Space Travel

First Lunar Orbiter Launched

Lunar Orbiter IAugust 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.

The First E-mail From Space

Macintosh PortableAugust 9, 1991

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.

NASA Launches Phoenix

Mars Phoenix LaunchAugust 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.

First Man to Drive on the Moon

Apollo 15 LRVJuly 31, 1971

Using the battery-powered Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), Astronaut David Scott of the Apollo 15 mission becomes the first person to drive a vehicle on the Moon. The LRV was used during the last three missions to the Moon, Apollo 15, 16, and 17. The three LRVs used during the missions still remain on the surface of the moon.

World’s First Geosynchronous Satellite

Syncom 2July 26, 1963

Syncom 2, the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, is launched. Syncom 1 was intended to be the first geosynchronous satellite, but an electronics failure rendered the satellite inoperable during the ascent to orbit.

First Launch from Cape Canaveral 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.

The Eagle Has Landed

Moon LandingJuly 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.

Apollo and Soyuz Dock

Apollo Soyuz Crews Shake HandsJuly 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.

Apollo 11 Heads for the Moon

Apollo 11 LaunchJuly 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.

First Mars Fly-By

Mariner 3 and 4

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.