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This Month in Exploration - August
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 Flyer at Kitty Hawk. The Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk. Credit: NASA 100 Years Ago

August 2, 1909: The Army purchased its first airplane, the Wright Flyer, from the Wright brothers for $30,000. The price included a $5,000 bonus because the airplane exceeded the Army's speed requirement of 40 miles per hour.

August 23, 1909: Glenn Hammond Curtiss became the first American to claim the recognized absolute speed record at the world's first air meet, the Grande Semaine d'Aviation in Reims, France. He flew his Reims Racer biplane 43.385 miles per hour.

90 Years Ago

August 14, 1919: The first airmail was delivered at sea by the Aeromarine flying boat when it dropped a bag of mail on the deck of White Star Line's Adriatic.

80 Years Ago

August 8-29, 1929: The German dirigible, Graf Zeppelin, made its historic around-the-world flight. The flight covered 21,500 miles in five legs, carrying 60 men and one woman. The airship was 100 feet in diameter and 110 feet high.

75 Years Ago

August 18, 1934: Jeannette and Jean Piccard flew the "Century of Progress" balloon from Dearborn, Mich., to an altitude of 57,579 feet, setting a women's altitude record that would hold for three decades. Jeannette Piccard was the first licensed female balloon pilot and the first woman to fly into the stratosphere. The flight proved that humans could tolerate the low pressure and frigid temperature of the stratosphere and laid the groundwork for later spaceflights.

The German dirigible Graf Zeppelin.The Dirigible Graf Zeppelin landing at Friedrichshafen, Germany. Credit: Airships.net 60 Years Ago

August 8, 1949: A T-1 partial pressure suit saved U.S. Air Force Major Frank K. Everest Jr.'s life when the cockpit of his X-1 aircraft lost pressure at 69,000 feet. This was the first operational emergency use of a T-1 partial pressure suit, a flight suit that protects pilots flying at high altitudes where air pressure is low.

August 9, 1949: U.S. Navy Lt. J. L. Fruin became the first American to use a pilot ejection seat when his F2H-1 Banshee went out of control while performing aerobatics at speeds exceeding 500 knots near Waterboro, S.C.

50 Years Ago

August 7, 1959: The Explorer 6 satellite returned the first crude TV images of Earth from space after its launch at 10:23 a.m., EDT, from the Easter Space and Missile Center.

45 Years Ago

August 28, 1964: The Nimbus 1 satellite was launched at 4:57 a.m., EDT, from the Western Space and Missile Center. It provided the first nighttime cloud-cover images returned by satellite.

40 Years Ago

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August 7, 1969: The Soviet Circumlunar Mission, Zond 7 (also known as Soyuz 7K-L1), launched from Baikonur, USSR. The spacecraft obtained color photography of Earth and the moon from varying distances.

30 Years Ago

August 10, 1979: The Westar 3 spacecraft was launched at 8:20 p.m., EDT, from the Western Space and Missile Center. The satellite was engaged in the practical applications of space technology, including weather and communication.

25 Years Ago

August 30, 1984: Space Shuttle Discovery launched beginning the mission STS-41D. In addition to deploying three satellites, it extended a 102- foot-tall, 13-foot-wide solar wing called OAST-1 from its payload bay. The wing carried different types of solar cells and extended to full height several times to demonstrate large lightweight solar arrays for future use on structures like the International Space Station. The U.S. Navy's Banshee aircraft.The Banshee Aircraft over North Korea. Credit: U.S. Navy

Present Day

August 25, 2009: Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch on its next mission, STS-128. It will carry experiments and storage racks to the International Space Station.

Lee A. Jackson (Analex Corporation)

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