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Eyes Turned Skyward : Key Dates

This page serves as a record of some major events, developments and dates for the Eyes Turned Skyward timeline by truth_is_life and e of pi.


“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” –Commonly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci


April 6th 1965: Intelsat-1 (a.k.a. Early Bird) is launched for the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, marking the start of the age of commercial satellite communications.


Late 1967: Three 2nd generation Intelsats have been launched, each capable of carrying 240 simultaneous voice circuits.


Apr 1968: Debut of Stanley Kubrick's “2001: A Space Odyssey”

??? 1968: Debut of Intelsat's 3rd generation communications satellites, carrying 1500 voice circuits each.

Aug 1968: NASA Director James Webb halts production of the Saturn V after AS-515 as a response to congressional budget cuts, especially to the Apollo Applications Program (AAP)

Sep 1968: Soviet Union successfully launches and recovers unmanned Zond 5 for circumlunar flight

Oct 1968: Apollo 7 successfully tests Apollo CM and SM in Earth orbit (Schirra, Cunningham, Eisele). NASA Director James Webb steps down after shepherding NASA through its eight most critical years.

Oct 1968: Soyuz 3 orbital mission (G. Beregovoi)

Nov 1968: Election of Richard M. Nixon as President of the United States

Nov 1968: Flight of Zond 6 unmanned mission on circumlunar flight, but crashes on reentry

Nov. 1968: Successful first flight of the complete Europa booster configuration by ELDO, the European Launcher Development Organization

Dec 1968: Apollo 8 becomes the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit, returning after completing ten orbits around the Moon on Christmas Day (Borman, Lovell, Anders)


The New Boss Takes Charge The first Apollo 11 sample return container, containing lunar surface material, arrives at Ellington Air Force Base, held by new NASA Administrator George Low (far left)


Jan 1969: Soyuz 4 and 5 achieve docking in low earth orbit (V. Shatalov, A. Yeliseyev, Ye. Khrunov, B. Volynov)

Jan 1969: New Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Robert Mayo, writes a government-wide letter to those heads of agencies on January 23, asking them to review their portions of President Johnson's FY 1970 budget and to propose areas where spending might be reduced. Outgoing Administrator Paine urges a budget increase for NASA; other NASA chiefs, including George Low, are concerned that this is unrealistic

Feb 1969: Incoming President Richard Nixon decides to appoint George Low as Administrator of NASA to replace Interim Administrator Thomas Paine [POINT OF DEPARTURE]

Mar 1969: Apollo 9 successfully tests out Lunar Module (LM) in low earth orbit (McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart)

Apr 1969: New Air Force Secretary Robert Seamans urges examination of a reusable space plane option to George Low, who reacts skeptically, concerned about its feasibility and cost

May 1969: Apollo 10 successfully tests out LM in lunar orbit, flying to within 8.4 nm of lunar surface (Stafford, Young, Cernan)

Jun 1969: George Low officially confirmed as new Administrator of NASA by U.S. Senate; begins drafting post-Apollo plans for NASA in earnest, focusing increasingly on space station options

Jun 1969: Soviet Luna E-8-5 No.402 makes first attempt at lunar sample return, destroyed after upper stage failure

Jul 1969: Explosion of Soviet N-1 booster 9 seconds into test flight at Baikonur launch facility, resulting in one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions in human history

July 1969: Apollo 11 performed the first manned landing on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility, fulfilling the mandate of President Kennedy (Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins); Final plan for AAP (Skylab) tentatively decided: one Saturn-V, three Saturn IB rockets for launch and crew delivery of “dry” orbital workshop; Vice President Spiro Agnew, first privately and then publicly lobbies hard for a Mars program as NASA's chief post-Apollo focus

Aug 1969: Mariner 6 and 7 successfully complete flybys of Mars

Oct 1969: Joint Mission of Soyuz 6, 7 and 8 in low earth orbit (G. Shonin, V. Kubasov, A. Filipchenko, V. Volkov, V. Gorbatko, V. Shatalov, A. Yeliseyev)

Nov 1969: Apollo 12 performed the first precise manned landing on the Moon in the Ocean of Storms near the Surveyor 3 probe. (Conrad, Gordon, Bean)


Jan 1970: NASA decides that Apollo 20 will be cancelled, allowing SA-514 to be assigned to launch Skylab, America's first space station, in 1972

Apr 1970: Apollo 13 aborted after an SM oxygen tank exploded on the trip to the moon, causing the landing to be cancelled, leading to a dramatic “successful failure” recovery of the crew (Lovell, Swigert, Haise)

Jun 1970: Soyuz 9 attempts endurance test in low earth orbit (A. Nikolayev, V. Sevastyanov)

Aug 1970: Soviet Venera 7 becomes first spacecraft ever to land on another planet, touching down on Venus, going silent shortly after touchdown

Sep 1970: NASA decides that Apollo 15 will be cancelled, allowing SA-515 to be assigned to the followup space station to Skylab; Apollo 16, 17, 18, and 19 are renumbered 15-18, all “J-Class” Missions

Oct 1970: Having decided to focus future NASA manned efforts on low earth orbit space stations, Administrator George Low receives approval to begin design work on Saturn IC, the successor to the Saturn IB and V rockets, using upgraded F1-A engine; as well as approval to begin design work for Apollo CM Block III and Autonomous Automated Rendezvous and Docking Vehicle (AARDV) for station resupply. Soviet Academy of Sciences president Mstislav Keldysh responds to NASA Administrator George Low letter proposing a project about a cooperative space mission, eventually to become the Apollo-Soyuz Test Projects


Jan 1971: Apollo 14 landed successfully at Fra Mauro, delivering first color video images from the surface of the Moon, first materials science experiments in space, and one legendary golf shot (Shepard, Roosa, Mitchell)

Apr 1971: Soyuz 10 attempts failed docking with Salyut 1, the world's first space station (V. Shatalov A. Yeliseyev, N. Rukavishnikov)

Jun 1971: Soyuz 11 succeeds in docking with Salyut 1, but all three astronauts die tragically on reentry (G. Dobrovolski, V. Patsayev, V. Volkov); third Soviet N-1 rocket test launch fails

July 1971: Apollo 15 lands at Hadley-Apennine as the first “J series” mission with a 3-day lunar stay and extensive geology investigations; First use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (Scott, Worden, Irwin)

??? 1971: 4th generation Intelsat satellites begin launching, able to carry 4,000 voice circuits and two television channels.


??? 1972: European Space Research Organization (ESRO) and the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) merge to form the European Space Agency

Mar 1972: Launch of Pioneer 10 space probe to Jupiter

Apr 1972: Apollo 16 lands in the Descartes Highlands, completing 3 lunar EVAs using lunar rover and deep space EVA (Young, Mattingly, Duke). President Nixon and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sign Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes, clearing the way for Apollo Soyuz missions

May 1972: Wernher von Braun retires as head of the Marshall Space Flight Center

Nov 1972: Fourth and final Soviet N-1 rocket test fails

Dec 1972: Apollo 17 lands at Taurus-Littrow after first night launch, completing three EVAs using lunar rover (Cernan, Evans, Engle); Vasiliy Mishin is replaced as head of Soviet space program efforts by Valentin Glushko, who consolidates Soviet space efforts into a new agency, NPO Energia, and promptly cancels the struggling N-1 program


Farewell to the Moon - For Now Lunar Module Pilot Harrison “Jack” Schmitt loads soil samples into his lunar rover during Apollo 18, July 17, 1973


Jan 1973: Soviet Union cancels N-1 rocket program; Paris Peace Treaty ending the Vietnam War signed

Apr 1973: Launch of Pioneer 11 space probe to Jupiter

July 1973: Apollo 18 successfully lands at Hyginus Crater, mounting three EVAs using lunar rover and setting new records for lunar exploration, including first scientist astronaut, geologist Harrison Schmitt; evidence found on EVA's of possible lunar lava tubes (Gordon, Brand, Schmitt)

