Orbit Events in History

2015 Event - Scientists announce discovery of a planet in the Kepler-452 solar system that closely resembles Earth in size and orbit; the planet, Kepler 452-b, has a diameter 60% larger than Earth's but an orbit that is 385 days, close to Earth's 365 days

2015 Event - NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft ends its three-year orbit around Mercury with a planned crash into the planet's surface; originally, the probe was to orbit and collect data for one year, but fuel saving efforts extended its mission for two more years

2015 Event - Commercial space company SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon 9 rocket, which has released the Dragon cargo ship into orbit to the International Space Station; the rocket returned to Earth after releasing the Dragon but had a rough landing

2014 Event - India has successfully launched a space probe into orbit around Mars on its first attempt, making it the first Asian country to orbit the planet; at $74 million, the spacecraft cost about 11% of the U.S. Maven, which reached Mars orbit two days prior

2014 Event - NASA Mars probe MAVEN is on track to enter the planet's orbit after a 10-month journey; the probe will collect data for a year on the upper Martian atmosphere to potentially answer questions about climate change on the planet

2014 Event - NASA announces that its Kepler space telescope has discovered 715 planets in other solar systems, bringing the instrument's new-planet tally to 961; four of the latest discoveries are thought to have an orbit favorable to habitation, but the distance of these planets makes exploration impossible with current technology

2014 Event - The cryogenic engine built India's Space Research Organisation engineers powers the launch of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D5), which successfully placed a 1,982-kg GSAT-14 communications satellite into orbit in 17 minutes

2013 Event - Astronaut Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the earth on Mercury 7, dies of complications from a stroke at the age of 88

2012 Event - NASA's second Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft is in orbit around the moon

2011 Event - Neptune completes its first orbit of the sun since the planet was discovered in 1846

2011 Event - Russia began searching for a missing military satellite that was launched into the wrong orbit

2010 Event - Experts believe three Russian satellites that failed to reach orbit after launching from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome have crashed into the Pacific Ocean

2009 Event - European astronomers discover 32 extrasolar planets, or exoplanets - planets that orbit a star other than the Sun

2009 Event - Iran launches first domestically made satellite, Omid, into orbit

2006 Event - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter enters Mars orbit

2003 Event - China sends Yang Liwei into orbit, the third country to have successfully sent a person into space

1998 Event - STS-89 (Endeavour 12) launches into orbit

1997 Event - STS-87 (Columbia 24) launches into orbit

1997 Event - STS-86 (Atlantis 20) launches into orbit

1997 Event - STS-85, Discovery 23, launches into orbit

1997 Event - STS-94 (Columbia 23) launches into orbit

1997 Event - Galileo, Ganymede Observations, Orbit 9

1997 Event - Galileo, 2nd Callisto Flyby, Orbit 9

1997 Event - Galileo, 4th Ganymede Flyby (Orbit 8)

1997 Event - Ashes of Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry launched into orbit

1997 Event - Galileo, 3rd Ganymede Flyby (Orbit 7)

1997 Event - Comet Hale-Bopp crosses Mars' orbit

1996 Event - Soyuz TM-24, launched into orbit

1996 Event - STS-77 (Endeavour 11), launches into orbit

1996 Event - STS-76 (Atlantis 16), launches into orbit

1996 Event - STS-75 (Columbia 19), launches into orbit

1996 Event - Soyuz TM-23, launched into orbit

1995 Event - STS-74 (Atlantis 15), launches into orbit

1995 Event - STS-73 (Columbia 18), launches into orbit

1995 Event - STS-69 (Endeavour 9), launches into orbit

1995 Event - Soyuz TM-22, launched into orbit

1995 Event - STS-63 (Discovery 19), launches into orbit

1994 Event - Space shuttle STS-68 (Endeavour 7), launches into orbit

1994 Event - Space shuttle STS-64 (Discovery 20), launches into orbit

1994 Event - STS-59, Endeavour, launches into orbit

1994 Event - Space shuttle STS-62 (Columbia 16), launches into orbit

1994 Event - STS-60 (Discovery) launches into orbit

1994 Event - Russian manned space craft TM-18, launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-58 (Columbia) launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-51 (Discovery) launches into orbit

1993 Event - Russian manned space craft TM-17, launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-57 (Endeavour) launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-55 (Columbia) launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-56, Discovery, launches into orbit

1993 Event - STS-54 (Endeavour) launches into orbit

1992 Event - Russian manned space craft TM-14, launches into orbit

1991 Event - U.S. 70th manned space mission STS-39 (Discovery 12) launches into orbit

1990 Event - U.S. 69th manned space mission STS-35 (Columbia 11) launches into orbit

1990 Event - U.S. 68th manned space mission STS-38 (Atlantis 7) launches into orbit

1990 Event - U.S. 67th manned space mission STS-41 (Discovery 11) launches into orbit

1990 Event - Hubble space telescope is placed into orbit by shuttle Discovery

1990 Event - U.S. 66th manned space mission STS-31 (Discovery 10) launches into orbit

1990 Event - U.S. 65th manned space mission STS-36 (Atlantis 6) launches into orbit

1990 Event - 64th U.S. manned space mission STS-32 (Columbia 10) launches into orbit

1989 Event - U.S. 63rd manned space mission STS-33 (Discovery 9) launches into orbit

1989 Event - U.S. 62nd manned space mission STS-34 (Atlantis 5) launches into orbit

1989 Event - U.S.S.R.'s Phobos II enters Martian orbit

1988 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Phobos II for Martian orbit

