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This Month in Exploration - April
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.

Leon Delagrange Leon Delagrange and his Voisin-Delagrange Aircraft shortly before his death. Credit: Collection of Dave Lam, earlyaviators.com
100 Years Ago

April 11, 1908: Leon Delagrange flew 12,878 feet in 6.5 minutes in his Voisin-Delagrange aircraft at Issy, France. At an average speed of 22.5 miles per hour, the flight set a new distance and duration record.

75 Years Ago

April 3, 1933: During the Houston Mount Everest Expedition, the Scottish Marquess of Clydesdale and Royal Air Force Lieutenant David McIntyre became the first to fly over Mt. Everest. They each flew a Westland two-seated biplane with a photographer in the passenger seat. Expedition photographer Colonel LVS Blacker captured the first aerial images of Everest.

50 Years Ago

April 25, 1958: The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, now NASA) completed the first successful launch and inflation of a sphere. The sphere was 12 feet in diameter and was launched by a Nike-Cajun sounding rocket to take air density measurements. After its deployment, NACA tracked the sphere using radar and onboard instrumentation.

Apollo 6 launch Apollo 6 launch. Credit: NASA 40 Years Ago

April 4, 1968: NASA launched Apollo 6 → from Cape Canaveral, Fla. using a Saturn V launch vehicle. This mission was the final unmanned test flight of the Apollo program's Saturn V.

35 Years Ago

April 5, 1973: NASA launched Pioneer 11 on an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle managed by NASA's Glenn Research Center. Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft to fly to Saturn in 1979 and the second to fly past Jupiter in 1974. It captured the first detailed pictures of Saturn →.

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25 Years Ago

April 4, 1983: NASA launched Space Shuttle Challenger to begin STS-6. During Challenger's maiden voyage, Donald Peterson and F. Story Musgrave performed the first spacewalk of the shuttle program. This mission also marked the first successful deployment of a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite →, which was part of a system that provides telecommunication services to satellites in low Earth orbit.

20 Years Ago

April 23, 1988: The U.S. government put into effect a ban to prohibit airline passengers from smoking during domestic flights of two hours or less. Any passenger violating this rule would be subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-1) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-1). Credit: NASA 15 Years Ago

April 8, 1993: NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery to begin STS-56. During this nine-day mission, Discovery carried the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-2 (ATLAS-2), which included several instruments for analyzing how the relationship between solar energy and Earth's middle atmosphere impacts the ozone layer. STS-56 crew member Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic female astronaut to fly in space.

April 26, 1993: NASA launched Space Shuttle Columbia, which carried the second reusable German Spacelab, D-2. During the STS-55 mission, two teams conducted 88 experiments. They also tested the German Robotics Experiment (ROTEX) robotic arm. Mission specialist Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. set up the first intravenous line in space and injected saline into another crew member to help replenish body fluids lost in microgravity conditions.

10 Years Ago

April 17, 1998: NASA launched the Space Shuttle Columbia to begin the 90th shuttle flight (STS-90). Columbia carried Neurolab, which contained 26 experiments used to study how the nervous system functions in space.

astronaut participating in a lung test Kathryn Hire, STS-90 mission specialist, involved in a sophisticated lung function test as part of the sleep/respiratory study in Columbia's Neurolab. Credit: NASA
Five Years Ago

April 25, 2003: Russia launched Soyuz TMA-2 to begin Expedition 7 → . The Soyuz spacecraft delivered Russian Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Edward Lu to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. During this mission, Lu became the first American to launch and land on a Soyuz spacecraft.

Present Day

April 2008: NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, who recently performed four spacewalks during the STS-120 mission, will reach new heights by climbing Mount Everest. Parazynski is an accomplished mountain climber, but he has never climbed as high as Everest. Although the trip is a personal endeavor, he plans to perform educational outreach from the mountain. Keep checking This Month in Exploration for updates on the expedition this April and May. View video → of images from the Mount Everest expedition.

April 19, 2008: Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko returned from the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule. They were accompanied by South Korea's first astronaut, So-yeon Yi, who arrived at the station with the Expedition 17 crew on April 8. With two women aboard the three-person Soyuz craft, the flight marked the first time women have outnumbered men on a spacecraft.

Emily Owens (Analex Corporation)

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