Timeline of artificial satellites and space probes

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This timeline of artificial satellites and space probes includes unmanned spacecraft including technology demonstrators, observatories, lunar probes, and interplanetary probes. First satellites from each country are included. Not included are most earth science satellites, commercial satellites or manned missions.

Key: Year – Origin – Target – Status – Description



Year Date Origin Name Launch Vehicle Status Description Weight
1957 October 4  Soviet Union Sputnik 1 Sputnik-PS Success The first human-made object to orbit Earth. 83.6 kg (183.9 lb)
November 3  Soviet Union Sputnik 2 Sputnik-PS Success The first satellite to carry a living animal, a dog named Laika. 508 kg (1,118 lb)
December 6  USA Vanguard 1A Vanguard TV-3 Failed The first stage engine was improperly started, causing the vehicle to fall back to the launch pad immediately after launch and explode.[1] 1.36 kg (2.99 lb)
1958 January 31  USA Explorer 1 Jupiter-C Success The first American satellite in space.[1] 13.91 kg (30.66 lb)
February 5  USA Vanguard 1B Vanguard TV-3BU Failed Control failure caused vehicle breakup at T+57 seconds as vehicle exceeded an angle of attack of 45° due to a control system malfunction.[1] 1.36 kg (2.99 lb)
March 5  USA Explorer 2 Jupiter-C Failed Failed to orbit. Fourth stage did not ignite.[1] 14.52 kg (31.94 lb)
March 17  USA Vanguard 1C Vanguard TV-4 Success Vanguard 1. Expected to de-orbit in ~2240AD, this and its upper launch stage are the oldest human-made objects in space. Also the first use of solar cells to power a satellite.[1] 1.47 kg (3.25 lb)
March 26  USA Explorer 3 Jupiter-C Success Added to data received by Explorer 1.[1] 14.1 kg (31.0 lb)
April 29  USA Vanguard 2A Vanguard TV-5 Failed Second stage shutdown sequence not completed, preventing proper 3rd stage separation and firing. Did not reach orbit.[1] 9.98 kg (21.96 lb)
May 15  Soviet Union Sputnik 3 Sputnik Success Contained 12 instruments for a wide range of upper atmosphere tests. 1,327 kg (2,926 lb)
May 28  USA Vanguard 2B Vanguard SLV-1 Failed The first production model of the series. Nominal flight until a guidance error was encountered on second stage burnout. Did not reach orbit.[1] 9.98 kg (21.96 lb)
June 26  USA Vanguard 2C Vanguard SLV-2 Failed Premature second stage cutoff prevented third stage operation. Did not reach orbit.[1] 9.98 kg (21.96 lb)
July 26  USA Explorer 4 Jupiter-C Success Expanded data set of previous Explorer missions and collected data from Argus high-altitude nuclear explosions.[1] 11.7 kg (25.8 lb)
August 17  USA Pioneer 0 Thor-Able 1 Failed Failed to orbit. First stage engine failure caused explosion at T+77 seconds. 38 kg (84 lb)
August 24  USA Explorer 5 Jupiter-C Failed On-board instruments damaged on first stage separation. Failed to orbit.[1] 11.7 kg (25.8 lb)
September 26  USA Vanguard 2D Vanguard SLV-3 Failed Second stage under-performed, lacking only ~76 m/s (~250 fps) required to achieve orbit.[1] 10.6 kg (23.3 lb)
October 11  USA Pioneer 1 Thor-Able 1 Partial Success First spacecraft launched by NASA. Studied Earth's magnetic fields. Third stage provided insufficient thrust to reach the Moon, leaving it sub-orbital.[2] 38 kg (84 lb)
October 22  USA Beacon 1 Jupiter-C Failed A thin plastic sphere (12-feet in diameter) intended to study atmosphere density.[2] Payload dropped due to rotational vibrations.[1] 4.2 kg (9.2 lb)
November 8  USA Pioneer 2 Thor-Able 1 Failed Briefly provided further data on Earth's magnetic field. Third stage provided insufficient thrust to reach the vicinity of the Moon.[2] 38 kg (83 lb)
December 6  USA Pioneer 3 Juno II Partial Success Did not reach moon as intended, but discovered a second radiation belt around Earth.[2] 5.9 kg (13.0 lb)
1959 January 2  Soviet Union Luna 1 Luna Success The first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon, and the first spacecraft to be placed in heliocentric orbit. 361 kg (794.2 lb)
February 17  USA Vanguard 2E Vanguard SLV-4 Success Vanguard 2. Measured cloud cover. First photo of Earth from a satellite. Precession motion resulted in difficulty interpreting data.[2] 10.8 kg (23.7 lb)
March 3  USA Pioneer 4 Juno II Success Passed within 60,030 km (37,300 mi) of the Moon into a heliocentric orbit, returning excellent radiation data.[2] 6.1 kg (13.4 lb)
April 13  USA Vanguard 3A Vanguard SLV-5 Failed Failed to orbit. Second stage hydraulics failure led to loss of control, damaged at launch. Two spheres included as payload.[2] 10.3 kg (22.7 lb)
June 22  USA Vanguard 3B Vanguard SLV-6 Failed Failed to orbit. Second stage exploded due to stuck helium vent valve. Intended to measure weather effects related to solar-Earth heating processes.[2] 10.3 kg (22.7 lb)
July 16  USA Explorer S-1 Juno II Failed Did not achieve orbit. Guidance system power malfunction. Destroyed by range safety officer at T+5.5s.[2] 41.5 kg (91.3 lb)
August 7  USA Explorer 6 Thor-Able 3 Success Included instruments to study particles and meteorology.[2] 64.4 kg (141.7 lb)
August 14  USA Beacon 2 Juno II Failed Premature cutoff of first stage caused upper stage malfunction.[2] 4.5 kg (9.9 lb)
September 12  Soviet Union Luna 2 Luna Success The first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon, and the first human-made object to land on another celestial body. 390.2 kg (858.4 lb)
September 18  USA Vanguard 3 Vanguard TV-4BU Success Incorporated Allegany Ballistics Laboratory X248 A2 as third stage.[1] Solar-powered sphere measured radiation belts and micrometeorite impacts.[2] 22.7 kg (50.0 lb)
October 4  Soviet Union Luna 3 Luna Success The first mission to photograph the Far side of the Moon. 278.5 kg (614 lb)
October 13  USA Explorer 7 Juno II Success Provided data on energetic particles, radiation, and magnetic storms. Also recorded the first micrometeorite penetration of a sensor.[2] 41.5 kg (69.4 lb)
November 26  USA Pioneer P-3 Atlas-Able 20 Failed Lunar orbiter probe; payload shroud broke away after 45 seconds.[2] 168.7 kg (371.1 lb)


