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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautical and Astronautical Events
of January-March 1961


SOURCE: Eugene M. Emme, comp., Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961, Report of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, 87th Cong., 2d. Sess. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962), pp. 1-13.

JANUARY 1961


January 1: White House statement of President Eisenhower issued, stating that "the early establishment of a communication satellite system which can be used on a commercial basis is a national objective."

---: Project Ice Way was established near Thule by the Geophysics Research Directorate of the Cambridge Research Laboratories to test the feasibility of landing heavy aircraft on ice runways. The tests, completed in June 1961, demonstrated the strength and other engineering qualities of the ice runways constructed of natural sea water or reinforced with strands of Fiberglas.

Early January: Because of the danger of a power drain in connection with remote (tape recorder) operation, the wide-angle camera of Tiros II was turned on only for direct readout, while satellite passed over Fort Monmouth and Point Arguello.

January 3: NASA's Space Task Group, charged with carrying out Project Mercury and other manned space flight programs, officially became a separate NASA field element.

---: NASA awarded contract to General Electric for an investigation of means of storing solar heat energy in satellites.

January 4: Ablation model test with electric arc attained 4,000þ F for 105 seconds at Langley Research Center, one of a series of tests begun in September 1960.

January 5: Turbofan-powered B-52H Boeing bomber, with two prototype Douglas Skybolt air-launched 1,000-mile-range ballistic missiles under each wing, was rolled out of the factory at Wichita, Kans.

January 7: USAF Blue Scout I reached near 1,000-mile altitude with 90-pound data capsule from Atlantic Missile Range.

January 9: Jet Propulsion Laboratory awarded contract to Beckman Instruments for design studies on equipment to analyze the surface of the Moon.

---: Japanese scientist associated with Radio Research Laboratories of the Japanese Ministry of Communications began studies of space communications at NASA's Goldstone, Calif., Deep Space Tracking Station.

January 10: President-elect Kennedy received report of special nine-man committee on the national space program. Chairman of the committee was Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner of MIT.

---: A Polaris missile of the advanced A-2 design was fired from Cape Canaveral 1,600 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. It was the third success in as many firings for the new Polaris designed to operate at a range over 1,700 miles.

January 11: President-elect Kennedy announced that Jerome B. Wiesner of MIT would be special assistant to the President for science and technology.

January 12: President Eisenhower in his state of the Union address to Congress reviewed U.S. progress in space exploration, stating, "These achievements unquestionably make us pre-eminent in space exploration for the betterment of mankind."

---: Joint DOD-NASA release outlined actions of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board (AACB) since its creation in September 1960.

---: First Italian launching of scientific sounding rocket in cooperative program with United States, a Nike-Cajun launched from a range in Sardinia to a height of over 100 miles, and released a cloud of sodium vapor visible for many miles.

January 13: Convair B-58 Hustler, jet bomber powered by four GE J-79 engines, broke six world speed records, Maj. H. J. Deutschendorf, U.S. Air Force, as pilot. On first closed-course run, the Hustler averaged 1,200.194 miles per hour, and it averaged 1,061.808 miles per hour on both runs carrying a payload of 4,408 pounds and a crew of three.

---: NASA announced that a Life Sciences Research Laboratory would be established on February 1 at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

January 15: NASA began negotiations with French Commission for Spatial and Scientific Research for conducting a cooperative Franco-American space program.

January 16: FCC first allocated radio frequencies to private industry (ITT) for experiments in bouncing signals off the Moon and artificial satellites.

---: In the message of President Eisenhower accompanying his budget for fiscal year 1962, it was said: "In the program of manned space flight, the reliability of complex booster capsule escape and life support components of the Mercury system is now being tested to assure a safe manned ballistic flight into space, and hopefully a manned orbital flight in calendar year 1961. Further test and experimentation will be necessary to establish if there are any valid scientific reasons for extending manned space flight beyond the Mercury program."

---: Final assembly of first Saturn flight vehicle (SA-1) was completed.

January 17: First invention award under the authority of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 given to Dr. Frank T. McClure of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins for his satellite Doppler navigation system, the $3,000 award being presented by NASA Administrator Glennan at NASA headquarters.

January 19: Report of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences stated that life in some form on other planets of the solar system may possibly exist, but that evidence of this is not available today.

---: Iris rocket, new solid-propellent single-stage sounding rocket, failed to attin programmed flight from Wallops Island, reaching only 86 miles' altitude instead of 160 miles.

January 19: NASA selected Hughes Aircraft Co. for placing of a major subcontract by Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build seven Surveyor spacecraft designed for soft landings on the Moon.

