|5–8 Million BC||The earliest recognisable human ancestors, Australopithecus afarensis, begins to evolve.|
|400,000– 200,000 BC||Homo sapiens (the modern human species) evolves. Eventually they migrate across the globe, presumably using the stars as a navigation aid.|
|50,000 BC||Australia is settled by Aborigines, who become the first people to document stars in the Southern Hemisphere.|
|10,0000 BC||Early agriculture is established, presumably using stars as a calendar.|
|3,500 BC||Sumerians develop the earliest known writing system.|
|3,200 BC||Newgrange Passage Tomb was built in Wales. During the winter solstice sunrise a shaft of sunlight shines through a box over the entrance, down the passage and lights up the burial chamber.|
|3,000 BC||Egyptian astronomers use the stars to predict the annual flooding of the Nile.|
|2,500 BC||Stonehenge is constructed, possibly demonstrating some basic astronomical knowledge.|
|1,700 BC||Observations of Venus were recorded and reproduced 1000 years later in the Venus Tablet.|
|1,600 BC||The Nebra sky disk is made somewhere in Europe, demonstrating Bronze-age understanding of basic astronomical principles.|
|1,200 BC||The earliest Babylonian star catalogues.|
|570–490 BC||Greek mathematician Pythagoras reasons that the Earth and other planets are spheres.|
|410 BC–355 BC||Greek mathematician Eudoxus of Cnidus attempts to create a mathematical explanation of the planets' movements, and introduces the astronomical globe.|
|335–323 BC||Greek philosopher Aristotle refines a model of the universe with Earth at the centre and everything else orbiting in perfect circles.|
|310 BC–230 BC||Aristarchus of Samos becomes the first known person to suggest that the Earth orbits the Sun, but no-one takes him seriously.|
|276 BC–195 BC||Eratosthenes of Cyrene calculates the circumference of the Earth.|
|147–125 BC||Greek astronomer Hipparchus makes numerous discoveries including prescession and the first nova. He also catalogues over 1,000 stars.|
|150–100 BC||The Antikythera mechanism is made, probably in Greece. The oldest known complex scientific calculator, it is designed to calculate astronomical positions.|
1 AD - 1900 AD
|c150||Ptolemy proposes a model to explain the complex motions of stars and planets, with the earth at the centre of the universe.|
|c1232||Simple rockets are used by Chinese military forces.|
|c1241||Mongols bring rocket weaponry to Europe. Arab writings later describe rockets being used by Mongol invaders to capture the city of Baghdad.|
|c1300–c1500||Military rockets become established throughout Europe.|
|1543||Nicolaus Copernicus publishes De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), the first major work describing the Sun at the centre of the universe.|
|1572||Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe observes a "new star" (supernova) and reasons that it must exist outside the solar system. Tycho sets a new standard in celestial observations which last until his death in 1601. He is the last major astronomer to work without a telescope.|
|1605||Johannes Kepler completes Astronomia nova (New Astronomy), a book that includes his "first law" of planetary motion, explaining that the planets move in an elliptical orbit. The book is published in 1609.|
|1608||Hans Lippershey creates the first known design of a telescope. Whether he invented it or copied the idea from someone else is unclear.|
|1609–10||Galileo Galilei uses the telescope to observe three moons orbiting Jupiter, proving that other orbital systems exist independent of earth.|
|Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727)|
|1812||Military rockets come to the New World.|
|1905||Albert Einstein publishes his theory of special relativity.|
|1915||Einstein completes his theory of general relativity.|
|1919||American Robert H. Goddard publishes a paper titled A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, describing ideas to build space rockets.|
|1922||Russia cosmologist Alexander Friedmann proposes that the universe is expanding, an idea that later becomes known as the Big Bang Theory.|
|1923||Rumanian-born Hermann Oberth publishes the book The Rocket into Interplanetary Space.|
|1925||American astronomer Edwin Hubble proves that the Milky Way is only one galaxy in a universe that includes many other distant galaxies.|
|1926||Goddard launches the world's first successful liquid-fuelled rocket flight. The rocket flies about 46 metres.|
|1934||German Wernher von Braun successfully launches the first A2 rocket, powered by ethanol and liquid oxygen.|
|1942||The first A4 rocket is launched. Later known as the V2, this infamous rocket marks the beginning of modern rocket science.|
|1944||V2 rockets are deployed against London, but too late to affect the ultimate outcome of the war.|
|1945||Wernher von Braun and his team of scientists narrowly escape execution by Nazis, and are taken by American forces.|
|1946–1952||Wernher von Braun, now based at White Sands, USA, helps America build and launch V2 rockets. The rockets carry scientific instruments instead of explosives.|
|1949||The Joint Long Range Proving Ground is established at Cape Canaveral, Fla, USA.|
|1957||Russia launches Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite.|
|1958||America's first satellite, Explorer I, launches aboard a Jupiter C rocket.|
|1958||NASA is established. Project Mercury becomes the United States' first manned space program.|
|1958||The US mission Explorer III discovers the Earth's radiation belt.|
|1959||In January Russia launches Luna 1, the first lunar flyby. In September Luna 2 is the first spacecraft to impact the surface of the Moon, and in October Lunar 3 returns the first images of the Moon's far side.|
|1960?||Wernher von Braun's team is transferred to NASA along with the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency, to form the core of NASA's space program.|
|1961||Russian Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space, orbiting the Earth once.
Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space with a 15-minute flight.
|1961||President Kennedy announces the goal of developing a manned lunar landing program.|
|1962||The USA's Mariner 2 arrives at Venus. From space it measures the surface temperature at around 425°C.|
|1965||Gemini III, the first manned flight of the Gemini program, orbits the Earth three times.|
|1965||Gemini IV includes America's first extravehicular activity (EVA), Ed White's 22-minute "space walk".|
|1966||Gemini VIII accomplishes the first docking with another space vehicle (an unmanned Agena stage). A malfunction then necessitates the first emergency landing of a manned U.S. space mission.
Surveyor 1 is the first successful soft-landing on the Moon, returning photos and data.
|1966||Luna 9 lands on the Moon and returns the first photographs from the surface.|
|1967||The USA's Mariner 4 flies past Mars, returning 22 close-up photos of a cratered surface.|
|1967||Russia's Venera 4 becomes the first probe to enter the atmosphere of Venus and return data (it is crushed by the pressure before reaching the surface).
The USA's Mariner 5 also reaches and studies Venus.
|Apollo 8 completes the first manned lunar fly-around.|
|Apollo 10 tests the lunar landing module.|
| Apollo 11 makes the first manned lunar landing at the Sea of Tranquility.
|Apollo 12 lands on the Moon at Oceanus Procellarum.|
|1970||Apollo 13 strikes trouble and immortalizes the phrase "Houston, we have a problem". The crew is returned safely to Earth using the Lunar Module as a lifeboat.|
|1971||Apollo 14 lands on the Moon in the Fra Mauro highlands.
Apollo 15 lands on the Moon at Hadley-Apennine.
Russia's Mars 2 crashed-lands on Mars, leaving the first human artifact on the Martian surface.
|1972||Apollo 16 lands on the Moon at Descartes crater.
Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo lunar missions, lands on the Moon at Taurus-Littrow.
Russia's Venera 8 successfully lands on Venus and transmits data for 50 minutes before dying.
|1973||The Skylab module is successfully launched into orbit, becoming the first "space station". It is manned for 171 days before being abandoned and eventually re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in 1979.
The USA's Pioneer 10 flies past Jupiter, returning images and data.
|1974||Pioneer 11 flies past Jupiter, returning more images and data.|
|1975||American and Soviet craft dock in space as part of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project.|
|1976||Viking 1 and Viking 2 arrive at Mars and successfully place landers on the surface.|
|1979||Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 fly by Jupiter.|
|1980||Voyager 1 flies by Saturn.|
|1981||Space Shuttle Columbia completes the first mission of NASA's new Space Shuttle program.
Voyager 2 flies by Saturn.
Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds into its flight, killing all on board.
Mir Space Station is launched.
|1989||Voyager 2 flies by Neptune.|
|1990||Hubble Space Telescope is launched.|
|1996||Mars Global Surveyor achieves orbit around Mars.|
|1997||Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars.|
|2001||Mir Space Station is retired and de-orbited to burn up in the atmosphere.|
|2003||Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates over Texas, killing all on board.|
|2004||The Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit & Opportunity) land on Mars.|
|2008||Phoenix Mars Lander lands on Mars.|