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This Month in Exploration - November
11.05.09
Visit "This Month in Exploration" every month to find out how aviation and space exploration have changed throughout the years, improving life for humans on Earth and in space. While reflecting on the events that led to NASA's formation and its rich history of accomplishments, "This Month in Exploration" will reveal where the agency is leading us -- to the moon, Mars and beyond.

The Wright Military Flyer. The Wright military flyer. Credit: NASA 100 Years Ago

November 3, 1909: Lt. George C. Sweet became the first naval officer to fly in the Wright airplane during the military trials of the Wright Flyer at College Park, Md. On the same day, Dr. William H. Greene set a passenger-carrying record at Morris Park, N.Y. A. Leo Stevens, an aviation pioneer in his own right, and two others rode as passengers for short flights in the Greene biplane.

90 Years Ago

November 12, 1919: Ross MacPherson Smith commenced his historic, 11,500-mile intercontinental flight in a British Vickers-Vimy heavy bomber aircraft in Heston, London. He completed the trip at Port Darwin, Australia on December 10, 1919 and was knighted for his efforts.

80 Years Ago

November 28-29, 1929: Commander Richard E. Byrd made the first flight over the South Pole in a Ford trimotor piloted by Bernt Balchen and two American pilots. During this first expedition to Antarctica, Byrd established a base he named Little America that was located on the Bay of Whales.

The Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket research aircraft. The Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket research aircraft (front). Credit: NASA 75 Years Ago

November 18, 1934: The United States Navy issued a contract to the Northrop Corporation for the XBT-1: a two-seat scout and 1,000-pound dive bomber. The aircraft was the first prototype in a sequence that led to the SBD Dauntless series of dive bombers used throughout World War II.

60 Years Ago

November 22, 1949: The Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket, a research plane, exceeded the speed of sound at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It was powered by both a Westinghouse J-34 turbojet engine and a Reaction Motors rocket motor.

50 Years Ago

November 4, 1959: NASA launched a second LJ-1A rocket (nicknamed Little Joe) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. to test the Mercury escape system under severe dynamic pressure. The launch vehicle functioned perfectly, but the escape rocket ignited ten seconds too late.

November 11-22, 1959: The United States contributed 10 rocket firings to an internationally coordinated program of rocket sounds of the upper atmosphere sponsored by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).

45 Years Ago

November 28, 1964: NASA launched the Mars explorer Mariner 4 spacecraft at 9:22 a.m. EST from the Eastern Space and Missile Center. The first successful mission to Mars, it encountered the planet on July 14, 1965.

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40 Years Ago

November 14, 1969: NASA launched Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission, at 11:22 a.m. EST from NASA's Kennedy Space Station, Fla. Astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard F. Gordon, and Alan L. Bean were aboard. The event was witnessed by Richard Nixon, the first U.S. President to attend the launch of a manned space flight.

30 Years Ago

November 21, 1979: The Eastern Space and Missile Center hosted the launch of the U.S. Air Force's Defense Satellites DSCS II-13 and 14.

25 Years Ago

November 8, 1984: NASA launched the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-51A) from Kennedy Space Center at 7:15 a.m. EST. The satellites TELESAT-H (ANIK) and SYNCOM IV-I (also known as LEASAT-1) were deployed, while disabled satellites PALAPA-B2 and WESTAR-VI were retrieved. The mission marked the first retrieval and return of two disabled communications satellites. The mission duration was 7 days, 23 hours, 44 minutes

20 Years Ago

November 18, 1989: NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE ) at 6:34 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base. This satellite was designed to measure diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe. COBE determined the temperature of the cosmic microwave background -- essentially the afterglow of the big bang.

Image from the moon during Apollo 12 mission. Image from the moon during the Apollo 12 mission. Credit: NASA 15 Years Ago

November 3, 1994: NASA launched Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-66) at 11:59 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center. The primary payload was the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Sciences - 3 (ATLAS-03), which measured and studied the hole in Earth's ozone layer. The mission duration was 10 days, 22 hours, 34 minutes.

10 Years Ago

November 26, 1999: NASA's Galileo spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Jupiter's moon, Io. Through Galileo's instruments, scientists determined that some of the volcanoes located on Io are hotter than any on Earth.

Five Years Ago

November 12, 2004: NASA's X-43A research vehicle set a new world speed record by a jet-powered aircraft when it traveled at Mach 10 - nearly 7,000 miles per hour. The X-43A's air-breathing scramjet engine has no moving parts. The aircraft is part of NASA's Hyper-X Program

Present Day

November 16, 2009: Space shuttle Atlantis (STS-129) will launch from Kennedy Space Center to deliver components including two gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and a spare latching end effector for the International Space Station's robotic arm.

Lee A. Jackson (Analex Corporation)

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