Space Exploration Timeline & Future Missions For Kids!
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.
- December 14th 1962 – The first successful planetary flyby (Venus) – by Mariner 2.
- June 16th 1963 – The USSR puts the first women (Valentina Tereshkova) into Space!
- March 18th 1965 – Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov performs the first spacewalk (extra-vehicular activity).
- July 14th 1965 – The first flyby of Mars and first close-up photographs from another planet - Mars.
- 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!
- 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
- April 12th 1981 – Launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia – the first reusable (orbital) spacecraft!
- January 24th 1986 – First Uranus flyby by Voyager 2.
- January 28th 1986 – Challenger disintegration shortly after launch.
- February 19th 1986 – Mir 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
- April 24th 1990 – The famous Hubble Space Telescope is launched into space aboard Shuttle Discovery.
- October 21st 1991 – The first flyby of an asteroid in the asteroid belt by Galileo.
- March 22nd 1995 - Record longest duration spaceflight (437.7 days) set by Valeri Polyakov.
- December 7th 1995 – Galileo achieves the first orbit of Jupiter.
- July 4th 1997 – Mars Pathfinder becomes the first operational rover on another planet.
- October 24th 1998 – Deep Space 1 launches to test the ion propulsion system.
- November 20th 1998 – Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) begins.
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.
- July 1st 2004 – First spacecraft (Cassini-Huygens) to enter orbit around Saturn.
- January 14th 2005 – The Huygens probe performs the first soft landing beyond Mars on Titan!
- March 6th 2009 – The Kepler spacecraft is launched to discover Exoplanets in the Milky Way.
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!
- November 12th 2014 – The Rosetta spacecraft performs a soft landing on a comet.
- March 6th 2015 – the Dawn spacecraft enters orbit around dwarf planet Ceres becoming the first spacecraft to visit Ceres and to orbit two bodies.
- July 15th 2015 – The New Horizons spacecraft makes the first flyby of Pluto and its moons.
- 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!
- 2019/2020 - Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin will start taking paying space tourists into space via sub-orbital flights.
- 2019/2020 – SpaceX and Boeing plan to launch astronauts to the International Space Station aboard their Starliner and Dragon Crew capsules!
- 2021 – NASA plans to launch the James Webb Telescope which will likely create many discoveries.
- 2023 – NASA intends to send astronauts on a lunar flyby mission aboard their new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The first time humans have left low Earth orbit since 1972 (the Apollo 17 mission).
- 2024 – SpaceX intends to send their new Starship spacecraft on a trip around the Moon with paying passengers for a journey called Dear Moon!
- 2030 – The European Space Agency (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer will enter orbit around Ganymede becoming the first probe to orbit another planets moon.
- 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