Aerospace history

Aerospace history

Spaceflight milestones (1880-1961)

  • 00-00-1880 Articles by Tsjolkowsky (1857-1935).
  • 00-00-1923 Articles by Oberth (1894-1989).
  • 16-03-1926 First liquid-fueled rocket by Goddard (1882-1945). Reached 13 meters.
  • 00-00-1932 Gyroscopic rocket by Goddard (1882-1945).
  • 00-00-1937 V1 and V2 by Wernher von Braun (1912-1977).
  • 16-04-1946 First American V2 by Wernher von Braun (1912-1977).
  • 00-00-1951 Total of 66 American V2’s launched.
  • 00-08-1953 Upgraded V2 called Redstone.
  • 00-00-1954 Atlas rocket.
  • 04-10-1957 First satellite (Sputnik).
  • 12-04-1961 First human in space (Yuri Gagarin).

NASA Rockets (1961-1972)

  • Mercury Redstone (1952-1954)
  • Thor Delta (Thor from airforce, Jupiter from army with Wernher von Braun)
  • Mercury Atlas (1954)
  • Atlas Agena
  • Atlas Centaur
  • Gemini Titan II
  • Saturn I
  • Apollo Saturn 1B
  • Apollo Saturn V

Human spaceflight (1961-1972)

CountrySpacecraftLaunching dateAstronautsRevolutionsFlight timeFlight highlights
USSRVostok 112-4-1961Gagarin11 hr. 48 mins.First manned flight.
USMercury-Redstone 35-5-1961ShepardSub-orbinal15 mins.First American in space.
USMercury-Redstone 421-7-1961GrissomSub-orbinal16 mins.Capsule sank.
USSRVostok 26-8-1961Titov1625 hrs. 18 mins.More than 24 hours in space
USMercury-Atlas 620-2-1962Glenn34 hrs. 55 mins.First American in orbit.
USMercury-Atlas 724-5-1962Cartenter34 hrs. 56 mins.Landed 250 miles from target.
USSRVostok 311-8-1962Nikolayev6094 hrs. 22 mins.First group flight. (Vostok 3 and 4)
USSRVostok 412-8-1962Popovich4570 hrs. 57 mins.Came within 3.1 miles of Vostok 3 on first orbit.
USMercury-Atlas 83-10-1962Schirra69 hrs. 13 mins.Landed 5 miles from target.
USMercury-Atlas 915-5-1963Cooper2234 hrs. 20 mins.First long flight by an American.
USSRVostok 514-6-1963Bykovsky76119 hrs. 06 mins.Second group flight. (Vostok 5 and 6)
USSRVostok 616-6-1963Tereshkova457 hrs. 50 mins.Passed within 3 miles of Vostok 5; first moman in space.
USSRVoskhod 112-10-1964Komarov, Feoktiskov, Yegorov1524 hrs. 17 mins.First 3-man craft.
USSRVoskhod 218-3-1965Leonov, Belyayev1626 hrs. 02 mins.First man outside spacecraft in 10-minute “walk”. (Leonov).
USGemini 323-3-1965Grissom, Young34 hrs. 53 mins.First manned orbital maneuvers.
USGemini 43-6-1965McDivitt, White6297 hrs. 48 mins.21-minute “spacewalk” (White).
USGemini 521-8-1965Cooper, Conrad120190 hrs. 56 mins.First extended manned flight.
USGemini 74-12-1965Borman, Lovell206330 hrs. 35 mins.Longest space flight.
USGemini 6-A15-12-1965Schirra, Stafford1625 hrs. 52 mins.Rendezvous within 1 foot of Gemini 7.
USGemini 816-3-1966Armstrong, Scott6,510 hrs. 42 mins.First docking to Agena target; mission cut short.
USGemini 9-A3-6-1966Stafford, Cernan4475 hrs. 21 mins.Rendezvous, extra-vehicular activity, precision landing.
USGemini 1018-7-1966Young, Collins4370 hrs. 47 mins.Rendezvous with 2 targets; Agena package retrieved.
USGemini 1112-9-1966Conrad, Gordon4474 hrs. 17 mins.Rendezvous and docking.
USGemini 1211-11-1966Lovell, Aldrin5994 hrs. 33 mins.3 successful extra-vehicular trips.
USSRSoyuz 123-4-1967Kamarov1726 hrs. 40 mins.Heaviest manned craft; crashed killing Kamarov.
USApollo 711-10-1968Schirra, Eisele, Walter163260 hrs. 09 mins.First manned flight of Apollo spacecraft.
USSRSoyuz 326-10-1968Beragovoi6094 hrs. 51 mins.Rendezvous with manned Soyuz 2
USApollo 821-12-1968Borman, Lovell, AndersLunar orbital 10147 hrs. 00 mins.First manned voyage around the moon.
USSRSoyuz 415-1-1969Shatalov4571 hrs. 14 mins.Rendezvous with Soyuz 5.
USSRSoyuz 515-1-1969Volynov, Teliseyev, Khrunov4672 hrs. 46 mins.Rendezvous with Soyuz 4; Yeliseyev and Khrunov trandfer to Soyuz 4.
USApollo 93-3-1969McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart151241 hrs. 01 mins.Low earth orbit, docking with Lunar Module (LM).
USApollo 1018-5-1969Stafford, Cernan, YoungLunar orbital 31192 hrs. 03 mins.Descent to within 9 miles of moon.
USApollo 1116-7-1969Armstrong, Aldrin, CollinsLunar orbital 31195 hrs. 18 mins.Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon. Time spent on moon 21 hrs. 38 mins.
USApollo 1214-11-1969Conrad, Bean, GordonLunar orbital 45244 hrs. 36 mins.Living and working on the moon. ALSEP station instruments.
USApollo 1311-4-1970Lovell, Haise, SwigertLunar orbital 01142 hrs. 54 mins.Blast oxygen tank, did not land on the moon.
USApollo 14 31-1-1971Shepard, Mitchell, RoosaLunar orbital 34216 hrs. 02 mins.Long walk on the moon, wheelbarrow.
USApollo 15 25-7-1971Scott, Irwin, WordenLunar orbital 74295 hrs. 11 mins.Focus on science, lunar vehicle.
USApollo 1616-4-1972Young, Duke, MattinglyLunar orbital 64265 hrs. 51 mins.Extended stay on the moon, lunar vehicle.
USApollo 177-12-1972Cernan, Schmitt, EvansLunar orbital 75301 hrs. 51 mins.Longest crewed lunar landing mission (12 days 14 hours), greatest distance from a spacecraft during an extravehicular activity of any type (7.6 kilometers (4.7 mi)), longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours 4 minutes), largest lunar sample return (approximately 115 kg or 254 lb), longest time in lunar orbit (6 days 4 hours), and most lunar orbits (75). Cernan last Apollo astronaut on the moon (14-12-1972).

