For Space Enthusiasts: This Week in Space

From Kennedy Space Center

MarstouchdownAugust 1, 1967: The first permanent structures of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened. It consisted of two auditoriums, a snack bar, a souvenir sales area and a ticket counter. Today, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tells NASA’s story and continues to educate the public on the U.S. space program.

August 2, 1971: The first televised lunar liftoff occurred during the Apollo 15 mission. The lunar module, Falcon, left the moon’s surface at 1:11 p.m. EDT after a three day visit.

August 3, 2004: The Messenger spacecraft launched to study the planet Mercury. Following a seven-year journey, Messenger reached Mercury in 2011 and mapped out 100% of the planet for the first time.

August 4, 2007: The Phoenix Mars Lander launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and landed on Mars in May 2008. The Phoenix Mars Lander’s main objectives were to research any former presence of life, prepare for human exploration and characterize the geology and climate.

August 5, 1930: Astronaut Neil Armstrong was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Armstrong was the first human to step foot on the moon, putting America ahead in the 1960s “Space Race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

August 6, 2012: The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. Originally planned for a 23 month mission, the main objective was to find evidence of a past environment that could support microbial life. Images sent from the touchdown area showed water had once existed in the area.

August 7, 1959: The first TV images of Earth were taken by the Explorer 6 satellite. The Explorer 6’s purpose was to study confined radiation of numerous energies in the upper atmosphere.

August 8, 1949: U.S. Air Force Major Frank K. Everest was flying his X-1 aircraft when his cabin lost pressure at a high altitude of 69,000 feet. In that moment, Everest made the first operational emergency use of a T-1 partial pressure suit. The T-1 partial pressure suit was designed to protect pilots by providing oxygen if the air pressure became too low. Partial pressure suits eventually evolved into the full pressure suits that astronauts use for spacewalks today.

August 9, 1972: Rockwell International was contracted by NASA to begin construction on space shuttle Enterprise. Although Enterprise was not built to fly in space, it was used for landing tests.

August 10, 1966: Lunar Orbiter 1 was launched as the first of five Lunar Orbiter missions assigned to map out the moon’s surface before the Apollo lunar landings.

August 11, 1960: Discoverer 13, an earth-orbiting satellite, became the first recovered spacecraft when it splashed down from orbit in the Pacific Ocean.

August 12, 1977: First glide test of a space shuttle was executed by Enterprise. During this glide test, Enterprise piggybacked off a modified Boeing 747 airplane and glided safely to the floor of the Mojave Desert.

August 13, 1960: The first known photographic geological survey of the moon’s surface was captured. This survey aided in selecting future Apollo landing sites for manned and unmanned spacecraft.

August 14, 1961: The first Saturn I rocket arrived at Cape Canaveral. Saturn I was one of two versions of the Saturn rockets (Saturn V being the other). Saturn I launched Apollo into low Earth orbit and also supported the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test project.

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