1987 Event - NASA launches Fltsatcom-6, it failed to reach orbit

1986 Event - NASA launches Goes-G, it failed to achieve orbit

1986 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Mir space station into Earth orbit

1985 Event - Kosmos 1700 communications satellite placed in geostationary orbit

1985 Event - Shuttle Columbia carries Spacelab into orbit

1984 Event - Astronauts aboard "Discovery" pluck a 2nd satellite from orbit

1984 Event - Anna Fisher becomes 1st "mom" to go into orbit

1984 Event - 3 cosmonauts return after a record 237 days in orbit

1984 Event - Landsat 5 and ham satellite Oscar 11 launched into polar orbit

1983 Event - 1st time a satellite is retrieved from orbit, by Space Shuttle

1983 Event - Infrared telescope satellite launched into polar orbit

1982 Event - U.S.S.R. Salyut 7 space station put into orbit

1981 Event - Satellites China 10 and 11 launched into Earth orbit by B-1 rocket

1981 Event - European Space Agency's Ariane carries 2 satellites into orbit

1980 Event - Rohini 1, 1st Indian satellite, launches into orbit

1978 Event - Pioneer Venus 1 goes into orbit around Venus

1978 Event - U.S. Seasat 1, 1st oceanographic satellite, launched into polar orbit

1978 Event - International Ultraviolet Explorer placed in Earth orbit

1977 Event - International Sun-Earth Explorers 1 and 2 launched into Earth orbit

1977 Event - Soviet space station Salyut 6 launched into Earth orbit

1977 Event - High Energy Astronomy Observatory 1 launched into Earth orbit

1976 Event - Soyuz 22 carries 2 cosmonauts into Earth orbit for 8 days

1976 Event - U.S. Viking 2 goes into Martian orbit after 11-month flight from Earth

1976 Event - Viking 2 goes into orbit around Mars

1976 Event - U.S. Viking 1 goes into Martian orbit after 10-month flight from Earth

1976 Event - US-German Helios B solar probe launched into solar orbit

1975 Event - Venera 9, 1st craft to orbit planet Venus launched

1975 Event - Viking 1 launched to orbit around Mars, soft landing

1975 Event - Apollo and Soyuz linked in orbit for 2 days, separate

1975 Event - Soyuz 18A launch aborted short of orbit; cosmonauts return safely

1974 Event - Soyuz 16 launched into Earth orbit for 6 days

1973 Event - Soyuz 13 launched into Earth orbit for 8 days

1973 Event - Skylab 4 launched into Earth orbit

1973 Event - Soyuz 12 carries 2 cosmonauts into Earth orbit (2 days)

1973 Event - NASA launches Radio Astronomy Explorer 49 into lunar orbit

1973 Event - Canadian ANIK A2 becomes 1st commercial satellite in orbit

1972 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Prognoz 2 into earth orbit (549/200,000 km)

1972 Event - Luna 20 (Russia) launched to orbit and soft landing on Moon

1971 Event - Mariner 9, 1st to orbit another planet, Mars

1971 Event - England becomes 6th nation to have a satellite (Prospero) in orbit

1971 Event - U.S. launches 1st satellite into lunar orbit from manned spacecraft

1971 Event - U.S. Mariner 9, 1st satellite to orbit Mars launched

1971 Event - U.S.S.R. Salyut 1 launched; 1st manned lab in orbit

1970 Event - Zond 8 Launch (Moon Orbit and Return)

1970 Event - Soyuz 9 launched into Earth orbit for 18 days

1970 Event - Japan becomes 4th nation to put a satellite, Osumi, in orbit

1969 Event - Apollo 11 goes into Moon orbit

1969 Event - Apollo 10 (Stafford/Cernan/Young) launched toward lunar orbit

1969 Event - Orbiting Solar Observatory 5 launched into earth orbit

1968 Event - Borman, Lovell and Anders become 1st men to orbit Moon

1968 Event - Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 launched into Earth orbit

1968 Death - Yuri Gagarin, 1st man to orbit Earth, and Seryogin, in plane crash at 34

1968 Event - U.S.S.R. launches space probe Zond 4; fails to leave Earth orbit

1968 Event - Explorer 36 (GEOS-B) launched into earth orbit (1080/1570 km)

1967 Event - U.S. launches Pioneer 8 into solar orbit

1967 Event - U.S.'s Lunar Orbiter 5 launched; enters lunar orbit Aug 5

1967 Event - U.S. launches Explorer 35 for lunar orbit (800/7400 km)

1967 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Kosmos 166 for observation of Sun from Earth orbit

