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This Month in Exploration - January
01.03.07
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.

100 Years Ago

Photo of Cessna plane January 1907: Glenn Curtiss became the "fastest man on Earth" by traveling 136 miles per hour on a motorcycle in Ormond Beach, Fla. Believe it or not, his motorcycle was much faster than airplanes, which only flew between 30 and 40 miles per hour at the time. He later became an aviation pioneer.

Image right: Pilot Roy Liggett with a Cessna CR-2 Plane. Credit: Wings Over Kansas

75 Years Ago

January 1932: Aviation pioneer Clyde Cessna's CR-2 monoplane won the Colonel E.H.R. Green Trophy at the All-American Air Races in Miami, Fla. The CR-2 used a 145-horsepower Warner engine and reached 194 miles per hour during the competition.

50 Years Ago

January 16 - 18, 1957: Three of Boeing's B-52 bombers completed the first nonstop jet flight around the world. The bombers covered nearly 25,000 miles in 45 hours.

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40 Years Ago

January 27, 1967: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were killed when a flash fire ravaged the command module of the Apollo spacecraft during a launch pad test at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

30 Years Ago

January 28, 1977: NASA launched the NATO III-B military communications satellite using a Delta 2914 rocket.

25 Years Ago

photo of jet aircraft January 13, 1982: The first Airborne Research Integrated Experiments System (ARIES) emerged from the Boeing plant in Renton, Wash. This 757-200 jet aircraft is stored at NASA Langley and is used to conduct aviation safety research.

Image right: An ARIES jetliner noses up to the camera. Credit: NASA

20 Years Ago

January 16, 1987: The USSR launched Progress 27, an unmanned spacecraft that connected to Russia's Mir Space Station. In addition to delivering supplies, Progress 27 also raised the Space Station Mir's orbit. It undocked from Mir on February 23.

15 Years Ago

January 22, 1992: NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery to begin the STS-42 mission, which carried the International Microgravity Laboratory into orbit. This pressurized Spacelab module contained research from more than 200 scientists in 13 countries. It was used to perform various experiments that measured the effects of weightlessness on the human nervous system, shrimp eggs, lentil seedlings and other life forms.

Stardust Spacecraft Image left: Stardust spacecraft dust collector. Credit: NASA

10 Years Ago

January 12, 1997: The 81st Space Shuttle mission began with the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. The purpose of the 10-day STS-81 mission was to dock with Russia's Mir Space Station to exchange a U.S. crew member and transfer some scientific experiments.

Five Years Ago

January 11, 2002: The Stardust spacecraft, part of NASA's fourth Discovery Program mission, reached its farthest distance from Earth. Stardust used a silica-based material called aerogel to collect Comet Wild 2 dust particles and streaming interstellar dust samples.

Present Day

NASA's Martian rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are testing new capabilities and software to improve their functionality, which may also benefit future exploration missions. One new technology being tested involves the rovers' ability to review images of Mars and pick out identified characteristics. Both rovers have been in operation for four years, as of this month.

January 8, 2007: Professor Steven Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist and author, celebrates his 65th birthday.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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