Space exploration Timeline 2000-present
Milestones in space exploration: yesterday, today and tomorrow
April: A privately-financed mission is launched to Mir.
May: The Shuttle crew (STS-101/2A.2a) delivers supplies, re-boosts and repairs the International Space Station.
July 12: The Zvezda service module of the International Space Station reaches orbit.
August: The first Progress cargo ship arrives at ISS.
August: The Shuttle crew (Mission STS-106/2A.2b) delivers supplies, re-boosts and repairs the International Space Station.
October: The Shuttle (Mission STS-92/3A) delivers a Z-1 truss, a set of gyrodines and the PMA-3 docking port to the ISS.
Oct. 31: The first resident crew of the International Space Station blasts off onboard the Soyuz TM-31 spacecraft.
December: Shuttle (Mission STS-97/4A) delivers a set of solar panels (PV Module P6) to the ISS.
A billionaire Jeff Bezos founds the Blue Origin company aiming to build a New Shepard vertical takeoff and landing spacecraft, capable of reaching the upper atmosphere.
Jan 9-10: China launches the second prototype of the manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-2, conducting a successful eight-day mission without crew.
Feb. 7: The Shuttle Atlantis lifts off to the ISS, carrying the Destiny lab module. The module was attached to the station three days later.
Feb. 12: At the end of its mission, the NASA's NEAR spacecraft touched down on the surface of the asteroid Eros, which the spacecraft was orbiting since previous year.
March 23: The Mir space station is deorbited after 15 years in orbit.
April 7: A Delta-2 rocket launches the Mars Odyssey spacecraft.
April 28: Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, launches to the ISS onboard the Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft.
March 1: NASA launches the Space Shuttle Columbia to begin the STS-109 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope by adding new instruments and boosting it to a higher orbit.
March 25: China launches Shenzhou-3, the third prototype of the manned spacecraft.
April: During Space Shuttle's STS-110 mission to the ISS, NASA astronaut Jerry Ross logs record nine spacewalks after several missions with the total EVA time of 58 hours 18 minutes.
Oct. 17: A Russian Proton rocket launches the European Integral gamma-ray observatory.
Oct. 30: Russia introduces the Soyuz TMA spacecraft, launching a taxi crew to the ISS, which included an ESA researcher from Belgium.
Dec. 29-30: China launches Shenzhou-4, the fourth and last prototype of the manned spacecraft, on a successful six-day mission without crew.
Feb. 1: Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing seven crew members.
April: In the wake of the Columbia tragedy, Russia takes over the responsibility of rotating crews onboard the ISS, using the Soyuz TMA spacecraft.
May 8: Japan's M-5 rocket launches MUSES-C (Hayabusa) spacecraft to return samples from asteroid 25143 Itokawa.
June 2: The Russian Soyuz FG/Fregat rocket launched the Mars Express probe, Europe's first spacecraft to explore the Red Planet.
June-July: NASA launched two rovers to Mars.
Aug. 23: A Brazilian VLS-1 launch vehicle explodes on the launch pad, killing 21 people.
Sept. 27: ESA launches SMART-1 spacecraft toward the Moon.
Oct. 15: China becomes the third nation to conduct manned space flight, launching the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft, with a 38-year-old Lt. Colonel Yang Liwei onboard.
November: The 6th launch of the Japan's H-2A booster, carrying two reconnaissance satellites, ended in failure, when one of two booster stages failed to separate around 10 minutes after the blastoff.
January: Japan's Nozomi spacecraft was to enter orbit around Mars. (The mission was abandoned in 2003, due to technical problems onboard the vehicle).
Jan. 2: The Stardust spacecraft flies by comet Wild 2, collecting samples.
Jan. 3: The Spirit rover (MER-A) lands on Mars.
Jan. 14: President George W. Bush announced a new space initiative, envisioning the return of American astronauts to the Moon.
Jan. 16: NASA cancels upgrade and servicing of Hubble Space Telescope (The decision later reversed).
Jan. 25: The MER-2 Opportunity rover lands on Mars.
February: Russia conducts a massive military exercise dubbed Security 2004.
March 2: Ariane-5G launches the Rosetta spacecraft toward Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.
March 2: Members of the Mars Exploration Rovers' international science team announce that the outcrop near the site where Opportunity landed holds evidence that the rocks have spent time drenched in liquid water.
March 27: NASA's second X-43A hypersonic research aircraft flew successfully after being dropped in mid-air by NASA'a B-52 and boosted by Pegasus rocket. For the first time, an aircraft powered by an air-breathing scramjet has flown freely. The unmanned vehicle's supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, ignited as planned and operated for the duration of its hydrogen fuel supply, which lasted about 10 seconds. The X-43A reached its test speed of Mach 7.
July 1: The Cassini spacecraft enters orbit around Saturn.
Aug. 3: A Delta-2 rocket launches NASA Messenger spacecraft toward Mercury.
Sept. 20: India launches a GSLV rocket with the 12KRB hydrogen stage.
Nov. 15: ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft enters orbit around the Moon.
Nov. 16: NASA's X-43A scramjet-powered research vehicle reaches speeds of Mach 9.8, or 7, 000 mph, as it flies at the altitude of about 33 kilometers, following a mid-air launch from B-52B aircraft onboard the Pegasus rocket booster. The mission concluded the program, discontinuing the development of scramjet technology at NASA.
Dec. 22: Boeing's Delta-4 Heavy rocket leaves its experimental payload on a lower than expected orbit during its first test mission from Cape Canaveral. Two university-built nanosats are lost in a mishap.
Jan. 12: A Delta-2 rocket launches the Deep Impact probe toward comet Tempel 1.
Jan. 14: The Huygens probe from the Cassini spacecraft successfully lands on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan and transmits imagery during the descent and from the surface.
July 4: NASA's Deep Impact 1 probe approaches comet Tempel 1 and releases the probe, which impacts the comet's core some 24 hours later.
July 26: The US Space Shuttle resumes flights after the Columbia accident. The return to flight was expected on March 6, 2005, as of January - September 2004; on May 15, as of February 2005; on May 22, as of April 20, 2005; on July 13 (the earliest) as of April 29, 2005. The first launch attempt on July 13 was postponed because...