July 1973: Soviet Mars 4 and Mars 5 probes stage flyby and orbit of Mars

Sep 1973: Soyuz 12, low earth orbit test of redesigned two-person Soyuz craft (V. Lazarev O. Makarov)

Oct 1973: Yom Kippur War

Dec 1973: Soyuz 13, low earth orbit mission carrying Orion observatory (V. Lebedev, P. Klimuk); closest approach of much-anticipated Comet Kohoutek disappoints skywatchers around the world


Jan 1974: Skylab I launches on one of final two Saturn Vs, suffering serious damage to solar panels and micrometeoroid shield/sun shade. Skylab 2 mounts successful repair and first long duration (28 day) space station mission (Conrad, Weitz, Kerwin)

Mar 1974: Soviet Mars 6 and Mars 7 landers fail to return usable data

Jun 1974: Skylab 3 launches for a successful 59 day mission aboard Skylab (Bean, Lousma, Garriott)

July 1974: Soyuz 14 visits Salyut 3 space station (Yu. Artyukhin, P. Popovich)

Aug 1974: President Richard M. Nixon resigns from office, and is succeeded by Vice President Gerald R. Ford

Aug 1974: Soyuz 15 mission fails to dock with Salyut 4 space station (L. Dyomin, G. Sarafanov)

Nov 1974: Skylab 4 launches for a successful 84 day mission aboard Skylab (Carr, Pogue, Gibson)

Dec 1974: Soyuz 16 mission tests redesigned Soyuz spacecraft


Jan 1975: Soyuz 17 mission visits Salyut 4 space station for 29 day mission (G. Grechko, A. Gubarev)

Jan 1975: Defense Department commences Expendable Launch Vehicle Replacement Program to service military launch needs, eventually resulting in selection of Delta 4000

Jan 1975: Valentin Glushko finalizes new Soviet space programs, centered around new Vulkan booster system, a large space modular station, Mir, serviced and crewed in turn by Chelomei's TKS space vehicle

Apr 1975: Fall of Saigon, South Vietnam to communist forces

Apr 1975: Soyuz 18 mission fails in docking attempt at Salyut 4 (V. Lazarev, O. Makarov)

July 1975: Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) I completes first joint U.S.-Soviet manned mission in space, conducting experiments over three days after rendezvous and docking with Soyuz 19 (Stafford, Brand, Slayton, and Leonov, Kubasov); Foundation of National Space Organization, the first major space advocacy organization


Jan 1976: First test launch of AARDV

July 1976: Skylab 5 launches onboard first Apollo Block II CSM for successful 60 day mission, demonstrating successful docking and use of first AARDV, and first live interview with press from space as part of American bicentennial celebration (Schweikert, Lind, Lenoir). Viking 1 and 2 successfully land on surface of Mars, returning photographs and sample analysis from Martian surface

Aug 1976: Successful deorbit of Skylab

Aug 1976: With final launch of Saturn Ib complete, Mobile Launcher Platforms #1 and #3 as well as Launch Pad LC-39B at KSFC commence conversion for the use of the Saturn IC

Nov 1976: Jimmy Carter is elected President of the United States


??? 1977: NASA announces selection of eighth astronaut group, known as the “Twenty Freaking New Guys,” including first women and minority astronaut selections

May 1977: Debut of George Lucas's “Star Wars”

Jun 1977: Death of Wernher von Braun

July 1977: First successful test of Saturn IC

Sep 1977: Mariner Jupiter-Saturn probes launched from Cape Canaveral

Sep 1977: Launch of Soviet Salyut 6 space station; launch of “Star Trek: The New Voyages” on NBC


A New Era For NASA First manned launch of NASA's new Saturn IC rocket from pad LC-39B, Spacelab 2, April 17, 1978


Apr 1978: Spacelab space station launches into orbit on final Saturn V; Spacelab 2 crew successfully rendezvouses and docks with station for activation and 28 day mission (Brand, Truly, Musgrave)

July 1978: Spacelab 3 crew (Young, Cripped, Henize) receives 2 man crew of Soyuz 29 (N. Rukavishnikov, V. Ryuminas) part of Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) II for tension-filled international 60 day mission of experiments, successfully receiving AARDV logistics module

Fall 1978: Escalating “Seat Wars” controversy between NASA and ESA is resolved by approval in the FY 1979 NASA budget of Rockwell International proposal for development of a modified Block III+ Apollo CSM including two additional astronaut seats and a new Mission Module to expand Apollo capability to five man crews

Nov 1978: Spacelab 4 completes extended mission including AARDV logistics flight, and first modular assembly operation in spaceflight history with docking of Airlock Module (Roosa, Fullerton, Thornton)

??? 1978: Don Hunt joins the NASA astronaut corps.


??? 1989: The US and Europe agree to work together on the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM).

Jan 1979: Spacelab 5 arrives for first space station mission overlap, seeing off crew of Spacelab 4, and presence of first ESA astronaut Wubbo Ockels (Engle, Bobko, Ockels); Voyager I makes historic flyby of Jupiter; Pioneer Mars launched to Mars

May 1979: Spacelab 6 mission (Haise, Overmyer, Allen)

July 1979: Voyager 2 makes successful flyby of Jupiter

Sep 1979: Spacelab 7 mission completes record-breaking 120 day mission (Lousma, Hartsfield, Merbold); Mariner Jupiter-Uranus probes launched from Cape Canaveral

Oct 1979: Launch and docking of the European Research Module to Spacelab, the first major ESA contribution to the American program, completed by crew of Spacelab 7

Dec 1979: Soviet Union begins armed military intervention into Afghanistan, escalating Cold War tensions


Jan 1980: Spacelab 8 mission concludes final flight of the Block III, phased out after this mission in favor of the Block III+ (Weitz, Peterson, Chapman); Launch of first Delta 4000 from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 40

Jun 1980: Spacelab 9 mission (Crippen, Hunt, Wood)

Sep 1980: Spacelab 10 mission successfully employs first flight of Block III+ with 5 persons and with the first French astronaut in space; infamous for the “Garlic Incident'; launch of Carl Sagan's COSMOS program on PBS

Nov 1980: Voyager I flyby of Saturn; Ronald Reagan is elected President of the United States


Jan 1981: Spacelab 11 mission includes Peggy Barnes as first US woman in space and first EVA by a Woman in space; NASA and Dept of Defense agree to development of Saturn Multibody launcher system

Jun 1981: Spacelab 12 mission: Japanese researcher Katsuyama Hideki was selected to fly in the “short stay” opportunity created by F. Story Musgrave’s double-rotation stay on Spacelab; Voyager 3 flyby of Jupiter

Sep 1981: Spacelab 13 mission; Voyager 4 flyby of Jupiter

The Cold War Heats Up “Vulkan Panic” hits American media: Time Magazine, Oct. 8, 1982


Jan 1982: Launch of first Vulkan booster, carrying unmanned TKS spacecraft on a resupply mission to Salyut 6 - beginning of “Vulkan Panic” in the West

??? 1982: Spacelab 14 mission

Mar 1982: Launch of second Vulkan booster, carrying military communications satellite Cosmos 1366 into space

??? 1982: Spacelab 15 mission

May 1982: President Reagan announces the Strategic Defense Initiative, a national effort to build a comprehensive missile defense shield

July 1982: Responding to Soviet Vulkan launches, President Reagan directs NASA to begin planning a large station to follow up on the successes of Skylab and Spacelab, with possible plans to return to the Moon in the post-1990 timeframe, and announces a large increase in military spaceflight R&D spending, particularly on the Strategic Defense Initiative, resulting in a 35% increase in funding for FY 1983

??? 1982: Spacelab 16 mission

Nov 1982: Launch of Salyut 7’s first DOS core module and the first Soviet crew to the station; death of Leonid Brezhnev, followed by election of Yuri Andropov as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


??? 1983: Spacelab 17 mission

??? 1983: Spacelab 18 mission

??? 1983: Spacelab 19 mission

??? 1983: Congress approves funding for the Polar Reconnaissance Pioneer.

