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firsts in space exploration

Timeline: Famous Firsts in Space Exploration

Here are dates of important firsts in space exploration

1958 1963 1975 1981 1985 1990 2004
1958
Project Mercury, initiated in 1958 and completed in 1963, is the United States' first human-in-space program. It is designed to further knowledge about humanity's capabilities in space.
1959
April
Seven military-jet test pilots are introduced to the public as America's first astronauts. They are: Lt. M. Scott Carpenter, USN; Capt. L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., USAF; Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC; Cap. Virgil I. Grissom, USAF; Lt. Cdr. Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN; Lt. Cdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., USN; and Capt. Donald K. Slayton, USAF.
1960
April
NASA tests the first female trainees for astronaut duty in the Mercury program. Thirteen out of America's 25 top female civilian pilots (women weren't allowed to be military pilots then) pass the same rigorous testing that male candidates underwent in the Mercury 7 space program. Although all the pilots prove fit to become Mercury astronauts, NASA suddenly cancels its testing of qualified women in July 1961, claiming that they require jet test-pilot training at Edwards Air Force Base. Unfortunately, instruction at Edwards is closed to women. This new requirement ends America's chance to put the first women in space.
1961
April 12
Yuri Gagarin of the USSR becomes the first person in space.
May 5
Alan Shepard makes a suborbital flight in Freedom 7, becoming the first American in space. Time: 15 minutes, 22 seconds.
Aug. 6–7
The USSR's Gherman Titov becomes the first man to take a long-duration flight in space. His flight time is 25 hours and 18 minutes.
1962
Feb. 20
John Glenn makes a three-orbit flight in Friendship 7 and becomes the first American in orbit. Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes.
1963
June 16
Valentina Tereshkova of the USSR becomes the first woman in space.
1964
Oct. 12
The USSR's Vladimir Komarov, Konstantin P. Feoktistov, and Boris G. Yegorov take part in the first 3-person orbital flight and the first flight without space suits on the Voskhod 1.
1965
March 18
Alexei A. Leonov of the USSR takes the first space walk, which lasts ten minutes.
March 23
Virgil Grissom and John Young are the first American 2-person crew on the GT III.
June 3-7
While on the GT IV, the first American space walk is made by Edward White, II. It lasts slightly over 20 minutes.
1966
March 16–17
The first docking happens between a staffed spaceraft, GT VIII, and an unstaffed space vehicle, an orbiting Agena rocket. Neil Armstrong and David Scott are on board the GT VIII.
1968
Dec. 21–27
Apollo 8 becomes the first spacecraft in circumlunar orbit and sends TV transmissions from this orbit. Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders are the first astronauts to view the whole Earth.
1969
Mar. 3–13
James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweikart participate in the first staffed flight of Lunar Module on Apollo 9.
May 18–26
Apollo 10 becomes the first staffed flight to descend within nine miles of the Moon's surface. Thomas P. Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan, and John W. Young are on the flight.
July 16–24
Apollo 11 takes off on the first manned flight to the moon with Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins.
July 20
Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the Moon.
Oct. 11–16
For the first time ever, the USSR puts three spacecraft and seven men into the Earth's orbit simultaneously.
1971
June 6–30
Spacecraft Soyuz 11 links up for the first time with space station, Salyut 1. It is also the longest stay in space to date. Georgiy Tomofeyevich Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov, and Viktor Ivanovich Patsyev die on the mission due to loss of pressurization in the spacecraft.
July 26–Aug. 7
David Scott and James Irwin use the first lunar rover and send the first live pictures of lift-off from the Moon while on Apollo 15.
1973
May 25–June 22
The first staffed Skylab is launched, Skylab SL-2, manned by Charles Conrad, Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin, and Paul J. Weitz.
1975
July 15
The Russian Soyuz and the U.S. Apollo launches. The Apollo-Soyuz mission is the first international manned spaceflight.
July 17
The American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft link up for the first time.
1981
April 12
The first voyage of the space shuttle Columbia begins. Capt. Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young are on the flight.
1983
June 18
Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.
Aug. 30
Guion S. Bluford is the first African-American astronaut to travel in space on the STS-8 Challenger flight.
1984
Feb. 7
Astronauts Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart make the first untethered space walks (with jet backpacks) on the STS-8 Challenger flight.
July 25
Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to walk in space.
Aug. 30
Space shuttle Discovery has its first flight.
1985
Aug. 8
First flight of Atlantis space shuttle.
1988
Sept. 29-Oct. 3
First flight of a space shuttle (Discovery) since the Challenger disaster.
1989
May 4
Magellan Venus probe becomes the first probe to be launched from a shuttle, Atlantis.
1992
May 7–16
While on a U.S. Endeavour mission, three mission specialists capture a satellite using their hands only for the first time.
1995
Feb. 3–11
First rendezvous between a U.S. spacecraft, Discovery, and a Russian space station, Mir. Also, Lt. Col. Eileen M. Collins becomes the first female to pilot a space shuttle during this mission.
March 14-22
U.S. astronaut Dr. Norman E. Thagard becomes the first American to fly aboard a Russian spacecraft, Soyuz TM-21, with a Russian crew. He is also the first American to enter the Mir space station.
June 27–July 7
The Atlantis becomes the first space shuttle to link-up with Mir.
1996
March 22–31
Shannon W. Lucid is the first American woman to live on Mir.
2000-2001
Oct. 31-March 18, 2001
The first crew boards the International Space Station.
2002
April 8-19
Mobile Transporter, the first railroad, is put in space during a mission of the Atlantis.
2003
Aug. 10
Russia's Yuri Malenchenko becomes the first man to get married from space.
2004
June 21
Michael Melvill pilots the first privately-developed spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, into space. It achieves an altitude of 328,491 ft.

by Jennie Wood


Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The worst U.S. air disaster was the crash of an American Airlines DC-10 on May 25, 1979.

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