Today in History - 1960s
Moments in aviation and space history from the 1960s.
April 17, 1964: Jerrie Mock became the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world in the Cessna 180 "Spirit of Columbus." She departed from Columbus, Ohio, on March 19, 1964, and arrived back home on April 17, 1964, after flying 36,964 kilometers (23,103 miles) in 29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes. See her aircraft on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
Astronauts Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom and John Young launched on the Gemini 3 mission on March 23, 1965. Because Grissom's Mercury spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7, had sunk at the end of his 1961 mission, he unofficially named Gemini 3 "Unsinkable Molly Brown." Gemini 3 was the first crewed mission of Project Gemini, which aimed to test long-duration missions, rendezvous and docking between two space vehicles, and EVA or "spacewalking."
This 10 kW Klystron Tube was used at a ground radar astronomy station to obtain signals from the planet Venus. The first successful detection of a return echo from Venus came on March 10, 1961. Originally used for NASA's Project Echo, this Klystron Tube was also used on a ground receiver to help develop the ranging system used during the Lunar Orbiter and Apollo programs.
Apollo 9, launched on March 3, 1969, was the first crewed flight of the lunar module in Earth orbit. Here the lunar module "Spider," viewed from command module "Gumdrop," awaits extraction from the third stage of the Saturn V rocket (S-IVB). | Photo credit: NASA/Project Apollo Archive, Scan by Ed Hengeveld
On March 3, 1969, Apollo 9 launched carrying astronauts James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, and Russell L. Schweickart. The mission was the first crewed flight of all Apollo lunar hardware in Earth orbit and the first test of the lunar module in space. | Photo credit: NASA
On January 17, 1963, NASA research pilot Joe Walker flew the X-15 rocket plane to an altitude of 271,000 feet, or 51 miles high, becoming the first civilian test pilot to exceed 50 miles altitude. In August that year, he rocketed the X-15 to an unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet or 67 miles, a record that stood for more than 40 years until broken by Space Ship One in 2004. Photo credit: NASA
This 3 1/2 min exposure photo was taken at the height of the Leonid Meteor Shower on November 17, 1966. The Leonid Meteor Shower of 1966 was one of most active in history, with up to 40 meteors visible in a second. | Photo courtesy of Dennis Milon.
October 30, 1964: The Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) was first flown by research pilot Joe Walker. The LLRV was the precursor to the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle, which was developed and used to train Apollo Program astronauts for moon landings aboard the Apollo Lunar Module. | Photo credit: NASA