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This Month in Exploration - October
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.

British Army Aeroplane No. 1 Cody flying his British Army Aeroplane No. 1. Credit: FAST 100 Years Ago

October 16, 1908: Samuel Franklin Cody made the first powered flight in Great Britain in his British Army Aeroplane No 1. He flew a distance of a quarter mile near Farnborough.

75 Years Ago

October 7, 1933: French airline Air France was officially inaugurated at the Paris-Le Bourget Airport.

50 Years Ago

October 1, 1958: NASA officially began operating as a government agency. It inherited 8,000 staff members and five facilities from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The facilities included Lewis Research Center in Ohio, Ames Research Center and the Muroc aircraft test range in California, and Langley Research Center and Wallops rocket test range in Virginia. President Eisenhower transferred space projects and other space program funds to NASA, which started with a $340 million budget and 8,240 employees.

October 11, 1958: NASA launched Pioneer 1, the agency’s first launch. Although the lunar probe failed to reach its destination, it obtained valuable data on the Van Allen radiation belt during its 43-hour flight.

NASA's 50th Anniversary logo NASA 50th Anniversary Logo. Credit: NASA 40 Years Ago

October 11, 1968: NASA launched Apollo 7 →, the first manned flight of the Apollo Program and the first live network television broadcast from space. It was also the first test of the Command/Service Module in Earth orbit and was operated by astronauts R. Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele, and Walter Schirra Jr. During the mission, the astronauts were the first to drink coffee in space and the first to develop head colds.

30 Years Ago

October 13, 1978: NASA launched the next generation Television InfraRed Operational Satellite using an Atlas rocket. This polar-orbiting weather satellite collected meteorological data including atmospheric temperature and humidity, surface temperature, and cloud cover.

25 Years Ago

October 10, 1983: Venera 15, a satellite launched by the Soviet Union, entered orbit around Venus.

20 Years Ago

October 3, 1988: The space shuttle Discovery landed successfully. This was the first shuttle mission following the Challenger disaster.

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15 Years Ago

October 18, 1993: NASA launched the space shuttle Columbia. During this second Spacelab Life Sciences mission, 14 biological experiments were performed – eight on crew members and six on rodents.

10 Years Ago

October 24, 1998: NASA launched Deep Space 1→, a spacecraft used to test 12 advanced technologies in flight. During its extended mission, Deep Space 1 explored and photographed Comet Borrelly before it was retired in December 2001.

October 29, 1998: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle launch watched by a U.S. President (Bill Clinton). Crew member Pedro Duque became the first astronaut from Spain to fly in space. During the mission, the crew conducted space science experiments in the SPACEHAB module and John Glenn was returned to space more than 36 years after becoming the first American to orbit Earth.

Deep Space 1 spacecraft Deep Space 1 Spacecraft. Credit: NASA
Five Years Ago

October 15, 2003: The People's Republic of China launched Shenzhou 5, the country’s first manned space mission. The spacecraft was launched using a Long March 2F rocket booster. Taikonaut Yang Liwei was the sole crew member.

Present Day

October 19, 2008: NASA will launch the new Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft using a Pegasus rocket.

Emily Owens (Analex Corporation)

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