A Brief History of Space Travel

Space Travel

Sputnik 1

October 4, 1957

The first man-made object to orbit the Earth, is launched by the U.S.S.R

Sputnik 2

November 3, 1957

Carrying the dog Laika for 7 days in orbit, is launched by the U.S.S.R

The Forming of NASA

October 1, 1958

N.A.S.A. is founded, taking over existing National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics

Luna 2

September 12, 1959

Luna 2 is launched, impacting on the moon on September 13 carrying a copy of the Soviet coat of arms, and becoming the first man-made object to hit the moon

Vostok 1

April 12, 1961

Vostok 1 is launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying Cosmonaut Yuri A. Gargarin, the first man in space. He orbits the Earth once

Mercury Freedom 7

May 5, 1961

Mercury Freedom 7 carries Alan B. Shepard,Jr., the first U.S. Astronaut into space, in a suborbital flight

Mercury Friendship 7

February 20, 1962

Mercury Friendship 7 lifts off with John H. Glenn, Jr., the first American in orbit, and orbits the Earth three times

The First Space Walk

March 18, 1965

The first space walk is made from Soviet Voskhod 2 by Cosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov. Duration is 12 minutes.

First Manned Flight of the Gemini Program

March 23, 1965

First manned flight of the Gemini program, Gemini 3 carrying Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young. Made three orbits around the earth.

First U.S. Space Walk

June 3, 1965

Edward White II makes the first U.S. space walk from Gemini 4. Duration is 22 minutes

Soviet Luna 9

February 3, 1966

Soviet Luna 9 is the first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon

First Spaceflight Fatality

April 23, 1967

Soviet Soyuz 1 is launched, carrying Vladimir M. Komarov. On April 24 it crashed, killing Komarov, the first spaceflight fatality

First Use of Saturn V Rocket

December 21, 1968

Apollo 8 is launched with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr. and William A. Anders, the first Apollo to use the Saturn V rocket, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, making 10 orbits on its 6-day mission

The First Man on the Moon

July 20, 1969

Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. make the first manned soft landing on the Moon, and the first moonwalk, using Apollo 11

Apollo 13

April 11, 1970

Apollo 13 is launched, suffering an explosion in its SM oxygen tanks. Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr. and Fred W. Haise, Jr., return safely

First Use of the Moon Rover

July 30, 1971

Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin drive the first moon rover. The next year, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt drives a similar rover.

First Military Space Station

June 24, 1974

Soviet Salyut 3, their first military space station, is launched. It remains in orbit until January 1975

The First Civilian Space Station

December 26, 1974

Soviet Salyut 4, civilian space station, is launched. It remains in orbit until February 2, 1977


December, 1978

Two Pioneer spacecraft reach Venus. One drops four probes into the atmosphere, while the other maps the surface

Soviet Salyut 7 Space Station

April 19, 1982

Soviet Salyut 7 space station is launched

First Shuttle and First Space walk in 9 years

April 4, 1983

The space shuttle Challenger lifts off for its first mission (STS-6) and has the first American space walk in nine years. Crew: Paul Weitz, Karol Bobko, Donald Peterson, and Story Musgrave

Challenger Mission

October 5, 1984

Launch of space shuttle Challenger mission STS-41G carrying the first crew with two women aboard - Sally Ride and Katherine Sullivan. Sullivan becomes the first American woman to walk in space

Challenger Disaster

January 28, 1986

The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff of mission STS-51L

Core of MIR get Launched Into Space

February 20, 1986

The core unit of Soviet space station Mir is launched

Hubble Space Telescope

April 24, 1990

Space Shuttle Discovery launches on STS-31, deploying the Edwin P. Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astronomical observatory

First Mars Rover

September 25, 1992

Mars Observer lifts off, the first American probe to Mars in 17 years, since Viking 2. This probe is intended as an orbital mapper to study the red planet's atmosphere, surface, and geological make-up. The spacecraft functions well during its cruise to Mars, then all contact was lost on August 21, 1993, three days before orbital insertion

First Shuttle Mission to be Flown by a Female Pilot

February 6, 1995

Space shuttle Discovery maneuvers to within 37 feet of Russian space station Mir, in preparation for a shuttle-Mir docking (STS-63). This is the first shuttle mission to be flown by a female pilot

International Space Station

November 20, 1998

The first component of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched on a Russian rocket. This Russian built, U.S. financed module provides communications, electrical power, and attitude control for the station until the arrival of the third module (Zvezda, in July 2000)

Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia

February 1, 2003

Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia, Returning from its 28th mission, America's oldest space shuttle breaks up on reentry high over Texas. The cause proves to be damage to the heat shielding, incurred when a block of foam broke off the external fuel tank during lunch and hit the shuttle's left wing

Rover Landing on Mars

January 3, 2004

Spirit rover lands on Mars to explore the martian surface

Opportunity Rover Landing on Mars

January 25, 2004

Opportunity Rover Landing on Mars

Final Flight of the Space Shuttle Program

July 8, 2011


Dwight David Eisenhower's Presidency

1953 - 1961

John Fitzgerald Kennedy's Presidency

1961 - November 22, 1963

Lyndon Baines Johnson's Presidency

November 22, 1963 - 1969

JFK Assassination

November 22, 1963

Richard Milhous Nixon's Presidency

January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974

Gerald Rudolph Ford's Presidency

August 10, 1974 - January 20, 1977

James Earl Carter, Jr.'s Presidency

January 21, 1977 - January 21, 1981

Ronald Wilson Reagan's Presidency

January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989

George Herbert Walker Bush's Presidency

January 21, 1989 - January 21, 1993

William Jefferson Clinton's Presidency

January 20, 1993 - January 20, 2001

George Walker Bush

January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009

Barack Hussein Obama

January 20, 2009 - 2013