---: Marshall Space Flight Center awarded contract to Douglas and Chance Vought to study launching manned exploratory expedition into lunar and interplanetary space from Earth orbits.

---: Federal Communications Commission allocated a radio frequency to the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. to establish the first space satellite communications link between Europe and the United States on an experimental basis, a program calling for NASA launching of a series of experimental communication satellites capable of relaying telephone calls, television programs, and other messages across the Atlantic.

---: NASA announced indefinite suspension of the programming of the wide-angle camera in Tiros II, the experimental weather observation satellite launched on November 23, 1960.

January 20: United States and United Kingdom signed formal agreement covering minitrack station at Winkfield, England.

---: Under NASA contract, United Technology Corp. successfully completed ground tests of three 15,000-pound thrust segmented solid-propellent rockets. Each was made up of three 1,000-pound sections which were joined prior to firing.

---: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) awarded contracts to North American Aviation and Ryan Aeronautical to develop paraglider recovery system for the Saturn booster, based upon concept developed by Francis M. Rogallo of NASA's Langley Research Center.

---: Headline news in Moscow was detailed Tass announcement that Strelka, one of two female dogs recovered from orbiting Spacecraft II in August 1960, had given birth to six puppies in good health. Pravda had announced 3 weeks earlier that one of the satellite-passenger dogs had given birth.

January 23: Final test flight of USAF Atlas D traveled 5,000 miles to target down Atlantic Missile Range, representing 35 successes, 8 partials, and 6 failures in 49 test launchings for D model.

---: NASA selected United Aircraft to make feasibility study of ion rocket application for long space flights.

January 24: NASA outlined specifications for a low-altitude active communications satellite Project Relay at Goddard Space Flight Center.

January 25: NASA awarded contract to Lockheed for a spaceship refueling study.

---: NASA distributed to the world scientific community, through COSPAR, a detailed description of the next planned Beacon satellite experiment.

---: NASA revealed it had selected 12 women airplane pilots to undergo tests to determine space flight research capability.

---: Assembly of Ranger I was completed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

---: Titan II selected as launch vehicle for Dyna-Soar I by USAF.

January 29: NASA announced establishment of Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, which would be an extension of the Theoretical Division of Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. It will be headed by Dr. Robert Jastrow.

January 30: President Kennedy stated in his state of the Union address to Congress: "This administration intends to explore promptly all possible areas of cooperation with the Soviet Union and other nations to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Specifically, I now invite all nationsþincluding the Soviet Unionþto join with us in developing a weather prediction program, in a new communication satellite program, and in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus, probes which may some day unlock the deepest secrets of the universe."

---: James E. Webb nominated as Administrator of NASA by President Kennedy.

January 30-February 2: Conference of 12 European nations held at Strasbourg to discuss a British and French proposal for a European satellite launcher development program.

January 31: USAF Samos II, a 4,100-pound test satellite containing photographic equipment, placed in orbit by Atlas-Agena A from Point Arguello, Calif.

---: Mercury-Redstone (MR-2) flight from Atlantic Missile Range shot Mercury capsule containing chimpanzee named Ham to 157 miles altitude and 418 miles down range. Capsule with life-support equipment functioned well but flight was 42 miles higher and 125 miles farther than programmed. Ham was recovered in good health.

---: An eight-engine static test firing of the Saturn test booster (Sa-T1) for 113 seconds was completed at Marshall Space Flight Center.

During January: International Committee on Geophysics, successor organization to the IGY, meeting in Paris, endorsed proposal for Quiet Sun Year during 1964-65. (IGY had been selected for its intense sunspot activity.)

---: NASA internal studies of a manned lunar landing program were completed. Studies considered both the direct ascent based on a large Nova-type launch vehicle and the rendezvous method of earth orbit using a number of Saturn C-2's.

---: Experiments with Echo I were discontinued except for occasional checks, having provided for innumerous communications since launch on August 12, 1960.

---: Wind tunnel testing of model of the first Saturn (SA-1) began at Arnold Engineering Development Center at Tullahoma, Tenn.

---: Explosions of Centaur engines at Pratt & Whitney led to suspension of testing.

FEBRUARY 1961


February 1: Life Sciences Laboratory established by NASA at Ames Research Center to augment, lead, direct, encourage, and coordinate biomedical research related to the space program.

---: X-15 (No. 1) flown to 49,780 feet by John B. McKay, NASA test pilot, at Edwards, Calif.

---: USAF Minuteman successful on first test launch from AFMTC, a three-stage solid-propellent ICBM with full guidance, all tested on its first launching.

---: The space surveillance system (Spasur) was formally commissioned at the Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Va., under the operational control of the North American Defense Command.

