With the rise of radical Islamic terrorism in the east, nuclear threats from Russia, and the growing fear that crooked Hillary Clinton will become the next US president, it’s easy to believe that America is no longer the greatest country in the world.
But we’re still the best at a lot of things, and this photo proves that the United States still takes the cake when it comes to space exploration.
The US launched Mars rover “Curiosity,” in 2011, and the little guy is till taking photos and sending data back to Earth. The image at left shows Curiosity exploring the Gale Crater on Mars (October 2015).
Of the 53 missions to Mars attempted since 1960, only 23 have been successful. Of those successes, 18 were launched by the US.
Like nuclear power and global influence, the race to explore Mars has been dominated by Russia and the United States. The Soviets launched their first lander (Sputnik 24) towards Mars in 1962. The spacecraft barely made it into low Earth orbit before falling back to the planet’s surface just one day later.
NASA made the first successful Mars flyby in 1964. Since then, the US has made seven successful landings on the Red Planet. The rest of the world has made none.
Russia has attempted each new Martian feat before the US, but the glory of the first flyby, orbiter, lander, and rover all went to America – each time just after the Russian failure.
The credit for “first crash landing” goes to Russia, however, with the Mars 2 lander crashing during its descent to the Red Planet. The next Russian lander, Mars 3, arrived during a dust storm and was destroyed less than 15 seconds after landing.
The Soviets’ next attempt, the Mars 7 mission in 1974, malfunctioned and missed its target by over 800 miles.
The first successful landings occurred in the 70’s, when NASA’s Viking 1 and Viking 2 were able to deploy landers to the surface of Mars.
The United States has had only one failure in the quest to explore Mars – the “Mars Climate Orbiter,” which crashed into Mars in 1999 due to a miscalculation.