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This Month in Exploration - July
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

July 1906: Alberto Santos-Dumont successfully flew his Airship No. 14. This aircraft was unique because an airplane was hanging beneath the airship balloon. Similar to a balloon pilot, Santo-Dumont sat in a wicker basket to guide the aircraft.

Lockheed U-2 Image left: The Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Credit: Photo by Eric F. Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (SI 2000-9403).

75 Years Ago

July 11, 1931: Taylor Aircraft received its type certificate and license to manufacture the new Taylor E-2 airplane. Also known as the "Cub," the E-2 featured a 37-horsepower A-40 engine from Continental Motors Corporation. By the end of 1931, Taylor sold 22 E-2 airplanes for $1,325 each.

50 Years Ago

July 4, 1956: A Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft carrying advanced photographic equipment successfully completed its first overflight of the Soviet Union. This strategic aircraft was designed to travel at supersonic speeds and at altitudes above 60,000 feet to gather intelligence for the U.S. during the Cold War.

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30 Years Ago

July 20, 1976: The Viking 1 probe became the first operational spacecraft to land on Mars. For the first time, it revealed the true nature of the Mars environment, including its sterile soil and lack of plant and animal life.

25 Years Ago

July 7, 1981: The MacCready Solar Challenger made the first solar-powered flight across the English Channel using 16,128 solar cells located on the aircraft’s wing and tailplane. The 180-mile flight lasted more than five hours.

TOMS Satellite20 Years Ago

Image left: NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer-Earth Probe (TOMS-EP) Credit: NASA

July 16, 1986: Through the Cosmos 1762 Program, the USSR launched the Resurs F1-14F40 remote-sensing satellite to gather information on Earth’s natural resources.

10 Years Ago

July 2, 1996: NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer-Earth Probe (TOMS-EP) was launched by a Pegasus XL rocket to monitor global ozone distribution and measure sulfur dioxide from volcanic activity.

Five Years Ago

July 12, 2001: Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-104) began a 12-day mission to deliver and install the International Space Station (ISS) Airlock, which provides the main path for U.S. astronauts to enter and exit the vehicle during a space walk.

Present Day

July 2006: NASA centers around the nation begin to fulfill their Constellation Program work assignments that were announced in early June. The work includes supporting the development of the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV).

July 4, 2006: Space Shuttle Discovery begins the STS-121 mission to the space station. Crew members will perform routine maintenance and improve shuttle safety by testing new equipment and procedures.

10 Years From Now

Space SuitImage left: An astronaut practices lunar surface operations in a space suit simulator in the desert. Credit: NASA

July 2016: The lunar astronaut team, comprised of mission primary astronauts and two backup sub-teams, may train together for several years. Twenty-seven months before launch, the primary and backup astronauts may venture into the deserts of New Mexico to practice lunar surface operations in space suit simulators. Activities such as entering and exiting a lunar surface access module simulator, soil sampling and testing, and habitat construction tasks may be performed.

20 Years From Now

July 2026: Martian robotic explorers transmit environmental data to reveal a new potential landing site for the CEV. Based on this information, initial landing site #P4R78 may be replaced by #P4R26. This change is not likely to impact the Mission to Mars launch schedule.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)
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