Updated: Aug 3
Travelling into space has long been a goal of humanity. Where back in 1965, we were finally able to realize that long-held ambition. While some space missions have shown us how far we can go as a species, others have brought us to our lowest points and how much we can suffer. The people and vessels who participated in these extraordinary space missions achieved significant advancements in exploring our cosmos, and they won't be forgotten anytime soon.
The following is a list of the fifteen most important assignments that have brought the field of space travel to a whole new level:
Discovery of Extrasolar Planets
On October 6, 1995, the scientific community shared a significant statement with the world: Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor, both of Switzerland, is credited with discovering the first exoplanet, a globe that encircles a star that is not our sun.
This artist’s view shows the hot Jupiter exoplanet 51 Pegasi b. (Image credit: ESO)
The extrasolar world was given the name 51 Pegasi b, commonly known as Dimidium; it was given this name since it is located outside the orbit of our sun. The planet's surface was gaseous and extremely hot, and its size was about equivalent to that of Jupiter. Astronomers have discovered thousands upon thousands of worlds outside of our solar system since then.
Galileo, a spacecraft built by NASA and operated by the European Orbit Agency, was sent into space in 1989 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis and arrived at Jupiter in 1993. During its nearly four-year mission, the spacecraft investigated Jupiter and its satellites.
Artist’s concept of Galileo with Jupiter in the background. (Image credit: NASA)
On Jupiter's moon Europa, the mission discovered evidence that an ocean of melted seawater was hidden behind a layer of ice. In addition, it found indications of the presence of liquid saltwater on two more moons. The conclusion of Galileo's mission came on September 21, 2003, when the spacecraft entered the atmosphere of Jupiter.
The radar technology aboard the Magellan spacecraft of NASA has started the process of mapping the surface of Venus. The study of land formations, plate tectonics, and erosion were going to be the mission's primary focus.
In addition, the spacecraft was entrusted with creating a model of the inside of Venus. The Magellan expedition found that Venus did not exhibit any signs of plate tectonics like those found on Earth and that 85 percent of the planet's surface was composed of a volcanic lava flow, with the remaining 15 percent of mountain formations.
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble space telescope was the first equipment launched into space to circle the Earth. It represented a significant step forward in our ability to comprehend the universe and revolutionized the field of astronomy.
Along with the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA was responsible for developing the telescope. The instrument was sent into orbit by crew members of the Discovery space shuttle. It was given the name Edwin Powell Hubble in his honor. The telescope can record high-resolution photographs of space because it is far from any cloud cover or light pollution. The instrument helped NASA to improve its ability to monitor space shuttle missions and spacewalks.
Voyager 2 Transmits Images From Neptune
The planet Neptune was one of the destinations on the Voyager 2 mission, which was designed to explore the furthest limits of the solar system. The spaceship is the only thing that has been created by humans that have traveled to that planet.
This picture of Neptune was taken by Voyager 2 during the closest approach of the planet. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
During its travels, Voyager 2 discovered that Neptune has five moons and four rings in orbit around it. It was found that Triton, the giant moon of Neptune, is the most unconscious known planetary body in the solar system. Neptune's moon Triton is the hardest known planetary body. Additionally, contrary to previously thought, the planet possessed winds that averaged over a thousand kilometers per hour. The atmosphere was primarily composed of hydrogen, making it the most abundant element.
Voyager 2 Transmits Images From Uranus
Voyager 2, which was also sent into orbit in 1977 at the same time as Voyager 1, began sending back photos from Uranus in 1986. The giant planet had signs that its oceans were heating up and boiling.
Voyager 2 captured this view of Uranus on January 14. (Image credit: NASA)
In addition, the Voyager 2 spacecraft discovered ten new moons around Uranus and two unique rings. If successful, Voyager 2 would be the only spacecraft to conduct in-depth research on all four of the solar system's planetary outskirts.
First US Woman In Space
Approximately 20 years after the Soviet cosmonaut Tereshkova became the foremost woman in orbit, Sally Ride was the first to describe the US in space. One of the preferably six women chosen to become astronauts for NASA was Sally Ride, who obtained a degree in physics.
She was a passenger on the space shuttle Challenger when it launched. The ride would constitute two separate shuttle journeys. She was responsible for several responsibilities during the trip, including controlling the shuttle's robotic arm.
Viking 1 and 2
Both Viking spacecraft, launched by NASA in 1975, successfully landed on Mars in 1976, making them the first spacecraft to be built in the United States to accomplish this feat. The photographs that were sent back to Earth by the two spacecraft expanded human understanding of the geology and atmosphere of Mars.
Carl Sagan stands in front of a Viking lander model in Death Valley, California. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)
In particular, this led to a better comprehension of water condensation in the Martian atmosphere. Biology experiments were carried out by the Viking 1 and 2 spacecraft to search for evidence of life. These trials' results showed no evidence of any live microorganisms in the vicinity of the landing zones.
