Space Missions Past, Present and Planned

Chandra - NASA x-ray telescope operating from high Earth orbit. Launched 1999, expected to operate at least through 2014, if not longer.

Dawn - NASA spacecraft to explore asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. Launched 2007, expected arrival at Vesta 2011, Ceres 2015.

Deep Impact - NASA probe designed to release impactor into Comet Tempel 1 and analyze results. Launched 2005, impacted 2005; current mission extended indefinitely for probe flyby of other comets and studies.

Fermi (formerly GLAST) - NASA gamma-ray telescope operating from low Earth orbit. Launched 2008, expected to operate at least through 2018.

Hubble - NASA/ESA optical telescope operating from low Earth orbit. Launched 1990, expected to operate at least through 2014, then subject to defunding.

International Space Station (ISS) - Multinational research facility assembled in low Earth orbit. First module launched 1998, expected completion 2011 with operation through 2020.

Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) - NASA satellite designed to map the heliosphere. Launched 2008, nominal mission through 2010 with extensions.

Kepler - NASA spacecraft in Earth-trailing solar orbit designed to search for planets orbiting other stars. Launched 2009, expected to operate at least through 2013.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) - NASA spacecraft in low Moon orbit designed to map and identify detailed features of the lunar surface. Launched 2009, expected to operate through 2014.

Mars Expedition Rover (MER-A, "Spirit"; MER-B, "Opportunity") - NASA robotic rovers designed to explore the surface features of Mars. Launched 2003, arrived 2004; currently operating indefinitely subject to continued functionality.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, "Curiosity") - NASA robotic rover designed to explore and test for organic compounds on Mars. Scheduled launch 2011, expected arrival 2012, expected to operate at least through 2014.

Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) - NASA probe designed to study the chemical composition, geology and magnetic field of Mercury. Launced 2004, expected to enter stable orbit 2011.

Rosetta - ESA robotic probe to land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched 2004, expected arrival 2014.

Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE, or "Kaguya") - JAXA spacecraft in low Moon orbit designed to study geology and surface features. Launched 2007, intentionally crashed into Moon as end of mission in 2009.

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) - NASA satellite designed to study solar atmosphere and influence on Earth and near-Earth space. Launched 2010, expected to operate at least through 2015.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) - ESA/NASA satellite designed for real-time observations of the Sun and heliosphere. Launched 1995, operating indefinitely subject to funding at least through 2012.

Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) - NASA pair of identical probes to orbit opposite sides of the Sun for simultaneous, stereoscopic solar observation. Launched 2006, expected operation at least through 2014.

Space Transportation System (STS, the "shuttle") - NASA reusable system designed to transport payloads and personnel to low Earth orbit. Five orbiters constructed; first launched 1981, expected decommissioning 2011.
  • Challenger (OV-099) - In service 1983, destroyed shortly after launch 1986.
  • Discovery (OV-103) - In service 1984, decommissioned 2011.

Stardust - NASA/JPL probe designed for close flyby of comets and return samples to Earth. Launched 1999, returned capsule from Wild 2 in 2006; second encounter with Tempel 1 in 2011. Shut down due to low fuel in 2011.

Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO, or "Akatsuki") - JAXA probe designed to study the atmosphere of Venus from orbit. Launched 2010, reached orbit 2010 but shut down unexpectedly.

Voyager 1 - NASA robotic probe designed to study Jupiter, Saturn and the outer solar system. Launched 1977, encounters with Jupiter/Saturn in 1979/1980; operating indefinitely, predicted battery life through 2025.

Webb - NASA/ESA/CSA optical telescope to operate from L2 elliptical Earth orbit. Expected launch 2014, with operation through at least 2024.

Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) - NASA infrared telescope designed for all-sky survey to operate from sun-synchronous Earth orbit. Launched 2009, turned off 2011 after running out of coolant.