The inherent curiosity of man never lets him rest. More than 50 years ago, when in 1961 Yuri Gagarin from U.S.S.R became the first man to enter into space; human potential took a great leap forward. Ever since that day, mankind has never looked back. We have achieved a significant number of milestones in the field of space exploration and given below is the list top 10 achievements. Take a look.
10. First aircraft returns to Earth with samples of an asteroid (June 13, 2010):
Hayabusa, is a Japanese spacecraft that was launched into space in May 2003 and it landed on the asteroid Itokawa in November 2005. It landed back on Earth in 2010 and brought with it valuable scientific data on Itokawa. It brought with it 1500 grains, less than 10 micrometers each and they are still being analyzed in Japan.
9. Launch of the first private manned vehicle (June 21, 2004):
Micheal Winston Melvill, an American test pilot, was the first commercial astronaut and person, who traveled to space on a privately funded spacecraft. It was in the year 2004 when Melvill piloted SpaceShipOne and made his maiden flight past the edge of the space.
8. First spacecraft to orbit and land on an asteroid (February 14, 2000):
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker, was the first ever spacecraft to orbit around an asteroid and then finally landed on it on February 12, 2001. The NEAR spacecraft was launched in 1996 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its destination was Eros, the largest asteroid in an earth crossing orbit.
7. First large optical space telescope launched (April 25, 1990):
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is till date regarded as the most sophisticated optical observatory ever placed in the orbit of the earth. It helped determine the first accurate rate at which the universe expands, and this rate was eventually called the Hubble’s constant.
6. First spacecraft makes close flyby of a comet (March 13, 1986):
Giotto was the first ever solar system exploration mission initiated and implemented by the European Space Agency. It was released into the space with the aim of imaging and analyzing the nucleus of Halley’s Comet, which would come within 569 km radius of the Earth on March 13, 1986.
5. First pictures get transmitted from Mars (July 20, 1976):
Viking 1, was one of the first robotic U.S. Spacecrafts launched by NASA to study Mars. The spacecraft was launched into space on August 20, 1975 and after one long year of orbiting around Mars, it was able to map and analyze large expanses of the surface of Mars and bring back important inputs about weather, and the two tiny moons that orbit it.
4. First human walks on the moon (July 20, 1969):
It was on July 16, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, along with Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. and Michael Collins left in Apollo 11 for the moon. Four days later, Apollo 11 touched down on the south western edge of the Sea of Tranquility. And, this is what he said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Indeed, Armstrong’s journey to the moon will be always remembered as an event which marked the power of science and technology in space exploration.
3. First spacecraft soft lands on the moon (February 3, 1966):
Luna 9 was one among the series of 24 unmanned Soviet spacecrafts launched between 1959-76. Whereas Luna 1 became the first man-made object to orbit around the sun, Luna 9 achieved the success of soft landing. This was followed by more lunar probes and the last spacecraft, Luna 24 successfully returned back with lunar soil samples dug from 70 feet below the moon’s surface.
2. First space walk (March 18, 1965):
Voskhod 2 was launched in 1965 and during its orbit around the Earth; it let Aleksey Arkhipovich Leonov out of the space craft by means of an air lock. All this time he remained tethered to the ship and took pictures, and also practiced to maneuver free fall before reentering the Voskhod 2. This space ship completed 17 orbits in 26 hours.
1. First Human orbits the earth (April 12, 1961):
It was Vostok 1 that carried the first human being into space. It carried cosmonaut Yury A. Gagarin, who made a single orbit of the earth in 1 hour, 48 minutes. After this first achievement in space exploration, U.S.S.R launched a series of six Vostoks in two years and the last one remained in the space for 94 hours and traveled 1,600,000 miles orbiting around the Earth.