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Mariner 4 returns the first close-range images about Mars.
April 12, 1981 - The first manned mission of the Space Transportation System (STS-1), Columbia , is launched.
March 17, 1958 - Vanguard 1 satellite is launched into orbit, and continues to transmit for 3 years. July 20, 1976 - Pictures of the Martian surface are taken by Viking 1, the first U. attempt to soft land a spacecraft on another planet.
September 3, 1976 - Viking 2 lands on Mars on the Plain of Utopia, where it discovered water frost.
January 31, 1971 - Apollo 14 moon mission is launched by the U. with the legendary Alan Shepard, along with Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell on board. May 30, 1971 - The United States launches Mariner 9, which becomes the first spacecraft to survey Mars from orbit. Over the next year, it maps 100 percent of the Martian surface.
Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. December 15, 1970 - Soviet Venera 7 is the first probe to soft-land on Venus, transmitting for 23 minutes. November 13, 1971 - American Mariner 9 (launched May 30, 1971) is the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, Mars.
June 19, 1981 - The European Space Agency launches its third Ariane rocket.
December 20, 1981 - The ESA launches a fourth Ariane rocket.