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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 also reveal where the agency is leading us -- to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Chuck Yeager 100 Years Ago

October 26, 1907: In France, aviation pioneer Henri Farman was awarded the Archdeacon Cup for flying a record-setting distance of 2,350 feet.

Image right: Yeager poses in front of the Bell X-1 rocket research plane.

75 Years Ago

October 15, 1932: The Institute of Aeronautical Sciences was incorporated in New York “to advance the art and science of aeronautics; to publish works of literature, science and art …” In 1963, this organization joined the American Rocket Society to form the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

60 Years Ago

October 14, 1947: The Bell X-1 became the first aircraft to travel faster than the speed of sound. Piloted by Charles Yeager, the X-1 reached a maximum speed of 700 miles per hour. Yeager named the airplane "Glamorous Glennis" in honor of his wife.

Sputnik 50 Years Ago

October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite. Sputnik weighed 183 pounds and orbited Earth in 98 minutes emitting a series of radio signal beeps.

Image left: Sputnik I spacecraft. Credit: NASA

The launch of Sputnik triggered the beginning of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Sputnik led Americans to fear the Soviet Union’s potential power to launch ballistic missiles. In response, Congress passed the Space Act in July 1958, which resulted in the creation of NASA.

45 Years Ago

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October 3, 1962: NASA launched the third U.S. orbital space flight, Mercury mission Sigma 7, on an Atlas rocket. Onboard, astronaut Walter (“Wally”) Schirra completed six orbits around Earth in nine hours.

30 Years Ago

October 22, 1977: NASA launched two of three International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE) satellites, which were developed through a partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA launched ISEE 1 and 2 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., via a Delta 2000 rocket. Researchers used them to study and explore Earth's magnetosphere with instruments that measured energetic particles, plasma, waves and fields. The third satellite, ISEE-3, was launched into a different orbit on August 12, 1978.

Cassini spacecraft Image left: Jet Propulsion Laboratory technicians reposition and level the Cassini orbiter in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in July 1997. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

25 Years Ago

October 30, 1982: NASA first used the Titan 34D rocket with a new Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster to launch Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) II and III.

15 Years Ago

October 22, 1992: NASA launched Space Shuttle Columbia to begin STS-52, the 51st shuttle mission. Columbia traveled 4.1 million miles carrying six crewmembers. Its launch weight was more than 250,000 pounds.

10 Years Ago

October 15, 1997: NASA launched Cassini, beginning the spacecraft's long journey to Saturn. Cassini reached Saturn’s orbit in July 2004 and has been used to collect data on the planet’s composition, rings, moons and atmosphere. The launch vehicle used was a Titan IVB with a Centaur upper stage.

Five Years Ago

October 7, 2002: NASA launched Space Shuttle Atlantis to deliver the 28,000 pound Starboard 1 truss segment and the Crew Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) Cart to the International Space Station. CETA was one of two human-powered carts used to help astronauts perform spacewalks.

NASA 50th Anniversary Logo Image right: NASA's 50th Anniversary logo. Credit: NASA

Present Day

October 1, 2007: NASA begins celebrating its 50th year. The agency began operations on October 1, 1958 and started to conduct space missions within months of its creation.

October 23, 2007: NASA launched the space shuttle Discovery on the STS-120 mission to the International Space Station. This is the first time in NASA history that two women, shuttle Commander Pamela Melroy and space station Commander Peggy Whitson, will be commanding two spacecraft at the same time. The shuttle will deliver the new Harmony module, made by Alcatel-Alenia Space in Italy. Harmony is a pressurized passageway that will connect the U.S. segment of the ISS to the European and Japanese modules.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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