Space Dates

   To all those who have given their lives in the exploration of space, we commend your bravery.
   • October 4, 1957 - Sputnik 1 (USSR) is the first artificial satellite.
   • January 4, 1958 - Sputnik 1 reenters the atmosphere and burns up.
   • January 31, 1958 - Explorer I, the first US satellite, is launched. See Van Allen, James.
   • October 1959 - First pictures from the dark side of the Moon made by the Soviet spacecraft Lunik III.
   • April 12, 1961 - Yuri Gagarin (USSR) is the first man in space. There is a rumor the USSR sent a man in space before this. Only his heartbeat could be heard on telemetry. He died several hours or days after launch. This was designed as a suicide mission.
   • February 20, 1962 - First American man in Space; John Glenn; Friendship 7 (Mercury)
   • June 3, 1965 - First American to walk in space; Ed White; Gemini 4.
   • January 31, 1966 - Luna 9 (USSR) is the first probe to make a soft landing on the Moon.
   • January 27, 1967 - Fire in the Apollo 1 capsule during a launch pad test kills three astronauts; "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
   • April 24, 1967 - Vladimir Komarov (USSR) was the first human to be killed in space flight. While returning to Earth, the lines of his Soyuz 1 parachute became tangled, and the parachute collapsed. His craft burst into flames when it crashed.
   • July 20, 1969 - First lunar landing by Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin aboard the lunar module "Eagle"; Apollo 11. Michael Collins was in the capsule orbiting the Moon.
   • July 20, 1969 - First man to step on the surface of the Moon; Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin; Apollo 11. As he set foot on the Moon he said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
   • April 13, 1970 - Apollo 13 - This mission was aborted 56 hours after launch when oxygen tank number 2, on board the service module, ruptured. The rupture also caused tank number 1 to fail. This resulted in the command module losing its normal supply of light, electricity and water. Equipment had to be jury-rigged to remove excess carbon dioxide from the spacecraft. The astronauts rationed everything, and returned to Earth with 9% of their water, 20% of the LM's electricity and 28.5 pounds of the LM's oxygen (over half of what was available after the explosion) unused. This allowed the astronauts to return to Earth alive, but all together they lost 31.5 pounds due to dehydration. During this mission Jack Swigert, Jr. uttered the famous phrase, "Houston, we've had a problem here." The crew consisted of James Lovell, Jr., John "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Fred Haise, Jr.
   • June 30, 1971 - While returning from a 23 day mission aboard the Salyut 1 space station, three soviet astronauts died of suffocation when a leak in their capsule allowed all of its air to escape. Until then, the Soviet Union was so sure of the safety of their spacecraft that their astronauts didn't wear space suits during reentry. After this accident, Soviet astronauts wore space suits. The astronauts who died in the capsule were Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev.
   • April 12, 1981 - First launch of the Space Shuttle. The crew consisted of Commander John Young, and pilot Robert Crippen.
   • June 18, 1983 - First American woman in space, Sally Ride, mission STS-7; The crew consisted of Sally Ride, Robert Crippen, Frederick Hauck, John Fabian and Norman Thagard; Space Shuttle Challenger.
   • August 30, 1983 - First Black American to perform a space flight, Guion Bluford, mission STS-8; The crew consisted of Guion Bluford, Richard Truly, Daniel Brandenstein, Dale Gardner and William Thornton; Space Shuttle Challenger.
   • January 28, 1986 - "O" ring failure on a solid rocket booster causes an explosion 73 seconds after the launch of Space Shuttle mission STS 51-L , killing all astronauts on board. Some died from the explosion, the rest died when the Shuttle impacted the ocean. The crew consisted of Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Sharon McAuliffe (school teacher); Space Shuttle Challenger.
   • February 3, 1995 - Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle, mission STS-63; The crew consisted of James Wetherbee, Eileen Collins, Michael Foale, Janice Voss, Bernard Harris, Vladimar Titov; Space Shuttle Discovery.
   • October 29, 1998 - Astronaut John Glenn, at the age of 77, went back into space aboard the shuttle Discovery (mission STS-95). This was his first space flight since the Friendship 7 in 1962. After the Friendship 7 flight, President Kennedy contacted NASA and ordered them not to let John Glenn go into space again. The president didn't want to risk having this latest international hero killed in a space accident. John Glenn was not told about the president's order until after Kennedy had been assissinated. The crew consisted of John Glenn, Curtis Brown, Steven Lindsey, Stephen Robinson, Scott Parazynski, Pedro Duque and Chiaki Mukai.

The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology. 2014.

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