In 1947, the first animals were launched into space. Fruit flies were used to study the effects of space travel on animals, and were chosen because they are more similar to humans than you might imagine!
The flies travelled with a supply of corn to eat on the flight
Albert II, was the first monkey in space. He was a Rhesus monkey, a type of monkey that originally comes from Asia.
Albert went into space on 14th June, 1949 in a specially adapted American V2 rocket, that flew to a height of 83 miles from earth
In November 1957, the Russian space dog Laika became the first animal to orbit the earth.
Laika travelled in a spacecraft known as Sputnik 2. Laika means "Barker" in Russian, and her mission helped scientists understand whether people could survive in space.
On 12th April 1961, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Gagarin's spacecraft, Vostok 1, completed one orbit of the earth, and landed about two hours after launch.
Gagarin had to bail out and land using his parachute, because the Vostok 1 was designed to crash land!
On 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong, and then Buzz Aldrin took "one small step" and became the first men on the moon. The first words said on the moon were "the Eagle has landed". Their spaceship, Apollo 11 worked perfectly, flying them 250,000 miles to the moon, and bringing them all the way back safely to earth. Buzz was a childhood nickname - his real name was Edwin!
Once it had landed on the moon, the robotic spaceship Surveyor 1 started taking photographs of the moon's surface, which it transmitted back to excited scientists in America and around the world.
The scientists used this vital information about the terrain to work out how they might land people on the moon safely.
Only twelve astronauts have ever set foot on another world. Find out who those astronauts were, and why they made this incredible journey
The Shuttle was the first reusable spacecraft, capable of handling many different missions, from exploration to spacestation construction. Explore the craft that has been NASA's workhorse for nearly 30 years.
In 1963 US President John F. Kennedy promised the world that the US would land men on the moon before 1970. Before risking people's lives, NASA sent a robot spaceship, to make sure they could land safely.
It was called Surveyor 1, and it made the second soft landing on the Moon on 30th May 1966, a few months after Russian probe Luna 9 landed successfully.
From 1971 American astronauts on the fourth, fifth and sixth Apollo missions enjoyed use of a moon car to explore the moon. Known as the Lunar Rover, it was electric powered, and had a top speed of 8mph.
It was designed and developed in only 17 months, by Boeing, the aeroplane company famous for making the Jumbo Jet. Find out more here.
In 1973, Russian space probe Mars 2 explored Mars, the fourth planet of the solar system.
The probe was made of two parts. One part stayed in orbit for a year, sending pictures of Mars back to earth. The other was to land and explore the surface of Mars, but it was destroyed when its parachute failed to open.
Today's space stations are research platforms, used to study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body as well as to provide platforms for greater number and length of scientific studies than available on other space vehicles. All space stations to date have been designed with the intention of rotating multiple crews, with each crew member staying aboard the station for weeks or months, but rarely more than a year. Since the ill-fated flight of Soyuz 11 to Salyut 1, all manned spaceflight duration records have been set aboard space stations. The duration record for a single spaceflight is 437.7 days, set by Valeriy Polyakov aboard Mir from 1994 to 1995. As of 2013, three astronauts have completed single missions of over a year, all aboard Mir.
Space stations have also been used for both military and civilian purposes. The last military-use space station was Salyut 5, which was used by the Almaz program of the Soviet Union in 1976 and 1977.
n 1989, Helen Sharman entered a competition to become the first British astronaut in space. After 18 months of intensive training, Helen was part of a Russian mission to the MIR space station.
She spent eight days in space conducting scientific experiments. She used to work for the sweet company that makes Mars bars!
A space station (or orbital station) is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew, which is designed to remain in space (most commonly in low Earth orbit) for an extended period of time and for other spacecraft to dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by lack of major propulsion or landing systems. Instead, other vehicles transport people and cargo to and from the station. As of November 2012 two space stations are in orbit: the International Space Station, which is permanently manned, and China's Tiangong 1 (which successfully launched on September 29, 2011, after its launch was delayed from August), which is unmanned most of the time. Previous stations include the Almaz and Salyut series, Skylab and most recently Mir.
The MIR space station was built in sections, each piece launched by a rocket and then joined together in orbit. Construction started in 1986, with the last piece being fitted ten years later!
MIR was the first consistently inhabited long-term space station. MIR was destroyed in 2001 when it burned up as it crashed back to earth.
In January 2004, US President George Bush announced that NASA would resume missions to the moon by 2020, and work on a permanent moon-base would begin. Next will be a manned mission to visit Mars, that could last for 2 years.
Many of the astronauts that will be involved in these exciting missions are only children right now!