Text Size

This Month in Exploration - May
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.

The Russian Tupolev passenger aircraft.The Russian Tupolev ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky." 100 Years Ago

May 18, 1910: At the first international conference on aerial navigation in Paris, talks began to form a legal basis for flights between countries.

95 Years Ago

May 31, 1915: German zeppelins raided London suburbs for the first time during World War I. The British employed rockets in their defenses around the city.

80 Years Ago

May 9, 1930: Dr. Ludwig Prandtl of Germany received the second Daniel Guggenheim Medal for his pioneering theories in the field of aerodynamics.

75 Years Ago

May 18, 1935: The Tupolev ANT-20, or “Maxim Gorky” crashed near Moscow. The Russian passenger aircraft, at the time the world’s largest airplane, collided with an I-5 fighter aircraft. Both planes crashed into a residential neighborhood, and all 45 people aboard the “Maxim Gorky” perished.

May 31, 1935: Dr. Robert H. Goddard launched a rocket to the height of 7,500 feet from Roswell, N.M.

Engineers inspect and test a boilerplate Mercury space capsule.Engineers inspect and test a boilerplate Mercury space capsule. Credit: NASA 60 Years Ago

May 10, 1950: U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed legislation creating the National Science Foundation, empowering thousands of distinguished scientists and engineers to conduct groundbreaking research in the years to come. More than 170 of these researchers would go on to win the Nobel Prize. The act also created a National Science Board, appointed by the president.

50 Years Ago

May 9, 1960: NASA successfully launched the first production model of the Project Mercury spacecraft from Wallops Flight Facilityin Wallops Island, Va. This launch tested the escape, landing and recovery systems. The Mercury capsule reached an altitude of 2,540 feet before landing by parachute 17 minutes after launch.

Get NASA's This Month in Exploration in your inbox every month. Send us an e-mail today.

>  Read More
45 Years Ago

May 25, 1965: NASA launched Pegasus 2 from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on a mission to measure meteoroids near Earth. The Apollo Boiler Plate (BP-26) was also launched for testing on this mission.

35 Years Ago

May 31, 1975: The European Space Agency (ESA) was founded to provide for and to promote cooperation among European countries for space related endeavors.

30 Years Ago

May 29, 1980: NASA launched the third National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, NOAA-B, on an Atlas F rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.. The satellite failed to reach proper orbit when the launch vehicle experienced difficulties. NOAA-B was designed to provide atmospheric and environmental data from the Earth and information from the sun to assist in the prediction of solar disturbances.

A Starfighter F-104 aircraft.A Starfighter F-104 Aircraft. Credit: NASA 20 Years Ago

May 22, 1990: The German Air Force flew the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter for the last time before it was withdrawn from service in that country. Despite its terrible safety record, its ground-breaking design and capabilities kept it in service for more than a dozen countries for fifty years after its first flight in 1954.

10 Years Ago

May 19, 2000: NASA launched the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-101) from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on a mission to the International Space Station to deliver supplies and test and install equipment. The shuttle crew also boosted the space station’s orbit from 230 miles to 250 miles.

5 Years Ago

May 25, 2005: NASA announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had entered the heliosheath—the outer region of a bubble created by solar wind emanating from the sun. It remains the most distant human-made object in the universe at 8.7 billion miles from the sun.

Present Day

May 14, 2010: Space shuttle Atlantis (mission STS-132) is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. at 2:19 p.m. EDT. It will carry an integrated cargo carrier to the space station and deliver maintenance and assembly hardware, including spare parts for various systems. In addition, the second in a series of new pressurized components for a Russian-built Mini Research Module will be permanently attached to the bottom port of the Zarya module.

Lee A. Jackson (Analex Corporation)

See Past Issues:
>  This Month in Exploration Main