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Earth - Space Missions

A basketball sized, 183 pound satellite was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. For almost one month, the satellite orbited the Earth emitting radio frequency noise. It was the first ever man-made object to be sent into space.

In addition, you may want to check out AeroSpaceGuide. This site has some interesting facts as well as mission summaries.

Not long after, the Soviet Union sent into space the first ever (known anyway) animal into space - Laika the dog - inside Sputnik II. Unfortunately there was no way to retrieve the animal.

The United States response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik is the Explorer I, launched on January 31, 1958. It was the first ever scientific instrument launched, and discovered the radiation belts (the Van Allen Belts) surrounding the Earth.

Since then, there have been several manned missions designed to improve the use of spacecraft and to test the effects of man in space. While there are many missions even now designed to introduce various instruments, probes and satellites, the one that started it all are the initial space missions leading up to the Space Shuttle.

The data and images involved with these missions are far to great to include in this humble website, so in spirit of the design of Astronomy Online, we will list the missions and include the appropriate Internet links.

Detailed Summaries of both failed and successful missions can be found here:

Timeline for 1957 to 1964
Timeline for 1965 to 1969
Timeline for 1970 to 1979
Timeline for 1980 to Present

The Russian Space Missions:

The Russians were the first ones into space so it seems only far to list the Russian achievements first:

For a detailed chronology of the Russian achievements for the 20th Century, the Russian Space Web website is your source.

The main site for great Russian history of spaceflight is the Russian Space Web.

The major categories of the Russian space exploration are:

  • The Sputnik series
  • The Vostok series - first manned spaceflight
  • The Luna series - the Moon
  • The Venera series - probe to Venus
  • The Soyuz series - manned missions
  • The OKB series - Mars missions
  • The Buran series - reusable spacecraft
  • The Mir Space Station
  • The International Space Station

American Space Missions:

In response to the launch of the Russian artificial satellite in 1957, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958 to develope the technology required for the United States to implement its own space program.

Since then, there have been great strides (and failures) in the achievement of space travel and exploration. The main website to learn about human spaceflight is NASA's Human Spaceflight website.

The major categories of the American space exploration programs are:

The International Space Station is a joint venture between all of the Space Agencies throughout the world:

While not all countries are involved with the International Space Station effort, their programs are not without their own merit. Other countries that have demonstrated the technological achievements of operations in Space are:


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