A Week of Anniversaries

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A model of Sputnik 3 hangs in the Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics (Credits: Енин Арсений).

A model of Sputnik 3 hangs in the Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics (Credits: Енин Арсений).

On May 15, 1958, the USSR succeeded in launching its third satellite, Sputnik 3, into orbit. Originally known as Object D, Sputnik 3 had been intended as the first artificial satellite, equipped with twelve instruments targeting the upper atmosphere and energetic particles. Alas, Object D’s instruments and telemetry system delayed its launch, so the simpler Sputnik 1 was launched in its place.

On May 15, 1963, NASA’s hot shot, speed demon astronaut Gordon Cooper launched on the final mission of the Mercury program. He flew Faith 7 for  22 orbits over 34 hours – a record for the US, although well behind the Soviet record at the time of four days.

On May 14, 1973, NASA’s very last Saturn V hoisted into orbit the US’s first space station, Skylab. Skylab had a challenging beginning, with a critical micrometeoroid shield being ripped off and one of two solar arrays severely damaged en route. On May 25, the first crew was launched to Skylab, with an updated primary mission: to rescue the fledgling station.

Here is a look at the official film reels from Gordon Cooper’s Mercury Faith 7 flight:

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About the author

Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

One Response

  1. Dana Luterick

    Thanks for the look back in time.
    NASA is not making history with human space flight at this time.
    40 years from now what will people say about NASA’s down time.

    Reply

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