Year Origin Name Target Status Description
1960  USA Pioneer 5 Sun Success Solar monitor
1960  Soviet Union Korabl-Sputnik 1 Earth Success First test flight of the Soviet Vostok programme, and the first Vostok spacecraft
1960  Soviet Union Korabl-Sputnik 2 Earth Success First spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth
1962  USA Mariner 2 Venus Success First spacecraft to visit another planet
1962  USA Telstar 1 Earth Success Communication satellite
1962  UK Ariel 1 Earth Success First British satellite in space (on American rocket)
1962  Canada Alouette 1 Earth Success First Canadian satellite (on American rocket), first satellite not constructed by the US or USSR
1963  USA Vela Earth Success Series of satellites to monitor compliance to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty
1964  Italy San Marco 1 Earth Success First Italian satellite (on American rocket)
1965  USA Mariner 4 Mars Success First deep space photographs of another planet and first flyby of Mars
1965  France Asterix Earth Success First French satellite
1965  Canada Alouette 2 Earth Success
1966  Soviet Union Luna 9 Moon Success First spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, or any planetary body other than Earth, and to transmit photographic data to Earth from the surface of another planetary body.
1967  Australia WRESAT Earth Success First Australian satellite (on American rocket) launched from Woomera, Australia.
1969  Canada ISIS 1 Earth Success


