25 Biggest Space Exploration Missions In The History Of Mankind

Hi. in this article we have shared the list of biggest space exploration missions happened in the history of mankind. Humans have always dreamed of reaching the stars. The motivation to travel to other planets and explore them has given birth to successful space missions.

The other half of the 20th century saw rockets being built that used cutting-edge technology to overcome the force of gravity to reach space, making space exploration a reality.

The past few years have seen probes that have reached the solar system to manned missions that have used state-of-the-art automotive mechanization, space technology has become a living truth. Here are some of the best space exploration missions in the history of mankind.

1. Apollo 11

The 1969 Moon landing by Apollo 11 is arguably the best-known and most outstanding NASA mission. The mission was sent into space on July 16, 1969, with a crew consisting of Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong.

The execution of the launch and lunar orbital insertion was flawless. It was witnessed by thousands of people on television.

The descent on the Moon’s surface happened on July 20. Armstrong was in charge of landing the Eagle on the surface of the moon. The descent was ridden with problems because there were a large number of rocks on the landing site.

The dodgy landing was dangerous. Armstrong was running out of fuels when he set the lunar module on the surface of the Moon about 6.4 kilometers away from the landing spot that was planned. As he put off the engine and the craft settled into the lunar dust, Armstrong remarked excitedly “The Eagle has landed”.

The two men who landed on the moon collected rocks, performed experiments, spoke to the president and planted the US flag on the surface of the moon. They spent 20 hours walking on the surface of the moon. This lunar mission laid the foundation for five more lunar missions of the future.

2. Apollo 8

Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to leave the orbit of the Earth for the moon. If this mission would have been missed, the spacecraft would have kept floating in the space. If they would have gone too close, they would have crashed into the Moon traveling at a lightning-fast speed of several kilometers per second.

The mission was launched on December 21, 1968, on the most powerful rocket ever constructed, Saturn V. Apollo 8 successfully made a successful entry into the lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. The crew hosted a special TV broadcast in lunar orbit as the Earth was ascending over the Moon which was transmitted live to all the continents of the earth.

After completing the 10th lunar orbit, Apollo 8 went back to earth and successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean on December 27.

3. Curiosity

This mission was launched on an Atlas V rocket in the latter half of 2011. This state of the art
Martian rover Curiosity carried some of the latest and sophisticated scientific instruments and systems ever known in those times.

The rover successfully landed in August 2012 with the help of an advanced landing system. Curiosity landed with the help of a parachute and just before the landing the parachute opened and the rover descended with the help of rocks.

The goal of the Mars mission was to know if the planet ever had the proper conditions for microbial life to exist. Curiosity founds some minor evidence that the planet had the conditions to support microscopic life.

4. Voyager I and II

Launched in 1977 on the titan-Centaur rocket, the Voyager probes were launched to explore the four unexplored giant planets in the outer solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. The probes traversed around these planets for over ten years.

Presently, Voyager, I am in interstellar space and Voyager II is in the heliosheath. Heliosheath constitutes the outer area of the heliosphere. Voyager I is the most distant man-made object ever made in history.

The two probes were armed with a phonograph record that transmits a message from Earth to any alien civilization that may intercept the spacecraft. The probes are transmitting data all these years but it will die down in course of time as it goes farther and farther from Earth.

5. The ISS Missions

The International Space Station (ISS. is a major mission with the Russians delivering the first module in 1990? This station consists of the NASA space shuttles, lifting astronauts and construction parts from across the world, into the orbit to work on the station.

The first crews arrived in the early 2000s. The ISS is presently orbiting at an altitude of over 350 kilometers and is traveling at over 8 kilometers per second.

6. Viking I AND II

The success of the Apollo program paved the way for the next big thing for NASA. Before 1976, the United States had never successfully launched a mission on another planet. It's difficult to get something to orbit the Earth.

It’s even more challenging to leave the Earth’s orbit, get into rotation around another celestial body, and then successfully descend on another planet.

This rare feat was accomplished by the Vikings. The two vehicles were launched within a month on Titan IIIE/Centaur rockets, and the probes came in a pair on an orbiter.

Scientists thought that life wasn’t able to exist on Mars until Vikings landed there, so scientists didn’t have to believe until the first images and experiment results were sent to NASA by the Vikings space mission. The probes found not a trace of microbial life or little green men.