Sep 1983: Shootdown of KAL Flight 007 by Soviet air defense forces

Oct 1983: Invasion of Grenada

Nov 1983: Able Archer 83 NATO exercise and nuclear crisis


?? 1984: India's first astronaut is flown to Salyut 7 by the USSR.

??? 1984: Spacelab 20 mission: teacher Laura Kinsley becomes the first American non-astronaut to fly in space, visiting Spacelab

Feb 1984: Death of Yuri Andropov, followed by election of Konstantin Chernenko as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

??? 1984: Spacelab 21 mission

??? 1984: Spacelab 22 mission

Dec 1984: Debut of Peter Hyams' “2010: The Year We Make Contact”


??? 1985: Spacelab 23 mission

Mar 1985: Election of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

??? 1985: Spacelab 24 mission

July 1985: Launch of Kirchhoff comet probe

??? 1985: Spacelab 25 mission

??? 1985: Launch of Hubble Space Telescope

Nov 1985: Kirchhoff flies by Halley's Comet, releasing Newton fly-by probe for a close pass.

??? 1985: Congress reject plans for a 100-unit procurement of the Peacekeeper missile, opting instead for Trident II.

??? 1985: NASA proposal for “Saturn Orbiter With Probes” (SOWP, later called Cassini) is submitted to Congress for approval.

Late 1985: ESA's ISPM probe 'Odysseus' is shipped to join NASA's 'Telemachus' at Cape Canaveral for final integration and stacking for launch aboard the last Saturn-1C/Centaur combination.


?? 1986: First flight of Japan's H-I launcher, derived from the US Delta-4000.

Jan 1986: Voyager 2 makes first-ever flyby of Uranus, discovering 11 new moons and Uranus's tilted magnetic field

??? 1986: Spacelab 26 mission

Mar 1986: Suisei/Sakigake, and Gallei cometary probes conduct close encounter with Halley's Comet

Apr 1986: Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine

??? 1986: Spacelab 27 mission

?? 1986: NASA and ESA sign a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on the Cassini mission to Saturn. ESA is tasked with providing a Titan lander, named Huygens.

Sep 1986: Spacelab 28 mission: Apollo CSM under Cmdr. Don Hunt forced to abort during launch when F1-A engine loses gimble lock; stand-down of Apollo-Spacelab program is immediately announced, pending investigation of accident

Oct 1986: Reykjavik, Iceland Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Nov 1986: Completion of Review Board investigation into launch abort of Spacelab 28 mission


A Last Soviet Hurrah Spacewalk of Aleksandr Viktorenko during first TKS mission to Mir, April, 1987 (Image: ITAR/TASS TV)


Jan 1987: Launch of Mir space station's first MOK core module, followed by the first DOS Lab and first Soviet Mir crew mission

Feb 1987: Spacelab 29 mission resumes occupation of Spacelab

Mar 1987: First Saturn Multibody core acceptance-tested

Sep 1987: Galileo Probe arrives at Jupiter, releasing probe into Jovian atmosphere and commencing seven year mission to the fifth planet

??? 1987: Spacelab 30 mission

??? 1987: Spacelab 31 mission

??? 1987: Grumman complete design work on the X-40 for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

October 1987: Fiscal Year 1987 begins in the US. The Federal Budget includes a new line for development of the Advanced X-ray Telescope (AXT).

Nov 1987: Inaugural launch of the Saturn M02, bearing the final Block I AARDV; final testing of functional models of AX-4 and A9 space suits on board Spacelab by astronauts Chris Valente and Peggy Barnes

??? 1987: DOS-8 'Kvark” Module is added to Mir as its second intended laboratory module, despite a failure by its Strela-1 robotic crane

Dec 1987: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev sign final INF Treaty in Washington, DC, reducing Cold War tensions


?? 1988 India begins negotiations with the USSR for Soviet Proton-related hypergolic rocket engine technology and flights of Indian nationals to Mir. These talks break down without agreement after a few months.

Early 1988: Al Gore runs to become the Democratic Presidential candidate, securing the endorsement of Senator John Glenn, but finishing in 3rd place behind Michael Dukakis and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jan 1988: Spacelab 32 mission: final manned mission to Spacelab, with a three man crew commanded by Don Hunt; deorbit of space station over Indian Ocean follows shortly thereafter using AARDV-14 thrusters

Jan 1988: Valentin Glushko begins several months of shuttling between Moscow and Baikonur, trying to secure funding for the continued operations of the Soviet space program

??? 1988: Venus Orbiting Imaging Radar (VOIR) probe is launched to Venus, returning detailed data of Venus's topography and atmosphere; Lunar Reconnaissance Pioneer is launched to the Moon on a Delta 4065.

??? 1988: Arthur C. Clarke published 2020, the third installment of his Space Odyssey series. Seinfeld is created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

Jun 1988: Voyager 2 completes flyby of Pluto and its moon Charon, heading out into the outer regions of the Solar System

July 1988 Flyby of Kirchoff probe by Comet Tempel-2; Soviets launch Mars 12 and 13 probes to Mars, both dispatching successful landers to Martian surface

Nov 1988: George H.W. Bush is elected President of the United States; launch of Challenger module of Space Station Freedom on Saturn H03; First flight of Apollo Block IV on Freedom Expedition 1 under Cmdr. Jack Bailey to activate station.


?? 1989: Japan experiences a market collapse, leading to severe financial problems.

?? 1989: Launch of the first High Energy Event Explorer satellite (HEEE-1).

Jan 1989: Node 1 (“Unity”) flies to Freedom and is added to the station.

Feb 1989: President George Bush selects Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 18 veteran moonwalker, as new Administrator of NASA

Feb 1989 Starboard Inboard Truss flies to Freedom (H03 launch) and is added to the station.

Feb 1989: Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan; DOS-10 Izdelia is added to Mir as its third laboratory module

Feb 6, 1989 The pilot telefilm of Babylon 5 airs on US television.

March 1989: A large coronal mass ejection is emitted by the Sun and hits Earth, causing auroras, failure of RCA's Satcom-D2 East satellite, and power outages in Quebec. The CME is observed in detail by the ISPM probes Odysseus and Telemachus. Increased radiation means that astronauts on Freedom and Mir must take special measures when crossing the South Atlantic Anomaly.

Apr 1989: Freedom Expedition 2 arrives at station, relieving FE-1.

Apr 1989: Death of Valentin Glushko; Vladimir Chelomei is appointed to take his place, and soon begins aggressively pushing his Buran space plane program

May 1989 Launch of US Laboratory Module “Discovery”.

June 1989: Launch of Port Inboard Truss module to Freedom.

July 1989: President Bush and Administrator Schmitt announce a new space initiative, Project Constellation, announcing a planned return to the Moon; Exploration Report is commenced by the Office of Exploration, outlining a $50 billion plan for a return to the Moon over the next 20 years, with three options considered (A,B,and C) leading up to permanent lunar bases and manned missions to Mars

July 1989 Launch of ESA Lab Module Columbus to Freedom.

Aug 1989: Freedom Expedition 3 launched, increasing station crew to 10; Space Station Freedom officially reaches “Initial Operational Capacity”

Aug 1989: Voyager makes first-ever flyby of Neptune, discovering its “Great Dark Spot”

??? 1989: Odysseus and Telemachus pass their respective perihelions, travelling in opposite directions, less than 1 month apart.

Sept 1989 The Soviet Mars 12 orbited successfully makes a soft landing on Phobos; The first season of Babylon 5 commences.

