Our part two of some famous milestones in space from the first object into space to where we are today.
July 25, 1984: First woman to walk in space
Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya conducted an extravehicular activity (EVA) for over three hours, cutting and welding metal outside the Salyut 7 space station. She is, to date, the only Soviet woman to walk in space.
Jan. 28, 1986: Challenger explosion
Space Shuttle Challenger started breaking up 73 seconds after lift-off. It exploded shortly after, killing all seven crew members on-board, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe; she was a civilian selected from thousands of applications for the NASA Teacher in Space Project.
(Pictured, clockwise from L) Ellison Onizuka, McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Francis "Dick" Scobee and Michael J. Smith
Feb. 19, 1986: First long-term space station
Mir’s Base Block was launched into orbit by a Soviet Proton launcher, becoming the world’s first modular space station – assembled over the 10 years it was orbiting Earth. During its 15 years of service, it remained the largest artificial satellite in orbit.
March 22, 1995: Longest human space flight
Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov lived aboard Mir Space Station for just over 437 days continuously. His combined space time, over multiple missions, is more than 22 months. His residency was helpful for scientists to study biomedical effects of long-term spaceflight.
July 4, 1997: First operational rover on another planet
Mars Pathfinder took four minutes to enter the Martian atmosphere and land in the Ares Vallis region. It deployed the Sojourner Rover soon after, which conducted experiments to analyse the atmosphere, climate and geology of the planet.
Nov. 20, 1998: Largest man-made object in space
The first module of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched by a Russian Proton rocket. The world's first multinational space station would continue to grow over subsequent missions until it became the largest man-made object in Earth's orbit and the largest satellite of Earth. The station has also been continuously occupied for more than 16 years, making it the longest continuous human presence in space.
Feb. 12, 2001: First landing on an asteroid
The NEAR-Shoemaker space probe's mission to Asteroid 433 Eros started in 1996 and ended with the probe landing on its surface. It collected data on the asteroid's composition and magnetic field, with the last data signal being received by NASA on Feb. 28, 2001.
April 28, 2001: First space tourist
American millionaire and engineer Dennis Tito flew to the ISS on the Soyuz TM-32. He is believed to have paid $20 million and returned safely after an eight-day trip.
March 6, 2009: First space telescope
A Delta II rocket carried Kepler, NASA’s first planet-hunting spacecraft, on its mission to look for Earth-like exoplanets. It would orbit the Sun every 372 days, observing an area and selecting stars for further study.
May 22, 2012: First private company in space
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 delivered the unmanned Dragon cargo spacecraft into orbit so that it could rendezvous with the International Space Station. The Dragon was also the first American vehicle to visit the International Space Station since the end of the space shuttle program.
Nov. 12, 2014: First comet landing
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe reached the orbit of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Aug. 6, 2014, and its lander module Philae successfully landed on the comet’s surface.
July 14, 2015: Last encounter with one of nine original planets
New Horizons space probe, launched in 2006, performed its closest flyby of Pluto, becoming the first interplanetary space probe to reach and observe the dwarf planet.
Aug. 10, 2015: Fresh food is harvested in space
After decades of eating Earth-packed food, NASA astronauts aboard the ISS managed to grow, harvest and eat red romaine lettuce in space. They cleaned the greens with citric acid-based wipes before eating them.
March 2, 2016: First ISS year-long mission ends
Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko (R) and American Scott Kelly recorded the longest time in space for ISS crew members after their 340-day mission. They were part of a program to study the health effects of long-term spaceflight.
March 30, 2017: First reusable orbital rocket launched and landed
SpaceX sent a previously used Falcon 9 into space, carrying communication satellites. The first stage of the rocket had been used in an April 2016 NASA mission. It successfully returned to Earth and landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Feb. 6, 2018: SpaceX tests the most powerful launch vehicle in operation
The private space company successfully completed the flight of the Falcon Heavy that can lift up to 141,000 pounds (64 metric tons) – a mass greater than a 737 fully-loaded jetliner. During its demo flight, the huge rocket launched Elon Musk’s cherry-red Tesla Roadster and its dummy astronaut, "Starman" (pictured), into orbit around the sun.
Oct. 29, 2018: Closest man-made object to the Sun
The Parker Solar Probe became the closest ever man-made object to the sun. The record of 26.55 million miles (42.73 million kilometres) was previously held by the Helios 2 spacecraft, which was launched jointly by NASA and Germany’s DFVLR. The Parker probe is expected to approach within 4.3 million miles (6.9 million kilometres) from the centre of the sun and the mission goals include understanding the flow of energy around the corona (outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere).
Jan. 1, 2019: NASA explores furthest point in space
NASA spacecraft New Horizons travelled to Ultima Thule, a trans-Neptunian object located four billion miles (6.5 billion kilometres) from Earth. The journey, which was made in six hours and eight minutes, marks the furthest point in space humanity has explored to date. Photographs sent back from the flyby – the spacecraft was 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometres) away – show two sphere-like objects fused together. The largest is believed to be 21 miles (33 kilometres) long.
Jan. 3, 2019: China lands probe on far side of the moon
On this day, the Chinese government claimed to have successfully landed a space probe on the far side of the moon. The probe – Chang’e-4 – landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, according to a statement issued by country's space agency. The event now means China is one of only three countries in the world to have made soft-landings on the moon – the other two are the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
April 10, 2019: First ever black hole image captured
The black hole was found in the distant galaxy M87, which is located in the Virgo galaxy cluster. Captured by the Event Horizon telescope, the image marks a first in space imaging technology. The Event Horizon telescope was built specifically to capture images of black holes, via a network of eight linked telescopes around the world.
Oct. 18, 2019: NASA astronauts conduct first all-female spacewalk
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history as they completed the first-ever spacewalk by an all-woman team. The spacewalk was guided by veteran NASA astronaut and capsule communicator Stephanie Wilson on ground and astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan on the International Space Station. It lasted for seven hours and 17 minutes, and the team's job was to fix a broken part of the station’s solar power network.
(Pictured) Koch and Meir with Morgan at the International Space Station on Oct. 18, 2019.
We hope you have enjoyed just a snapshot of how far we have come as a world moving into space.