Curiosity is something that is found in a good quantity only in humans. You are never going to see a dog or a cat wondering how other planets and moons look up close. Since 4th October 1957 when Russia’s Sputnik 1 entered orbit, literally thousands of space crafts have left Earth’s atmosphere, including satellites that orbit Earth.
Below is a list of ten missions that reached the closest to their intended objectives.
10. Pioneer 10 and 11
At the time of their launch, these two space machines were the most scientifically advanced man-made objects of all time. Their objectives included to study the outer reaches of the solar system. They held the record of being the farthest man-made objects from Earth, until they were overtaken by the Voyager missions in the 1990s.
9. Venera probes
To this date, the Venera probes have been the most successful Russian missions of space exploration. These two probes landed on the surface of Venus and withstood the heat for up to two hours and sent back key data about the hottest planet’s surface.
This was the first probe that was able to return a sample from an asteroid. There was fuel leakage on the way back and Japan’s Hayabusa utilized one of its lesser engine to reach home with the sample safe.
7. Vostok 1
This was the aircraft in which the first man in space Yuri Gagarin traveled. Because this was the first manned space mission, there were some extra precautions taken which were no longer deemed necessary in future missions.
6. The Space Shuttle
NASA’s space shuttles were the largest spacecraft ever made and successfully completed quite a few important missions. This earned them the title of the most important vehicles to enter orbit.
5. New Horizons
In 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is going to be the first man-made object to fly by Pluto upon its arrival in 2015. Its mission was to study Pluto close by but on its way also relayed information about Jupiter and some of its moons.
4. Voyager 1 and 2
The Voyager was designed to closely study the outer planets of the solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Because the probe was still operating after passing Neptune, its mission objectives were extended to include the study of interstellar space beyond Pluto.
This was the first spacecraft ever to orbit the giant planet Jupiter. It sent back data about the gas giant that was not previously known. In 2003 it was crashed onto the surface of Jupiter to prevent contamination of a nearby moon in case it harbored life.
2. Apollo 11
You probably already know that the Apollo 11 was the first manned spacecraft to successfully land on the moon. What you might not know, however, is that this spacecraft was launched using what is to this date the most powerful rocket of all time, the Saturn V.
A joint venture between the NASA, the ESA and ASI (Italian Space Agency), this tops our list as the greatest space mission in history. Its energy, powered by Plutonium-238 is expected to last until 2017.