COS-B – The first European Space mission in low Earth orbit

The mission consisted of a satellite containing gamma-ray detectors, which was launched by NASA on behalf of the ESRO on August 9, 1975. The mission was completed on April 25, 1982, after the satellite had been operational for more than 6.5 years, four years longer than planned and had increased the amount of data on gamma rays […]


Stargazer – The first successful space telescope in Earth orbit

The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2, launched on December 7, 1968. An Atlas-Centaur rocket launched it into a nearly circular 750-kilometre altitude Earth orbit. Data was collected in ultraviolet on many sources including comets, planets, and galaxies. It had two major instrument sets facing in opposite directions; the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Wisconsin Experiment Package. One discovery […]

Shenzhou 5 – The first Chinese manned flight in space

China became the third country in the world to have independent human spaceflight capability after the Soviet Union and the United States. Shenzhou 5 was the first human spaceflight mission of the Chinese space program, launched on 15 October 2003. Shenzhou was launched on a Long March 2F launch vehicle. The spacecraft developed and operated by China […]

STS 1 – The first orbital NASA’s Space Shuttle program

Space Transportation System-1 was the first orbital spaceflight of NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Columbia, launched on 12 April 1981 and returned on 14 April, having orbited the Earth 36 times. Columbia carried a crew of two – mission commander John W. Young and pilot Robert L. Crippen. It was the first American crewed space flight since the […]

Vostok 1 – The first manned spacecraft in space

The Vostok 3KA space capsule was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961, with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard, making him the first human to cross into outer space. Once Gagarin was in the spacecraft, his picture appeared on television screens in the launch control room from an on board camera. The spacecraft consisted of a […]

Apollo-Soyuz docking in Earth orbit

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project would send NASA astronauts Tom Stafford, Deke Slayton and Vance Brand in an Apollo Command and Service Module to meet Russian cosmonauts Aleksey Leonov and Valeriy Kubasov in a Soyuz capsule. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the first spaceflight to include two participating nations working together with their own national spacecraft. The Soyuz […]