March 17


The U.S. Navy’s Vanguard 1 satellite launches on a three-stage Vanguard rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The scientific satellite collected geodetic measurements of the Earth. The satellite’s successful launch helped atone for the publicly televised failure of the first Vanguard launch in December 1957.


The U.S. and German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites are launched by a Rockot booster from PlesetskCosmodrome in northern Russia. The twin satellites have taken precise measures of the Earth’s gravitational field.

March 18


The Soviet Union’s second-generation manned orbiter Voskhod 2 launches from the BaikonurCosmodrome on a Soyuz rocket carrying cosmonauts PavelBelyayev and AleskseyLenonov. During the 16-orbit flight, Lenonov conducts the first spacewalk.


A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket launches XM Satellite Radio’s XM-2 satellite from its Odyssey platform in the Pacific Ocean.

March 19


The joint U.S. Air Force-NASA X-24A plane completes

its first powered flight from NASA Dryden in Edwards, Calif.

The X-24A was built by Martin Marietta and piloted by Air Force Maj. Jerauld Gentry. The plane’s

lifting body design

eventually was used

in the design of the space shuttle.

March 21


China’s Asiasat 3S communications satellite is launched on a Russian Proton rocket from the BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


An Ariane 5 rocket launches WorldSpace’sAsiaStar digital-radio broadcast satellite and India’s Insat 3B telecommunications satellite from Kourou, French Guiana.


Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 1 rocket fails to orbit due to premature engine shutdown on its second demonstration flight.

March 23


Soviet cosmonaut ValentinVasilyevichBondarenko is killed during a

training exercise when the

pure oxygen pressure chamber of the Vostok simulator

catches fire .


NASA’s Gemini 3 launches on a Titan 2 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., carrying astronauts Virgil Grissom and John Young on a three-orbit test flight. It was the first manned test flight for the two-manned spacecraft.