1967 Event - ATS II launched but fails to reach orbit

1967 Event - Kosmos 140 (Soyuz Test) launches into Earth orbit

1966 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Luna 12 for orbit around Moon

1966 Death - Nestor Paiva, actor (3 Stooges in Orbit), dies of cancer at 61

1966 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Luna 11 for orbit around Moon

1966 Event - Pioneer 7 launched into solar orbit

1966 Event - Soviet Union's Luna 10 becomes 1st spacecraft to orbit Moon

1966 Event - French satellite Diapason D-1A launch into Earth orbit

1965 Event - Pioneer 6 launched into solar orbit

1965 Event - Zond 3 launched to fly by Moon, enters solar orbit

1965 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Kosmos 57 into earth orbit (Voskhod Test)

1965 Event - Orbiting Solar Observatory 2 launches into Earth orbit (552/636 km)

1964 Event - Centaur 3 launch vehicle fails to make Earth orbit

1964 Event - Unmanned Apollo 2 Saturn test launched into Earth orbit

1964 Event - Unmanned Apollo 1 Saturn launcher test attains Earth orbit

1963 Event - Explorer 17 attains Earth orbit (254/914 km)

1963 Event - Soviet Luna (4) reaches Earth orbit but fails to reach Moon

1962 Event - Wally Schirra in Sigma 7 launched into Earth orbit

1962 Event - Oscar 2 (ham radio satellite) launched into Earth orbit

1962 Event - M. Scott Carpenter aboard Aurora 7 launched into Earth orbit

1962 Event - John Glenn is 1st American to orbit Earth in Friendship 7

1961 Event - Mercury-Atlas 5 carries a chimp (Enos) to orbit

1961 Event - Unmanned Mercury-Atlas 4 launched into Earth orbit

1961 Event - Explorer (12) fails to reach Earth orbit

1961 Event - Explorer (12) fails to reach Earth orbit

1961 Event - NASA launches Explorer 11 into Earth orbit to study gamma rays

1961 Event - Yuri Gagarin becomes 1st person to orbit Earth in Vostok 1

1961 Event - Explorer 10 launched into elongated Earth orbit (177/181,000 km)

1961 Event - Sputnik 10 carries a dog into Earth orbit; later recovered

1961 Event - Sputnik 9 carries Chernushka, a dog, into orbit

1961 Event - Explorer 10 fails to reach Earth orbit

1961 Event - 1st all-solid-propellant rocket put in orbit, Wallops Island, Va

1961 Event - Sputnik 7 launches into Earth orbit; probable Venus probe failure

1960 Event - Courier 1B Launched; 1st active repeater satellite in orbit

1960 Event - Sputnik 5 carries 2 dogs, 3 mice into orbit (later recovered alive)

1960 Event - Discoverer 13 launched into orbit; returned 1st object from space

1960 Event - Sputnik 4 launched into Earth orbit; later recovery failed

1960 Event - Transit 1B, 1st navigational satellite, placed in Earth orbit

1960 Event - Explorer (8) fails to reach Earth orbit

1960 Event - Pioneer 5 launched into solar orbit between Earth and Venus

1959 Event - Vanguard 3 launched into Earth orbit

1959 Event - Transit 1A, 1st navigational satellite launched; failed to orbit

1959 Event - Satellite Discoverer 6 launched into polar orbit

1959 Event - Military satellite Discoverer 5 launched (into polar orbit)

1959 Event - 85th Preakness: William Harmatz aboard Royal Orbit wins in 1:57

1959 Event - USAF launches Discoverer II into polar orbit

1959 Event - Vanguard SLV-5 launched for Earth orbit (failed)

1959 Event - 1st U.S. probe to enter solar orbit, Pioneer 4, launched

1959 Event - Launch of Discoverer 1 (WTR)-1st polar orbit

1959 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Mechta, Luna 1, for 1st lunar fly-by, 1st solar orbit

1958 Event - Vanguard SLV-2 launched for Earth orbit (failed)

1958 Event - Vanguard SLV-1 launched for Earth orbit (failed)

1958 Event - Vanguard TV-5 launched for Earth orbit (failed)

1958 Event - Navy launches Vanguard 1 into orbit (2nd U.S.), measures Earth shape

1958 Event - Explorer 2 fails to reach Earth orbit

1958 Event - Vanguard TV-3 back-up launches into Earth orbit; reaches 6 km

1957 Event - U.S.S.R. launches Sputnik 2 with a dog (Laika), 1st animal in orbit

1948 Event - U.S. State Department announces work on placing objects into Earth orbit

1945 Event - Arthur C. Clark proposes relay satellites in geosynchronous orbit

1914 Death - George W. Hill, U.S. astronomer (moon orbit), dies at 76

1859 Event - 1st sighting of Vulcan, a planet thought to orbit inside Mercury

1838 Birthday - George W. Hill, U.S. astronomer, Moon orbit