@swaps - do you actually believe the US Government can keep that kind of thing that secret for that long? Without some kind of disgruntled ex-employee blowing the lid off the whole thing? It's like Roswell - nothing happened there, or else someone would have figured it out by now.
Nothing to see here folks, move along. Conspiracy theorists check your marbles with the concierge....
PS - perhaps none of the other missions went beyond the Van Allen belt because they didn't need to??
@RxF: One definition of a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into. This definition applies to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and every other country we pay to hate us and plot our destruction. OK, I retract my comment. Beside, sending Afghanistan into space would impart an unseemly wobble to the rotation of our planet.