Top 6 Space mission facts and history | Greatest Space mission history

1) Hubble

Hubble’s space mission launch in 1990 was motivated by the idea that the best view of space is from space itself. Astronomers attempting to get a good view of very distant objects in the universe.

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The most-loved of all NASA spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope space mission has name recognition around the world. Its photos have changed the way everyday people figure themselves into the cosmos. The HST space mission was placed into orbit about 600 km (370 miles) above Earth by the crew of the space shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990.

This space mission named after Edwin Hubble, the US astronomer who in the 1920s showed through observations of distant galaxies that the universe was expanding. By finally sending up an optical telescope to peer at the sky from beyond Earth’s turbulent atmosphere, NASA developed a tool that could reveal stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies in all their fully-detailed glory.

The HST space mission has a 2.4-metre (94-inch) primary mirror, a smaller secondary mirror, and various recording instruments that can detect visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. 

This camera is designed to achieve image resolutions 10 times greater than that of even the largest Earth-based telescope. A faint-object camera can detect an object 50 times fainter than anything observable by any ground-based telescope.

2) Apollo

Not only was sending a man to the moon monumental for human history, but the Apollo space mission trips were the first to bring celestial stuff back to Earth and greatly advanced our scientific understanding of the moon.

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Uncrewed space mission testing Apollo and the Saturn rocket began in February 1966. The first crewed Apollo space mission flight was delayed by a tragic accident, a fire that broke out in the Apollo 1 space mission spacecraft during a ground rehearsal on January 27, 1967, killing astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee.

Apollo 7 space mission made a 163-orbit flight carrying a full crew of three astronauts. Apollo 8 space mission carried out the first step of crewed lunar exploration: from Earth orbit it was injected into a lunar trajectory, completed lunar orbit, and returned safely to Earth.

Apollo 11, in July 1969, climaxed the step-by-step procedure with a lunar landing; on July 20 astronaut Neil Armstrong and then Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon’s surface.

The Apollo space mission astronauts gathered data that helped us learn how old the moon is, what it’s made out of, and even how it might have begun.

Apollo 13 space mission launched in April 1970, suffered an accident caused by an explosion in an oxygen tank but returned safely to Earth. Remaining Apollo space mission missions carried out extensive exploration of the lunar surface, collecting 382 kg (842 pounds) of Moon rocks and installing many instruments for scientific research, such as the solar wind experiment and the seismographic measurements of the lunar surface.

3) Viking

When NASA’s Viking 1 probe touched-down on Mars in July 1976, it was the first time a man-made object had soft-landed on the red planet.

The Viking 1 lander was the first US spacecraft ever to land successfully on Mars. Through the historic two missions of the Viking space mission, a total of over 50,000 images of Mars were collected.

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The Viking 1 lander also holds the title of longest-running Mars surface mission, with a total duration of 6 years and 116 days. The spacecraft also sent the first color pictures back from the Martian surface, showing us what that mysterious red dot looks like from the ground for the first time.

4) Pioneer

Pioneer 10 space mission and Pioneer 11, launched in 1972 and 1973, respectively, were the first spacecraft to visit the solar system’s most photogenic gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn.

Pioneer 10 space mission was the first probe to travel through the solar system’s asteroid belt, a field of orbiting rocks between Mars and Jupiter. Then about a year-and-a-half after its launch, the spacecraft made the first flyby of the planet Jupiter. 

In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 space mission reached Jupiter and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the spectacular gas giant. On June 13, 1983, the NASA spacecraft left the solar system. NASA officially ended the Pioneer 10 space mission on March 31, 1997, with the spacecraft having traveled a distance of some six billion miles.

About a year later, Pioneer 11 flew by Jupiter, and then moved on to Saturn, where it discovered a couple of previously unknown small moons around the planet, and a new ring. Both probes have stopped sending data, and are continuing out on their one-way voyages beyond the solar system.

5) Spitzer

In 2005 Spitzer space mission became the first telescope mission to detect light from extrasolar planets “most of these distant worlds are detected only through secondary, gravitational effects on their suns”.

Spitzer — also helium-cooled for the initial six-year period, but with a larger, 85 cm diameter mirror — was the mid-infrared representative in NASA’s Great Observatories programme. The Spitzer space mission could have continued slightly longer than its 16 years.

Spitzer space mission, which observed the heavens through infrared light. This light, which has a longer wavelength than visual light, is mostly blocked by Earth’s atmosphere.

Spitzer space mission leaves a substantial scientific legacy across many fields of astronomy and planetary science that is spread throughout more than 8,000 peer-reviewed papers. It would be impossible to make a complete summary of everything that Spitzer has enabled us to learn about the Universe.

6) Chandra

Since 1999, the Chandra X-ray Observatory space mission has been scanning the skies in X-ray light, looking at some of the most distant and bizarre astronomical events.

 It focuses X-rays by using four pairs of nested iridium mirrors, with an aperture of 1.2 metres (4 feet) and a focal length of 10 metres (33 feet), and is capable of unprecedented spatial resolution. A transmission grating can be inserted into the optical path before the camera to create a high-resolution spectrum in the energy range of 0.07–10 keV.

The Chandra X-ray observatory space mission has such high-resolution mirrors, it can see X-ray sources 100 times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope. Among other firsts, Chandra space mission showed scientists the first glimpse of the crushed star left over after a supernova when it observed the remnant Cassiopeia A.

About the author

Naqvi Syed

Naqvi Syed is is a freelance journalist who has contributed to several publications, including Spacepsychiatrist. He tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. He works with Spacepsychiatrist from a long time.


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