Year Origin Name Target Status Description
1970  Japan Ohsumi Earth Success First Japanese satellite
1970  Soviet Union Venera 7 Venus Success First successful landing of a spacecraft on another planet
1970  Soviet Union Luna 16 Moon Success Lander is the first automated return of samples from the Moon
1970  Soviet Union Zond 8 Moon Success Flyby
1970  Soviet Union Luna 17/Lunokhod 1 Moon Success Lander/rover is the first automated surface exploration of the Moon
1970  UK Orba (satellite) Earth Failure Second stage of rocket shutdown 13 seconds early
1970  USA Uhuru Earth Success First dedicated X-ray astronomy satellite
1970  China Dong Fang Hong I Earth Success First Chinese satellite
1971  Soviet Union Luna 18 Moon Failure Lander
1971  Soviet Union Luna 19 Moon Success Orbiter
1971  USA Mariner 8 Mars Failure Orbiter. Lost due to launch failure.
1971  Soviet Union Cosmos 419 Mars Failure Probe
1971  Soviet Union Mars 2 Mars Partial Failure Orbiter and lander, created the first human artifact on Mars
1971  Soviet Union Mars 3 Mars Partial Success Orbiter and lander, first successful landing on Mars
1971  USA Mariner 9 Mars Success Orbiter, first pictures of Mars' moons (Phobos and Deimos) taken
1971  Canada ISIS 2 Earth Success
1971  Japan Shinsei Earth Partial success First Japanese science satellite
1971  UK Prospero X-3 Earth Success Satellite, first satellite launched by Britain using a British rocket
1971  UK Ariel 4 Earth Success
1972  Soviet Union Venera 8 Venus Success Lander
1972  Soviet Union Luna 20 Moon Success Lander
1972  USA/ UK Copernicus – Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-3 Earth Success
1972  USA Pioneer 10 Jupiter Success First spacecraft to encounter Jupiter
1972  USA Explorer 49 Sun Success Solar probe
1973  USA Mariner 10 Venus/Mercury Success It passed by and photographed Mercury, also was the first dual planet probe
1973  USA Pioneer 11 Jupiter/Saturn Success First spacecraft to encounter Saturn
1973  Soviet Union Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 Moon Success Lander/rover
1973  Soviet Union Mars 4 Mars Failure Orbiter
1973  Soviet Union Mars 5 Mars Success Orbiter
1973  Soviet Union Mars 6 Mars Failure Orbiter and lander
1973  Soviet Union Mars 7 Mars Failure Orbiter and lander
1974  West Germany Helios 1 Sun Success Solar probe
1974  Soviet Union Luna 22 Moon Success Orbiter
1974  Soviet Union Luna 23 Moon Failure Probe
1974  UK Ariel 5 Earth Success X-ray satellite
1975  Soviet Union Venera 9 Venus Success Returns the first pictures of the surface of Venus
1975  Soviet Union Venera 10 Venus Success Orbiter and lander
1975  USA Viking 1 Mars Success Orbiter and lander; lands on Mars 1976
1975  USA Viking 2 Mars Success Orbiter and lander; lands on Mars 1976
1975  India Aryabhata Earth Success Launched by USSR, the first Indian satellite
1976  West Germany Helios 2 Sun Success Solar probe
1976  Soviet Union Luna 24 Moon Success Lander
1976  Canada/ USA/ Europe Communications Technology Satellite Earth Success Prototype for testing direct broadcast satellite television on the Ku band
1976  Netherlands/ USA Astronomische Nederlandse Satelliet (ANS) Earth Success Discovered X-ray bursts, first Dutch satellite (with US contributions)[3]
1976  USA Orbiting Solar Observatory Sun Success X-ray satellite shows that X-ray bursts have blackbody spectra
1977  USA HEAO-1 Earth Success X-ray satellite
1977  Soviet Union Kosmos 954 Earth Success Reconnaissance satellites
1978  USA Pioneer Venus 1 Venus Success Orbiter
1978  USA Pioneer Venus 2 Venus Success Atmospheric probe
1978  Soviet Union Venera 11 Venus Partial Success Flyby and lander
1978  Soviet Union Venera 12 Venus Success Flyby and lander
1978 . USA/ UK/ Europe International Ultraviolet Explorer Earth Success
1978  USA HEAO-2 Earth Success First X-ray photographs of astronomical objects
1979  India Satellite Launch Vehicle Failure India's first rocket launched
1979  Japan Hakucho Earth Success X-ray satellite
1979  UK Ariel 6 Earth Success Cosmic-ray and X-ray satellite
1979  USA Voyager 1 Voyager 2 Jupiter Success Send back images of Jupiter and its system
1979  India Bhaskara-1 Earth Success Launched by ISRO (First Indian low orbit Earth Observation Satellite)


