July 24, 1950
The first successful rocket launch occurs at Cape Canaveral. The rocket, Bumper 8, was a captured German V-2 modified with a US Army Corporal second stage.
Cape Canaveral’s location in the southeast is an ideal site for rocket launches in the United States. By launching eastward, rockets are able to take advantage of the linear velocity of the Earth’s rotation. This velocity is greatest towards the equator, making the southern United States preferable. And by launching towards the ocean, away from populated areas, safety downrange from the launch is maximized in case of problems.
July 20, 1969
Eagle, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, successfully lands in the area of the Moon known as the Sea of Tranquility. Upon landing, Neil Armstrong utters the now famous phrase, “The Eagle has landed.” About six hours later, while setting foot on the Moon, he utters the even more famous phrase, “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.“
July 17, 1975
Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 successfully dock in orbit and the astronauts and cosmonauts shake hands. This marks the first time in history that spacecraft of two nations dock in space.
July 16, 1969
Apollo 11 is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida, on the way to becoming the first space mission to land men on the Moon.
July 14, 1965
NASA’s Mariner 4 becomes the first spacecraft to perform a successful fly-by of Mars and the first to send back photographs of another planet from deep space. The photographs are the first showing details of Mars’ surface including extensive cratering.
July 11, 1979
The first American space station, Skylab, reenters the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up after plans for keeping it in orbit fail to materialize. Fragments of Skylab fell around Perth, Australia, killing one cow.
July 10, 1962
The world’s first international communications satellite, Telstar I, is launched into orbit. A collaboration between the US, Britain, and France, Telstar I introduced the world to trans-Atlantic video feeds and ushered in a new era of communication.
June 28, 1965
Intelsat I, the first commercial communications satellite, is activated for service. It was nicknamed “Early Bird” after the famous proverb, and became famous for carrying the first commercial telephone call between America and Europe, as well as helping provide TV coverage of the Gemini 6 splashdown.
June 21, 2004
Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne becomes the first spacecraft developed by the free market to enter spaceflight. Launched from a mothership named White Knight, SpaceShipOne flew just beyond the atmosphere into the threshold of space then glided back to Earth. SpaceShipOne would later win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft.
June 19, 1976
The Viking 1 spacecraft enters the into orbit around the planet Mars 10 months after being launched from Earth. Viking 1 would become the first US spacecraft to land on Mars and the first spacecraft overall to successfully soft land and perform a mission on Mars.