Comparison of NASA Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle spacecraft with their launch vehicles

This is a list of NASA missions, both crewed and robotic, since the establishment of NASA in 1957. There are over 80 currently active science missions.[1]

X-Plane program

Main article: List of X-planes

Since 1945, NACA (NASA's predecessor) and, since January 26, 1958, NASA has conducted the X-Plane Program. The program was originally intended to create a family of experimental aircraft not intended for production beyond the limited number of each design built solely for flight research.[2] The first X-Plane, the Bell X-1, was the first rocket-powered airplane to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.[3] X-Planes have set numerous milestones since then, both crewed and unpiloted.[4]

Human spaceflight

Main article: Human spaceflight

Discovery STS-120 launch, October 23, 2007
Astronauts Andrew Feustel (right) and Michael Fincke, outside the ISS during the STS-134 mission's third spacewalk.
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt standing next to a boulder at Taurus-Littrow.
Astronaut Peter Wisoff on a robotic arm, 1993

NASA has successfully launched 166 crewed flights. Three have ended in failure, causing the deaths of seventeen crewmembers in total: Apollo 1 (which never launched) killed three crew members in 1967, STS-51-L (the Challenger disaster) killed seven in 1986, and STS-107 (the Columbia disaster) killed seven more in 2003. Thus far, 163 missions were conducted without fatalities.

Program Start date First crewed flight End date No. of crewed
missions launched
Notes
Project Mercury 1958 1961 1963 6 First U.S. crewed program
Project Gemini 1961 1965 1966 10 Program used to practice space rendezvous and EVAs
Apollo program 1960 1968 1972 11[a] Landed first humans on the Moon
Skylab 1964 1973 1974 3 First American space station
Apollo–Soyuz 1971 1975 1975 1 Joint with Soviet Union
Space Shuttle program 1972 1981 2011 135[b] First missions in which a spacecraft was reused
Shuttle–Mir program 1993 1994 1998 11[c] Russian partnership
International Space Station 1993 1998 Ongoing 65 Joint with Roscosmos, CSA, ESA, and JAXA; Americans flew on Russian Soyuz after 2011 retirement of Space Shuttle
Commercial Crew Program 2011 2020 Ongoing 8 Current program to shuttle Americans to the ISS
Artemis program 2017 2024 (Planned) Ongoing 0 Current program to bring humans to the Moon again

Notes:

  1. Apollo 1 was unlaunched due to a fire during testing that killed the astronauts, and is not counted here.
  2. Two Space Shuttle missions ended with the disintegrations of the vehicles and the deaths of two crews before reaching orbit and while returning from orbit.
  3. The Shuttle-Mir missions were all Space Shuttle missions, and are also counted under the Space Shuttle program missions in the table.

Canceled

Further information: Constellation program

In May 2009, the Obama Administration announced the launch of an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities with the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space. The review was conducted by a panel of experts led by Norman Augustine, the former CEO of Lockheed Martin, who served on the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology under both Democrat and Republican presidents.[5]

The "Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans" was to examine ongoing and planned National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) development activities, as well as potential alternatives and present options for advancing a safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable human space flight program in the years following Space Shuttle retirement. The panel worked closely with NASA and sought input from the United States Congress, the White House, the public, industry, and international partners as it developed its options. It presented its results on October 22, 2009.[6][7] [8]

In February 2010, Obama announced his proposal to cancel the Constellation Program as part of the 2011 Economic Projects. Constellation was officially canceled by the NASA Budget Authorization Act on October 11, 2010.

Future

Further information: Artemis program

NASA brought the Orion spacecraft back to life from the defunct Constellation Program and successfully test-launched the first capsule on December 5, 2014, aboard EFT-1. After a near-perfect flight traveling 3,600 miles (5,800 km) above Earth, the spacecraft was recovered for study. NASA plans to use the Orion crew vehicle to send humans to deep space locations such as the Moon and Mars starting in the 2020s. Orion will be powered by NASA's new heavy-lift vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS), which is currently under development.

Artemis 1 is the first flight of the SLS and was launched as a test of the completed Orion and SLS system.[9] During the mission, an uncrewed Orion capsule will spend 10 days in a distant retrograde 60,000 kilometers (37,000 mi) orbit around the Moon before returning to Earth.[10] Artemis 2, the first crewed mission of the program, will launch four astronauts in 2024[11] on a free-return flyby of the Moon at a distance of 8,900 kilometers (5,500 mi).[12][13][14]

After Artemis 2, the Power and Propulsion Element of the Lunar Gateway and three components of an expendable lunar lander are planned to be delivered on multiple launches from commercial launch service providers.[15]

Artemis 3 is planned to launch in 2025[16] aboard an SLS Block 1 rocket and will use the minimalist Gateway and expendable lander to achieve the first crewed lunar landing of the program. The flight is planned to touch down on the lunar south pole region, with two astronauts staying there for about one week.[15][17][18][19][20]

Robotic missions

Suborbital

Earth and Heliocentric satellites

Main category: NASA satellites orbiting Earth

Sun

  • TIMED, launched December 2001, operational
  • Hinode, launched September 2006, operational
  • STEREO, launched October 2006, operational
  • MMS, launched March 2015,[37] operational
  • IMAP, launching 2025, future

Moon

See also: Exploration of the Moon

  • Ranger 1, launched August 1961, failed
  • Ranger 2, launched November 1961, failed
  • Ranger 3, launched January 1962, failed
  • Ranger 4, launched April 1962, failed
  • Ranger 5, launched October 1962, failed
  • Ranger 6, launched January 1964, failed
  • Ranger 7, launched July 1964, completed
  • Ranger 8, launched February 1965, completed
  • Ranger 9, launched March 1965, completed
  • Discovery 3Lunar Prospector, launched January 1998, completed
  • Discovery 11GRAIL, launched September 2011, completed [42]

Mercury

  • Discovery 7MESSENGER, launched August 2004, completed – first to orbit Mercury

Venus

  • Mariner 1, launched July 1962, failed – intended to be first American flyby of Venus
  • Mariner 2, launched August 1962, completed – first flyby of Venus by an operational spacecraft
  • Mariner 5, launched June 1967, completed – flyby of Venus
  • Mariner 10, launched November 1973, completed – flyby of Venus; multiple flybys of Mercury; first spacecraft to Mercury
  • Discovery 15VERITAS, launching 2028, future
  • Discovery 16DAVINCI, launching 2029, future

Mars

See also: Exploration of Mars

  • Viking 1, launched August 1975, completed
  • Viking 2, launched September 1975, completed
  • Deep Space 2, launched January 1999, failed – (sub-surface probes)

Jupiter

  • New Frontiers 2Juno, launched August 2011, operationalJupiter orbiter mission[43]

Saturn

  • New Frontiers 4Dragonfly, launching 2027, future

Uranus

Neptune

Asteroids/comets

  • Discovery 4Stardust, launched February 1999, completed – follow-up for Deep Impact's primary mission to 9P/Tempel
  • Discovery 6CONTOUR, launched July 2002, failed
  • Discovery 8Deep Impact (primary); EPOXI (extended), launched January 2005, completed
  • Discovery 13Lucy, launched October 2021, operational – Will fly by one main-belt asteroid and seven Jupiter Trojan asteroids.[44]
  • Discovery 14Psyche, launched October 2023, enroute

Dwarf planets

  • Discovery 9Dawn, launched September 2007, completedVesta in 2011-2012, and Ceres in 2015-2018

Canceled or undeveloped missions

Main article: List of NASA cancellations

Old proposals

See also

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Bibliography