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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.

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100 Years Ago

October 1, 1906: First Lieutenant and Mansfield, Ohio, native Frank Lahm won the first International Balloon Race at the age of 29 by flying from Paris to Yorkshire, England. The Mansfield Lahm Airport was named in his honor.

75 Years Ago

October 13, 1931: Canadian pilot Godfrey Dean flew upside down near Philadelphia completing the first loop in an autogyro, a type of rotary wing aircraft.

50 Years Ago

Naval Aircraft Que Sera Sera October 31, 1956: The U.S. Navy R4D (Douglas DC-3) aircraft "Que Sera Sera" became the first airplane to land and take off at the South Pole. Rear Admiral George Dufek and six others ventured out of the plane in -58 degree weather to plant the American flag.

Image right: The aircraft Que Sera Sera lands at the South Pole. Navy photo taken by reporter Maurice Cutler.

30 Years Ago

October 12, 1976: The Sikorsky S-72 Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA), produced for NASA and the Army, made its first flight. This aircraft can fly like a helicopter at speeds up to 345 mph or as a fixed-wing airplane without a rotor.

X-Wing Rotorcraft Image left: RSRA X-Wing Rotorcraft. The rotor allows the aircraft to take off and land vertically, yet fly like a conventional airplane with the rotor stopped. Credit: NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center

25 Years Ago

October 6, 1981: NASA launched the Solar Mesosphere Explorer (SME) satellite to study the creation and destruction of ozone in the upper layer of Earth's atmosphere. The SME re-entered Earth's atmosphere in March 1989.

Solar Mesosphere Explorer Satellite Image right: Solar Mesosphere Explorer Satellite launched 25 years ago. Credit: NASA

20 Years Ago

October 15, 1986: NASA launched the Black Brant sounding rocket to analyze the ionosphere during a solar mission. The rocket completed a second solar mission on October 22.

10 Years Ago

October 24, 1996: Russia launched its Molniya-3-48 communications satellite, which used a three-channel repeater to support domestic and international communication.

Molniya Satellite Image left: Molniya-3 Communications Satellite. Credit: Mark Wade

Five Years Ago

October 21, 2001: The Soyuz TM-33 transported one French astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for an eight-day mission.

Present Day

October 25, 2006: The Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) launches to study the sun and its coronal mass ejections by analyzing the first 3-D images ever taken in space.

October 3, 2006: NASA Scientist Dr. John C. Mather wins the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics. He shares the prize with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their collaborative work on understanding the Big Bang theory. Mather and Smoot analyzed data from NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), which studied the pattern of radiation from the first few instants after the universe was formed.

Emily Groh (Analex Corporation)

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