A Brief History
On July 22, 1962, the US space agency, NASA, launched Mariner 1, the first in a series of probes designed to visit other planets in our solar system. After several delays in launching the spacecraft, the rocket lifted off and drifted off course, necessitating an “abort” procedure that resulted in blowing up the ill-fated spacecraft.
The Mariner program consisted of 10 un-manned spacecraft to be launched into space to visit other planets and gather information for NASA scientists. Venus, Mars, and Mercury were flown past by Mariner drones, the first man-made craft to fly by and even orbit other planets. Additionally, the Mariner program was the first to use gravity assisted acceleration, using planetary gravity to help propel the craft.
The seven successful Mariner flights from 1962 to 1973 paved the way for follow on space programs that sent US spacecraft to explore the other planets in the solar system.
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For more information, please see…
Launius, Roger. The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration: From the Ancient World to the Extraterrestrial Future. Smithsonian Books, 2018.
Weitekamp, Margaret. Space Craze: America’s Enduring Fascination with Real and Imagined Spaceflight. Smithsonian Books, 2022.
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