Sept. 8


U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower assigns the highest national priority to ICBM research and development.


Eisenhower dedicates NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Ala.


NASA’s Surveyor 5 launches on an Atlas-Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to scout possible locations for the Apollo lunar landings. It was the third successful soft-landing for the Surveyor series of spacecraft.

Sept. 9


Jupiter’s moon Amalthea is discovered by American astronomer E.E. Barnard.


NASA launches Big Joe, an unmanned boilerplate version of the Mercury capsule, on an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. While the test of the ablative heat shield was successful, the Atlas failed to fully separate.


The Soviet Union launches Venera 11 on a Proton rocket from BaikonurCosmodrome. The spacecraft orbited Venus and successfully sent a lander to the planet’s surface. Its twin, Venera 12, which launched five days later on a similar mission, was also a success.


NASA’s Viking 2 launches for Mars on a Titan 3-E Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Sept. 11

1976: The Soviet Union’s Raduga 2 telecommunications satellite launches on a Proton rocket from BaikonurCosmodrome.

Sept. 12


The Soviet Union’s Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to hit the Moon. Luna 2 launched on an R-7 rocket from BaikonurCosmodrome.


NASA’s Gemini 11, piloted by astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon, successfully docks with an Agena target vehicle during its first orbit. Gemini 11 launched on a Titan 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.


The Soviet Union’s Luna 16, which launched on a Proton rocket from BaikonurCosmodrome, performs the first automated lunar sample return.


The Space Shuttle Endeavour launches the milestone STS-47 mission from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in which Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman in space; Mamoru Mohri became the first Japanese astronaut; and Jan Davis and Mark Lee became the first married couple in space.

Sept. 13


The MA-4 marks the first successful orbital flight of NASA’s Mercury capsule. MA-4, which also tested Mercury’s global tracking network, launched on an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.