Fall 1989: Robert Zubrin mounts vigorous but unsuccessful campaign to replace Exploration Report lunar-focused recommendations with a Mars First program

Oct 1989: Freedom Expedition 4 launched, return of Freedom Expedition 2 crew to Earth.

Nov 1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe

Dec 1989: Malta Summit between President George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev recognizes the end of the Cold War

Three Moons In Space Famous “Triple Moon” photo of space stations Freedom and Mir, Nov. 9, 1989 passing in front of the Moon - the day the Berlin Wall fell


Early 1990: To save costs, missions to Mir are reduced from 6-crew, 6-month missions to 3-crew missions of up to 8 months.

Jan 1990: Launch of Freedom Expedition 5, return of Freedom Expedition 3 crew.

Feb 1990: Voyager 1 takes the first ever “family portrait” of the Solar System as seen from outside, which includes the famous image known as “Pale Blue Dot”.

March 1990: Node 2 (“Harmony”) launches to Freedom, carrying Cupola module which is subsequently transferred to Node 1 nadir.

April 1990: Launch of Freedom Expedition 6 crew, FE-4 returns to Earth; First static test firing of the X-40 'Starcat'; First free flight of X-40/01.

May 1990: Arrival of Minotaur-1 “Jules Verne” at Space Station Freedom; Second flight of X-40/01 at White Sands, NM, reaching an apogee of 3km and spending 140s in the air.

June 1990: Launch of Mars Reconnaissance Pioneer probe to Mars.

July 1990: Launch of Freedom Expedition 7, FE-5 returns to Earth. Alan Shepard, America's first astronaut and Freedom 7 pilot, sits in on launch and serves as a guest CAPCOM for part of first orbit for a press event with the FE-7 crew.

Aug 1990: Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, beginning of Operation Desert Storm; launch of Starboard Outboard Truss to Freedom

Late 1990: Approval by Congress of Project Constellation of NASA's Exploration Report's “Option A,” limited to lunar sorties and studies of eventual lunar bases

October 1990: FE-8 crews launches to station, FE-5 returns home to Earth.

November 1990: Launch of Centrifugal Gravity Lab module to Freedom.

?? 1990: NASA management announces a delay in the launch of Cassini from 1992 to 1994.


Jan 1991: Launch of FE-9 crew, return of FE-7 crew to Earth; Mars Reconnaissance Pioneer arrives at Mars and enters Mars orbit

Feb 1991: Gulf War; Remaining Outboard Truss flies to Freedom

March 1991: ESA announces the formation of the EuropaSpace consortium to market commercial flights on the Europa rocket.

April 1991: Launch of FE-10 crew, return of FE-8 crew to Earth.

April - Mid-June 1991: X-40 'Starcat' flight tests continue with 5 successful flights.

June 1991: Launch of Japanese Lab Module “Kibo”, completion of Space Station Freedom assembly

July 1991: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is released in movie theaters, staring Kiefer Sutherland as Kirk, Keanu Reeves as Spock and Gary Sinise as Dr McCoy.

July 1991: Launch of FE-11 crew, return of FE-9 crew to Earth; X-40 flight testing demonstrates 'Swan dive' maneuver.

July 20 1991: Gagarin's Start, the launchpad from which the first manned spaceflight was launched, catches fire and burns to the ground.

??? 1991: Senator Al Gore promotes the High Performance Computing and Communication Act (a.k.a. “The Gore Bill”), opening the government ARPANET to general public access.

??? 1991: Germany conducts an initial ground demonstration of a turbo-rocket cycle for an air-breathing rocket system as part of their Sanger-II project.

Aug 1991: Attempted hardline coup in Soviet Union; Soviet republics rapidly announce their independence from the USSR.

Late 1991: Representatives of Lavochkin, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Johnson Space Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the National Academy of Sciences began a series of meetings intended to explore the possibilities of cooperation between the United States and Russia on one or more planetary exploration missions. The meetings lead to a tentative agreement for a joint set of probes to Mars and Phobos around 1998, soon named “Fobos Together”.

Late 1991: HEEE-1 identifies the first known GRB progenitor.

Oct 1991: Launch of FE-12 crew, return of FE-10 crew to Earth.

Dec 1991: Dissolution of the Soviet Union; resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet leader


Early 1992: During routine engineering calibration/navigational imaging, Galileo probe spots a potential cometary body. Repeated imagery confirms the existence of a previously undiscovered comet, and the comet is designated Comet 1992d, then renamed formally after the probe that discovered it as Comet Galileo. Comet Galileo is quickly revealed to be in orbit not of the sun, but of Jupiter. Indeed, the comet may be on track for a close approach to the planet later that year–a startling scientific opportunity.

Feb 1992: Start of the third X-40 'Starcat' test flight program at White Sands.

?? 1992: Russia resumes negotiations with India and agree to fly Indian astronauts to Mir; provide all requested hypergolic engine data; provide engineering support and examples of advanced staged-combustion kerolox engines; and joint-development of a new launch vehicle, including assistance in setting up native Indian production and technology development. India agrees.

?? 1992: China agrees with Russia to pay for completion and launch of DOS-11 to Mir as a Chinese-operated lab. The deal also includes payment for the launch of Chinese astronauts to Mir on Russian TKS', pending completion of the Chinese Lóngxīng spacecraft.

July 1992: Comet Galileo makes its predicted pass within Jupiter's Roche limit, and breaks up (observed by its eponymous probe as well as Earth-based ground and space telescopes). Projections of the fragment's paths show that they, in turn, may be on course for a collision with the planet in May 1994.

??? 1992: Launch of Near Earth Asteroid Pioneer probe

??? 1992: NASA starts its Desert Research and Exploration Analogue Missions (DREAMs) training missions close to Flagstaff, Arizona, in preparation for future lunar expeditions.

July-August 1992: Coverage of the XXV Olympiad Summer Olympics is broadcast to astronauts on board the Freedom space station.

August 1992: X-40/02 sheds part of its aeroshell upon landing. Both 'Starcat' vehicles are returned to the factory for inspection and overhaul.

November 1992: Al Gore wins the US Presidential election, with 41% of the popular vote. Ann Richards is his running mate; Indian astronaut Anil Korrapati is flown to Mir under a barter agreement with Russia. This flight returns Mir to a six-person crew.

Late 1992: Following the loss of the Advanced Tactical Fighter contract to Northrop's F-23, Boeing makes a merger offer to Grumman, which is eventually accepted; Initial findings from experiments on Freedom's Centrifuge Gravity Lab indicate that humans should be able to adapt to low-gee environments with no critical problems.

1992 US Presidential Election States won by the candidates in the 1992 election. Gore/Richards are in RED, and Bush/Quayle are in BLUE


Early 1993: First launch of the American Launch Services Carrack rocket. The first mission is a partial failure, but later launches are successful.

Early 1993: President Gore accepts Administrator Schmitt's resignation and appoints Lloyd Davis as NASA Administrator.

Feb 1993: Launch of Piazzi asteroid probe

April 1993: The “Richards-Davis Report” on the state of NASA makes recommendations to refocus NASA on missions to the Moon. The Ares Program Office is deleted, and Artemis given stronger direction and a more aggressive schedule to get Americans back to the Moon “before 1999”. The Advanced Crew Vehicle program is cancelled in favor of an evolved Apollo. Gore proposes increased international cooperation in space, including exchange flights with Russian cosmonauts visiting Freedom and Americans on Mir. The 1993 Appropriations Bill also includes an RLV demonstrator program to follow on from X-30 and X-40, to be called X-33.

Mid 1993: “The Organization”, a radical Islamic terrorist group, is firmly established in Southeast Asia, with a sophisticated recruitment and training infrastructure in place. The Organization leadership begins contemplating bigger attacks on Western interests.

??? 1993: Robert Zubrin announces the creation of a new organization, On To Mars, with the sole goal of promoting a Mars mission as the next logical step for the American space program.

