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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 also reveal where the agency is leading us -- to the moon, Mars and beyond.

100 Years Ago

August 11, 1906: C.J. Miller became the first woman to ride in a steerable airship, or blimp. Her husband, Major Miller, piloted the 40-horsepower aircraft.

USS Akron Airship 75 Years Ago

August 8, 1931: The USS Akron was officially christened inside the hangar at the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation. This 6,500,000 cubic foot rigid airship was built in Akron, Ohio and used for naval reconnaissance.

Image left: The USS Akron Airship. Credit: Naval Historical Center (#80-G-462246)

50 Years Ago

August 24, 1956: A U.S. Army helicopter, the H-21, became the first rotary-winged aircraft to complete a nonstop flight across the United States. The H-21 traveled 2,610 miles in about 32 hours.

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30 Years Ago

August 9, 1976: The USSR launched the unmanned Luna 24 probe to gather lunar soil samples. This mission successfully returned 170 grams of lunar soil to Earth from the Sea of Crisis on August 22 of that same year.

25 Years Ago

August 26, 1981: Voyager 2 completed a successful flyby of Saturn at a distance of about 63,000 miles and captured images of the planet’s moons and rings. Both the Voyager 2 and its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, were launched in 1977 and retrieved pictures of planetary structures from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

USSR Luna Spacecraft 20 Years Ago

August 4, 1986: As part of the Electronic Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite (EORSAT) Program, the USSR launched the solar-powered Cosmos 1769 to perform naval radar and signal reconnaissance.

Image left: USSR Luna Sample Return Spacecraft. Credit: NASA

10 Years Ago

August 21, 1996: NASA’s Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer (FAST) was launched by a Pegasus-XL rocket to study charged particles from the sun that enter Earth's upper atmosphere. These particles cause the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights

Saturn's Rings Five Years Ago

August 10, 2001: Space Shuttle Discovery began its nearly 12-day STS-105 mission to deliver the Expedition 3 crew to the International Space Station (ISS) and return the Expedition 2 crew to the ground.

Image right: False color Voyager 2 image of Saturn's rings. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Present Day

August 3, 2006: Flight Engineers Jeff Williams and Thomas Reiter perform a spacewalk outside the ISS. In preparation for the spacewalk, they tested their spacesuits and tools extensively to ensure their safety.

August 27, 2006: The launch window for the STS-115 mission opens. This mission will deliver six astronauts to continue construction on the ISS, including the installation of the integrated P3/P4 truss segment and its two large solar arrays.

STS-105 Mission Patch Image left: STS-105 mission patch. Credit: NASA

20 Years From Now

August 2026: The 18 astronaut candidates for the first human mission to Mars continue training together in small groups. Doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists will monitor the astronauts to be sure they can endure the rigors of a two-year journey to Mars.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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