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This Month in Exploration - June
From the early days of experimental airplanes to NASA’s soaring space shuttles, the evolution of flight has mirrored the evolution of society. The ongoing scientific discoveries that are part of aeronautics and space flight have improved life on Earth and allowed humans to begin investigating the secrets of the universe. “This Month in Exploration” presents the rich history of human flight, contextualizing where we’ve been and examining the exploration history NASA is making today.

A Wright Apache airplane.A Wright Apache airplane similar to the one flown by Lt. Apollo Soucek. The pilot is prepared to fly to an altitude of 43,166 feet. Credit: NASA 100 Years Ago

June 2, 1910: Charles Rolls made the first successful non-stop return flight over the English Channel. The entire flight took 95 minutes.

95 Years Ago

June, 1915: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded its first year of offering formal graduate study in aeronautical engineering. The course was the first of its kind, and one master of science degree was awarded.

85 Years Ago

June 12, 1925: After some discussion with his son Harry, Daniel Guggenheim donated $500,000 toward the establishment of a School of Aeronautics at New York University in New York City. It was the first of several donations he made to further the development of aviation in the United States.

80 Years Ago

June 4, 1930: Lt. Apollo Soucek flew a United States Navy Wright Apache landplane to a height of 43,166 feet, over Anacostia Naval Air Station in Washington, D.C. During this flight, he reclaimed a world altitude record he held briefly in 1929.

Dr. Robert H. GoddardDr. Robert H. Goddard, a pioneer of rocket development. Credit: NASA 60 Years Ago

June 23, 1950: The United States Air Force made the first run of a rocket-propelled research sled on the 3,550-foot missile test track at Holloman Air Force Base, N. M. The Holloman track was the longest and most carefully engineered of all the captive missile test tracks in existence and gave the Air Force Missile Development Center the capability for this kind of pre-flight missile testing.

50 Years Ago

June 28, 1960: The Smithsonian Institution awarded the Langley Medal to Robert H. Goddard, 15 years after his death. Goddard was one of the most notable pioneers of rocket and space flight science. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. was named in his honor in 1959.

45 Years Ago

June 3-7, 1965: NASA launched Gemini-IV via a Titan II rocket. It was the second piloted Gemini mission and its focus was the evaluation of spacecraft performance, procedures for crew rest, work and eating cycles and real-time flight planning. The spacecraft stayed aloft for four days, and astronaut Edward H. White II performed the first spacewalk by an American.

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35 Years Ago

June 8, 1975: The former USSR launched Venera 9 (a Venus Orbiter/Lander) aboard a Proton K launcher from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The following week, another Venus Lander, Venera 10, was launched from Baikonur. Venera 9 and 10 were the first probes to send back black and white pictures from the Venusian surface.

25 Years Ago

June 17, 1985: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery (STS-51G) from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.. The crew included Sultan Al-Saud from Saudi Arabia – the first person of Arabic descent in space. Three communications satellites were deployed during this mission.

15 Years Ago

June 27, 1995: NASA launched space shuttle Atlantis (STS-71) on its way to dock with the Russian Mir Space Station. This mission was the first cooperative effort between the United States and Russia since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project during the summer of 1975.

10 Years Ago

June 30, 2000: NASA launched the TDRS 8 tracking and data relay satellite on an Atlas 2A rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The spacecraft was placed in geosynchronous orbit, bringing the TDRS communications satellite fleet to a total of seven (one was lost in the space shuttle Challenger disaster).

Present Day

June 15, 2010: The Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched, carrying three Expedition 24 flight engineers. The engineers, NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, will spend more than five months aboard the International Space Station.

Lee A. Jackson (Analex Corporation)

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