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This Month in Exploration - September
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.

Wright flyer Wright flyer demonstrations at Fort Myer, Va. Credit: NASA
100 Years Ago

September 3, 1908: Orville Wright began flight testing the Wright Flyer for the army at Fort Myer, Va.

75 Years Ago

September 30, 1933: Three Soviet pilots flew the army balloon USSR to a record altitude of 60,695 feet. It stood 118 feet tall when fully inflated.

50 Years Ago

September 17, 1958: The NASA/Advanced Research Projects Agency Manned Satellite Panel was formed to draft plans for future manned spaceflight. The panel collaborated with the military as well as the NASA Langley Research Center and NASA Glenn (then Lewis) Research Center.

30 Years Ago

September 1978: The USSR launched two spacecraft toward Venus → to study the planet's atmosphere and surface. Venera 11 was launched on September 9 and Venera 12 was launched on September 14. Venera spacecraft Venera 11 descent craft. Credit: NASA

25 Years Ago

September 22, 1983: NASA launched the Galaxy 2 commercial communications satellite using a Delta rocket.

20 Years Ago

September 29, 1988: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle flight after the Challenger disaster. During the four-day mission, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-3 was deployed and the crew conducted about a dozen experiments.

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15 Years Ago

September 12, 1993: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery to deploy the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) and the Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer telescope. ACTS was developed by NASA Glenn and was the first high-speed, all-digital communications satellite.

10 Years Ago

September 24, 1998: A solar flare caused a major geomagnetic storm, a temporary disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere triggering a vivid display of northern and southern lights.

Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) Advaned Communications Technology Satellite. Credit: NASA
Five Years Ago

September 27, 2003: The European Space Agency (ESA) launched Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology 1 using an Ariane-5 rocket. ESA's first lunar mission tested solar electric propulsion and investigated chemical elements on the moon's surface. ESA intentionally crashed the spacecraft into the moon at the end of the mission.

September 29, 2003: Balloonist David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to fly across the Atlantic in an open wicker-basket balloon. His flight began in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada and ended in England after 83 hours of flight.

Present Day

September 10, 2008: The European Space Agency will launch the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) → satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. GOCE will map Earth's gravity field to develop a model for measuring ocean circulation and sea-level change.

Emily Owens (Analex Corporation)

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