Timeline of the Space Race
This is a timeline of first achievements in spaceflight from the first intercontinental ballistic missile through the first multinational human-crewed mission—spanning the era of the Space Race. Two days after the United States announced its intention to launch an artificial satellite, on July 31, 1956, the Soviet Union announced its intention to do the same. Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957, beating the United States and stunning people all over the world.
|Date||Significance||USSR Mission||US Mission|
|August 21, 1957||First intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)||R-7 Semyorka|
|October 4, 1957||First artificial satellite
First signals from space
|November 3, 1957||First dog in orbit ( Laika)||Sputnik 2|
|January 31, 1958||First US satellite, detection of Van Allen radiation belts||Explorer 1-ABMA|
|March 17, 1958||First solar powered satellite||Vanguard 1-NRL|
|December 18, 1958||First communications satellite||Project SCORE-ABMA|
|January 2, 1959||First rocket engine restart in Earth orbit
First lunar spacecraft
First detection of solar wind
|January 4, 1959||First human-made object in heliocentric orbit||Luna 1|
|February 17, 1959||First weather satellite||Vanguard 2-NASA (NRL)1|
|February 28, 1959||First satellite in a polar orbit||Discoverer 1-USAF/ARPA|
|June 25, 1959||First spy satellite to carry a camera (failed to achieve orbit)||Discoverer 4-USAF/ARPA|
|August 7, 1959||First photograph of Earth from orbit||Explorer 6-NASA|
|September 14, 1959||First impact into another celestial body (Moon)||Luna 2|
|October 7, 1959||First photos of far side of the Moon||Luna 3|
|April 1, 1960||First Imaging weather satellite||TIROS-1-NASA|
|July 5, 1960||First successful US spy satellite (returned intelligence data)||GRAB-1-NRL|
|August 11, 1960||First satellite recovered intact from orbit||Discoverer 13-USAF/ARPA|
|August 12, 1960||First passive communications satellite||Echo 1A-NASA|
|August 18, 1960||First successful recovery of film from an orbiting satellite
First aerial recovery of an object returning from Earth orbit
|August 19, 1960||First animals and plants returned alive from space (Belka and Strelka)||Sputnik 5|
1Project Vanguard transferred from the NRL to NASA immediately before launch.
|Date||Significance||USSR Mission||US Mission|
|February 12, 1961||First launch from Earth orbit of upper stage into a heliocentric orbit
First mid-course corrections
|April 12, 1961||First human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin)
First orbital flight of a manned vehicle
|May 5, 1961||First pilot-controlled space flight (Alan Shepard)
First human space mission that landed with pilot still in spacecraft and thus the first complete human spaceflight by FAI definitions
|May 19, 1961||First planetary flyby (Venus)||Venera 1|
|August 6, 1961||First crewed mission lasting a full day.||Vostok 2, Gherman Titov|
|March 7, 1962||First orbital solar observatory||OSO-1-NASA|
|July 10, 1962||First active communications satellite||Telstar-AT&T|
|August 12, 1962||First dual crewed spaceflight
First ship-to-ship radio contact and First simultaneous flight of crewed spacecraft
|Vostok 3 / Vostok 4, Andriyan Nikolayev and Pavel Popovich|
|September 29, 1962||First artificial satellite constructed by a non-superpower||Canada — Alouette 1|
|December 14, 1962||First planetary flyby by a US mission (Venus)||Mariner 2-NASA|
|June 16, 1963||First woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova)
First civilian in space
|June 19, 1963||Five-day human spaceflight record||Vostok 5|
|July 19, 1963||First reusable piloted spacecraft and the first spaceplane (X-15, suborbital)||X-15 Flight 90-NASA|
|July 26, 1963||First geosynchronous satellite||Syncom 2-NASA|
|December 5, 1963||First satellite navigation system||NAVSAT-USN|
|August 19, 1964||First geostationary satellite||Syncom 3-NASA|
|October 12, 1964||First multi-person crew (3)||Voskhod 1|
