NASA rolls out the first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, from its assembly facility to a waiting crowd. Included in the crowd was a delegation of actors from the Star Trek TV series. Originally to be named Constitution, a write-in campaign by Star Trek fans convinced President Gerald Ford and NASA to rename the Space Shuttle.
The Enterprise was a prototype shuttle, designed for the early testing phase of the Space Shuttle program. It was built without engines or a functional heat shield. While it performed various atmospheric test flights, and was originally intended to be retrofitted for spaceflight, it was determined that it would be less expensive to simply build new shuttles. Therefore the Enterprise never did actually fly into space.
September 14, 1959
The Soviet space probe Luna 2 crashes onto the surface of the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach the Moon, as well as the first man-made object to reach any celestial body.
September 6, 2008
After 5 months of delays, the high resolution earth observation satellite, GeoEye-1, is launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base. Owned by the corporation GeoEye, Inc., GeoEye-1 is capable of taking high resolution images with detail of down to 16 inches. However, the US Government has restricted that resolution for its own use. Commercial usage is limited to resolutions with detail down to 20 inches. As the exclusive licensee of the images for online mapping purposes, Google had its logo on the Delta II rocket that was used to launch GeoEye-1.
September 1, 1977
Pioneer 11 becomes the first man-made object to fly by Saturn.
August 21, 1993
NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft, three days before it was to enter into orbit around Mars. The reason for the loss of contact was never definitively determined, but the most probable cause was a rupture of a fuel tank.
August 12, 1960
Echo 1, the world’s first communication satellite is launched. Technically, Echo 1 was a passive reflector, as communication signals were bounced off it rather than retransmitted as modern satellites do today.
August 10, 1966
The first lunar orbiter, creatively named Lunar Orbiter I, is launched. Its primary mission is to photograph potential landing sites for future Apollo missions.
Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-43, use an Apple Macintosh Portable computer to send what is considered the first e-mail from space. Using the AppleLink online service, Atlantis astronauts Shannon Lucid and James C. Adamson sent the following message:
Hello Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,…send cryo and RCS! Hasta la vista, baby,…we’ll be back!
The AppleLink software on the Macintosh was specially configured to connect to NASA’s communication system which allowed the Shuttle to interface with Apple’s proprietary network from space. The Macintosh Portable itself only had very minor modifications to operate in space.
August 4, 2007
NASA launches the Mars Phoenix lander. Phoenix would become the first spacecraft to land on the Martian arctic surface. Its mission was to dig for ice and assess if the Martian arctic ever had conditions that could have supported life.