A Space Exploration Timeline

I’m fascinated with astronomy. I love studying space and the universe because it is awe-inspiring and offers such an energy of hope and promise for the future.

Just to refresh your memory about how far the human race has come in our quest for space exploration, I’ve put together a space exploration timeline below. Of course, there are many other things that happened aside from what I’ve listed, but I’ve chosen a select group of events that I found particularly interesting.

We all know that traditional space shuttles are expensive and cumbersome. I’m looking forward to the day when space travel takes place via a different mode of transportation. The phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” is coming to mind.

It’s nostalgic to me to look at a timeline like this. I remember my eyes being glued to the television and watching some of these events as they unfolded in real time.


1957: Sputnik 1 Becomes First Artificial Satellite to Orbit Earth

1958: Explorer I Is First U.S. Satellite

1961: Enos Is First Chimp to Orbit Earth

1967: First Manned Soviet Soyuz Takes Off

1968: Apollo 8 Launches for Far Side of the Moon

1969: Apollo 11 Delivers First Humans to Moon

1981: Columbia, First Space Shuttle, Launches

1985: Atlantis Carries Classified Payload for Pentagon

1989: Delta II Completes 75th Straight Successful Launch

1991: Endeavour Arrives at Kennedy to Replace Challenger

1996: Launch of Mars Pathfinder

1998: First piece of the International Space Station is launched.

2000: The crew of Expedition One dock at the International Space Station and reside there for months.

2001: Launch of Genesis.

2003: Crew is lost after a 16-day mission when the Columbia space shuttle explodes on re-entry.

2003: Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity launch.

2004: Spirit and Opportunity arrive on the Martian surface to explore.

2004: Genesis makes a dramatic crash landing when its parachute fails to deploy. Scientists still recover the samples.

2004: SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately built craft to reach outer space.

2004: First spacecraft to orbit Saturn

2005: First spacecraft to land on the moon of a planet other than Earth (Saturn’s moon Titan).

2006: The US space shuttle Discovery took off at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

2006: Discovery astronauts went on a 7.5 hour spacewalk to test a repair technique for space shuttles.

2007: A Russian rocket carrying the American billionaire who helped develop Microsoft Word launched, sending a crew of 3 people soaring into orbit on a trip to the international space station. He paid $25 million for the experience.

2007: NASA launched Phoenix Mars Lander, a robotic dirt and ice digger, scheduled to land on Mars in May of 2008.

2008: Japan’s space agency launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission at home and in Southeast Asia.

2008: The US shuttle Discovery made launched from Florida carrying a Japanese research laboratory and key parts to fix a broken toilet in the International Space Station.

2008: 3 Chinese astronauts returned to Earth after completing China’s first-ever spacewalk.

2008: An Indian probe landed on the moon, in a milestone for India’s space program.

2008: The Hubble Space Telescope went into the final stages of recovery.

2009: The first ever collision between two satellites occurred over Siberia when a Russian military communications satellite crashed with a US Iridium satellite.

2009: A French rocket carrying the largest space telescope ever was launched into space on a mission that European scientists hope will help unravel the mystery of the universe’s creation.

2009: The space shuttle Atlantis landed ending a mission that repaired and enhanced the Hubble Space Telescope.

It is not easy to find a complete timeline of these events online since many of the lists are outdated and obsolete; however, I found a beautifully illustrated one here: http://www.dipity.com/TheAgenda/Space-Exploration