Unmanned spacecraft

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses of the word "unmanned", see Unmanned.
The unmanned ATV-2 Johannes Kepler approaches crewed space station ISS.
Galileo space probe, prior to departure from Earth orbit in 1989
Space orbiter Buran launched, orbited Earth, and landed as an unmanned spacecraft in 1988 (shown here at an airshow)
The unmanned resupply vessel Progress M-06M

Unmanned spacecraft are spacecraft without people ("man") on board, used for unmanned spaceflight. Unmanned spacecraft may have varying levels of autonomy from human input, they may be remote controlled, remote guided or even autonomous ("robotic"). Many habitable spacecraft also have varying levels of robotic features. For example the space stations Salyut 7 and Mir, and the ISS module Zarya were capable of unmanned remote guided station-keeping, and docking maneuvers with both resupply craft and new modules. The most common unmanned spacecraft categories are robotic spacecraft, unmanned resupply spacecraft, space probes and space observatories. Not every unmanned spacecraft is a robotic spacecraft, for example a reflector ball is a non-robotic unmanned spacecraft.


For a more detailed list see List of Solar System probes.

Selected Lunar probes[edit]

Mars probes[edit]

Venus probes[edit]

Gas giant probes[edit]

Comet and asteroid probes[edit]

9P/Tempel collides with Deep Impact's impactor

Solar observation probes[edit]

  • Ulysses — Solar particles and fields (ended 2009)
  • Genesis — First solar wind sample return mission, 2001–2004 (crash)
  • Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) — launched October 19, 2008.
  • Advanced Composition Explorer — Solar particles and fields observation at Earth-Sun L1 point
  • STEREO — Pair of probes in solar orbits providing 3D observations of Sun
  • SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, Observer for Sun's corona and core located at L1 point

Other Solar System probes[edit]

Technology demonstrators[edit]

Unmanned resupply spacecraft[edit]

Main article: Automated cargo spacecraft

See also[edit]