February 2: NASA-AEC Space Nuclear Propulsion Office invited industry to submit proposals for participation in development of Nerva (nuclear engine for rocket vehicle application), a part of Project Rover initiated in 1955 by USAF-AEC.

---: Nomination of James E. Webb to be Administrator of NASA reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences.

---: Dr. T. Keith Glennan was named consultant to the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences.

---: NASA announced that it would negotiate with Boeing Co., Chance Vought Corp., and Martin Co., for tanks for five first-stage Saturn launch vehicles. It later announced additional selection of Chrysler Corp.

February 4: Sputnik IV launched into orbit by U.S.S.R., a 7.1-ton payload, but mission of flight was not announced.

---: Plans to launch a Japanese Kappa 6 sounding rocket within a year announced by Yugoslavia.

February 5: Orientation of Tiros II made it impossible to obtain Northern Hemisphere pictures and malfunctions made remote picture taking undesirable, so that use of satellite's cameras was suspended until orbit precession again made Northern Hemisphere pictures possible.

February 6: NASA Aerobee-Hi successfully reached 96 miles above Wallops Station in test of behavior of liquid hydrogen in zero gravity for Lewis Research Center hydrogen propulsion development.

February 7: X-15 flown to unofficial record 2,275 miles per hour by Maj. Robert White, U.S. Air Force.

February 7-8: Meeting of NASA and contractor personnel held at NASA headquarters to review Centaur development program.

February 8: When asked at press conference about U.S. man-in-space plans, President Kennedy stated: "We are very concerned that we do not put a man in space in order to gain some prestige and have the man take a disproportionate risk . . . even if we should come in second in putting a man in space, I will still be satisfied if when we finally put a man in space his chances of survival are as high as I think they must be."

February 8: NAA delivered X-15 No. 2 with XLR-99 engine to NASA for the initiation of the NASA flight research program.

February 9: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory reported that Earth is a slightly irregular ellipsoid according to new calculations.

---: James E. Webb confirmed by the Senate as Administrator of NASA.

---: Gen. Thomas D. White, USAF Chief of Staff, ordered space surveillance functions transferred from Air Research and Development Command to the Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., as technology in this field moved from research and development to an operational stage. The ADC established Spadats (space detection and tracking system).

February 10: Voice message sent from Washington to Woomera, Australia, by way of the Moon. NASA Deputy Administrator Dryden spoke on telephone to Goldstone, Calif., which "bounced" it to the deep space instrumentation station at Woomera. The operation was held as part of the official opening ceremony of the deep space instrumentation facility site in Australia.

---: First static test of prototype thrust chamber of F-1 engine achieved a thrust of 1,550,000 pounds for a few seconds, at Edwards, Calif.

---: Three-day meeting of Satellite Panel of the World Meteorological Organization concluded at Washington, D.C., minus participation by the Soviet member.

February 10-11: Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences worked out recommendation that "scientific exploration of the Moon and planets should be clearly stated as the ultimate objective of the U.S. space program for the foreseeable future." This report was submitted to the President on March 31 and was released publicly on August 6.

February 12: Sputnik VIII launched into Earth orbit by U.S.S.R., from which it placed 1,419-pound Venus probe on its course.

February 13: USAF Gam-83B, modification of Navy Bullpup, a solid-propellent air-to-surface missile, was successfully launched at supersonic speed by an F-100 Supersabre.

February 14: NASA Nike-Cajun rocket launched from Wallops Station, carrying 60-pound payload ejecting explosive charges, which fired at intervals from 20- to 80-mile altitude to provide data on density of the atmosphere.

---: Last of second series of static firings of Saturn completed at Marshall Space Flight Center for 110 seconds, approximately full duration.

---: President Kennedy congratulated Premier Khrushchev on the Soviet Union's "impressive scientific achievement" in launching a space probe toward the planet Venus.

---: NASA selected Flight Propulsion Department, General Electric, for negotiation of 18-month contract to study heatflow characteristics of fluids in nuclear powerplants.

---: NASA and United Kingdom agreed to establish joint program to test communications satellites to be launched by NASA in 1962 and 1963 in Projects Relay and Rebound.

February 15: U.S.S.R. reportedly made first photos of solar eclipse from a vehicle in space, in report later released on May 28.

---: James E. Webb was sworn in as NASA Administrator.

February 16: NASA Explorer IX placed in orbit by four-stage Scout booster from Wallops Station, the first satellite launching from Wallops, and the first satellite boosted by a solid-fuel rocket. Explorer IX was a 12-foot diameter sphere after inflation at orbital altitude.

