This Month in Space - FEBRUARY 2015

The February 2015 edition of the special "This Month in Space" series has officially been released by the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This series of articles helps us to remember the rich past of space exploration. The Kennedy Space Center brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering fun and educational activities, so it is no surprise that they would be the ones gathering all these pieces of information. Enjoy!:

February 1, 2003: For mission STS-107, Columbia reentered the atmosphere preparing for its landing, but a problem with the shuttle’s left wing caused the orbiter to lose control and break apart in the air. That day seven astronauts were lost:  Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, and Ilan Ramon. Reports say that during the initial launch, a piece of foam from the left bipod ramp struck the reinforced carbon, allowing for superheated air to enter the left wing upon reentry.

February 3, 1994: Today is the 20th anniversary of the first joint U.S./Russian Space Shuttle Mission. The STS-60 mission for Discovery launched on February 3, 1994, with the first Russian cosmonaut, Sergei Krikalev, aboard.

February 4, 1902: Charles A. Lindbergh was born. On May 21, 1927, Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic. He was appointed to senior government committees on aerospace development and supported Robert Goddard’s rocket development in the 1930s. He lived long enough to see man land on the moon, passing away five years later in 1974.

February 5, 1971: Apollo 14 landed on the moon. It was the third manned mission to land on the moon, and its crew included astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa. The mission involved lunar field geology investigations, collecting surface material samples to bring back to Earth, among other experiments and observations.

February 6, 1975: The weather satellite, SMS-2, launched from Cape Canaveral. It was the second of its kind and designed to cover the Western U.S. and Pacific basin. SMS-2 had the ability to monitor extreme weather conditions such as typhoons or hurricanes. The Visible Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer (VISSR) was the instrument aboard recording images on the cloud conditions. It was a great step forward for technology.

February 7, 1984: Today is the 31th anniversary of the first untethered spacewalk. During the STS-41B Challenger mission, American astronaut Bruce McCandless II took a daring step into space with the help of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).

February 9 1995: Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. became the first African-American to perform a spacewalk. Joining NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a flight surgeon and clinical scientist, Harris was also involved with the construction of various space rovers.

February 10, 1911: 103 years ago, Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh was born in Riga, Latvia. He was a key player in multiple space project decisions throughout his life, and the chief theoretician of the Soviet missile and space programs. 

February 11, 1974: Forty years ago was the first launch of a Titan/Centaur vehicle. It was a proof of concept flight to test the rocket for future Viking launches to Mars. During the test, the Centaur stage failed to ignite.

February 12, 1973: Today marks 42 years since the death of Edward S. Forman. Forman was a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation. Together with John Parsons and Frank Malina, they were known as the Three Rocketeers. Learn more about the early years of the space program, from Mercury to Apollo, at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

February 15, 1564: Galileo Galilei was born 451 years ago today. Galileo was a mathematician, astronomer and physicist who challenged the modern ideas of his time. He is known as the father of the telescope and supported the theory of a sun-centered solar system.

February 16, 1965: The Saturn 1 rocket was launched with a payload holding the Pegasus satellite. Its mission involved seeking out meteoroids with specific masses in nearby Earth regions. Another purpose behind the launch was to test the compatibility of the Apollo/Saturn rocket. Everything went as planned and Pegasus 1 became the first active payload launched by the Saturn system. See a Saturn rocket in the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

February 18, 1979: Today is the 36th anniversary of the launch of SAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment). The SAGE mission was focused on gathering stratospheric aerosol and ozone data. This information was essential in learning more about the environmental condition of Earth. There have been three SAGE missions since 1979, and a fourth launch is scheduled for 2015.

February 19, 1932: Today, Dr. Joseph Peter Kerwin celebrates his 83 birthday. Dr. Kerwin was the first physician to be selected as an astronaut and was a part of the Skylab 2 crew. Skylab 2 launched May 22, 1973, and was the first successful space station mission, lasting 28 days.

February 20, 1962: John Glenn became the first U.S. man to orbit Earth. He launched aboard the Mercury capsule named Friendship 7. The mission was to observe his reactions, then return him back home safely, and it was a success! See the rocket that launched him into space in the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

February 21, 1931: In Dessau, Germany, Johannes Winkler flew the HW-1 rocket. This was the first liquid-fueled rocket in Europe. It weighed a little over 11 pounds and stood two-feet high. The rocket only made it 10 feet into the air before failing.

February 24, 1969: Mariner 6 launched with the Atlas/Centaur rocket. It was a part of the first dual mission to Mars. Along with Mariner 7, which launched a month later, it retrieved information about the Martian atmosphere using remote sensors and photographs.

February 26, 1964: The Championship fight of Sonny Liston vs Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, appeared on televisions around America. It was the first visual broadcast via a communications satellite.

February 27, 1942: James Stanley Hey discovered radio emissions coming from the sun. His discovery was a great step forward for radio astronomy. Today, we know that many celestial bodies emit radio frequencies.

February 28, 1959: NASA launched Discoverer 1, the first in a series of reconnaissance satellites. The program was top secret and went by the code name of “Corona.” It was implemented in order to survey and photograph the Soviet Union, essentially replacing the U2 spy planes. The satellites also aided in producing maps and charts for the Department of Defense. It was kept secret from the public, and over a period of four years, 38 satellites were launched.

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