By Tim Lambert

Space Exploration in the 1950s

1957 Sputnik, the first satellite is launched by the Soviet Union

1958 Explorer 1, the first American satellite is launched

1959 Luna 1, Luna 2 and Luna 3 are sent to the Moon

Space Exploration in the 1960s

1960 Echo communications satellite is launched

1961 On 12 April Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. On 5 May Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space (though he does not orbit the Earth).

1962 John Glenn is the first American to orbit the Earth. Mariner 2 reaches Venus.

1963 Valentina Tereshkova is the first woman in space

1964 Ranger 7 sends back detailed photos of the Moon

1965 Alexei Leonov is the first man to walk in space. American spacecraft Mariner 4 flies past Mars. France launches its first satellite.

1966 The first space docking takes place. Luna 9 lands on the Moon.

1967 Mariner 5 flies past Venus

1968 Apollo 8 orbits the Moon

1969 Men land on the Moon. Both Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 reach the Moon. Venera 5 and Venera 6 reach Venus. Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 fly past Mars.

Space Exploration in the 1970s

1970 China launches its first satellite. Japan launches its first satellite. Venera 7 lands on Venus.

1971 Mariner 9 photographs Mars. Apollo 14 and Apollo 15 reach the Moon. Britain launches its first satellite.

1972 Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 reach the Moon. Pioneer 10 becomes the first spacecraft to fly through the Asteroid Belt.

1973 Pioneer 10 flies past Jupiter

1974 American spacecraft Mariner 10 flies past Mercury

1975 India launches its first satellite

1976 The American Viking probes land on Mars

1978 Pioneer Venus 1 and Pioneer Venus 2 reach Venus

1979 Pioneer 11 reaches Saturn

Space Exploration in the 1980s

1980 India launches a satellite. Voyager 1 reaches Saturn.

1981 The first space shuttle, Columbia is launched into space

1982 Venera 13 and Venera 14 land on Venus. Vega 1 and Vega 2 land on Venus.

1983 Venera 15 and Venera 16 reach Venus. Space shuttle Challenger is launched. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

1984 Bruce McCandless makes the first untethered space walk. Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to spacewalk.

1985 Vega 1 and Vega 2 reach Venus. Space shuttle Atlantis is launched.

1986 Voyager 2 reaches Uranus. Mir space station is launched. Space shuttle Challenger explodes. Giotto spacecraft flies past Haley's comet.

1988 Israel launches its first satellite

1989 Voyager 2 reaches Neptune. Magellan maps Venus with radar.

Space Exploration in the 1990s

1990 The Hubble Space Telescope is launched. Magellan goes into orbit around Venus.

1991 Helen Sharman becomes the first British person in space

1992 Space shuttle Endeavor is launched. Ulysses spacecraft reaches Jupiter. The first extra solar planets are discovered.

1994 Clementine probe maps the Lunar surface from orbit

1995 Galileo goes into orbit around Jupiter

1997 Mars Global Surveyor reaches Mars. Lunar Prospector goes into orbit around the Moon.

1999 Lunar Prospector is crashed near the South Pole of the Moon in an attempt to find water

Space Exploration in the 2000s

2000 The Cassini-Huygens probe flies past Jupiter.

2001 A spacecraft (NEAR Shoemaker) lands on an asteroid (Eros) for the first time. Dennis Tito is the first tourist in space.

2003 China launches its first manned spacecraft. Smart 1 is sent into orbit around the Moon.

2004 The Cassini-Huygens probe reaches Saturn. A probe lands on Titan.

2005 Deep Impact spacecraft crashes into comet Tempel 1

2006 Venus Express reaches Venus. Smart 1 is crashed into the Moon.

2007 Japan sends a probe into orbit around the Moon. China launches a probe called Chang'e 1. It orbits the Moon.

2008 India launches its first space probe

2009 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched. So is LCross (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite). Iran launches its first satellite.

Space Exploration in the 2010s

2010 China sends a probe called Chang'e 2 into orbit around the Moon

2011 Messenger probe goes into orbit around Mercury. Grail (The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) is launched to orbit the Moon. Dawn spacecraft reaches the asteroid Vesta.


2012 Curiosity spacecraft lands on Mars. Dawn spacecraft leaves Vesta. The first Polish satellite PW-Sat is launched.

2013 China lands a robot craft called Chang'e 3 on the Moon

2014 India sends a probe which goes into orbit around Mars. The Philae probe lands on a comet.

2015 The Messenger probe crashes into Mercury. New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto.

2016 Juno spacecraft reaches Jupiter

2019 A probe sends back photos from Ultima Thule at the edge of the Solar System. Also in 2019 China landed a spacecraft called chang'e 4 on the dark side of the Moon

A timeline of Science

A timeline of Inventions

A timeline of Transport

A timeline of The World

A history of space exploration