Space Exploration Timeline Title

1991 - 2000


May 2, 1992

Maiden Voyage of Endeavour

The Space Shuttle Endeavour lifts off on its maiden voyage, bringing the number of orbiters in America's Space Shuttle fleet once again to four. The STS-49 mission included the capture and rescue of a communications satellite that was stuck in the wrong orbit.


February 3, 1994

First Russian Cosmonaut Aboard Shuttle

Sergei Krikalev becomes the first Russian Cosmonaut to fly on aboard a U.S. Space Shuttle during Discovery mission STS-60.


February 6, 1995

First Female Shuttle Pilot

Eileen M. Collins becomes the first woman to fly a Space Shuttle on mission STS-63. During the mission, Space Shuttle Discovery maneuvers to within 37 feet of Russian space station Mir, in preparation for a future shuttle-Mir docking.

March 22, 1995

New Space Endurance Record

Cosmonaut Valeriy Polyakov returns to Earth after an impressive 438-day mission aboard Russian space station Mir, setting a new space endurance record.

June 25, 1995

First Shuttle Docks with Mir

Space Shuttle Atlantis rendezvous with Russian space station Mir during a ten-day mission on STS-71. Cosmonauts are transferred to and from Atlantis. Astronaut Norman Thagard is returned from Mir after setting a new American space endurance record of 115 days.

December 7, 1995

Galileo Arrives at Jupiter

The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter and a probe is dropped into the planet's atmosphere. The orbiter will spend the next two years orbiting and studying the planet and its moons.


May 18, 1996

X PRIZE Competition Announced

Underneath the famous arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the creation of the X PRIZE competition is officially announced to the world. Featuring a large number of high-profile sponsors and supporters, the X PRIZE offers 10 million dollars to the first person or team to safely launch and land a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to a suborbital altitude of 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) and repeat the trip again within two weeks. It is hoped that the X PRIZE will help to jump start civilian and commercial space programs.

September 26, 1996

Shannon Lucid Returns from Mir

Space Shuttle Atlantis touches down bringing home U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid. Lucid set a new U.S. space endurance record after spending 188 days aboard the Russian space station Mir.


July 4, 1997

Mars Pathfinder Lands on Mars

The Mars Pathfinder probe lands on the surface of Mars. A small robotic rover examines the nearby terrain, sending back amazingly detailed images of the planet's surface.


November 20, 1998

First ISS Module Launched

A Russian Proton rocket is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the steppes of the Asian nation of Kazakstan. This rocket carries the Russian-built Zarya Control Module, the first component what will be the new International Space Station (ISS).

October 29, 1998

John Glenn Returns to Space

Space Shuttle Discovery begins mission STS-95, carrying veteran astronaut John H. Glenn. Glenn was the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth during the Mercury program in 1962. This mission marks his return to space after 33 years.

December 4, 1998

First American ISS Module

The Space Shuttle Endeavour lifts off for space carrying the Unity module for the International Space Station (ISS). The unity module is attached to the Russian Zarya module, which was launched in November.


February 14, 2000

First Detailed Study of an Asteroid

The U.S. Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft arrives at the asteroid Eros. It begins a yearlong mission to study the gravity and composition of Eros in addition to sending back detailed images of the asteroid's surface. Eros is an S-class asteroid approximately 20 miles (33 km) and 8 miles (13 km) wide. The Valentine's Day arrival date is most appropriate for an asteroid named after the Greek god of love.