Year Origin Target Status Description
1980  USA Sun Failure Solar Maximum Mission solar probe succeeded after being repaired in Earth orbit
1981  India Earth Success Bhaskara-2 India, launched by ISRO
1981  Soviet Union Venus Success Venera 13 launched, it returned the first colour pictures of the surface of Venus
1981  Soviet Union Venus Success Venera 14 flyby and lander
1981  Bulgaria Earth Success Bulgaria 1300, polar research mission, launched by the Soviet Union
1983  Soviet Union Venus Success Venera 15 orbiter
1983  Soviet Union Venus Success Venera 16 orbiter
1983  Europe Earth Success Launch of the EXOSAT X-ray satellite
1983  Japan Earth Success Launch of the Tenma X-ray satellite (ASTRO-B)
1983  USA/ Netherlands/ UK Earth Success Launch of the IRAS satellite
1984  Soviet Union Venus/Halley's Comet Success Vega 1 flyby, atmospheric probe and lander
1984  Soviet Union Venus/Halley's Comet Success Vega 2 flyby, atmospheric probe and lander
1985  Mexico Earth Success Morelos I, the first Mexican satellite
1986  Europe Halley's Comet Success Giotto flyby
1987  Japan Earth Success Launch of the Ginga X-ray satellite (ASTRO-C)
1988  Soviet Union Mars Failure Phobos 1 orbiter and lander
1988  Soviet Union Mars Partial Failure Phobos 2 flyby and lander
1989  USA Venus Success Magellan orbiter launched which mapped 99 percent of the surface of Venus (300 m resolution)
1989  USA Venus/Earth/Moon/Gaspra/Ida/Jupiter Success Galileo flyby, orbiter and atmospheric probe
1989  USA Neptune Success Voyager 2 sends back images of Neptune and its system
1989  Europe Earth Success Launch of the Hipparcos satellite
1989  USA Earth Success Launch of the COBE satellite
1989  Soviet Union Earth Success Launch of the Granat gamma-ray and X-ray satellite


Year Origin Target Status Description
1990  USA/ Europe Sun Success Ulysses solar flyby
1990  Japan Moon Success Hiten probe, this was the first non-United States or USSR probe to reach the Moon
1990  USA/ Europe Earth Success Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope
1990  Germany Earth Success Launch of the ROSAT X-ray satellite to conduct the first imaging X-ray sky survey
1991  Japan Sun Success Yohkoh solar probe
1991  USA Earth Success Launch of the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory satellite
1992  USA Mars Failure Mars Observer orbiter
1993  Japan Earth Success Launch of the ASCA (ASTRO-D) X-ray satellite
1994  USA Moon Success Clementine orbiter mapped the surface of the Moon (resolution 125–150 m) and allowed the first accurate relief map of the Moon to be generated
1995  Mexico Earth Failure Unamsat 1, First UNAM built orbiter
1995  Europe Earth Success Launch of the Infrared Space Observatory
1995  Europe/ USA Sun Success SOHO solar probe
1996  USA 433 Eros Success NEAR Shoemaker asteroid flybys/orbiter/lander
1996  USA Mars Success Mars Global Surveyor orbiter
1996  USA Mars Success Mars Pathfinder, the first automated surface exploration of another planet
1996  Russia Mars Failure Mars 96 orbiter and lander
1996  Argentina Earth Failure Sac-B Orbiter
1997  USA/ Europe Saturn and Titan Success Cassini-Huygens arrived in orbit on July 1, 2004, landed on Titan January 14, 2005
1997  Argentina Earth Success Nahuel 1A First Argentine satellite - geostationary communications satellites
1998  North Korea Earth Unknown Claimed launch of Kwangmyongsong-1 by North Korea though no independent source was able to verify its existence
1998  USA Moon Success Lunar Prospector orbiter
1998  Japan Mars Failure Nozomi (Planet B) orbiter, the first Japanese spacecraft to reach another planet
1998  USA Mars Failure Mars Climate Orbiter
1998  Argentina /  USA Earth Success Sac-A Orbiter
1999  USA Mars Failure Mars Polar Lander
1999  USA Mars Failure Deep Space 2 (DS2) penetrators
1999  USA Earth Success Launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory
1999  Europe Earth Success Launch of the X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission, XMM-Newton