---: NASA and France agreed to establish joint program to test communications satellites to be launched by NASA in 1962 and 1963 in Projects Relay and Rebound.

February 17: "Polka dot" Explorer IX found in orbit by visual and photographic means after failure of radio beacon delayed confirmation of orbit.

---: USAF Discoverer XX placed in polar orbit with 300-pound recovery capsule from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

---: NASA negotiated $400,000 contract with G. T. Schjeldahl Co. to design, develop, fabricate, and test rigidized inflatable spheres for Project Echo, the passive communications satellite program.

---: The last successful communication with the U.S.S.R. Venus probe was made.

February 18: USAF Discoverer XXI fired into polar orbit, and Agena B restarted in flight after first orbit.

February 20: Navy told the House Committee on Science and Astronautics that Polaris could be used as a mobile satellite launch vehicle.

February 21: NASA Space Task Group selected John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Alan B. Shepard, Jr., to begin special training for first manned Mercury space flight.

---: Navy Transit III-B with Lofti piggyback satellite placed into orbit by Thor-Able-Star launch vehicle, but satellites did not separate.

---: USAF canceled recovery operations of Discoverer XX capsule due to technical difficulties.

---: NASA awarded contract to G. T. Schjeldahl Co. for nine inflatable spheres for Echo program.

---: Titan ICBM completed 5,000-mile flight, the 20th success in 29 tests.

---: MA-2 launch from Cape Canaveral, trajectory providing rugged test of the Mercury capsule.

February 22: French Veronique launched capsule containing rat (Hector) to 95-mile altitude, recovered successfully.

February 23: NASA Administrator James E. Webb and Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric signed letter of understanding confirming the national launch vehicle program, the integrated development and procurement of space boosters by NASA and DOD. It was agreed that neither DOD nor NASA would initiate the development of a launch vehicle or booster for use in space without written acknowledgement of the other agency.

---: Proposed DOD Directive entitled "Development of Space Systems" was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military services for comment by March 2.

---: Tiros II completed 3 months in orbit, continuing useful observations beyond original estimate of useful life.

February 24: NASA Juno II launched S-45 I ionosphere beacon satellite which did not achieve orbit due to malfunction shortly after booster separation.

February 25: Paul F. Bikle set world glider altitude record of 46,267 feet in Schweizer 1-23-E sailplane, beating record of 42,100 feet set by W. S. Ivans in 1950. Bikle is Director of NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., which is conducting the X-15 flight research program.

February 26: Sputnik IV, launched on February 4, reentered the Earth's atmosphere.

February 27: FCC-NASA memorandum of understanding for delineating and coordinating civil communication space activities signed. It stated that "earliest practicable realization of a commercially operable communication satellite system is a national objective."

---: NASA released "Evaluation of U.S.S.R. versus U.S. Output in Space Science," a study prepared for the House Committee on Science and Astronautics.

February 28: NASA Administrator James E. Webb stated that President Kennedy had ordered a thorough review of the Nation's space programs.

During February: Acoustic test chamber for recording sound of rocket operations and to study human stress limits completed at Environmental Simulation Laboratory, Naval Missile Center, at Pacific Missile Range.

---: Japanese space science survey team toured NASA facilities.

---: Bell Telephone Laboratories and General Electric conducted a "phase stability" experiment on Echo I, the results indicating that the sphere was keeping its "roundness" much longer than anticipated.

---: NASA-USAF returned X-15 No. 1 to contractor (NAA) for installation of final engine of 57,000-pound thrust.

MARCH 1961


March 2: Tass announced that radio contact with the Soviet Venus probe could not be established on February 27.

---: The fourth firing of an advanced Polaris A-2, and the first from a ship, was made by the U.S.S. Observation Island as she cruised at 8 knots, 10 miles offshore from Cape Canaveral.

---: The President's Scientific Advisory Committee on Project Mercury visited Atlantic Missile Range for a briefing.

March 3: USAF Blue Scout II carried 172-pound payload to 1,580 miles altitude from Atlantic Missile Range.

March 6: First NASA Agena B vehicle entered checkout of systems and subsystems at Lockheed, Sunnyvale, Calif.; vehicle scheduled to launch Ranger I.

---: Department of Defense decision indicated that perfected military space vehicles would be assigned to each service which demonstrated an operational need for them, thus giving USAF major responsibility for military space development.

---: Direct-mode pictures by Tiros II camera were resumed after a month of inoperation. The quality of the pictures showed some slight improvement, supporting the theory that foreign matter may have been deposited on the lens and was gradually evaporating.

---: Equipped with turbofan engines, B-52H made its first flight at Wichita, Kans.

