This Month in Exploration - October

Visit "This Month in Exploration" every month to find out how aviation and space exploration have changed throughout the years, improving life for humans on Earth and in space. While reflecting on the events that led to NASA's formation and its rich history of accomplishments, "This Month in Exploration" will reveal where the agency is leading us -- to the moon, Mars and beyond.

100 Years Ago

October 26, 1909: Lt. Frederick E. Humphreys and Lt. Frank P. Lahm became the first Army pilots to fly solo in the Wright Military Flyer at College Park, Maryland.

90 Years Ago

October 8-31, 1919: The United States Air Service initiated the transcontinental reliability and endurance flight project to test its men and aircraft over extended distances. Two groups of aircraft were to fly from New York to San Francisco or from San Francisco to New York, and return. Of the 63 aircraft, 44 completed the westbound journey, 15 completed the eastbound, and 10 planes made the round trip. Seven lives were lost. The Air Service learned that it did not yet possess planes and equipment required for this type of mobility, nor were its pilots trained to fly under hazardous weather conditions.

80 Years Ago

October, 1929: Hermann Oberth was awarded the first REP-Hirsch international prize for his book “Wege zum Raumschiffahrt” (Road to Space Travel). The prize honored works which contributed to starting space travel. In the epilogue of his award-winning book, Oberth wrote "One can see that science and education are capable of bridging national divisions."

60 Years Ago

October 27, 1949: The Unitary Wind Tunnel Act (63 Stat. 936) authorized the $136 million construction of the new National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) facilities, since industry could not subsidize expensive wind tunnels for research in transonic and supersonic flight

50 Years Ago

October 1, 1959: NASA personnel total reached 9,347, one year after its inception, when it replaced the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

October 8, 1959: The Pioneer IV probe reached its farthest point from the sun at 8 p.m. EST. The Pioneer IV lunar and planetary exploration satellite was the first U.S. satellite to orbit the sun.

45 Years Ago

October 30, 1964: NASA pilot Joseph Walker conducted the first flight in the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV). The LLRV provided realistic simulation that was critical for landing a spacecraft on the moon in the Apollo program.

35 Years Ago

October 25, 1974: Michael V. Love piloted an X-24B during the fastest lifting body flight, from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Facility in Edwards, California.. The aircraft reached Mach 1.76 (1164 mph). The information generated from this and other lifting body research flights led to development of the space shuttle program.

30 Years Ago

October 30, 1979: NASA, in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), launched the Magsat satellite at 9:15 a.m. EST, from the Western Space and Missile Center (WSMC). Magsat made the first precise measurements of the Earth’s vector magnetic field and contributed to studies of groundwater, mineral resources and earthquake hazard investigation.

25 Years Ago

October 5, 1984: The Space Shuttle “Challenger” (STS 41-G) launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 7:03 a.m. EST. During this mission, Kathryn Sullivan became the first U.S. woman to walk in space. The shuttle landed at Kennedy on October 13 at 12:26 p.m. EST, ending the mission that lasted for 8 days, 5 hours and 23 minutes. It was also the first flight to include two women astronauts, Sally K. Ride and Kathryn D. Sullivan.

20 Years Ago

October 18, 1989: The crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-34) launched the Galileo spacecraft. Galileo’s mission was to journey to Jupiter and send a probe into its atmosphere. Galileo observed the planet and its satellites for two years beginning in 1995. Galileo's mission ended in 2003 when it passed into Jupiter's shadow and then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere.

15 Years Ago

October 12, 1994: NASA’s Magellan spacecraft burned up in Venus' atmosphere, ending its five-and-a-half-year mission to map the surface and measure the gravity of the planet. Magellan collected radar images of 98% of the planet.

5 Years Ago

October 4, 2004: After making the second of two suborbital flights in one week, SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight. SpaceShipOne was funded by Paul G. Allen, designed by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, LLC. SpaceShipOne is a lifting body propelled via rocket after launch, and uses a non-powered re-entry.

Present Day

October 27, 2009: The Ares I-X flight test, NASA's first test for the Agency's new Constellation launch vehicle, Ares I, is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The Ares I-X flight will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and verify flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I.