1997 — Present

The Sojourner Rover atop the Mermaid “dune” on Mars.

First Surface Travel on Another Planet

July 6, 1997

Arriving aboard the space probe Pathfinder, the robot Sojourner explores the surface of Mars. The six-wheeled, remote-controlled, solar-powered rover sends images of the planet’s surface and investigates chemical properties of Martian soil. During the Sojourner’s three months in action, the Pathfinder mission yielded tons of photographs and scientific findings.


First Space Studies on the Elderly

October 29, 1998

At age 77, John Glenn flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and became the oldest person to go into space. As an original member of NASA’s Mercury program, he entered the public-eye in 1962 when he became the first American to orbit the Earth. During his second flight, 35 years later, he contributed to research on weightlessness and the effects of space flight on the elderly.

Dennis Tito gives the thumbs up shortly after his landing in the Central Asian steppes, 50 miles northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakstan. (© AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

First Non-Astronaut to Enter Space

April 28, 2001

Dennis Tito, a billionaire from California became the first paying passenger to enter outer space. Mr. Tito, age 60, has dreamt of going into space for over 40 years — and he paid $20 million to finally fulfill his dream. He now promotes the idea of ordinary people entering space.

First Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei waves to people before boarding China's first manned spacecraft Shenzhou 5 at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province. (© AP Photo/Xinhua, Lin Hui)

China Sends First Man Into Space

October 15, 2003

China successfully sent its first astronaut, Yang Liwei, into space. This makes China the third country to send a human into space; only the United States and Soviet Union had successfully done so before. Yang Liwei remained in space for 21 hours, and was given a hero’s welcome when he landed safely.


First Spacecraft to Orbit Saturn

July 1, 2004

Cassini-Huygens became the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Saturn. Later in the year the spacecraft flew within 800 miles of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Titan is also the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere.













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