Artemis related spaceflight (1965-2011)

  • 00-00-1965 Start of the Deep Space Network (DSN) (used for Rover, New Horizons, Voyager etc.).
  • 08-02-1974 Last Skylab flight (SL-4, SLM-3).
  • 17-07-1975 Last Apollo-Soyuz flight (one mission only).
  • 03-05-1998 Last Spacelab flight (Neurolab, STS-90).
  • 20-11-1998 First module International Space Station (ISS) (Zarya, launched by a Proton rocket).
  • 02-11-2000 ISS is permanently occupied (ongoing).
  • 08-07-2011 Last Space Shuttle mission (STS-135).
Gyroscopic rocket by Goddard
Gyroscopic rocket by Goddard
Apollo 17
Apollo 17

Human spaceflight (also referred to as manned spaceflight or crewed spaceflight) is spaceflight with a crew or passengers aboard a spacecraft, often with the spacecraft being operated directly by the onboard human crew. Spacecraft can also be remotely operated from ground stations on Earth, or autonomously, without any direct human involvement. People trained for spaceflight are called astronauts (American or other), cosmonauts (Russian), or taikonauts (Chinese); and non-professionals are referred to as spaceflight participants or spacefarers.

The first human in space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who launched as part of the Soviet Union’s Vostok program on 12 April 1961 at the beginning of the Space Race. On 5 May 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, as part of Project Mercury. Humans traveled to the Moon nine times between 1968 and 1972 as part of the United States’ Apollo program, and have had a continuous presence in space for 21 years and 364 days on the International Space Station (ISS). On 15 October 2003, the first Chinese taikonaut, Yang Liwei, went to space as part of Shenzhou 5, the first Chinese human spaceflight. As of 2021, humans have not traveled beyond low Earth orbit since the Apollo 17 lunar mission in December 1972.