This Month in Space - MAY 2015

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex just shared with us the newest edition of the special "This Month in Space" series. These articles help all of us to remember interesting details about the rich past of space exploration.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering fun and educational activities. We are sure you will agree with us that there is no better source for such interesting information.

May 1, 1949: Gerard Kuiper discovered the planet Neptune’s outermost moon, Nereid. It has a highly eccentric orbit raising questions as to whether it’s a captured asteroid or object from Kuiper’s belt. Nereid was named for the sea nymphs of Greek mythology.[i]

May 4, 1989: Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on mission STS-130 with the Magellan spacecraft in its payload bay. Magellan was deployed to collect radar images from Venus. The spacecraft imaged more than 98 percent of Venus, bringing back fantastic results.[ii]

May 5, 1961: Alan Shepard launched in his Freedom 7 capsule aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket to become the first American in space after just 15 minutes in space. Shepard’s flight represents a monumental point in American space exploration.[iii]

May 6, 1968: A split second determined whether or not Neil Armstrong would become the first man on the moon when he narrowly escaped tragedy while performing a test flight in the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle near Houston. He ejected from the craft seconds before it crashed and exploded.[iv]

May 7, 1992: Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on her maiden voyage from Launch Pad 39-B. The STS-49 mission set multiple records, including the first attachment of a live rocket to a satellite and the first use of a drag chute for landing.[v]

May 9, 2003: The Hayabusa spacecraft launched with a mission to collect a surface sample from the asteroid Itokawa. More than seven years later, Hayabusa landed in South Australia on June 14, 2010, bringing the first sample retrieved from an asteroid.[vi]

May 10, 1946: American’s assembled the German V-2 rocket and launched it for the first time. The rocket successfully gained information about the Earth’s atmosphere and cosmic radiation. It would continue to perform more than 80 experiments over the next

May 11, 2009: During the STS-125 mission aboard Atlantis, astronauts conducted the final service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. It was an 11-day mission with five spacewalks and extended its lifetime through at least 2015. Today, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to capture eye-opening pictures of our universe.

May 12, 1930: Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, opened. Founded by Max Adler, it was the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Since opening, the Adler Planetarium has evolved with the generations and strives to promote a public interest in science.

May 12, 2013: Astronaut Chris Hadfield played guitar and sang David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in zero gravity on the International Space Station. Hadfield substituted his own lyrics “Ground control to Major Tom” in his version.

May 13, 1982: Soyuz T-5 launched to Salyut 7 with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Berezovoi and Valentin Lebedev, making them the first to live on a space station. They spent 211 days in the space station before returning to Earth.

May 14, 1973: Skylab 1 was launched into space onboard the Saturn V rocket. Despite technical issues, astronauts were able to perform 16 biomedical experiments about life in microgravity.

May 15, 1963: The last flight for the Mercury mission launched on this day with astronaut Gordon Cooper aboard. After 34 hours and 22 orbits, the capsule landed safely.

May 17, 1974: NASA launched the Synchronous Meteorological Satellite (SMS-1) to relay weather information about hurricanes and typhoons, as well as images for weather prediction models. The satellite was in geostationary orbit over the equator and Atlantic Ocean until 1981.

May 18, 1991: Helen Patricia Sharman became the first British astronaut when she launched in Soyuz TM-12 on a commercial mission to the Mir Space Station.            

May 19, 1961: The Soviet Union’s satellite Sputnik 8, also known as Venera 1, completed the first flyby of Venus. Unfortunately, connection was lost with the satellite and no data was retrieved.

May 21, 2010: The Japanese Space Agency, or JAXA, launched IKAROS. IKAROS was the first successful solar sail as it gathered sunlight as propulsion through its panels. The purpose was to prove a spacecraft could fly only by a solar powered sail.

May 22, 1946: The U.S. launched the first domestically-made rocket, the WAC Corporal, to reach the edge of space. The unmanned rocket flew 50 miles (80 kilometers) into the sky.

May 23, 1984: NASA selected its 10th group of space shuttle astronauts. They were nicknamed the Maggots by Bill Shepherd. The class included John Howard Casper, Mike McCulley, Charles Veach, Jim Adamson, Dr. Sonny Carter, Frank Culbertson, Bill Shepherd, Kenneth Cameron, Marsha Ivins, Sid Gutierrez, Mark Brown, Lloyd Hammond, Mark Lee, Dr. Kathy Thornton, James “Wexbee” Wetherbee, Ellen Baker, and David Low.

May 24, 1962: The Mercury-Atlas 7 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The five-hour flight was manned by Scott Carpenter who performed tests on liquids in a weightless environment and added to the collection of Earth photography.

May 25, 1961: President John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech at Rice University, challenging America to put man on the moon by the end of the decade.

May 26, 1951: Today would have been astronaut Sally Ride’s 63 birthday, but she passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2012. Ride was the first American woman to fly to space and started NASA’s EarthKAM project, which allows middle school students to photograph and study the Earth through a camera on the International Space Station.

May 28, 1959: Two monkeys, Able and Baker, became the first primates to launch and complete a sub-orbital flight in space aboard the Jupiter missile. Able, a rhesus monkey, unfortunately died four days after landing during surgery to remove an infected electrode. Baker, a squirrel monkey, lived until the age of 27 in Huntsville, Alabama.                                                    

May 30, 2015: Today, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame honors four astronauts for their service to the United States and NASA. John Grunsfeld, Steven Lindsey, Kent Rominger, and Rhea Seddon will be inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame® at 2 p.m. during a public ceremony held at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Space Shuttle AtlantisSM  attraction.

May 31, 1998: The satellite Galileo flew near Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Galileo took photos of the icy surface and certain structures indicate there might be a deep, melted ocean under the icy shell.

For more information, visit

No comments

Powered by Blogger.