7. Gemini IV

The Gemini missions elaborated and explained the techniques that were needed to go to the moon. One of the most crucial activities on the Moon was spacewalking, moving out of the capsule and moving out into the vacuum of space. It was important to practice this which is why it was tried by the US. Edward H.

White II a US Air Force pilot was chosen to become the first American in space. He and crewmate James McDivitt launched themselves on June 3, 1965, on a Titan II rocket. White walked on space for 36 minutes.

The mission’s evaluated and tried to understand the long-term effects of spaceflight and performing a spacewalk was productive. The capsule landed about 80 kilometers off target.

8. Friendship 7

The United States had just over 30 minutes of experience in space by early 1962. US had never sent a man to the orbit which changed with the launching of Friendship 7, the third US Mercury mission.

Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn, a pilot from the US military, was selected amongst hundreds to fly the new Atlas rocket into orbit around Earth.

The rocket was launched off the earth on February 20, 1962, successfully making an entry into the Earth orbit for almost five hours. He landed safely about 1,300 kilometers at a point south of Bermuda.

The goals of the mission of testing out the new rocket, orbiting around the Earth, and proving that man could perform in space were successfully tested and proved.

9. STS I

After the grand success of the Apollo program, NASA was looking for its next big space mission. This reusable spacecraft landed like a glider and traversed into the air like a rocket.

This vehicle would carry experiments and satellites into orbit remaining in space for weeks. Columbia was the first shuttle to be tested.

The massive rocket ascended to an orbit of 166 nautical miles on April 12, 1981, and was piloted by John Young and Robert L. Crippen. The mission lasted two days and six hours.

It landed on the Edwards Air Force Base in California. The shuttle and its tank were painted white instead of usual orange, black and white.

10. WMAP Satellite

The images of the big bang were initially not available. After 380,000 years, hydrogen clouds cooled down and spread out to let the light escape. This light from the universe’s infancy fell to the earth from every direction in the sky.

The universe was shown at its earliest stages and is known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB. radiation.
Since its discovery, scientists wanted to study the CMB’s hot and cold spots to match the expert’s predictions.

When NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) was launched scientists had a good HD image of the radiation that dissipated from the hydrogen clouds.
The results from the probe and predictions matched and confirmed that the universe was almost completely uniform in temperature 14 million years ago.

The satellite took off on June 30, 2001, at 3:46 PM EDT aboard the Delta II-7425-10 launch vehicle. In April 2002, WMAP made its first observation of the CMB. In February 2003, the very first high-resolution images of the CMB and papers which analyzed the results were released.

11. Mars Exploration Rover

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission was a space mission involving two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity which was on a mission to explore Mars.

It began in 2003 with the launch of the two rovers: MER-A Spirit and MER-B Opportunity to investigate the Martian surface and geology.

Both rovers lived far more than their expectations from earlier planned missions of 90 Martian solar days: MER-A Spirit stayed active until March 22, 2010, while MER-B Opportunity was operational until June 10, 2018.

12. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft modeled to conduct reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit. The US$720 million spacecraft was constructed by Lockheed Martin using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

The mission is designed and managed by the California Institute of Technology, at the JPL, in Pasadena, California, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

It was launched into space on August 12, 2005, and entered into the orbit of Mars on March 10, 2006. In November 2006, after five months of aerobraking, the spacecraft entered its final orbit.

13. Venera Mission

It was a cycle of probes which was designed by the USSR for collecting data from Venus. This was the first man-made device to be launched into the atmosphere of another planet making a soft landing on another planet and to click and send the images from the planetary surface and to perform high-resolution radar. The high-resolution mapping studies of Venus were the first of its kind.

14. Vega Mission

This was a series of unmanned spacecraft Venus missions. Planned and launched in a cooperative effort among the Soviet Union and Austria, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Federal Republic of Germany in December 1984.

The mission was a two-part effort to investigate Venus and also the Halley's Comet.
The two spacecraft were sent into space on 15 and 21 December 1984, respectively.

15. Venus Express

This was the first Venus exploration mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). It was launched in November 2005 and arrived in April 2006 continuously sending back science data from the orbit of Venus.

Armed with seven scientific instruments, the main objective of the mission was the long term observation of the atmosphere of Venus. This was the key to understanding the atmospheric dynamics of the planet.

