How did it all begin? Some of the first missions of space connected with the next in a way...but how? Hopefully the next couple of paragraphs should explain a lot about how space exploration. It may also give you more information on the sequence of events that happened.
On May 5th, 1961, Alan B. Shepard was launched into space aboard the Freedom 7, the first piloted Mercury spacecraft. The Freedom 7 was launched in Cape Canaveral by MercuryRedstone, a launch vehicle to an altitude of 115 nautical miles and a range of 302 miles. This was the first American space flight which involved human beings. Alan Shepard showed the world that a human can mantain control in high G stresses or in weightlessness. Shepard's speed was approximately 5,100 miles per hour and his flight lasted for 14.8 minutes. This mission was a complete success.
On February 20, 1962, a major event happened when John Glenn circled the Earth for the first time in the history of space exploration. In total, Glenn made three full orbits but had to fly parts of the last two orbits due to an autopilot malfunction. Despite the autopilot malfunction and a heat shield that came loose, the mission was extremely successful and John Glenn was made a hero for doing it. However, L. Gordon Cooper, who flew on May 15th and 16th in 1963, would later fly the Faith 7 and circle the Earth 22 times in 34 hours.
On October 11-22, 1968 was the begining of the Apollo missions. Apollo 7 was launched into space and orbited the Earth. Although orbiting the Earth was nothing new, the purpose of the mission was to test out the Apollo hardware and to make sure that it was safe. All in all it was a successful mission in contrast to some of the upcoming Apollo missions.
On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 took off atop Saturn V. This mission was a complete success in its mission. Apollo 8 was assigned to orbit the moon for the first time in the history of space exploration. After launching, Apollo 8 tested its equipment and then began their long journey to the moon. Apollo 8 was piloted by 3 astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders. Originally this mission was to test out the Apollo equipment beyond the Earth's orbit, but senior engineer Samuel C. Philips asked that it be a circumlunar flight. The crew returned on December 27th, 1968 and the mission was a complete success.
On July 16, 1969, the first lunar landing mission was underway. Carrying the 3 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Apollo 11 was bound for the moon to make the first touchdown from a man on the moon. The trip to the moon took three days. At the end of the journey there, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon while Michael Collins orbited overhead in the command module. Neil Armstrong checked the surface and took the first step on the moon saying to the millions of listeners,"one small step for a man, but one giant leap for mankind.
On April 11th, 1970, one of the near disasters of the Apollo missions took off. This well known mission was called Apollo 13. 56 hours into the flight, an oxygen module ruptured damaging several of the power, electrical, and life support systems on the craft. People around the world wathed and waited as the crew and the NASA personel worked together to try and find a solution to the problem. (Since they had to circle the moon before they came back.) NASA engineers quickly determined that Apollo 13 did not have enough air, water, and electricity to sustain the astronauts in space long enough for the spacecraft to reenter Earth's atmosphere. Soon they found that the Lunar module contained a spacecraft that was unnefected buy the accident. This small spacecraft was able to sustain them for the rest of the trip but it was still a very close event and the astronauts were extremely scared.
In 1990, during the flight of the Discovery Space shuttle the crew deployed the hubble telescope, which was soon discovered to have a human hair upon it that blocked the vision of the telescope. However this was soon corected after a mission was flewn and the hubble's hair was taken off. The Hubble space telescope helped in seeing the galaxy M87, and the sight of a potentially large black hole.