1991 – The U.S. Galileo spacecraft became the first to visit an asteroid (Gaspra).

Asteroid 951 Gaspra, image taken by the Galileo spacecraft, October 29, 1991.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech

Galileo became the first spacecraft ever to encounter an asteroid when it passed Gaspra on October 29, 1991. It flew within just 1,601 kilometers (1,000 miles) of the stony asteroid’s center at a relative speed of about 8 kilometers per second (18,000 miles per hour).

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image: Britannica