Space Travel

World’s First Geosynchronous Satellite

Syncom 2July 26, 1963

Syncom 2, the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, is launched. Syncom 1 was intended to be the first geosynchronous satellite, but an electronics failure rendered the satellite inoperable during the ascent to orbit.

First Launch from Cape Canaveral 24, 1950

The first successful rocket launch occurs at Cape Canaveral. The rocket, Bumper 8, was a captured German V-2 modified with a US Army Corporal second stage.

Cape Canaveral’s location in the southeast is an ideal site for rocket launches in the United States. By launching eastward, rockets are able to take advantage of the linear velocity of the Earth’s rotation. This velocity is greatest towards the equator, making the southern United States preferable. And by launching towards the ocean, away from populated areas, safety downrange from the launch is maximized in case of problems.

The Eagle Has Landed

Moon LandingJuly 20, 1969

Eagle, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, successfully lands in the area of the Moon known as the Sea of Tranquility. Upon landing, Neil Armstrong utters the now famous phrase, “The Eagle has landed.” About six hours later, while setting foot on the Moon, he utters the even more famous phrase, “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

Apollo and Soyuz Dock

Apollo Soyuz Crews Shake HandsJuly 17, 1975

Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 successfully dock in orbit and the astronauts and cosmonauts shake hands. This marks the first time in history that spacecraft of two nations dock in space.

Apollo 11 Heads for the Moon

Apollo 11 LaunchJuly 16, 1969

Apollo 11 is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida, on the way to becoming the first space mission to land men on the Moon.

First Mars Fly-By

Mariner 3 and 4

July 14, 1965

NASA’s Mariner 4 becomes the first spacecraft to perform a successful fly-by of Mars and the first to send back photographs of another planet from deep space. The photographs are the first showing details of Mars’ surface including extensive cratering.

Skylab Reentry

SkylabJuly 11, 1979

The first American space station, Skylab, reenters the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up after plans for keeping it in orbit fail to materialize. Fragments of Skylab fell around Perth, Australia, killing one cow.

First International Communications Satellite

Telstar IJuly 10, 1962

The world’s first international communications satellite, Telstar I, is launched into orbit. A collaboration between the US, Britain, and France, Telstar I introduced the world to trans-Atlantic video feeds and ushered in a new era of communication.

First Commercial Communications Satellite Activates

Intelsat IJune 28, 1965

Intelsat I, the first commercial communications satellite, is activated for service. It was nicknamed “Early Bird” after the famous proverb, and became famous for carrying the first commercial telephone call between America and Europe, as well as helping provide TV coverage of the Gemini 6 splashdown.

SpaceShipOne – First Private Space Flight


June 21, 2004

Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne becomes the first spacecraft developed by the free market to enter spaceflight. Launched from a mothership named White Knight, SpaceShipOne flew just beyond the atmosphere into the threshold of space then glided back to Earth. SpaceShipOne would later win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft.