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Today in History - 1960s

Moments in aviation and space history from the 1960s.

July 16, 1969: Apollo 11 launched on the first mission to land humans on the Moon. The Saturn V rocket lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin at 9:32 am EDT.

Apollo 11 Launch | National Air and Space Museum

June 16, 1963: Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space. She flew aboard Vostok 6 and completed nearly 50 orbits of the Earth during the approximately three days she spent in space.

Valentina Tereshkova | National Air and Space Museum

Edward H. White II became the first American to perform a spacewalk on June 3, 1965. He floated outside the Gemini IV capsule for 20 minutes, remaining connected to the spacecraft's life-support and communications systems by a golden "umbilical cord" and using a hand-held jet thruster to maneuver in space. Shown here is Ed White's spacesuit as it was formerly displayed inside the Gemini IV capsule. The capsule is on display in the Boeing #MilestonesofFlight Hall at the Museum in Washington, DC.

Gemini IV Interior | National Air and Space Museum

On June 2, 1966, Surveyor 1 became the first U.S. spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon. This engineering model, S-10, was used for thermal control tests. It represents a flight model of Surveyor 3 or later.

Lunar Lander, Surveyor | National Air and Space Museum

Spare flight suit belonging to Francis Gary Powers at the time of his ill-fated reconnaissance flight over the Soviet Union. Powers' Lockheed U-2B was shot down on May 1, 1960. He spent almost 21 months in prison in the Soviet Union before being released in exchange for a Soviet agent.

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."

Capsule, Gemini 3 | National Air and Space Museum

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.

Klystron Tube, 10KW | National Air and Space Museum

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

Yuri Gagarin | National Air and Space Museum

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

Apollo 9 | National Air and Space Museum

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.

Lear Jet 23 | National Air and Space Museum

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

Apollo 9 Crew | National Air and Space Museum

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

Apollo 9 Launch | National Air and Space Museum

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

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.

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.

Capsule, Gemini 2 | National Air and Space Museum