November 3, 1957: Laika, the female part-Samoyed terrier pictured here, became the first living being launched into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. Laika provided scientists with the first data on the behavior of a living organism in space, helping pave the way for the first human in space.
65 Years Ago Today: The Korean War began. Pictured here is one of the key aircraft from this war - the United States’ first swept-wing fighter aircraft, the F-86A Sabre. Listen as F-86 pilot and Museum docent Lt. Gen. William Earl Brown describes flying the F-86 Sabre against the MiG-15 in the Korean War, and MiG-15 pilot Ken Rowe, gives his view on the two aircraft: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdAyerfTNQE&
June 8, 1959: Scott Crossfield made the first unpowered glide flight of North American X-15. The North American X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft bridged the gap between crewed flight within the atmosphere and crewed flight beyond the atmosphere into space. After completing its initial test flights in 1959, the X-15 became the first winged aircraft to attain velocities of Mach 4, 5, and 6 (four, five, and six times the speed of sound). See it on display at our Museum in DC.
January 4, 1958: Today in 1958: Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, burned up on reentry into the Earth's atmosphere after spending three months in orbit. This is the last surviving piece of Sputnik — the arming pin. Removed just prior to launch, it prevented contact between the batteries and transmitters. A pin mounted on the launch vehicle served the same purpose until the satellite separated from the launcher in orbit.
July 15, 1954: The Boeing 367-80, also known as the Dash 80, made its first flight. The Dash 80 was the prototype for the 707, America's first jet airliner. See it on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.
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
On March 5, 1953, Polish Air Force pilot Lt. Franciszek Jarecki defected in a MiG-15 by flying to Bornholm, Denmark. It was the first intact MiG to reach the West. Jarecki wore this flight suit during his daring flight to freedom.