Pioneer 10 became the first human-made object to pass outside Pluto’s orbit and leave the central solar system.
It is considered one of the most successful spacecraft of all time, designed for deep-space exploration, which at the time of its launch in 1972 meant pretty much anything beyond the moon.
Pioneer 10 achieved a number of firsts while sending back valuable data along the way. Following liftoff, Pioneer 10 achieved a breakaway speed of 32,400 mph, making it the fastest human-made object to leave the Earth.
It shot past the moon in a mere 11 hours and crossed Mars’ orbit in just 12 weeks. By the time it reached Jupiter on Dec. 3, 1973, Pioneer 10 was moving along at a crisp 82,000 mph.