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Space Vehicles


X-15 rocket plane (1959–1968): One of the first space vehicles was the X-15 rocket plane. The X-15 was used for development of techniques and equipment that was of value for the space mission.

Apollo program (1961–1972, manned missions from 1968): The Apollo program was one of the most expensive American scientific programs Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It is one of the few missions that has successfully gotten men beyond low earth orbit and placed humans on other celestial bodies.

International Space Station (1998–Present): The international space station is a combination of the Russian Mir-2, the American Freedom, and the European Columbus projects . The construction began in 1998 and the construction of the US Orbital Segment was completed in 2011 while operations are expected to continue until 2020.


Over 1,000 unmanned missions have been sent into space to explore our solar system. The first unmanned mission was Explorer 1. This project was launched in January 1958. Another unmanned mission was the Hubble Telescope which was launched in 1990. The Viking 1 was the first successful unmanned vehicle to land on Mars, and it landed in 1976. Twenty years later, NASA also launched rovers to Mars.

The Hubble Telescope

       The world's first space-based optical telescope was named after the American astronomer, Edwin P. Hubble. The telescope was launched on April 24th, 1990. The first image ever taken of space was taken by the Hubble Telescope on May 20th, 1990. The Hubble Telescope went on a total of 5 serving missions. The first mission was in December of 1993. The second mission was in February of 1997. Two years later was mission 3A, in December of 1999. Three years after that, they decided to have another mission, 3B. Mission 3B was in February of 2002. The Hubble Telescope's last serving mission, known as its 4th mission, was in May of 2009. The telescope was 43.5 feet long and weighed 24,500 pounds. The maximum speed of the Hubble Telescope was 17,000 mph. It only took a total of 95 minutes for it to complete one orbit. Not only is it quick in speed but also in transmitting data. The Hubble transmits about 140 gigabytes of raw science each week! The Hubble Telescope uses the sun as its power source. In order for the telescope to take accurate pictures of distant and faint objects, it has to lock onto its target  and snap the image in less than a second. It can store an equivalent amount of power to 20 car batteries.