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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.

G3-C spacesuit worn by Virgil "Gus" Grissom on Gemini 3 launched March 23, 1965.

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.

Yuri Gagarin was born near Moscow, Russia on March 9, 1934. He became the first human in space on April 12, 1961.

March 6, 1969: Apollo 9 command module pilot Dave Scott standing in the hatch of command module "Gumbo" during an EVA. | Photo credit: NASA

March 6, 1969: Apollo 9 lunar module pilot Russel L. Schweickart performs a 37 min EVA. | Photo credit: NASA

This Lear Jet (N802L), the second of this type built and the first production model 23, completed its maiden flight of 1 hour, 30 minutes on March 5, 1964.

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

Apollo 9 crew James A. McDivitt (CMDR), David R. Scott (CMP) and Russell L. Schweickart (LMP). Apollo 9 launched 45 years ago today on the first flight of all Apollo hardware in Earth orbit. | Photo credit: NASA

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 February 26, 1966, AS-201 launched on the first uncrewed suborbital flight of a Block I Apollo Command/Service Module on a Saturn 1B launch vehicle. | Photo credit: NASA

Mercury Capsule MA-6 "Friendship 7." On February 20, 1962, John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth in this spacecraft.

The Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofan was developed to power the first generation of wide-body commercial jets. JT9D engines powered the Boeing 747 on its first flight on February 9, 1969.

January 20, 1966: Recovery of Apollo CM #002 after uncrewed flight test atop Little Joe II rocket. | Photo credit: NASA | Source: Project Apollo Archive, scan by Ed Hengeveld

January 20, 1966: Apollo CM #002 launched atop a Little Joe II rocket (A-004) to test the Apollo Launch Escape System. | Photo credit: NASA | Source: Project Apollo Archive, scan by Ed Hengeveld

On January 19, 1965, this Gemini 2 spacecraft was launched in the last uncrewed test flight of the Gemini Program. The capsule is on loan to the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

On January 18, 1968, Delta Air Lines donated this Huff-Daland Duster to the Smithsonian. This Huff-Daland Duster is one of 18 airplanes that were specifically designed by Huff-Daland to perform aerial crop dusting.

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

On Christmas Eve, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission, the astronauts enjoyed a holiday meal of thermo-stabilized turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce.

First flight of the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird on December 22, 1964. | Video credit: Lockheed Martin

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.

Astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., pilot of Gemini XII, performing an extravehicular activity (EVA) on November 12, 1966. | Photo credit: NASA

November 9, 1967. Apollo 4 launches on first test flight of the Saturn V rocket. The Saturn V was used to launch astronauts on later Apollo missions to the Moon. | Photo credit: NASA

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