|March 18, 1965||First extra-vehicular activity ("space walk")||Voskhod 2|
|March 23, 1965||First piloted spacecraft orbit change||Gemini 3-NASA|
|July 14, 1965||First Mars flyby||Mariner 4-NASA|
|August 29, 1965||Eight-day human spaceflight record||Gemini 5-NASA|
|December 15, 1965||First orbital rendezvous (station-keeping, no docking)2||Gemini 6A / Gemini 7-NASA|
|December 18, 1965||14-day human spaceflight record||Gemini 7-NASA|
|February 3, 1966||First soft landing on another celestial body (Moon)
First photos from another celestial body
|March 1, 1966||First impact into another planet (Venus)||Venera 3|
|March 16, 1966||First spacecraft docking||Gemini 8 / ATV-NASA|
|April 3, 1966||First artificial satellite to orbit another celestial body: the Moon||Luna 10|
|September 12, 1966||First direct-ascent rendezvous on first orbit
Record highest apogee, 1,374 kilometers (854 mi), for piloted Earth orbit
|November 12–14, 1966||First 5.5 hr extra-vehicular activity
First demonstration of practical work capability
|October 30, 1967||First docking of two remote-controlled spacecraft||Cosmos 186/ Cosmos 188|
|December 7, 1968||First orbital ultraviolet observatory||OAO-2-NASA|
|December 21, 1968||First human-crewed spaceflight to, and orbit of, another celestial object: the Moon
First human spaceflight that escaped Earth's influence
|January 16, 1969||First crew exchange in space||Soyuz 4 /
|July 20, 1969||First humans on the Moon
First space launch from another celestial body
|November 19, 1969||First precisely targeted piloted landing on the Moon (Surveyor 3 site)
First man to dance on the Moon (Pete Conrad)
2 The Soviet Union had attempted an earlier rendezvous on August 12, 1962. However, Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 only came within five kilometers of one another, and operated in different orbital planes. Pravda did not mention this information, but indicated that a rendezvous had taken place.
|Date||Significance||USSR Mission||US Mission|
|September 24, 1970||First robotic automatic sample return from another celestial body: the Moon||Luna 16|
|November 23, 1970||First remote-controlled mobile vehicle on another celestial body: the Moon||Lunokhod 1|
|December 12, 1970||First X-ray orbital observatory||Uhuru (satellite)-NASA|
|December 15, 1970||First soft landing on another planet (Venus)
First signals from another planet
|April 23, 1971||First human-crewed space station launched||Salyut 1|
|June 29, 1971||First human-crewed orbital observatory (Orion 1)
23-day manned space record
|Soyuz 11 / Salyut 1|
|July 31, 1971||First mobile vehicle lunar rover driven by humans on the Moon||Apollo 15-NASA|
|November 14, 1971||First spacecraft to orbit another planet: Mars||Mariner 9-NASA|
|November 27, 1971||First impact into Mars||Mars 2|
|December 2, 1971||First soft Mars landing
First signals from Mars surface
|March 3, 1972||First human-made object sent on escape trajectory away from the Sun||Pioneer 10-NASA|
|July 15, 1972||First mission to enter the asteroid belt and leave inner solar system||Pioneer 10-NASA|
|November 9, 1972||First commercially operated domestic satellite in geostationary orbit||Canada — Anik A1-Telesat|
|November 15, 1972||First orbital gamma ray observatory||SAS-2-NASA|
|May 25, 1973||28-day human-crewed space record||Skylab 2-NASA|
|July 28, 1973||56-day human-crewed space record||Skylab 3-NASA|
|November 16, 1974||84-day human-crewed space record||Skylab 4-NASA|
|December 3, 1974||First Jupiter flyby||Pioneer 10-NASA|
|February 5, 1974||First planetary gravitational assist (Venus flyby)||Mariner 10-NASA|
|March 29, 1974||First Mercury flyby||Mariner 10-NASA|
|July 15, 1975||First multinational human-crewed mission||Soyuz 19||Apollo–Soyuz Test Project|
- List of communications satellite firsts
- List of space exploration milestones, 1957–1969
- Timeline of space exploration
- Timeline of first orbital launches by country
- Timeline of space travel by nationality
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