??? 1993: Following the completion of almost all test objectives, SDIO decide to terminate the X-40 program. X-40/01 'Starcat Alpha' is donated to the Smithsonian. X-40/02 'Starcat Bravo' goes to the National Museum of the United States Air Force; McDonnell’s new Delta 5000 rocket has its maiden launch.

??? 1993: The contract for the Artemis lunar lander is awarded to Boeing-Grumman.

??? 1993: Star Trek: Eternal Conflict released in movie theaters, resulting in a partial re-boot of the series' continuity through the plot device of parallel universes.

??? 1993: Paul Allen approaches Roketdyne about developing a sea-level variant of their J-2S engine.

Summer 1993: ESA sponsors a series of conferences to chose a successor for the Europa 4 family of launchers. The main winner is a multi-core “Europa 5” concept, backed by EuropaSpace and the French and British governments. A German-backed proposal for a two-stage reusable spaceplane is also given funds for an R&D program of sub-scale atmospheric testing.

Late 1993: Lunar Reconnaissance Pioneer depletes its propellant and crashes into the Moon.

1993: Two more Indian astronauts are hosted on Mir.


Early 1994: Peggy Barnes, on her last spaceflight, arranges for Star Trek: Eternal Conflict to be screened on Space Station Freedom.

May 1994: Galileo space probe observes spectacular impact of elements of Comet Galileo on Jupiter, reprogrammed to reenter Jovian atmosphere shortly thereafter

Summer 1994: “The Summer of Space” in US entertainment. The series finale of Bablyon 5 airs; TV miniseries Exodus premiers in July, starring Tim Matheson, Nana Tucker and Bill Mumy; Paramount plans to launch its PTN network in September, along with a flagship Star Trek spin-off TV series; Movie adaptation of 2020 is released, starring Tom Hanks. The movie retcons the collapse of the USSR into the plot and taking advantage of the recent discoveries of the Galileo probe; Apollo 13 is released, a movie adaptation of Jim Lovell's memoir Lost Moon, starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon as Lovell, Haise and Swigart. Apollo 13 goes on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and wins in the Best Visual Effects, Best Sound and Best Film Editing categories.

Throughout 1994: The Organization carries out a number of escalating terror attacks in preparation for their planned “Allah's Spear” attack. Attacks are carried out in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, culminating in the bombing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 82. The aircraft is destroyed en-route from Taipei to Los Angeles, outside of Air Traffic Control coverage, it's loss initially assumed to be an accident.

July 1994: China's first cosmonaut launches to Mir on board a Russian TKS; Following the launch of Freedom Expedition 23, astronauts Maxwell Quick (keyboard), Gerald Mitchell(synthesizer) and Beverly McDowell (saxophone) form the “LEO Trio” musical group.

??? 1994 The Paramount Television Network, or PTN, premiers. The inaugural broadcast is the feature-length premiere episode of Star Trek: Beyond the Frontier.

??? 1994 Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founds Star Launch Services, Inc (or “StarLaunch”), with backing from Bill Gates amongst others. Allen begins aggressively recruiting engineers who had worked on Grumman’s Starcat demonstrator, aiming to develop an SSTO launcher called Thunderbolt at the ex-Rockwell plant in Seal Beach, California.

September 1994: Mars Traverse Rovers launch from Earth on their way to Mars. Cassini is launched on a trans-Venus trajectory as part of a complicated 10-year gravity assisted voyage to Saturn.

October 1994: Freedom Expedition 24 launches with Russian cosmonaut Andrei Orlov in the fifth seat, the first US-Russian astronaut exchange since ASTP-II in 1978. Orlov (on guitar) replaces Mitchell in the “LEO Trio”.

November 1994: US astronaut Ryan Little launches to Mir via TKS as part of the US-Russian exchange program. Two Chinese cosmonauts are also present on Mir, bringing the station's total crew up to nine; The Organization begins final preparations for the Allah's Spear attack.

November 1994: As part of a conservative backlash against President Gore's attempts to to introduce comprehensive healthcare, stricter gun control laws, and tougher environmental policies, the Republican Party narrowly wins the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. The Senate is a 50-50 split, but the Republicans later take control outright after a prominent conservative Southern Democrat switches parties midway through the term.

??? 1994 Europa 5 conceptual design work completed; China's Lóngxīng spacecraft makes its first (unmanned) flight on a Long March 2F rocket; Beginning of the Comets and Asteroids Pioneer Program.

Late 1994: Proposals for more than twenty different global satellite internet and/or mobile telephony networks have been created by various companies, but the business cases are under attack from difficult financing and pessimistic market forecasts.

Late 1994: The Henrietta Swan Leavitt Space Telescope (formally known as AXT) is launched to the Sun-Earth L2 (SEL2) region via a Saturn booster with a Centaur-E 3rd stage.

December 24, 1994: Six members of the Organization plant bombs on aircraft with flights terminating in the US.

December 25, 1994: At 8am Pacific Time, bombs explode on 11 aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. A 12th bomb explodes on a grounded 747 at Narita International Airport, Tokyo. In response, the FAA grounds all flights and directs flights inbound to US airspace to turn around. President Gore and his family are relocated from their home in Tennessee to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. A total of 2,984 people are killed Christmas morning by the attacks.

December 29, 1994: The 104th Congress is sworn in 6 days early to allow an Emergency Session in response to the Christmas Plot.

December 30th, 1994: President Gore addresses a joint session of Congress on the US response to the bombings.


The End of the Quiet Years The President speaks to the nation and the world following the Christmas Plot bombings.


January 1, 1995: The UN Security Council unanimously passes a resolution proposed by Indonesia condemning the Christmas Plot.

January 2, 1995: Congress reconvenes to begin developing and passing new anti-terror legislation.

January 1995: State funeral of former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, a victim of the Christmas Plot and one of the few whose body could be recovered.

Early 1995: Conceptual design work for the Sanger Hypersonic Engine Demonstrator (HED) and Horus second-stage mock-up is completed; Warner Bros launches a new TV network, headlined by Crusade, a spin-off series of Babylon 5. The show would win critical plaudits for its unflinching examination of the psychology of warfare and terror.

Jan 1995: Hubble Space Telescope finally reenters Earth atmosphere after nearly ten years of enormously fruitful service in orbit

March 1995: In a speech to a joint session of Congress, President Gore calls for a national effort to eliminate US dependence on foreign supplies of oil through investment in energy efficiency, alternative energy sources and an upgrade of the railway network to world-class standards.

April 1995: Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas announced their plans to merge into a single corporation under the name Lockheed-McDonnell.

May 1995: Mars Traverse Rovers land on Mars. Though the lander puts both down successfully, Liberty rover cannot be released from support frame. Independence rover proceeds alone.

June 7, 1995: Agents of the Federal Investigation Agency, assisted by members of the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service of the American Department of State, raid an Organization safe house in Pakistan, uncovering a wealth of intelligence and two of the bombers involved in the Christmas Plot. The bombers are extradited to the US to face charges.

??? 1995: Vladimir Chelomei forced to retire from NPO Mashinostroyenia in 1995

??? 1995: Odysseus and Telemachus begin their second solar pole encounter.

?? 1995: The Artemis lunar lander design passes its Critical Design Review.

?? 1995: The movie Toy Story is released in theaters. It is dedicated to the memory of Joss Whedon, a writer on the script who was killed in the Christmas Plot.

?? 1995: ESA approves development of the the Cosmic Origins Probe (later named “Georges Lemaître”). The Cosmos 2010 scientific program is approved a few months later.

??? 1995: HEEE-1 completes its mission.

Late 1995: A white paper, America’s 21st Century Passenger Rail System, is published outlining Amtrac's strategic plan for high-speed rail and other upgrades.

September 1995: China's first native-launched cosmonaut reaches orbit aboard Longxing 3. Pilot Xiaosi Chen made 14 orbits of the Earth before safely returning.

