Test pilot Robert Stanley becomes the first U.S. citizen to fly a jet-propelled plane. Stanley, who worked for Bell Aircraft Corp., flew
the Airacomet Bell XP-59A at Muroc Dry Lake, Calif. The plane used two General Electric-built I-16 engines based on a British design.
NASA officially begins operations. Facilities for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics are brought under NASA control.
NASA’s Explorer 14 launches from Cape Canaveral, Fla., into a highly elliptical orbit aboard a Thor- rocket. Explorer 14 was designed to study magnetic fields and charged particles in Earth’s magnetosphere.
Navy test pilot Lt. Cmdr. J.B. Verdin sets a new speed record
of approximately 1,205 kilometers per hour in the Douglas XF4D-1 Navy Skyray fighter.
NASA launches Mercury Sigma 7 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard an Atlas 1 rocket. Astronaut
Walter M. “Wally” Schirra flies six orbits around the Earth.
Air Force Maj.
William Knight pilots the X-15 to set the speed record
. The plane, which was a joint NASA, Air Force, Navy and North American Aviation Inc. project, was released from a B-52 mothership before reaching its top speed of
Mach 6.7 – a
record that has yet to be broken.
NASA launches Explorer 21 from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., aboard a Delta rocket to study radiation, solar wind
and magnetic fields.
Space Shuttle Challenger launches from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The STS-41G mission was the first to included two women, Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan. Sullivan later
became the first American woman to perform a spacewalk.
NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan publicly announces NASA’s manned spaceflight program along with the formation of the Space Task Group, a panel of scientists and engineers from space-policy organizations absorbed by NASA. The announcement came just six days after NASA was founded.