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.
June 19, 1976
The Viking 1 spacecraft enters the into orbit around the planet Mars 10 months after being launched from Earth. Viking 1 would become the first US spacecraft to land on Mars and the first spacecraft overall to successfully soft land and perform a mission on Mars.
June 13, 1983
The NASA space probe Pioneer 10 crosses the orbit of Neptune, becoming the first man-made object to leave the Solar System. It was launched on March 2, 1972 toward the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of the constellation Taurus. The last contact with Pioneer 10 was on January 23, 2003.
June 12, 1967
The Soviet probe Venera 4 is successfully launched. On October 18, 1967, it will enter Venus’ atmosphere where it will become the first space probe to successfully return atmospheric data from another planet.
June 2, 1966
NASA’s lunar lander Surveyor 1 lands in Oceanus Procellarum (“Ocean of Storms”) on the Moon, becoming the first US spacecraft to soft-land on an extraterrestrial body. The previous Ranger program sent craft that had hard-landings (i.e. crash landings). However, the Soviet spacecraft, Luna 9, claims the honor of being the first to soft-land on the moon, almost exactly 4 months prior to Surveyor 1.
May 29, 1999
April 25, 1990
The crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery deploys the US$2.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope. There will be initial difficulties caused by a flaw in the design of the telescopes mirror. Image correction software will keep the telescope useful until corrective optics are installed on December 25, 1993.
April 17, 1967
The spacecraft Surveyor 3 is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It is the second U.S. spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon (Surveyor 2 crash landed) where it will study the lunar surface and send more than 6,300 pictures back to Earth. In all, seven Surveyors will be sent to the Moon, five of them successfully completing soft landings.