On May 14, 1973, the United States successfully placed its first orbiting laboratory, Skylab I, into orbit. Despite initial difficulties caused by technological issues, the Skylab mission was fruitful. After circling the planet for six years, the space station Skylab eventually degraded and crashed into the ocean off the coast of Western Australia.
Skylab crew lived in space for 84 days, which at the time was a new record for the longest human stay in space. (Image credit: NASA)
Skylab was home to three separate groups of astronauts, each of which consisted of three people, and they spent a combined 168 days aboard the space station. They performed experiments in solar astronomy, biomedical sciences, and life sciences. Skylab made another crucial contribution to understanding how humans may survive for more extended periods in space.
Salyut 1 Space Station
Salyut 1, the world's first space station established by the Soviet Union, was responsible for a substantial advancement in the capacity of humans to live and operate in space. About 65 feet in length and 13 feet in diameter at its widest point, the cylindrical Salyut 1 was modified for use with the human-crewed Soyuz spacecraft. Its size was almost the same as its diameter. Salyut had been in orbit for 175 days until it was destroyed when it fell into the Pacific Ocean.
ISS image captured by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. (Image credit: ESA)
The Soviet crew of three people that traveled onboard Salyut 1 for 23 days later perished when their Soyuz spacecraft mistakenly lost its oxygen supply when they returned to Earth from their mission.
US Orbits Mars
Mariner 9, an unmanned probe sent by NASA, became the first spacecraft to complete an orbit around another planet when it successfully circumnavigated Mars.
The Mariner 9 Spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA)
NASA summary of the mission, the photographs sent back from the Mariner 9 showed that Mars has a diverse geology and weather, including ancient river beds, extinct volcanoes, canyons, weather fronts, ice clouds, and morning fogs. These features can be seen in the photographs.
The Apollo 8 mission was one of the most renowned of all of America's space missions since it was the first human-crewed spacecraft to escape Earth's gravitational pull and go to the moon. During the flight, various experiments were carried out that would prove essential for the lunar landing the following year.
The crew of Apollo 8 during training before their launch on Dec. 21, 1968. (Image credit: NASA)
The crew took photographs of the moon's surface, including the far and near sides. They also took pictures of Earth. The "Earthrise" photograph taken during the trip would become one of the most renowned images of the 20th century. The astronauts participated in six live television broadcasts, one on Christmas Eve, and featured them reading from the book of Genesis. This Christmas Eve show was, at the time, the most-watched television broadcast in history.
Stepping on the Moon
On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history by being the first people to step foot on a celestial entity other than Earth. In doing so, they realized the dream of former President John F. Kennedy to put humans on the moon by the rear of the decade. Armstrong's phrase as he set foot on the moon's surface, "That's one little stride for man, one big leap for mankind," has gone down in history as an iconic saying. It was one of the finest moments in American history, and hundreds of millions worldwide watched it on television simultaneously.
July 20, 1969 the first landing on the Moon. (Image credit: NASA)
During their time on the surface, Armstrong and Aldrin collected samples of rocks and dirt, among other things, and used a laser to determine the precise distance that separates the moon and Earth. This took around two and a half hours. There have been 12 men, all of whom are American, have set foot on the moon. The first people to do so were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Soviets Land Spacecraft on Venus
The Soviet Union's space program will reflect on 1966 as a pivotal year in its history. In February of that year, the Soviet Union was going to place an uncrewed spacecraft on the moon that they dubbed Luna. This spacecraft would send communications back to Earth. Slightly over a week and a half later, on March 1st, the Soviet Union successfully landed a spacecraft on the planet Venus.
The Venera 3 spacecraft became the first to land on another planet when it impacted Venus; however, the communications systems failed before any data could be collected.
Space exploration allows us to test scientific assumptions developed here on Earth and either confirm or refute those findings. For example, the investigation of the solar system has supplied us with new knowledge of phenomena such as gravity, the magnetosphere, the atmosphere, fluid dynamics, and the geological evolution of other planetary systems.
How Many Space Missions Went Smoothly?
NASA has been able to launch 166 crewed trips without a hitch. Apollo 1, which was never established, was responsible for the deaths of three crew members in 1967.
STS-51-L, accountable for the Challenger disaster, was responsible for the deaths of seven crew members in 1986. STS-107, liable for the Columbia disaster, was responsible for the deaths of seven crew members in 2003.
Which Country Has More Space Success?
NASA of the United States is, without a doubt, the most productive and active space agency in the world because its budget is approximately twice as much as the budget of the next-highest agency.
Which Space Mission was the Saddest?
On January 28, 1986, 73 seconds into its mission, the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated, taking the lives of all seven crew members aboard. At 11:39 a.m.
Eastern Standard Time, the spacecraft broke apart approximately 46,000 feet (14 kilometers) over the Atlantic Ocean, off Cape Canaveral, Florida (16:39 UTC).