Year Origin Target Status Description
2000  UK Earth Success SNAP-1 robotic camera enabling images to be sent to other spacecrafts orbiting the Earth
2000  Argentina Earth Success SAC-C Orbiter
2001  USA Sun Partial Success Genesis solar wind sample crash-landed on return
2001  USA Earth Success Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) performs cosmological observations.
2001  USA Mars Success Mars Odyssey
2001  Europe Earth Success PROBA-1 Small satellite to observe the Earth (first Belgian Satellite)
2003  Canada Earth Success MOST the smallest space telescope in orbit
2003  USA Comet Encke Failure CONTOUR launched, but lost during early trajectory insertion.
2003  Europe Moon Success Smart 1 orbiter
2003  Europe Mars Partial Success Mars Express orbiter (successfully reached orbit) and failed lander, the Beagle 2
2003  USA Mars Success Mars Exploration Rovers successful launches, Spirit successfully landed, Opportunity successfully landed
2003  UK Earth Success UK-DMC orbiter, part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation
2003  Japan 25143 Itokawa Success Hayabusa, first sample return from asteroid, returned in 2010
2004  Europe Comet 67P Success Rosetta space probe launched (arrived on comet 67P on November 12, 2014)
2004  USA Mercury Success MESSENGER orbiter launched (in Mercury orbit)
2004  USA Earth Success Launch of the Swift Gamma ray burst observatory.
2005  USA Comet Tempel 1 Success Deep Impact
2005  Japan Earth Partial success Launch of the Suzaku X-ray observatory (ASTRO-EII)
2005  USA Mars In orbit Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
2005  Iran Earth Success Sinah-1 launched, first Iranian-built satellite
2005  Europe Venus Success Venus Express
2006  USA Pluto Success New Horizons launched. On July 14, 2015, New Horizons flew within 7,750 miles (12,472 km) of Pluto.
2006  Japan Earth Success Launch of the Akari infrared observatory (ASTRO-F)
2006  France/ESA Earth Success COROT telescope to search for extrasolar planets
2007  USA Mars Success Phoenix launched and successfully landed in 2008
2007  Japan Moon Success SELENE orbiter and lander
2007  USA Vesta/Ceres In Ceres Orbit Dawn solar powered ion engined probe to 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres.
2007  China Moon Success Chang'e-I lunar orbiter
2007  Nigeria Earth Initial success NigComSat-1 launched by China, failed after 1 year
2008  USA Earth Launched, operating IBEX
2009  Europe L2 Success Planck
2009  Europe L2 Success Herschel Space Observatory
2009  Iran Earth Success Omid launched by Iranian made launcher Safir. First Iranian-launched satellite
2009  USA Earth Success Kepler launched
2009  Europe Earth Success PROBA-2 Small satellite to observe the sun
2009  India Earth Success RISAT-2 developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, launched by ISRO, India
2009  India Moon Success Chandrayaan-1 developed and launched by ISRO, India
2009  UK Earth Success UK-DMC 2 orbiter, successor to UK-DMC part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation


Year Origin Target Status Description
2010  Japan Venus Partial success Akatsuki orbiter, first Japanese spacecraft to orbit another planet
2010  Japan Venus Success IKAROS, first solar-sail spacecraft
2010  China Moon Success Chang'e-2 lunar orbiter/impacter
2011  USA Jupiter Success Juno
2011  Russia Mars Failure Fobos-Grunt lander and sample return
2011  Nigeria Earth Success NigComSat-1 replacement launched by China
2011  Argentina /  USA Earth Success SAC-D Orbiter
2012  Iran Earth Launched Navid earth-watching satellite
2012  USA Mars Success Mars Science Laboratory with Curiosity rover—orbit and landed
2012  North Korea Earth Launched Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2, first successful North Korean orbital rocket launch
2013  Poland Earth Launched PW-Sat, first Polish satellite
2013  South Korea Earth Launched STSAT-2C, first successful South Korean orbital rocket launch
2013  Canada Earth Success NEOSSat, monitoring near-Earth objects
2013  Canada Earth Success Sapphire, military space surveillance
2013  Europe Earth Success PROBA-V Small satellite to monitor the vegetation of the Earth
2013  UK Earth Success STRaND-1, first smartphone-operated satellite to be launched and dubbed the world's first "phonesat"
2013  Japan Earth Launched Hisaki planetary atmosphere observatory
2013  Canada Earth Success CASSIOPE, ionosphere research and communication satellite
2013  India Mars Success Mars Orbiter Mission
2013  USA Mars Success MAVEN orbiter
2013  Poland Earth Launched Lem, First Polish scientific satellite
2014  Europe Comet 67P Partial Success Rosetta and Philae, Third comet landing at unintended site in suboptimal orientation due to failure of surface anchoring system
2014  Poland Earth Launched Heweliusz, Second Polish scientific satellite
2014  Japan 162173 Ryugu Launched and en route Hayabusa 2, Second Japanese asteroid sample return spacecraft
2014  Japan 2000 DP107 Partial failure PROCYON deep space probe
2015  United States Earth-Sun L1 Success DSCOVR, Earth and space weather
2015  India Earth Success Astrosat, Space observatory
2016  European Union /  Russia Mars Partial success ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Trace Gas Orbiter in orbit; Schiaparelli lander crashed
2016  Canada Earth Success M3MSat, maritime monitoring and communication satellite
2017  Brazil Earth Success SGDC-1, Communication satellite


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Green, Constance McLaughlin; Lomask, Milton (1970). Vanguard: A History. Scientific and Technical Information Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. pp. 283 – 287. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "NASA Major Launch Record" (PDF). history.nasa.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ [1] Astronomische Nederlandse Satelliet (ANS)

External links[edit]