October 1995: Fiscal Year 1996 starts in the US. The FY96 Federal Budget provided funding for rolling stock and locomotion upgrades, as well as significant upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, with freight traffic being completely removed from the Corridor. The upgrades were planned to allow train speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, with future upgrades permitting 125mph speeds. Upgrades were also authorized for California, the Chicago hub area, and the Empire and Keystone Corridors.


February 1996: The pilot telefilm of a new series of Doctor Who premiers on Fox in the US and the BBC in the UK, staring Anthony Head as the 8th Doctor.

Early 1996: President Gore's FY1997 budget proposal includes funding for the Comet and Asteroid Pioneer Programs, along with a longer-term Asteroid Sample Return mission.

March 1996: First flight of Apollo Block V, an uncrewed test mission launched into a highly elliptical orbit. The mission also tested a skip re-entry of the type planned for future lunar missions.

June 1996: The Tiangong module is launched to Mir aboard a Russian Vulkan rocket.

July 4, 1996: Star Trek: Honor Bound is released in movie theaters, establishing the continuation of a separate Movie Continuity and TV Continuity for the Star Trek franchise.

??? 1996: Odysseus and Telemachus complete their second solar pole encounter; Launch of the Russian Grand Tour mission, ending in failure when the spacecraft entered “safe mode” shortly after injection into its transfer orbit, draining the batteries in a matter of hours. The incident leads NASA to demand greater oversight of the joint Fobos Together mission.

??? 1996: Seinfeld and Murphy Brown are cancelled.

??? 1996: The Artemis Program surface hardware group first propose an unmanned test landing of an Artemis descent stage on the Moon before launching operational missions. Administrator Davis suggests expanding the test into a full cargo delivery mission.

??? 1996: The Russian/Indian Neva rocket enters commercial service.

??? 1996: The first portions of the Particle Astrophysics Magnet Facility, or Astromag, experiment are delivered to Freedom in the external cargo bay of a routine resupply Aardvark.

??? 1996: Piazzi flies by asteroid 313 Chaldaea.

??? 1996: Discovery of the first extra-solar planet around a main sequence star, 70 Virginis b.

September 1996: First crewed flight of Apollo Block V, piloted by Natalie Duncan, the first woman to make it through NASA’s pilot training pipeline. The Apollo carries a Block IV Mission Module and docks with Freedom. The mission carried recording equipment to the station which is used by the Expedition 32 crew to film footage for the IMAX film The Dream is Alive.

September 1996: The first full season of the Fox/BBC co-produced Doctor Who begins.

November 1996: Al Gore and Ann Richards beat Lamar Alexander and John Ashcroft in the Presidential Election. The Democrats win back control of the House, but the Republicans retain the Senate.

New Kid on the Block First crewed flight of the Apollo Block V, launched atop a Saturn Multibody M02 on Freedom Expedition 32, September, 1996


Early 1997: Captive carry flights of Sanger HED demonstrator vehicles begins, carried by a modified A340. However, 3 of the 4 HED vehicles are lost during testing of the turboramjet engines.

Early 1997: ESA's Solar Composition Probe is approved.

Spring 1997: The first Artemis lander structural test vehicles pass initial pressure testing, and integration begins on the first complete test vehicles. One article undergoes testing in the vacuum chamber at Glenn Research Center's Plum Brook facility.

??? 1997: Horus mock-up begins captive carry tests.

??? 1997: The US begins deploying unmanned 'drone' aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles around the world to uncover and strike at terrorist targets; The FAA spearheading of proposals for a Trans-Oceanic Communications and Navigation Network (TOCNN), intended to extend Air Traffic Control capabilities in the wake of the Christmas Plot, provides a boost to mobile satcom companies.

??? 1997: The all-Japanese H-II rocket is launched to replace the partially American-derived H-I.

??? 1997: Piazzi flies by asteroid 415 Palatia.

Summer 1997: Traditional and partially inflatable lunar habitat options are field tested head-to-head in Arizona, with the result being final selection of an inflatable structure for Artemis missions.

Mid 1997: An ESA Ministerial meeting agrees to a French proposal to expand Taos into a full Global Communications and Navigation Satellite System (GCNSS). ESA begins a feasibility study in cooperation with Eutelsat.

October 1997: Demonstration flight of a Pegasus upper stage, flying as a partially-filled 3rd stage on a Saturn M02; The FY-1997 budget authorizes the start of work on the Large Gamma-ray Observatory (LGO).

Late 1997: Launches for the Artemis robotic precursor missions: Lunar Ice Observer; Grimaldi; SELENE/Kaguya; President Gore signs an executive order switching off the deliberate degrading of civilian GPS signals through Selective Availability.

December 1997: The first Mesyat lunar communications spacecraft arrive at Baikonur for final check-out and mating.


Early 1998: Final selection made for the Artemis 4 landing site, based on data from the Lunar Ice Orbiter and LRP: Oceanus Procellarum, a few kilometers from the Apollo 12 landing site.

February 1998: The Artemis 2 mission is launched on a Saturn H03. It is an unmanned test of the Pegasus upper stage and Artemis descent stage and surface habitat.

March 1998: StarLaunch sign on as the first commercial users of the new Wallops Island Commercial Spaceport (WICS), VA.

April 1998: Arrival of the first Mesyat spacecrafts on station at an Earth-Moon L2 halo orbit.

June 1998: Launch of the Artemis 3 mission. Pushing the new uprated Saturn IIP Heavy to the limit, a crew lander, Block V Apollo, and a partially-filly Pegasus are launched. Over the following days, the crew continue to test out the lander's descent and ascent stages using a “relay race.”

Mid 1998: NASA Administrator Davis confirms the plan to launch the Artemis 4 cargo lander as a combined test/operational mission, targeted for launch in November.

??? 1998: ESA re-evaluates the Sanger program in light of repeated failures of the Hypersonic Engine Demonstrators. Consideration is given to replacing the hypersonic first stage with a simpler subsonic or supersonic vehicle, mounting the Horus spaceplane on a Europa 5, or even switching to a more advanced air breathing single-stage-to-orbit concept.

??? 1998: ESA and Eutelsat complete a Phase A study of the GCNSS concept, proposing a constellation of 24 spacecraft developed at a cost of 3 billion ECUs. The Member States consider this cost too high and push for a cheaper alternative.

??? 1998: The NASA Asteroid Sample Return mission is made a joint Franco-American project with CNES in an effort to split costs and keep the mission within the Pioneer Program’s budget caps.

??? 1998: Piazzi flies by asteroid 449 Hamburga.

November 1998: Tests of the innovative composite hydrogen tank for Lockheed-McDonnell's X-33 show it has a tendency to delaminate. With the approval of NASA Administrator Davis, deployment of the composite tanks is put on hold and more conventional aluminum alloy tanks are substituted.

November 18, 1998: The Saturn Multibody H03 carrying the Artemis 4 cargo lander “Janus” is rolled out to its pad at KSC.

November 23, 1998: First launch attempt for Artemis 4 aborted at T-25 minutes due to intermittent telemetry from the launcher's fairing. The problem is traced to a bad connection and the launch postponed to the next window.

November 27, 1998: First launch of the Artemis 4 mission, an unmanned cargo lander, callsign: “Janus”.

November 30, 1998: “Janus” successfully lands at Oceanus Procellarum, within 800m of the target ellipse center.


Early 1999: The full Mesyat constellation of 4 operational spacecrafts plus 1 on-orbit spare is completed at Earth-Moon L2.

Early 1999: The first boilerplate Thunderbolt L1 booster begins production.

March 21, 1999: Dual-launch of the Artemis 4B Pegasus upper stage and Artemis 4C Apollo CSM and crew lander.

March 27, 1999: Artemis 4 crew lander Galileo touches down on the Moon at Oceanus Procellarum. Natalie Duncan becomes the first woman to step onto the Moon. Luka Seleznev becomes the first Russian (and so the first non-US citizen) on the Moon.

