1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act establishes NASA.
1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first
human in space. A month later, Alan Shepard becomes the
first American in space.
Kennedy vows to land
Americans on the moon.
1962 John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit Earth. Mariner 1, America’s first
attempt at an interplanetary spacecraft, ends up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
1965 Mariner 4 flies past Mars, sending back the first images of the Red Planet’s surface.
1967 Fire kills Apollo astronauts Roger Chaffee, Virgil Grissom, and Edward White.
1969 Apollo 11 astronauts land successfully on the moon.
1970 Apollo 13 mission aborted after rupture of oxygen tank.
1976 Viking 1 sends back the first close-up images of Mars.
1977 The twin Voyager spacecraft begin their grand tour of the outer planets.
1981 Maiden voyage of the first space shuttle, Columbia.
1986 The Challenger explodes.
1990 Hubble Space Telescope is launched with a faulty mirror.
1997 Pathfinder mission lands on Mars using airbags.
1998 The first component of the international space station is launched. Glenn returns to space on the STS-95 shuttle.
1999 Mars Climate Orbiter and Polar Lander missions lost.
2000 The first crew of three takes up residence in the international space station.
2001 The White House reveals a $4 billion cost overrun in the space station program.
X-33 next-generation spacecraft is canceled.