Unmanned spacecraft

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The unmanned resupply vessel Progress M-06M Galileo space probe, prior to departure from Earth orbit in 1989
The unmanned ATV-2 Johannes Kepler approaches crewed space station International Space Station.
Spaceplane Buran launched, orbited Earth, and landed as an unmanned spacecraft in 1988 (shown here at an airshow)
  • Top: The unmanned resupply vessel Progress M-06M (upper-left). Galileo space probe, prior to departure from Earth orbit in 1989 (right). The unmanned ATV-2 Johannes Kepler approaches crewed space station ISS (lower-left).
  • Bottom: Spaceplane Buran was launched, orbited Earth, and landed as an unmanned spacecraft in 1988 (shown at an airshow).
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Unmanned spacecraft are spacecraft without people ("man") on board, used for unmanned spaceflight. Unmanned spacecraft may have varying levels of autonomy from human input, they may be remote controlled, remote guided or even autonomous, meaning they have a pre-programmed list of operations, which they will execute, unless otherwise instructed by the Earth. Many habitable spacecraft also have varying levels of robotic features. For example, the space stations Salyut 7 and Mir, and the ISS module Zarya were capable of unmanned remote guided station-keeping, and docking maneuvers with both resupply craft and new modules. The most common unmanned spacecraft categories are robotic spacecraft, unmanned resupply spacecraft, space probes and space observatories. Not every unmanned spacecraft is a robotic spacecraft, for example a reflector ball is a non-robotic unmanned spacecraft.

Examples

For a more detailed list see List of Solar System probes.

Selected Lunar probes

Mars probes

Venus probes

Gas giant probes

Comet and asteroid probes

9P/Tempel collides with Deep Impact's impactor

Solar observation probes

  • Ulysses — Solar particles and fields (ended 2009)
  • Genesis — First solar wind sample return mission, 2001–2004 (crash)
  • Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) — launched October 19, 2008.
  • Advanced Composition Explorer — Solar particles and fields observation at Earth-Sun L1 point
  • STEREO — Pair of probes in solar orbits providing 3D observations of Sun
  • SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, Observer for Sun's corona and core located at L1 point

Other Solar System probes

Technology demonstrators

Unmanned resupply spacecraft

See also

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