Today in History - 1960s

Moments in aviation and space history from the 1960s.
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February 20, 1962: Today in 1962: John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth in this Mercury capsule he named "Friendship 7." Glenn's flight was the third piloted mission of Project Mercury, following two suborbital flights by astronauts in 1961. Glenn orbited the Earth three times and splashed down in the Atlantic 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds after launch. “Friendship 7” is currently in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at our Udvar-Hazy Center in VA.

Capsule, Mercury, MA-6 | National Air and Space Museum

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February 9, 1969: the first 747-100 "jumbo jet" made its first flight. This nose section from a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-151 is on display in the "America by Air" exhibition at our Museum in DC. Discover its story.

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January 10, 1968: The Surveyor 7 spacecraft, last lunar lander in the Surveyor program, landed on the Moon. The Surveyor series was designed to carry out soft landings on the Moon and provide data about its surface and possible atmosphere. Pictured here is an engineering model, S-10, used for thermal control tests. See it on display at our Museum in DC.

Lunar Lander, Surveyor | National Air and Space Museum

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December 27, 1968: Apollo 8 spacecraft reentry into Earth's atmosphere was captured in this photo taken from a U.S. Air Force KC-135A aircraft flying at 40,000 ft.

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December 24, 1968: Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first humans to view the Earth from lunar orbit. They took this iconic Earthrise photo.

Earthrise from Apollo 8 | National Air and Space Museum

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November 9, 1967: Apollo 4 launched on the first test flight of the Saturn V rocket. The Saturn V was used to launch astronauts on later Apollo missions to the Moon. The Apollo 4 Command Module hatch is in our collection.

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October 27, 1967: This #StarTrek starship Enterprise model encased in plastic appeared in the Star Trek original series episode titled, "Catspaw." What is your favorite episode from the original series?

National Air and Space Museum

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October 23, 1962: Cdr. William Ecker flew the first low level reconnaissance mission over Cuba during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The photographs taken by Ecker were used as proof that the Soviet Union installed nuclear ballistic missiles in Cuba. Pictured here is Ecker's flight suit.

Suit, Flying, United States Navy, William Ecker | National Air and Space Museum

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October 22, 1968: the Apollo 7 command module splashed down in the Atlantic with Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, Walter Cunningham on board. During this mission, the RCA camera and attached 100mm wide-angle lens pictured here were part of the first television broadcast from space.

National Air and Space Museum

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September 8, 1966: "Star Trek" (The Original Series) debuted in the U.S. on NBC. Last September, the original U.S.S. Enterprise model used in the TV show boldly went on its next adventure to our Emil Buehler Conservation Lab where it is undergoing preparations for display in our "Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall" in 2016.

National Air and Space Museum

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August 18, 1960: Corona satellite Discoverer 14 took the first U.S. photograph of a Soviet military site from space. The photograph shows a Siberian air base at Mys Shmidta near the Chukchi Sea. Explore items in our collection from the Corona photoreconnaissance satellites.

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July 23, 1962: Telstar relayed a live, transatlantic television extravaganza of programming from across the US and Europe, including a news conference by President John F. Kennedy. At the time, television anchor Walter Cronkite noted that the satellite made the “White House and the Kremlin no farther apart than the speed of light.” Pictured here is a backup spacecraft to Telstar 1 and 2 that's set to become part of our transformed Boeing #MilestonesofFlight Hall.

Communications Satellite, Telstar | National Air and Space Museum

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July 20, 1969: airandspacemuseum#Apollo11 Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" landed on the Moon carrying astronauts #NeilArmstrong and #BuzzAldrin. This LM-2 was modified to appear like "Eagle."

National Air and Space Museum on Instagram: “#Apollo11 Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" landed on the Moon this day 46 years ago carrying astronauts #NeilArmstrong and #BuzzAldrin. This LM-2…”

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July 16, 1969: #Apollo11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin launched in this command module on the first mission to land humans on the Moon.

National Air and Space Museum on Instagram: “Today in 1969: #Apollo11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin launched in this command module on the…”

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55 Years Ago Today: GRAB-1, the world's first successful reconnaissance satellite, was launched. Pictured here is the backup model for GRAB-1 on display in the "Space Race" gallery at our Museum in Washington, DC.

National Air and Space Museum

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June 3, 1965: Astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to perform a "spacewalk." White did so during the four-day Gemini IV mission. Gemini IV was the second of ten manned Gemini missions, which perfected the techniques of spacecraft rendezvous and docking, and demonstrated that astronauts could withstand prolonged weightlessness for the planned Apollo missions to the Moon. #Spacewalk50

Ed White performing the first EVA | National Air and Space Museum

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March 18, 1965: Aleksei Leonov became the first human to perform a spacewalk. Explore 50 years of spacewalks with the website for our latest exhibition, “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity”. #Spacewalk50

National Air and Space Museum on Instagram: “50 Years Ago Today: Aleksei Leonov became the first human to perform a spacewalk: http://bit.ly/spacewalk50_floating Explore 50 years of…”

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Fueling Saturn - drawing by NASA artist Paul Sample created January 27, 1964.

Fueling Saturn | National Air and Space Museum

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December 27, 1968: Apollo 8 splashed down in Pacific, returning the first astronauts to travel to the Moon and back safely to Earth. This communications carrier was used by mission commander Frank Borman during the Apollo 8 mission. Communications carriers were worn throughout the mission, and affectionately known as the "Snoopy Cap" from its resemblance to a famous cartoon character.

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November 25, 1961: USS Enterprise (CVN-65), world’s 1st nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was commissioned. Pictured here is our 1:100 scale model on display at the Museum in DC.

USS Enterprise Model | National Air and Space Museum

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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

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June 22, 1960: GRAB-1, the world's first successful reconnaissance satellite, was launched. Pictured here is the backup model for GRAB-1. See it on display in the "Space Race" exhibition at the Museum in Washington, DC.

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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

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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, ...

Gemini IV Interior | National Air and Space Museum

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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

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