Milestones in space

From sending rhesus monkeys into orbit to India's launch of a lunar probe, a hitchhiker's guide to exploration of the universe.

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    In October 2008, India joined an elite group of nations with the know-how to reach into space with its maiden lunar mission, the Chandrayaan-1. The probe sent back data for a year, but the mission was cut short after the craft lost radio contact with Earth.
    Indian Space Research Organization/AP
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March 16, 1926: American scientist Robert Goddard launches first liquid-fueled rocket.

June 11, 1948: The US launches a V-2 Blossom rocket carrying a rhesus monkey into space from White Sands, N.M.

Aug. 15, 1951: Dezik and Tsygan become the first canines lifted into suborbit as part of the Soviets' R-1 rocket program.

Oct. 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches the first space satellite, Sputnik-1.

Jan. 31, 1958: The US launches Explorer 1, a scientific satellite that later reveals that Earth is surrounded by bands of radiation.

Oct. 1, 1958: NASA is created.

Jan. 2, 1959: The Soviet Union launches Luna 1, the first artificial object to leave Earth's orbit.

Aug. 7, 1959: NASA sends aloft Explorer 6, which provides the first photographs of Earth from space.

Oct. 18, 1963: France launches a cat, Felix, into space.

June 3, 1965: Ed White, during the Gemini 4 mission, becomes the first American to walk in space.

March 1, 1966: The Soviet Union lands the first spacecraft, Venera 3, on Venus.

Oct. 10, 1967: 93 countries sign the Outer Space Treaty, declaring the cosmos open to exploration but prohibits military bases.

April 24, 1970: China launches its first satellite, Dongfanghong-1.

July 15-24, 1975: In their first partnership, Russia and the US test docking Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft.

July 20, 1976: America's Viking 1 becomes the first probe to land on Mars.

Dec. 24, 1979: The European Space Agency launches its first rocket, the Ariane 1, into space.

Jan. 28, 1986: US space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after liftoff, killing seven astronauts and grounding the program.

Dec. 4, 1998: Space shuttle Endeavour carries first part of the International Space Station into orbit to begin the world's most audacious construction job.

Feb. 1, 2003: US space shuttle Columbia disintegrates on reentry, killing seven astronauts and grounding the shuttle program again.

Oct. 15, 2003: China launches its first man into space.

Oct. 22, 2008: India sends a space probe to the moon.

Sources: NASA, news and wire reports, Smithsonian Institution,

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