Top 10 Most Influential Projects in Space
1 Apollo 11
As if putting a man on the moon wasn't amazing enough, NASA's successful 1969 space mission also proved the value of a well-honed risk management strategy.
2 International Space Station
Unprecedented collaboration among space agencies in Europe, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States led to the International Space Station, the largest structure humans have built in space. The station has been continually occupied since November 2000.
Launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX in 2010, this was the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to be recovered from orbit.
4 New Shepard
Moving commercial space travel one step closer to reality, this reusable rocket—developed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin—was initially deployed in 2015. It was the first fully reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing space vehicle.
After it was launched in October 2008, this Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) mission confirmed the existence of water on the moon. Back on Earth, it proved to be a major boost to India's space program, showcasing ISRO's abilities to develop its own technology.
Launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2003, this spacecraft was the first to retrieve a sample from the surface of an asteroid.
The first spacecraft to take up-close images of a comet nucleus, Giotto was launched by the European Space Agency in 1986—and has since inspired a wave of similar missions.
8 Chang'e 4
This robotic spacecraft by the China National Space Administration made a soft landing on the far side of the moon—a first—in January 2019, sending back important data and images from an otherwise unobservable part of our solar system.
A major milestone for private space travel, SpaceShipOne was the first nongovernmental-crewed spacecraft to cross the Kármán line—the accepted point of entry to space—in 2004. It won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize, and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is testing successor vehicles such as SpaceShipTwo for commercial space tourism.
10 Event Horizon Telescope
A multinational cohort of academic, scientific and research institutions came together to give the world the first images of a black hole in 2019, the culmination of a decadelong collaboration.
TOP LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUEORIGIN. TOP RIGHT IMAGE COURTESY OF SPACEX. CHANDRAYAAN-1 IMAGE COURTESY OF ISRO. EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE PHOTO BY PERSIMMONPICTURES.COM / ALAMY STOCK