Major events in space exploration
On Oct. 4, 2007, the Space Age celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, by the former Soviet Union.
The space shot also launched the Space Race to the moon between the United States and the Soviet Union. But despite that turbulent beginning, the initial launch has led to five decades of triumphs and tragedies in space science and exploration.
Below is a timeline by Space News and SPACE.com chronicling the first 50 years of spaceflight. You are invited to walk through the half century of space exploration and click related links for more in depth information:
Sometime in the 11th century: China combines sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to make gunpowder, the first fuel used to propel early rockets in Chinese warfare.
Mid-1700s: Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysome in India, begins manufacturing rockets sheathed in iron, not cardboard or paper, to improve their range and stability.
Robert Goddard, sometimes referred to as the "Father of Modern Rocketry, " launches the first successful liquid-fueled rocket.
Robert Goddard launches a rocket that carries with it the first set of scientific tools — a barometer and a camera — in Auburn, Mass. The launch was Goddard's fourth.
Feb. 18, 1930: The dwarf planet Pluto is discovered by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Oct. 3, 1942: Germany successfully test launches the first ballistic missile, the A4, more commonly known as the V-2, and later uses it near the end of European combat in World War II.
Sep. 29, 1945: Wernher von Braun arrives at Ft. Bliss, Texas, with six other German rocket specialists.
Oct. 14, 1947: American test pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier for the first time in the X-1, also known as Glamorous Glennis.
Oct. 4, 1957: A modified R-7 two-stage ICBM launches the satellite Sputnik 1 from Tyuratam. The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States begins.
Nov. 3, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2 with the first living passenger, the dog Laika, aboard.
Dec. 6, 1957: A Vanguard TV-3 carrying a grapefruit-sized satellite explodes at launch; a failed response to the Sputnik launch by the United States.
Jan. 31, 1958: Explorer 1, the first satellite with an onboard telemetry system, is launched by the United States into orbit aboard a Juno rocket and returns data from space.
Oct. 7, 1958: NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan publicly announces NASA's manned spaceflight program along with the formation of the Space Task Group, a panel of scientist and engineers from space-policy organizations absorbed by NASA. The announcement came just six days after NASA was founded.
Jan. 2, 1959: The U.S.S.R. launches Luna 1, which misses the moon but becomes the first artificial object to leave Earth orbit.