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This Month in Exploration - June
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.

An X-15 rocket plane An X-15 rocket plane shown with two external fuel tanks. Credit: NASA 100 Years Ago

June 5, 1909: John Berry and Paul McCullough won the first U.S. National Balloon Race. The race covered 377.9 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis to Fort Payne, Ala. It was the first competitive event to take place at the Indianapolis race track.

80 Years Ago

June 27-29, 1929: Captain Frank Hawks broke transcontinental speed records from East to West and West to East flying the Lockheed Air Express. Taking off from Roosevelt Field at Long Island, N.Y., on June 27, he flew nonstop to Los Angeles in the record time of 18 hours and 10 minutes. The plane was refueled, and with only 7.5 hours to rest, Hawks flew back to New York, landing 17 hours and 36 minutes later.

75 Years Ago

June 12, 1934: The Air Mail Act of 1934, which included a provision for the appointment of a Federal Aviation commission, was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a congressional investigation that the press dubbed the "Air Mail Fiasco," an alleged scandal involving the Postmaster General and airline executives. Though the scandal was a public relations nightmare for the Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt presidential administrations, it resulted in the growth of the airline industry and the modernization of the Air Corps.

65 Years Ago

Gossamer Albatross gliderTesting the Gossamer Albatross. Credit: NASA June 5, 1944: Boeing's B-29 → Superfortress, a heavy bomber well-known for carrying the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima, flew its first combat mission during World War II. The mission, which launched from India, involved bombing the railroad shops in Bangkok.

June 6, 1944: Western Allies landed in northern France, marking World War II's historical D-Day. The Allied invasion of France was spearheaded by paratrooper drops and assault glider landings.

50 Years Ago

June 8, 1959: Scott Crossfield made the first unpowered glide flight in the NASA/Department of Defense X-15 hypersonic research program. This program contributed to the development of NASA's spaceflight programs, from Mercury to the space shuttle.

40 Years Ago

June 5, 1969: The Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic airliner became the first aircraft of its class to fly through the sound barrier when it exceeded Mach 1 at a height of 36,000 feet.

35 Years Ago

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June 25, 1974: The Soviet Salyut-3 space station launched from Baikonur. The station was the first to be equipped with water-recycling facilities and was noted for the first use of unmanned re-entry capsules.

30 Years Ago

June 12, 1979: The first manpowered flight across the English Channel took off from Folkestone, England, arriving at Cap Gris Nez France in 2 hours, 55 minutes. Piloted by Bryan Allen and tested by NASA, the Gossamer Albatross was a pedaled glider that weighed only 70 pounds and was part of a research project in low-speed flight.

25 Years Ago

June 13, 1984: The U.S. Air Force successfully placed NavStar-9 into orbit. It was the ninth satellite of the first generation of the GPS navigation system. NavStar-9 was launched from the Western Space and Missile Center.

The Starshine 3 satelliteThe Starshine 3 satellite at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Credit: Michael A. Savell and Gayle R. Fullerton 20 Years Ago

June 5, 1989: The huge Antonov An-225 Mriya flew to the Paris Le Bourget airport for the 1989 Paris Air Show. It carried the Soviet Shuttle Buran on its back. When it took off from Kiev to fly to Paris, the combination's takeoff weight was about 617 tons, the greatest weight ever lifted into the air.

15 Years Ago

June 26, 1994: After a journey of almost four years, Ulysses → became the first spacecraft to reach a polar region of the sun when it passed over its southern polar area to measure the solar wind and magnetic field.

Ten Years Ago

June 5, 1999: Canadian astronaut Julie Payette released The Student Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite Heuristic International Networking Experiment (STARSHINE 1) → during the space shuttle Discovery mission STS-96. Measuring 48 centimeters in diameter, the spherical satellite was studded with 878 tiny mirrors, which were polished by school children in Zimbabwe, Pakistan and 16 other countries. Some 25,000 high school students around the world tracked the reflector during twilight hours. It was the first of a series of such experiments.

Present Day

June 13, 2009: NASA will launch space shuttle Endeavour, beginning mission STS-127. The crew will deliver the final components of Japan's Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.

June 17, 2009: NASA will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) aboard an Atlas V rocket. LRO is a robotic scout that will gather crucial data on the lunar environment to help astronauts prepare for long-duration lunar expeditions. LCROSS will search for proof of the presence or absence of water ice in craters on the moon's north and south poles.

Lee A. Jackson (Analex Corporation)

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