16. Magellan Spacecraft

This mission was carried out from 1989-1994, starting the orbiting of Venus from 1990-1994. It was named after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

It was the very first planetary spacecraft to be sent into space by a space shuttle when it was carried aloft by the shuttle Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

This mission was designated STS-30 and was launched on May 30th. It was the first spacecraft to test for aerobraking.

Magellan was the fifth successful NASA mission which was sent to Venus, and it brought to end an eleven-year gap in U.S. interplanetary probe launches.

17. Mariner Program

Mariner was a special space program in a series of unmanned U.S. space probes sent to the orbits of Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Mariner 1 which was launched on July 22, 1962, was intended to fly by Venus, but it broke off in the atmosphere after liftoff.

Mariners 2 that was launched Aug. 27, 1962, and Mariners 5 that took off on June 14, 1967, passed Venus within 35,000 and 4,000 km (22,000 and 2,500 miles), respectively.

The space probes made measurements of temperature and atmospheric density of these respective planets. Mariner 3 which was launched on Nov. 5, 1964, was slated to fly by Mars, but contact was broken shortly.

Mariners 4 was launched on Nov. 28, 1964, 6 and 7 launched on Feb. 24 and March 27, 1969, respectively, and 9 launched May 30, 1971, obtained extraordinary pictures of the Martian surface and made a groundbreaking analysis of the atmosphere of that planet.

18. Zond Program

Zone 5 was a spacecraft of the Soviet Zond program launched in September 1968 becoming the second spaceship to travel to and encircle the orbit of Moon, and the first to return to earth’s orbit safely.

This spacecraft carried first terrestrial organisms to Moon, including two tortoises, fruit fly eggs, and plants. The tortoises went through biological changes, but the changes were primarily due to famishment and that they were little affected by space travel.

The Zond spacecraft was a version of the Soyuz 7K-L1 crewed lunar-flyby spacecraft. It was launched by a Proton-K carrier rocket with a Block D upper-stage to carry out scientific studies especially about terrestrial animals and their behavior in space.

19. Dawn mission

Dawn was a space program launched by NASA in September 2007 with the mission of investigating two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres.

It retired on 1 November 2018 and it is presented in an uncontrolled orbit around its second target Ceres.

Dawn was the first spacecraft to transit around two extraterrestrial bodies, the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and the first to orbit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres in March 2015.

20. Chandrayaan

Chandrayaan-1 was the first Indian lunar probe under the Chandrayaan program. Chandrayaan-2 is the second one. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008 and operated in space until 2009.

The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor and was launched using a PSLV-XL rocket on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India.

The mission boosted the confidence of India's space program, as India researched and developed its technology at affordable costs to the moon. The vehicle was put into lunar orbit on 8 November 2008.

Chandrayaan-2 is the second lunar exploration mission developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It presently comprises of a lunar orbiter, and also included the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan lunar rover, all of which were designed and launched in India.

The main scientific objective is to map and study the differences in lunar surface composition along with the location and abundance of lunar water.

21. Chang'e Program

It is an active series of robotic Moon missions by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The program includes lunar orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return spacecraft, launched by using Long March rockets.

22. Messenger (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging)

It was a NASA robotic spacecraft that orbited the planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015 to study and understand Mercury's chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field. MESSENGER was launched using a Delta II rocket in August 2004.

Its path involved a complex series of flybys – the spacecraft took off from Earth once, Venus twice, and from Mercury three times, allowing it to reduce its speed relative to Mercury using the least amount of fuel.

During its first flyby of Mercury in January 2008, MESSENGER became the second mission to reach the orbit of Mercury.

23. Hayabusa

Hayabusa is an unmanned space mission of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency which was launched to collect a sample of material from a small near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa and return the sample to Earth for analysis.

24. Mangalyaan Program

It is a space probe orbiting around Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The main objective of the mission is to plan and develop the technologies required for designing, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.

25. Cassini-Huygens

It is a joint mission by NASA, ESA and ASI unmanned space mission that was intended to study Saturn and its moon.

Human space exploration allows us to address basic questions about the place of Earth in the Universe and the history of our solar system.

Each of these space exploration missions is aimed at addressing the challenges related to human space exploration as we increase and expand technology, create new industries, and help to build and nurture a peaceful connection with other nations.

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