The 15 most historic satellites ever launched into space

by Kelvin
The 15 most historic satellites ever launched into space

From 1957 until now, the Universe started to get “smaller”, with humans sending satellites and probes to different points of space. At the same time, new horizons have opened up, showing that the sky is not the limit. Check out 15 of the most historic satellites and probes ever launched.

1. Sputnik

The kickoff for the space race was given by the Soviet Union when it safely placed the first artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit. The launch took place on October 4, 1957 from a base in Kazakhstan, a location that is still used for Russian space launches today. Sputnik collected data on the density of upper atmospheric layers, as well as measuring the quality of radio signals in the ionosphere.


2. Explorer 1

A few months later, the United States launched its first satellite, which reached Earth orbit on January 31, 1958. Explorer 1’s greatest feat was to confirm the existence of the Van Allen belts, which are zones of charged particles that store the radiation in the magnetosphere.

3. Explorer 6

The main functions of Explorer 6, launched in August 1959, were to study the radiation from the upper layers and determine how often micrometeorites penetrated our atmosphere. A side mission made the first image of the Earth from space: a photograph of Mexico.


This satellite was the first to have meteorological functions, with two cameras attached that took photographs of clouds over the Earth and sent the signals via TV waves.

5. Vostok 1

In 1961, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite with a man on board. The phrase “The Earth is blue!”, by Yuri Gagarin, made history. The April 12 launch was seen as the culmination of the space race, but today it is celebrated as the kickoff of space journeys. So far, more than 500 people have been to the space.

6. Luna 10

In 1966, the Soviet Union was also the first to place a satellite into the Moon’s orbit. Luna 10 measured the magnetic field, radiation, gravity and other functions of our natural satellite. A gamma-ray spectrometer also collected information on the composition of the soil there. Following the milestones, Apollo 8 was the first to place humans into the Moon’s orbit in 1968, while Apollo 11 was the historic mission that landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

7. Mariner 9

NASA intended to place two probes into orbit around Mars, but Mariner 8 failed. So it was up to Mariner 9 to arrive alone at the Red Planet on November 14, 1971. It worked double time, managed to complete the missions of both and mapped 70% of the Martian soil.

8. Venera 9

Other satellites had already gone to Venus before the Soviet Venera 9 was launched in 1975. The difference is that the first missions were “suicide”, with the equipment programmed for short flights or even direct dives in the planet. Venera 9 was the first to orbit Venus and send a probe to its surface.

9. Hubble Space Telescope

While not the first space telescope launched, Hubble marked a new era in space research, including long-term studies. It was released in 1990 and recorded some of the most famous images of the Universe, such as the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula. After 3 decades, it is still in operation.

10. Galileo

After other probes made direct flights to Jupiter, Galileo was the first to orbit the largest planet in the Solar System in 1995. He researched the geological history and moons of the gas giant.

11. International Space Station

Launched in 1998 and in operation today, it provides important data on the effects of microgravity on prolonged stay in space.

12. Cassini

The collaborative mission between Europe and the US placed the first probe into orbit around Saturn in 2004. For 13 years, Cassini has provided precious data about the ring planet as well as its many moons, including the discovery of massive ice-water geysers at Enceladus.


In 2011, it was Mercury’s turn to receive the first visitor in its orbit. For 4 years, MESSENGER provided geological information, such as the presence of sulfur, which may be linked to the planet’s volcanism.

14. Rosetta

This probe was the first to orbit a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, between 2014 and 2016. In addition to tail information, a small landing module transmitted data from the surface of the space object.

15. Starlink

Space X began launching the Starlink project in 2019 with the aim of offering broadband anywhere on Earth. It is the largest artificial constellation ever created, with the release of 12,000 satellites — and the company hopes to increase the number to 48,000.