Today in History - 1950s
Moments in aviation and space history from the 1950s.
April 9, 1959 - NASA introduced the Project Mercury astronauts to the world. Known as the Mercury Seven or Original Seven, they are (front row, left to right) Walter M. "Wally" Schirra Jr., Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, John H. Glenn Jr., M. Scott Carpenter, (back row) Alan B. Shepard Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. Image credit: NASA
Pioneer 4 launched on March 3, 1959 and flew by the Moon the next day. This unflown duplicate of Pioneer 4 contains batteries to power its radio transmitter, a cosmic radiation counter, and other instruments. A gold-plated cone covers the instruments and serves as a communications antenna. #TimeNav
Supersonic RM-10 aerodynamic research vehicle used either on internally mounted solid fuel Deacon rocket to boost it or a double Deacon mounted at the rear of the model. The RM-10 was used by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) for supersonic heat testing from 1947 to 1955 at the NACA's Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Wallops Island, Virginia.
September 9, 1959: "Big Joe" unoccupied Mercury capsule launches on suborbital flight. It was the second flight in the Mercury program and first using an Atlas booster. This image shows "Big Joe" atop the Atlas rocket readied for launch. The capsule was recovered in the Atlantic. "Big Joe" is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center. | Photo credit: NASA
June 25,1950: The Korean War began. The Navy's experience in the Korean War showed the need for a new long-range strike aircraft with high subsonic performance at very low altitude. The Grumman A-6 Intruder was designed with these needs in mind. See the Grumman A-6 Intruder pictured here at the Udvar-Hazy Center: s.si.edu/14uTemH
On June 8, 1959: The U.S. Navy attempted its first and last mail delivery via missile. A Regulus I missile was launched from the USS Barbero carrying two blue and red metal containers with 3,000 letters inside. | via @Evelyn Spencer Postal Museum
Able, a rhesus monkey, in the capsule and couch that carried her on a suborbital flight inside the nose cone of a Jupiter rocket launched on May 28, 1959. Able flew with Baker, a squirrel monkey, on the Able-Baker Mission. Both monkeys survived the flight and returned to Earth unharmed.
Explorer 1 became America's first satellite on January 31, 1958. Three key Explorer 1 team members triumphantly display a full-scale model of the satellite after its successful launch. From left to right: William H. Pickering, James A. Van Allen, and Wernher von Braun.
December 6, 1957: Two months after Sputnik, the US tried to launch this TV-3 satellite on a Vanguard rocket. The rocket exploded moments after launch. Amazingly, TV–3 survived, damaged but intact. Newspapers around the world nicknamed the little satellite “Kaputnik,” “Flopnik,” and “Dudnik.” / On display at the Museum in DC.