Timeline of Space ExplorationAlthough astronomers have observed the Sun, Moon, stars and planets for thousands of years, it has only been in recent history that people have been able to go to some of these objects and to explore them for themselves, either using robotic probes or using real people. Space exploration began in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. This small satellite orbited Earth, doing nothing more than sending back a few beeps to let people on Earth know that it was there, but it proved that it was possible to escape Earth's atmosphere and communicate from space. This was the start of the Space Age and in the fifty years since then, many unmanned and manned space craft have travelled out of Earth's atmosphere. People have walked on the surface of the Moon, and all planets in the Solar System have been explored by unmanned probes. Some probes are so far away now that they have nearly left the Solar System! Through space exploration, our knowledge of the universe outside of Earth has increased greatly. In this chronology of space exploration section, you can view details of just about all missions to explore space. You can view them in the order they happened, or if you are interested in a destination in particular (such as Mars) you can see all missions to that destination. Click on the time period or the destination you would like to read about.
1957 to 1959 1960 to 1964 1965 to 1969 1970 to 1974 1975 to 1979 1980 to 1984 1985 to 1989 1990 to 1994 1995 to 1999 2000 to 2004 2005 to 2009 2010 & Beyond