Space Travel

The Last Surveyor Launches

January 7, 1968

Surveyor 7 lifts off from launch complex 36A, Cape Canaveral. Surveyor 7 was the seventh and last lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon.

Space Shuttle Given Green Light

January 5, 1972

U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.

Spirit Lands on Mars

January 4, 2004

Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, lands successfully on Mars.

Luna 1 Reaches Moon

January 4, 1959

Two days after launch, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 1 becomes the first to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

Sputnik 1 Falls

January 4, 1958

After nearly 3 months in orbit, the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 falls to Earth.

Mars Polar Lander Launched

January 3, 1999

The Mars Polar Lander is launched. The mission ultimately ended in failure during an attempted landing on Mars’ surface. Attempts to re-establish communication with the lander failed after the lander entered Mars’ atmosphere. It has been concluded that the most likely cause of the failure was a software error, causing the lander to crash into the planet. Even though software was the likely culprit, it has not been proven that Microsoft had anything to do with it 🙂

Stardust Flies By Comet Wild 2

January 2, 2004

The NASA spacecraft Stardust successfully flies past Comet Wild 2, collecting samples that are returned to Earth.

Luna 1 Launch

January 2, 1959

Luna 1, the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and to orbit the Sun, is launched by the U.S.S.R.

First Men to Orbit the Moon

The view of Earth rising over the lunar surface from Apollo 8

The view of Earth rising over the lunar surface from Apollo 8

December 23, 1968

Astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, and William Anders become the first men to orbit the Moon. Flying in Apollo 8, the men perform 10 total lunar orbits and test many of the procedures that will be used in future lunar missions. Additionally, the men were the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, and the first to directly see the far side of the Moon. On Christmas Eve, the crew made a television broadcast from which they read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis.  It was the most watched television program ever at the time.

Relay I Launched

relay_1December 13, 1962

NASA launches the active repeater communication satellite Relay I from Cape Canaveral. One of the earliest communication satellites to be launched, Relay I’s mission was primarily experimental, but it nonetheless was used for some notable events. On November 22, 1963 Relay I was the first satellite to broadcast television from the United States to Japan, which happened to be the announcement of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was then used in August of 1964 to broadcast the 1964 Summer Olympics from Japan to Europe and the United States, relaying the signal with another satellite, Syncom 3. It was the first time two satellites were used in tandem for a television broadcast. Relay I was used until February 10, 1965, when a problem with its power system caused the satellite to become non-functional.