Space Exploration Timeline Title

2021 - 2030


Artist illustration of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars
NASA Public Domain Image

February 20, 2021

First Sounds Recorded on Mars

NASA's Perseverance rover records the first sounds captured on the surface of Mars. The rover beams the audio clips back to Earth and the first eerie sounds of wind gusting on the red planet are heard by human ears for the first time. Perseverance will continue to capture sound recordings on Mars including the the rover's motor, a laser cutting a rock, and the sounds of the Ingenuity helicopter.

Image of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter on Mars
NASA Public Domain Image

April 19, 2021

First Powered Flight on Another Planet

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter makes history by becoming the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The small drone aircraft is launched from the Perseverance Mars rover and climbs to a prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) where it maintains a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descends and touches back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. This successful flight marks a new era in planetary exploration.

Artist rendering of the Parker Solar Probe at the Sun
NASA Public Domain Image

April 28, 2021

First Spacecraft to Enter the Sun's Atmosphere

NASA's Parker Solar Probe becomes the first man-made spacecraft to enter the atmosphere of the Sun. The spacecraft crosses the Alfvén critical surface where it stays for approximately 5 hours. This is the boundary that marks the end of the solar atmosphere and the beginning of the solar wind. During this time, the craft crosses into the Sun's corona 3 times and literally touches the Sun. It will continue to move even closer over the coming months.

Image of SpaceX Inspiration 4 crew
SpaceX / CC0

September 15, 2021

First All-Civilian Astronaut Crew

Space-X makes history once again by launching the first all-civilian astronaut crew Into orbit. The Inspiration 4 crew consists of Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski, and Hayley Arceneaux. They are launched aboard a reusable Falcon 9 rocket and spend three days in orbit around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. All though civilians have flown in space before, this is the first time an all-civilian crew has flown with no professional astronauts on board.

Image of Axiom 1 Crew on the ISS
NASA public Domain Image

April 8, 2022

First All-Civilian Mission to the ISS

Axiom Space makes history by launching the first fully commercial mission to the international Space Station. The 4 civilian astronauts are launched into space on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the mission is controlled by Axiom's Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas. This mission marks a major milestone for space tourism and the future of the commercial space industry. Axiom hopes to eventually launch a commercial space station in the not-too-distant future.

Image of the Artemis 1 launch
NASA public Domain Image

November 16, 2022

NASA Returns to the Moon

NASA sends the first Orion spacecraft into space to mark their return to lunar exploration. The Artemis 1 mission launches as an unmanned test mission to orbit the Moon and return to Earth. During this historic mission, the spacecraft spends three weeks in space and makes 2 separate orbits of the moon. The mission ends successfully with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California near Guadalupe Island. This successful test mission collects valuable data and captures video and detailed images of the Earth and Moon. A future Artemis mission will carry 4 astronauts to orbit the Moon for the first time since 1972.