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Please also visit:
www.historicspacecraft.com
www.spaceflight101.com
eight objects that define the soviet space race
one thing spacecraft have never achieved - until now
tour of the international space station

Chandra

NAME: Chandra X-Ray Observatory
SPACE AGENCY: NASA
LAUNCH: July 23, 1999
MISSION: To analyse cosmic x-ray emissions

Through its precison and sensitivity, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has revolutionized the way in which mankind perceives the Universe. Chandra’s state-of-the-art x-ray receptors are 1,000 times more precise than the first orbiting x-ray telescope. Chandra has been transmitting data since one month after achieving its orbit. The telescope’s lifetime was initially expected to be 5 years. However, in September 2001, it was extended to ten years, and may even last up to fifteen years.

Links:
Chandra website

Chang'e 3

NAME: Chang'e 3
SPACE AGENCY: CNSA
LAUNCH: December 1, 2013; achieved
lunar orbit on December 6, 2013

MISSION: To transport Yutu ('Jade Rabbit') survey rover to the Moon
ARRIVAL: December 14, 2013
LOCATION: Mare Imbrium

First soft-landing on the Moon by a spacecraft since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

Links:
Related news article
Read about the Chang'e myth

Photo credit: CNSA

Dawn

NAME: Dawn
SPACE AGENCY: NASA
LAUNCH: September 27, 2007
MISSION: To survey the two most massive objects in the Asteroid Belt: asteroid Vesta, and dwarf planet Ceres; to understand the process of their formation, and the conditions existing in the early evolution of the Solar System
ARRIVAL VESTA: July 16, 2011
ARRIVAL CERES: March 6, 2015
MAXIMUM SPEED: 41,256 km/h (25,635 mph)

Links:
Dawn website
Spacecraft first to orbit a dwarf planet

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Juno

NAME: Juno
SPACE AGENCY: NASA
LAUNCH: August 5, 2011
MISSION: To study Jupiter to discover how the gas giant was formed, and in turn to understand better how the Solar System
itself evolved

EXPECTED ARRIVAL: July 4, 2016

On arriving at Jupiter, Juno will go into a polar orbit around the planet. Over the course of one Earth-year, Juno is expected to complete some 33 circuits. During this time, Juno will study the composition, temperature, cloud motion, and other properties of Jupiter's atmosphere. In particular, Juno will analyse the amount of water in its atmosphere, which in turn will give scientists clues about how the planet was formed. Juno will map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields to reveal the planet's internal structure. Juno will also explore Jupiter's magnetosphere, paying close attention to the auroras in the planet's northern and southern hemispheres.

Links:
Juno website
Juno mission documentary

Photo credit: NASA

New Horizons

NAME: New Horizons
SPACE AGENCY: NASA
LAUNCH: January 19, 2006
MISSION: To survey Pluto and its moons
ARRIVAL PLUTO: July 14, 2015

First spacecraft to explore Pluto. One of the fastest spacecraft ever built, travelling at about 1 million miles per day.

Links:
New Horizons website
New Horizons: Passport to Pluto & Beyond

Photo credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Southwest Research Institute

Rosetta

NAME: Rosetta
SPACE AGENCY: ESA
LAUNCH: March 2, 2004
MISSION: To chase, go into orbit around, and land a robotic probe on a comet
TARGET: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
ARRIVAL: August 2014
DEPLOYMENT OF PHILAE: November 2014
PERIHELION PASSAGE: August 13, 2015
END OF MISSION: December 31, 2015

On January 20, 2014, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft was re-activated after spending the previous 31 months in hibernation. It reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on schedule. Although Philae landed successfully on the comet, it came to rest in a region out of direct contact of sunlight, and the lander was not able to operate as planned. Rosetta will continue to study the comet as it approaches our Sun, until its mission comes to an end in December 2015.

Links:
Rosetta website
Philae lands on comet
Rosetta: The Whole Story
Rosetta Probe Set For Comet Collision

Venus Express

NAME: Venus Express
SPACE AGENCY: ESA
LAUNCH: November 9, 2005
MISSION: To study the planet's atmosphere
ARRIVAL: April 2006

First European Union spacecraft to visit Venus; continues to transmit data about the structure and composition of the Venusian atmosphere.

Links:
Venus Express website

Photo credit: European Space Agency

Voyager 1

NAME: Voyager 1
SPACE AGENCY: NASA
LAUNCH: September 5, 1977
PRIMARY MISSION: to study the outer regions of the Solar System, in particular Jupiter and Saturn
FLYBY OF JUPITER: March 5, 1979
FLYBY OF SATURN: November 12, 1980
SECONDARY MISSION: to analyse the boundaries and regions of the outer heliosphere; and now to transmit data from instellar space

Voyager facts:

Farthest man-made object from Earth. Distance from Earth as at Feb. 7, 2014:
approx. 127 *AU
First man-made object to enter instellar space, on Sep. 12, 2013
Has been transmitting data for 35 years

* One Astronomical Unit = 149,597,871 km, or 93 million miles.

Links:
Voyager 1 website
Voyager's Legacy

Photo credit: NASA/Astro0

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