A concept model of an ion rocket is tested in an electric-rocket test facility at NASA Lewis Research Center (now Glenn Research Center) in Cleveland.
A test of a Thor Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile armed with a 1.45 megaton nuclear warhead, called Starfish Prime, is detonated at 400 kilometers above Johnston Island in the Central Pacific. The blast created an artificial aurora that lasted seven minutes and could be seen
more than 2,500 kilometers away at Kwajelin Island. The blast also created an electromagnetic pulse that surged power lines, which disrupted street lights, burglar alarms and fuses up to 1,300 kilometers away in Oahu.
NASA awards contracts to the Hughes Aircraft Co., McDonnell Aircraft Corp., North American Aviation Inc. and Space Technology Laboratories Inc. to do design studies for the first lunar soft-landing spacecraft, Surveyor.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., announces that construction of
the United States’ first large space simulator is under way. The simulator was used to test full-scale models of Ranger and Mariner class spacecraft against conditions designed to replicate conditions found in space: solar radiation, temperature extremes and vacuum.
The European Space Agency’s Artemis, a satellite meant to test new communications technology, launches on an Ariane 5 rocket but the upper stage does not reach full thrust, which prevents the satellite from reaching geostationary orbit. Already having spent
more than 900 million euros (nearly $1 billion at the time) to build and launch Artemis, another 20 million euros was spent in the next 18 months to bring the 3,100 kilogram satellite into its designated orbit.
The U.S. Air Force cancels the supersonic intercontinental Navaho missile because the development of the Atlas ICBM is preferred over winged missiles like Navaho. Piggybacking aboard a rocket on the launch pad, when it reached its designated height and speed the Navaho was designed to
separate and then fly on its own power using its dual ramjet engines.
The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 15 lander
in what would end up being an unsuccessful attempt to steal some of the thunder from the United States’ Apollo 11 mission to the Moon’s surface.
On July 21, the day after Apollo 11 landed on the
Moon, Luna 15 crashed into the surface of the Moon because of inaccurate altitude data.
Soyuz-19 is launched and for the first time the U.S.S.R. broadcasts a Soviet space mission on television because of planned cooperation with the with the final Apollo mission, Apollo 18.
Soyuz-19 and Apollo 18 docked on July 17 and the respective cosmonauts and astronauts moved back and forth between one another’s spacecraft.