Top 10 Successful Space Missions
Since time immemorial, man has always wondered about space. There were a range of questions which puzzled man, ranging from the shape of the earth, to how large is the universe, what is the moon made of, is there life in outer space and how many galaxies are out there. Many a great thinkers, and scientific minds have come forward to answer these questions. Before science and technology had made any inroads to finding these answers, the common man always felt that the earth was flat. But later on, many scientists and astronomers got down to study the space with a telescope, and they deducted the fact that the earth, moon, and all other planets in the solar system were in fact round. With that discovery, there also came the need to study about the atmosphere of these planets, their moons, satellites, and whether or not they supported life forms. However, all that could not be studied with just a telescope and a brilliant mind. It required that man should go himself to the outer space, and only then could all these questions be answered with conviction.
Thus began an endless list of various space missions to space. Some proved to be unsuccessful, like the space shuttle Columbia on which the Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla lost her life. However, there were many which proved to be a great success.
10) Shenzhou 5
Nope! This is not a Chinese dish, rather it is the first human spaceflight mission launched by our neighbour China in October, 2003. With this launch, China became the third country after Soviet Union (Russia) and the United states of America to send independent human space crafts. This was heralded as a big achievement for the People’s Republic Of China. Their news agencies, news channels, newspapers, editorials, and magazines were filled with stories of the new ‘Made in China’ product to be launched in outer space. The President of China congratulated the people who worked round the clock for this successful mission, and said that this shows that the China has arrived on the world map. Even the President of the United States of America called up his Chinese counterpart, with a congratulatory note.
9) Viking 1
This was the one of the first few space crafts to have carried out missions to the red planet, Mars. The Soviet Mars 2 and 3 were sent to land on Mars, much before Viking 1, but they could not make a successful landing. Viking 1 has had the longest successful running on the surface of Mars, as it spent 6 years and 116 days on the red dot of our galaxy. This spacecraft relayed back to earth, the first colour photos of the landscape of Mars, and what that planet looks like. These pictures helped scientists to study about the soil, and also ponder over the possibility of life forms.
8) Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10, completed the first space trip to the planet Jupiter. It therefore became the first aircraft to escape velocity from the earth’s surface. Later on, an improvisation on the Pioneer 10, the Pioneer 11 was launched by NASA, and they came to be known as the Pioneer series. This was a programme of unmanned space missions. These space crafts were designed to conduct more than 150 scientific experiments.
A historical achievement was made in the history of space exploration when Cassini entered the orbit of Saturn as recently as 19th July, 2013. NASA television gave the world live and exclusive coverage of the journey of Cassini into space. It sent back images of the planet itself, its most famous rings, the satellites, the moons, and also a special picture depicting the view of earth, as seen from Saturn.
Just as the name suggests, the Curiosity was sent to the red dot, Mars, to explore the possibilities of that planet supporting life forms. Curiosity did however find out a dried lake side, giving rise to the theory that some billion years ago, substantial amount of life forms had make Mars their home. This space mission did send back to earth some pictures of Mars, which looked incredibly earth-life, and the scientists came out with the hypothesis that the soil and mud of Mars, makes it look like a habitable environment.
5) Sputnik 1 and 2
These were launched by the USSR in the years 1957 and 1958. These were the first artificial earth satellites, and their launch provided the scientists with fascinating insights into the celestial world. These were sent into the earth’s orbit to detect radio pulses. It could be seen from any part of the world, and the radio waves they broadcast-ed were detectable. The Sputnik 1 was launched from Kazakasthan, and it burned upon reentering the orbit of earth on 4th January, 1958.
4) Voyager 1 and 2
The credit of first measuring interstellar space goes to Voyager 1. And in 1980’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to go to Uranus and Neptune. Vyager 1 was launched by NASA in order to study the solar system. As on December 12, 2013, it has operated for 36 years, 3 months, and 7 days. It was the first to send back images of the Jovian system and the Saturnian system in 1979, and 1980 respectively. Voyager 2 was also launched for the same study, but also to study the interstellar space. This was actually designed to be launched before the Voyager 1, but the latter was made and designed faster, and was eventually passed out.
3) Chandrayaan 1
This was India’s first successful and unmanned space mission to the moon. It was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. This spacecraft was launched with manifold objectives, like exploring the lunar surface, conducting experiments, and mapping particular elements. This mission accomplished almost all of its objectives, including the presence of water on lunar territory.
The Hubble is actually a telescope that was carried out to space by a space shuttle in 1990, and remains in operation till date. Hubble is one of the largest and dynamic of space telescopes, and it is a vital research tool, and is also very helpful in the field of astronomy. It was built by a collaboration between both NASA and the European Space Agency. Although space telescopes were funded as early as 1920’s, the Hubble was funded only in 1970s, and finally got launched in 1983. It’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope is said to be launched in 2018. Watch out for that one!
1) Apollo 11
This was the first spacecraft to land on the moon. Not only was it a phenomenal success story in the field of science and technology, it was also path-breaking for NASA, which was greatly encouraged to continue on future endeavors to send space crafts to other celestial bodies. Apollo 11 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and carried with it two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. The former was the first human to land on moon, with the famous words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. This was the one which boosted efforts for impossible suddenly seemed to loose its edge and space became available for human.
Like the above, there have been many more successful space missions to outer space, to the moon, to Mars and many other planets. They were both, manned or unmanned. But that’s not all! There are many more space missions, in the pipeline, for many countries. What began with staring at the moon and stars has now tuned into a beautiful advent of life in space and beyond. More miracles on their way, Wait and watch!