In 1961, United States president John F. Kennedy challenged NASA to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. At the time, it seemed like mission impossible. But only eight years later, the space agency met that goal. Here are some other NASA milestones.
1961: Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space. The flight is only about 15 minutes long. The following year, John Glenn becomes the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth.
1969: On July 20, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin becomes the second person to walk on the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first. Armstrong took this famous photo of Aldrin.
1973: Skylab, the first space station, is launched. Three crews live aboard for a total of 171 days. It is not until 1984 that NASA begins to help build the International Space Station.
1981: The first space shuttle, Columbia, lifts off. It departs from Florida, carrying two astronauts, on April 12. It is the first spacecraft that can be reused.
1983: Challenger sails into orbit carrying Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space. Two months later, Guion Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space.
1990: Hubble, the world’s first space telescope, is placed in orbit. It makes a full trip around Earth every 97 minutes. It requires many maintenance missions over the years.