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CENTURIES IN SPACE

BEFORE THE 20TH CENTURY: In the cradle

In several thousand years of its recorded history, the human civilization made a remarkable journey from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. No tyranny, dogma or natural obstacle ever succeeded in pacifying human thirst for knowledge and exploration. However one destination still remained farther and more mysterious than any other -- the world beyond Earth. It took generations to devise ways of breaking bounds of gravity and to map the skies for future explorers.

THE 20TH CENTURY: The Space Age

For centuries humans dreamed of conquering time and space and for centuries so it remained -- just a dream. Finally, the 20th century arrived and with it the phenomenal ascent of science and technology that allowed humanity to progress faster and farther than during all previous recorded history.

THE 21TH CENTURY: At the crossroads

At the dawn of the 21th century, the human effort to explore space faced a challenge unlike any it met before. Engineering dead ends of rocket technology coincided with changing economic realities and new threats to the civilized world. As a result, irreversible decisions had to be made, which could either limit or expand human horizons for several generations to come. It would take wisdom of greatest statesmen and foresight of the most ingenious thinkers to steer the boldest and most complex human endeavor beyond ephemeral goals of today’s economics and politics toward the unforeseen promises of tomorrow. What’s more, it would take patience and determination of many people on Earth to continue exploring space for the benefit of the future civilization.

In depth:

The first decade of the 21st century: (2000-2009)

The second decade of the 21st century: (2010-2019)

Russian space industry in the 2010s

Russian launch vehicle development strategy in the 2010s

Russian manned space flight in the 2010s

The third decade of the 21st century: (2020-2029)

 

20TH CENTURY SPACE RACE
The Moon Race: 1957-1976

Since the end of World War II in 1945 and until its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union was engaged in fierce military, economic and political competition with the United States -- a historical process known as the Cold War. One of the crucial battles of this conflict was the Space Race, which started in 1957 with the launch by the USSR of the Earth's first artificial satellite. This timeline chronicles major events, which defined the Space Race.

Race into deep space

In the 20th century, after hundreds of years watching planets move across the sky, the humanity was finally able to take a close look at Earth's neighbors in the Solar System. Since the beginning of the Space Age and until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Soviet and American scientists sent fleets of robots to explore deep space and to reach other planets. This timeline documents unmanned Soviet and US missions beyond the orbit of the Moon.

Missile Race

Space program grew out of fierce competition between the USSR and the US for military supremacy. During the Cold War, two superpowers deployed enormous arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles, which threatened very existence of human civilization. Many of the missiles later gave birth to long families of space launchers. This timeline chronicles major developments in military rocketry in the course of the Cold War.