This Week In Space History

by












  Space News Business

This Week In Space History

posted: 31 December 2007
10:33 am ET











Dec. 17





1908:

Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first successful powered flight of a heavier-than-air vehicle, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Web site. The brothers made four flights that day – the best of which reached nearly 260 meters for 59 seconds – with their self-built Wright Flyer in Kitty Hawk, N.C.




Dec. 19





2003:

The U.K.-built Beagle 2 Mars rover separates from its European Space Agency Mars Express mothership. Communication was lost as it descended toward the red planet.






Dec. 21



1968:

Apollo 8 launches aboard a Saturn 5 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., into lunar orbit. Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell




and William Anders took high-resolution photographs of possible landing sites for Apollo 11 as they flew about 112 kilometers above the lunar surface.




Dec. 24



1979:

The French Space Agency, CNES, and the European Space Agency launches the French-built Ariane 1 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. It was the first of four test launches for the Ariane 1, a heavy-lift, three-stage launch vehicle capable of lofting almost




1 metric ton into geostationary transfer orbit, the CNES Web site said.




Dec. 29



2002:

The People’s Republic of China launches its Shenzhou 4 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on a Long March 2 rocket into Earth orbit. The unmanned capsule was China’s last test of the Shenzhou capsule before




launching its first manned capsule into orbit October 2003.




Jan. 3





1999:

NASA launches the Mars Polar Lander on a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to search for near-surface ice water. Contact was lost, however, when a software problem shut down the spacecraft’s thrusters prematurely and




the lander crashed into the Mars surface.





Jan. 4



2004:

The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit lands on the red planet after being launched aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., June 5, 2003. Spirit and its later-arriving twin rover, Opportunity, continue to comb Mars, long past their expected 90-day duration.




Jan. 5



1972:

U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that NASA is developing a reusable launch vehicle:




the space shuttle.