Cassini orbits Saturn illustration

Mission to the Planets

So far, planets have been beyond the reach of human spaceflight. But that hasn't stopped us from sending satellites, probes and rovers to planets in the solar system, gathering information about our closest cosmic neighbors. We even use satellites to study Earth! Compare the planetary spacecraft to see how they are designed for specific jobs.

  • Cassini orbits Saturn illustration


    The first spacecraft ever to orbit Saturn, and the first to deliver a probe to land in the outer solar system

  • Explorer 1 team holds model of craft

    Explorer 1

    The first satellite to be successfully launched into orbit from the United States

  • sounding rocket flight path

    Orion sounding rocket

    A single-stage rocket used to boost scientific experiments into and above Earth's atmosphere

  • Pioneer Venus

    Pioneer Venus

    The first American probe to enter the atmosphere of Venus

  • Viking lander model

    Viking Lander

    The first US spacecraft ever to land successfully on Mars

  • Sputnik 1

    Sputnik 1

    The first human-made object to orbit the Earth. Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.