One only needed to look up at the wide open skies to start the adventure of a civilization: Getting off of our own rock and on to others! The fascination with space travel continues, with much participation from the private sector, looking forward. Take a scroll with us through the past 50 years, with a collection of NASA’s coolest rockets and spaceships.
Explorer 1 (Jan. 31, 1958), the first satellite with an onboard telemetry system, is launched into orbit aboard a Juno rocket and returns data from space.
Apollo 11 Saturn V
July 16, 1969: A plume of flame signals the liftoff of the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. from Kennedy Space Center and into history.
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia (April 12, 1981) lifts off from Cape Canaveral, beginning the first space mission for NASA’s new astronaut transportation system.
Explorer 6 (Aug. 7, 1959) launches and provides the first photographs of the Earth from space.
The Bumper V-2 (July 24, 1950) was the first missile launched at Cape Canaveral (it was used to study problems pertaining to two-stage, high-speed rockets).
First Titan/Centaur launch test at Kennedy Space Center (February 11, 1974). The new rocket was launched on a “proof of concept” flight designed to prepare it for twin Viking launches to Mars in 1975 and other missions involving heavy payloads.
The first Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, lands on Mars (Jan 4, 2004). Its twin, Opportunity landed Jan. 25.
The first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars (July 20,1976), Viking 1 was part of a two-part mission to investigate the Red Planet and search for signs of life.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft launches (Jan. 19, 2006) into space on a mission to the planet Pluto and beyond.
Dawn, the first ion-powered probe to visit two celestial bodies in one go, launches (Sept. 27, 2007) on an eight-year mission to the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, the two largest space rocks in the solar system.