Dec. 3


The Soviet Union launches Luna 8 to the Moon from BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The attempted soft landing fails, however, and the lander crashes onto the Moon’s surface.

Dec. 4


Edward White and Michael Collins launch in the Gemini 7 capsule atop a Titan rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on a 14-day mission. The primary mission was to evaluate the effect of such a prolonged period in Earth orbit.


NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour


from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., carrying the STS-88 mission and the Unity module, which is used to begin assembly of the international space station.

Dec. 6


In response to the successful Soviet Sputnik satellite, the United States attempts to launch a

Vanguard TV-3 satellite. However, the attempt fails when the

grapefruit-sized satellite explodes at launch



Pioneer 3 launches from the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a Juno 2 rocket. Although it failed to reach lunar orbit,

the spacecraft helped elucidate the outer band of radiation surrounding the Earth, now

known as the Van Allen


Dec. 7


A Delta 2 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., carrying two payloads: Jason 1, an oceanographic satellite by the French space agency, CNES, and NASA;


NASA’s Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics, or



Dec. 8


Arianespace launches the WildBlue Communications’ WildBlue-1 and SES Americom’s AMC-18, both telecommunications satellites, from Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket.