015 – Space Exploration Corp (SPACEX) successfully lands the Falcon 9 first stage. The first time an orbital class rocket has been recovered.
  • March 30th 2016 – SpaceX reuses a previously flown Falcon 9 first-stage, the first orbital-class 1st stage to be reflown in history.

Missions and Spaceflight Milestones Of The Future!

  • 2030s – NASA plans to launch the Orion spacecraft using the Space Launch System (SLS) and send astronauts on a 2 year journey to Mars.
  • 2050’s – Could humans send a manned mission to the moons of Saturn?
  • 2100’s – Could human beings build an interstellar spaceship capable of travelling to a nearby star system with Earth-like exoplanets? Is this our destiny to venture out, explore and live amongst the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy?

Space Exploration Timeline
Future of Exploration
Future US Spaceflight
previous arrow
next arrow