April 9, 1999: Artemis 4 crew launch from the Moon.

April 16, 1999: The Artemis 4 Apollo Command Module Enterprise is picked up by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CVN-65 off Hawai'i at the successful conclusion of their mission. The crew returned roughly 350 kilograms of lunar samples, gathered during 10 days of EVA on the surface. Together, the Artemis 4 crew had logged 240 hours of surface EVA, a longer time spent on the surface in a single mission than during the entirety of Project Apollo.

June, 1999: Mare Smythii is selected as the landing site for Artemis 5.

1999: The COMmittee on Planetary and Lunar EXploration of the National Academy of Sciences, or COMPLEX, felt justified in complaining that the planetary exploration program “lacked balance,” noting that many scientific objectives could not be fulfilled by the smaller, cheaper spacecraft required by the Pioneer Program. They recommend that a new Cornerstone-class mission be started immediately and urged NASA to create a long-term plan for further Cornerstone and medium-class missions, in addition to the Pioneer Program missions.

Summer 1999: Launch of the Solar Composition Probe.

Fall 1999: The first Thunderbolt L1 booster, Alpha, undergoes final preparations for shipment from Seal Beach, CA, to WICS, VA. She is loaded onto a barge just before Halloween.

Late 1999: ESA and Eutelsat Member States approve the amended GCNSS system, Marconi, to consist of a downsized MEO communications satellite constellation incorporating a navigation overlay signal to improve the accuracy of the US GPS, at a cost of around 1 billion euro.

November, 1999: Artemis 5’s cargo/habitat module “Adventure” is launched.

December 3, 1999: “Adventure” lands at Mare Smythii.


January 2000: A primary ammonia coolant pump on Freedom’s starboard truss malfunctions and shuts down. Ongoing experiments are disrupted as systems are shut down to manage thermal load until astronauts replace the pump with an on-orbit spare in a major space walk on January 28. During this period Freedom's crew is reduced to 5 for the first time since the start of IOC.

January 2000: NASA's Pioneer Advisory Board select a longlist of twelve small planetary mission proposals for further study.

March 2000: The Georges Lemaître probe enters its circum-SEL-2 orbit.

March 9, 2000: Thunderbolt L1-Alpha makes its first hop from the landing apron at WICS. By the end of the year, Alpha would fly 6 times, reaching an altitude of over 5 km.

June 2000: The University of Washington’s Mars Atmospheric and Climate Observer (MACO)is selected as NASA's next Pioneer mission.

July 1, 2000: Artemis 5 Pegasus upper stage, Apollo CSM “Atlantis” and crew lander “Calypso” launch.

July 7, 2000: The X-33 demonstrator (nicknamed “StarClipper”) conducts its first powered test flight from Edwards Air Force Base. Tests later in the year demonstrated speeds of up to Mach 4 and and apogee of just under 30 miles, as well as showcasing the fast turnaround capability of the X-33.

??? 2000: First flight of the Europa-5 rocket from French Guiana, a Europa-51 single-stick configuration.

??? 2000: Formation of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from a merger of NASDA, NAL and ISAS.

??? 2000: Cryosat 1, a small propellant depot technology demonstrator, is launched as a secondary payload on a Freedom-bound Aardvark mission.

Summer 2000: Faulty wiring in the MOK module leads to a minor fire on board the Mir space station.

November 7, 2000: US Presidential election sees Gore's Vice President Anne Richards elected in favor of Republican challenger Carlos “Charlie” Salinas.

??? 2000: Japan creates JAXA, merging ISAS into the new agency.

Victory for Richards Results of the 2000 US Presidential Election.


January 20, 2001: President Richards is inaugurated. She re-selects the incumbent Lloyd Davis as her NASA Administrator.

January, 2001: The Artemis-6 cargo lander Arbella is launched to the Moon.

April 2001: Launch of Fobos Together from Baikonur.

April 2001: Test flight of Thunderbolt L1 using an inert upper stage. Aerodynamic controls failed during fly-back, but the booster was able to land under RCS control.

mid 2001: The results of the Lemaître probe’s primary mission, confirming significant anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background. The results lead to the development of the “C2CDM,” or “Cosmological Constant-Cold Dark Matter” hypothesis.

Summer 2001: Artemis-6 sets off on the third of the new missions to the moon under the command of Maxwell Quick and with Japan’s first moonwalker, Hiroya Umeta, aboard.

Summer 2001: President Richards and Administrator Davis unveil their new space strategy, calling for additional lunar flights and continued technology development aimed at increasing the ease of future space development, with the capstone now focusing on cryogenic depot technologies instead of the previous X-33 program.

October 2001: Fobos Together enters an eccentric Mars orbit. Orbit circularization begins using the orbiter's ion engines, taking several months to reach Phobos' orbital altitude of 6000km.

October 2001: The NASA Authorization Act 2001 is signed into law. The Act approves plans for four more Artemis landings to follow the initial five missions already authorized. Each new mission will have a cost of $1.3 billion. The Act also authorizes programs to introduce a new RL-10 modification to allow a payload increase of roughly a ton to the lunar surface.

Late 2001: Thunderbolt L1-Beta begins suborbital flight tests from Wallops.

Late 2001: The Kremlin directs Lavochkin to concentrate on a new series of unmanned Luna spacecraft.

Late 2001: Launch of Japan's Fukuro probe.

??? 2001: Odysseus and Telemachus begin their third solar pole encounter.

??? 2001: Private company MirCorp begins fundraising for a potential Mir-2 station, to be based upon TKS-derived lab modules attached to the still incomplete MOK-2 module. Russian engineers begin a more in-depth analysis of the status of MOK-2.


February 2002: Thunderbolt L1-Beta makes the first orbital flight for StarLaunch, placing a payload simulator within 5 km of the target orbit.

Mid 2002: Fobos Together lander Fobos-Grunt contacts on the surface of Phobos. It releases the American rover, Sojourner, which goes on to circumnavigate the moon.

Mid 2002: Artemis 7 crew lander touches down at Mare Ingenii on the lunar farside.

August 2002: Fobos-Grunt launches a sample of Phobos' regolith to the Fobos Together orbiter, which then begins the return journey to Earth.

??? 2002: Odysseus and Telemachus complete their third solar pole encounter.

??? 2002: Japanese ministers debate development of the HOPE unmanned spaceplane.


Fobos Together A picture of the Martian moon Phobos, taken shortly before the landing of Fobos-Grunt and its rover, Sojourner


Early 2003: Sojourner depletes its hydrazine fuel and ceases operations; The Fobos Together orbiter releases its sample return capsule and proceeds onwards into a solar orbit. The sample return capsule enters the atmosphere above Kazakhstan and is successfully recovered.

Early 2003: Preliminary assembly and testing of the Luna-Grunt probe work begins outside of Moscow.

May 2003: Fukuro suffers a propulsion failure. It is redirected to fly past Mars twice to align it to intercept Earth in 2012.

June 2003: Odysseus and Telemachus are decommissioned

Mid 2003: Artemis 8 crew lander Flyer lands at the crater Antoniad.

October 2003: The Mars Traverse Rovers are decommissioned.

Late 2003: President Richards is diagnosed with cancer of the throat and given less than two years to live. She withdraws from the race for the 2004 Democratic nomination.

Late 2003: The stock market tech bubble bursts, leading to a recession in the US.

?? 2003: Work begins in Japan on the HOPE-C cargo spaceplane.


?? 2004: MirCorp faces funding problems from the tech crash and technical problems in refurbishing the MOK-2 module, causing a year-on-year delay to the launch date.

?? 2004: The projected launch date for Luna-Glob slips from 2006 to 2008. An alternative rover mission is proposed, Luna 25/Lunokhod 3. This proposal is initially rejected.

