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Grapefruit Satellite

Sixty-one years ago this week, the United States Navy Vanguard Program registered its first success with the orbiting of the Vanguard 1 satellite. The diminutive orb was the fourth man-made object to be placed in Earth orbit. The Vanguard Program was established in 1955 as part of the United States… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Emergency in Earth Orbit

Fifty-three years ago this month, the crew of Gemini VIII successfully regained control of their tumbling spacecraft following failure of an attitude control thruster. The incident marked the first life-threatening on-orbit emergency and resulting mission abort in the history of American manned spaceflight. Gemini VIII was the sixth manned mission… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Piloting the Lunar Module

Fifty years ago this month, the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) was flown by an astronaut crew in space for the first time during the Apollo 9 earth-orbital mission. This technological achievement was critical to the success of the first lunar landing mission which occurred a little over 4 months later.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Hands-Off Landing

Forty-nine years ago this month, a USAF F-106A Delta Dart (S/N 58-0787) out of Malmstrom AFB, Montana made a wheels-up landing in a farmer’s field despite the fact that there was no pilot onboard.  The pilot, Lieutenant Gary Foust, had ejected earlier when he was unable to recover the aircraft… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Mercury Into Orbit

Fifty-seven years ago today, Project Mercury Astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn’s spacecraft name and mission call sign was Friendship 7. Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) lifted-off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 14 at 14:47:39 UTC on Tuesday, 20 February 1962. It was the… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Supersonic Escape

Sixty-four years ago this month, North American test pilot George F. Smith became the first man to survive a low altitude, high dynamic pressure ejection from an aircraft in supersonic flight. Smith ejected from his F-100A Super Sabre at 777 MPH (Mach 1.05) as the crippled aircraft passed through 6,500… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

USAF YF-16 First Flight

Forty-five years ago this month, the USAF/General Dynamics YF-16 Lightweight Fighter (LWF) took to the air on its official first flight with General Dynamics test pilot Phil Oestricher at the controls. The YF-16 would go on to win the high stakes Air Combat Fighter competition following a head-to-head fly-off against… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

America in Orbit

Sixty-one years ago today, the United States successfully orbited the country’s first space satellite. Known as Explorer I, the artificial moon went on to discover the Van Allen Radiation Belts, the extensive system of charged particles trapped in the magnetosphere that surrounds the Earth. The Explorer I satellite was designed… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

HAM Into Space

Fifty-eight years ago this month, NASA successfully conducted a critical flight test of the space agency’s Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle which helped clear the way for the United States’ first manned suborbital spaceflight. Riding the Mercury spacecraft into space and back was a diminutive 44-month old male chimpanzee by the name… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Skyray Debut

Sixty-six years ago this month, the USN/Douglas XF4D-1 Skyray fighter flew for the first time at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Douglas test pilot Robert O. Rahn was at the controls of the single-engine, carrier-based, supersonic-capable aircraft. The Douglas XF4D-1 was the prototype version of the United States Navy’s… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History
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