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This Month in Exploration - August
08.01.07
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.

1932 Air Race Poster 100 Years Ago

August 1, 1907: The U.S. Army Signal Corps established the Aeronautical Division as the first military air organization to take "charge of all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines, and all kindred subjects." The Aeronautical Division began with only three members and later became the U.S. Air Force.

Image right: Poster from the 1932 National Air Races. Credit: www.air-racing-history.com

75 Years Ago

August 24 - 25, 1932: Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo nonstop flight across the United States. During this flight, she set the women's transcontinental speed record by traveling 2,447.8 miles in 19 hours.

August 27, 1932: The 1932 National Air Races began in Cleveland, Ohio. The event featured several competitions, including cross-country races, closed-course races and speed dashes. The races ended on Sept. 5.

50 Years Ago

August 8, 1957: The nose cone from the Jupiter C RS-40 rocket became the first man-made object recovered from space by the U.S. after it reached an altitude of 270 miles and was retrieved 1,149 nautical miles down-range. Inside the nose cone was a letter written by scientist Dr. Kurt Debus, making it the first piece of missile mail to be delivered over intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) distance. Just 26 years prior to this event, on September 9, 1931, the first rocket-mail service was started between two cities in Austria.

Jupiter Rocket Nose Cone Image left: President Dwight D. Eisenhower shown with scale model of Jupiter C Missile nosecone during speech given from the White House, November 7, 1957. Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (SI 82-11962)

August 28, 1957: The Canberra WK163, piloted by Mike Randrup, set a new flight altitude record by flying 70,310 feet. The aircraft was powered by a Double Scorpion Rocket Motor.


30 Years Ago

August 20, 1977: NASA launched Voyager 2 to explore the outer planets of our solar system. Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io and revealed details of Saturn's rings. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft that has visited Uranus and Neptune.

25 Years Ago

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August 19, 1982: Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second female in space while flying aboard the Soyuz T-7. In 1984, she became the first woman to complete a spacewalk.


15 Years Ago

August 10, 1992: The Topex/Poseidon satellite was launched from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 42P expendable launch vehicle. As a joint venture between the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and NASA, this satellite was used to study the surface of the oceans, measure sea levels and analyze global climate change as part of the 1992 International Space Year.

Topex/Poseidon Satellite Image left: Artist concept of Topex/Poseidon above the Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

10 Years Ago

August 7, 1997: NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery to begin the 86th shuttle mission (STS-85). Discovery carried equipment in preparation for assembly of the International Space Station and a variety of experiments, including CRISTA-SPAS-02, a satellite experiment that studied Earth's middle atmosphere. CRISTA-SPAS-02 represented the fourth mission in a cooperative venture between the German Space Agency and NASA.

Five Years Ago

August 18, 2002: Asteroid 2002 NY40, with a diameter of a half a mile, flew by the Earth so close that it was visible with a set of binoculars.

Present Day

August 4, 2007: NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission blasted off Saturday, aiming for a May 25, 2008, arrival at the Red Planet. As part of NASA's Scout Program, Phoenix will help scientists study the history of water on the Martian surface and search for evidence of zones in its ice-filled soil that could support microbial life.

August 8, 2007: Space Shuttle Endeavour will take off on its first flight since 2002. The shuttle's crew of seven men and women includes Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan. This teacher-turned-astronaut was selected for the Teachers in Space program in 1985 as Christa McAuliffe's backup. Thirteen years later, NASA selected her as an astronaut. This will be her first space mission.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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