?? 2004: Launch of the second High-Energy Event Explorer satellite (HEEE-2).

March 2004: Japan launches Planet-C to Venus on the 3rd mission of the Mu-5 rocket. The probe is re-named Akatsuki, or “Dawn”. On arrival at Venus, the probe suffers an electrical problem that limits its communications capability.

Mid 2004: Artemis 9 lands at Shackleton crater at the lunar South Pole.

August 2004: En-route to Saturn, Cassini separates its atmospheric probe.

November 2nd, 2004: Republican Senator Keith Woods of Illinois is elected President, defeating Vice President Evan Bayh with a decisive majority. Shortly afterwards NASA Administrator Lloyd Davis announces his resignation.

December 2004: Cassini's atmospheric probe enters Saturn's atmosphere. The main Cassini spacecraft enters orbit of Saturn.


January 2005: The Artemis 10 cargo lander Helios launches.

Early 2005: Dean Banks is appointed NASA Administrator by President Woods. Banks immediately begins looking for ways to trim expenditure at NASA.

?? 2005: The Huygens probe separates from Cassini and enters the atmosphere of Titan. Data is relayed during the descent, but all contact with Huygens is lost moments after touchdown on the surface.

?? 2005: The Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory is launched.

September 2005: The Artemis 10 crew lander Hyperion touches down at Copernicus crater.

Late 2005: President Woods' first budget cuts NASA's annual budget by $0.5 billion and directs a transition from Artemis sorties to “soonbase” missions, as well as eliminations of some of the scores of smaller development programs and an across-the-board automatic 1% reduction in all NASA projects.

Late 2005: A delegation from Roscosmos travels to the US to discuss possible Russian contributions to the Orion “soonbase”.

November 2005: ESA launches the Aristarchus solar probe on a Europa 54u.

Late 2005: NASA focuses on Shackleton Crater at the lunar South Pole as the site for the Orion base.

End of 2005: The original FAA-mandated deadline for US airlines to install TOCNN equipment. In the event the deadline was beaten by several years.


Exploring Copernicus Artemis 10 visits one of the Moon's most prominent craters.


2006: Star Launch Services have conducted more than 50 launches from Wallops, visible to tourists on the Washington Mall and occasionally from New York City.

2006: Completion of Phase-A studies for a potential replacement for Saturn Multibody, with options from “simple” additions of reusable engine pods or flyback hardware to the existing Saturn core, to immense clean-sheet reusable first and second stages capable of throwing more than 70 tons into Earth orbit.

January 2006: A Saturn M22 launching from Vandenberg on a mission for the NRO explodes shortly after reaching Max-Q.

February 2006: Aristarchus reaches its first perihelion, swinging past the Sun at an altitude of just 25,000,000 kilometers, handily breaking the record set by the Helios probes twenty years earlier.

Early 2006: A tentative agreement is reached for Russia to provide Luna-Pe resupply flights (based on the Luna 25 lander design) in return for Russian cosmonauts, instruments, and experiments being included in Orion.

Early 2006: ESA launch FIRST infrared space telescope.

March 2006: The cause of the Saturn M22 failure is traced to the port SRB. NASA re-certifies all-liquid variants of Saturn Multibody for launch.

April 2006: The Lemaître probe is moved to a heliocentric graveyard orbit, before being remotely shut down.

June 2006: Following NASA’s apparent abandonment of the Pioneer Program, Cornell’s chair of astronomy, Jay Lawrence, organises a meeting of several dozen planetary scientists at Ithaca, New York, to discuss the future of the field. The resulting Cornell Plan proposed a new mission-planning process for unmanned planetary missions.

July 2006: A delayed Freedom expedition and AARDV launch are cleared from the manifest following Saturn's return to flight.

Mid 2006: The Artemis 11 cargo lander Cutty Sark is launched.

??? 2006: ESA approves development of its first independent outer planets mission, Herschel. Intended to mark the first use of ESA's new European Common RTG, powered by americium-241.


February 2007: Artemis 11 crew lands at Rima Bode, the last of the Artemis sortie missions.

Mid 2007: Launch of Northrop's first tug and modified Centaur “dumb tanker” on a Thunderbolt.

??? 2007: Lockheed McDonnell announce their Starclipper TSTO RLV concept.

??? 2007: Talks between European space ministers and executives of the Europaspace consortium begin looking into the possibility of developing an RLV.

??? 2007: NASA selects the Mars Polar Lander as its next Pioneer class mission.

??? 2007: Phase B studies for a Saturn Multibody replacement focuses on cost-effective ways of implementing reusability while retaining Saturn-class performance.


January 2008: Luna 25 is launched, but control was lost during descent and the probe crashed on the lunar surface. The fault was eventually traced to the re-use of Luna-Grunt flight software.

Early 2008: Congress legislates to establish the Planetary Science Prioritization Panel (PSP^2) to select future American planetary science missions.

Early 2008: A Lockheed Delta carries the Transorbital depot to orbit.

Mid 2008: A relay fails in the power control system of Fobos-Grunt, ending the lander's productive life.

May 2008: Japan's Hayabusa probe arrives at Mars.

June 2008: Launch of Orion Expedition 1 for a 6-week stay at the Orion soonbase.

July 2008: The first Luna-Pe supply mission lands successfully on the Moon.

??? 2008: ESA announces development of the Aquila TSTO RLV, based on the Aetos vertical-launch, horizontal landing fly-back booster and the Ganymede orbiter (a scaled-up Horus).


??? 2009: Launch of ESA's Wide Field Gamma Telescope.

March 2009: Orion-2 mission.

March 2009: President Woods directs Administrator Banks to conduct a broad-scope review of NASA’s capabilities and direction, and provide recommendations for a plan for the future.

March 2009: The Venus Atmospheric System Explorer, or VASE, mission, is selected as a Pioneer mission.

Summer 2009: TransOrbital Services is declared open for business.

Late 2009: FIRST exhausts its cryocoolant and is shut down.

Late 2009: The Banks Report proposes development of Saturn-II, with a VTVL reusable 1st stage.

October 2009: Launch of the Mars Polar Lander by a Star Launch Thunderbolt with a solid third stage.


March 2010: NASA's Barnard probe lands on comet Encke, becoming the second spacecraft to land on a comet.

April 2010: The Mars Polar Lander successfully touches down and confirms evidence of water ice just under the Martian surface. The MPL is imaged during its descent by Japan's Hayabusa orbiter.

September 2010: The MPL shuts down during the Martian winter.

??? 2010: The private NEOSearch spacecraft is launched.

??? 2010: Orion-3 expedition launches two ion-equipped NASA spritesats from the Pegasus stage.


Summer 2011: The Planetary Science Prioritization Panel publishes its final report, urging NASA to launch at least one Cornerstone mission over the next decade; to make one Pioneer-class mission selection every other year; to establish an additional intermediate-cost program; to establish an ongoing technology development program; and for NASA to seek more international partnerships with other space agencies. The Panel also recommends that the next Cornerstone mission be a Europa Orbiter, followed by a Mars Sample Return campaign later in the decade.

Summer 2011: The Pioneer selection board selects the Mars Ice Orbiter, or MIO, for launch in 2013.


??? 2012: Launch of ESA's Eddington spacecraft on a mission to scan a large region of the sky for “weak gravitational lensing” events.

??? 2012: The Fukuro return capsule is recovered in Australia after reentry in Earth's atmosphere.


??? 2013: Launch of ESA's Mars Rare Gas Orbiter.

??? 2013: NASA selects the the Comet Tour mission as the next Pioneer mission.


??? 2015: Launch of ESA's Giordano Bruno space telescope, which uses an array of small telescopes to scan over 1,000 square degrees continuously for exoplanet transits.


??? 2016: Russia's Luna-Grunt probe is scheduled for launch.

See Also

timelines/eyes_turned_skyward_key_dates.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)