March 7: First flight model of Saturn booster (SA-1) installed on static test stand for preflight checkout, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville.

---: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center selected Chance Vought Corp. to build 42 fuel and liquid oxygen tanks for the Saturn booster program.

---: Maj. Robert White, U.S. Air Force, flew X-15 a record speed of 2,905 miles per hour, topping his mark of 2,275 miles per hour set on February 7 with interim engine.

March 9: U.S.S.R. launched 5-ton Sputnik IV into orbit and recovered dog passenger, the second time this feat was performed.

---: Harold B. Finger was appointed Assistant Director for Nuclear Applications in NASA's Office of Launch Vehicle Programs, and continued as Manager of the AEC-NASA Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO).

---: Dr. Harold Brown, of University of California's Lawrence Radiation Laboratories, was named Director of Research and Engineering for the Department of Defense, to succeed Dr. Herbert F. York.

March 10: NASA announced first success in immediate detection in real time of radar signals off planet Venus by Jet Propulsion Laboratory Goldstone, as part of 2-month research program.

---: NASA and Navy jointly established development program to increase payload capability of Scout vehicle by 40 percent by improved performance of third- and fourth-stage engines.

---: NASA awarded contracts to Convair, Lockheed, and North American for studies of space vehicles beyond the Saturn class, having first-stage thrust of 6 to 12 million pounds.

---: National Meteorite Symposium held at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.

March 13: Soviet astronomers claimed to have discovered the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of Venus. Dr. Brian Warner of the London Observatory correlated and reinterpreted spectrographic data gathered earlier by Soviet Astronomer Nikolai Kozyrev.

---: An Atlas intended for 9,000-mile flight into the Indian Ocean plunged into the Atlantic only 200 miles from Cape Canaveral.

March 14-15: United States and United Kingdom signed formal agreement covering Mercury tracking stations on Bermuda.

Mid-March: Up to this time, approximately 78 percent of the wide-angle photographs relayed from Tiros II (weather satellite) were considered usable for current weather analysis.

March 15: NASA and United Kingdom's Space Sciences Committee agreed on experiments to be included in the second United Kingdom satellite (launched by NASA's Scout), the experiments being galactic noise, atmospheric ozone, and micrometeoroids.

March 16: Scientists from Fordham University and Esso Research announced that they had discovered waxy compounds inside a fragment of a meteorite found near Orgueil, France, in 1864.

---: NASA Robert H. Goddard Space Flight Center officially dedicated at Greenbelt, Md., dedication address delivered by Dr. Detlev Bronk, President of the National Academy of Sciences. It was the 35th anniversary of Dr. Goddard's successful launching of the world's first liquid fuel rocket. Mrs. Robert H. Goddard accepted the congressional medal honoring her husband.

March 17: Vanguard I completed third year in orbit and was still transmitting. Vanguard I provided much useful data on orbits, including the slight pear-shape of the Earth and the effect of solar pressure. Vanguard also provided the second stage for the Able, Delta, and Able-Star, as well as the third stage of Scout, pioneering solid-propellant stages used in Polaris and Minuteman.

---: First Northrop T-38 supersonic jet trainer was delivered to USAF Air Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Tex.

March 18: Little Joe 6 fired Mercury spacecraft from Wallops, resulted in limited test of escape system because of unprogrammed sequence.

March 19: Problems with the shutter of the wind-angle camera of the Tiros II were noted, but later disappeared and did not significantly affect data from this camera.

---: Tiny particle of matter from another galaxy hit upper atmosphere of the Earth over New Mexico at a speed close to that of light and split with great force. Resultant particle shower numbered between 20 and 40 billion pieces, according to scintillation counters at the Volcano Ranch Cosmic Ray Research Center near Albuquerque, N. Mex.

March 20: Charles J. Dolan named Associate Director of NASA's Langley Research Center. He had been associated with the NASA Space Task Group since its formation at Langley in November 1958.

March 20-21: Representatives of NASA and the French Committee for Space Research agreed on cooperative space science program in meeting at Washington, D.C.

March 22: National Academy of Sciences' Geophysics Research Board announced preliminary plans for an International Year of the Quiet Sun (IQSY) during 1964-65.

---: Dr. Edward C. Welsh, a former aid to Senator Symington, was nominated by the President to be the Executive Secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

March 23: Responding to inquiry by the chairman of the House Science and Astronautics Committee, President Kennedy stated in a letter: "It is not now nor has it ever been my intention to subordinate the activities of [NASA] to those of the Department of Defense . . . there are legitimate missions in space for which the military services should assume responsibility . . . [and there are] major missions, such as the scientific unmanned and manned exploration of space and the application of space technology to the conduct of peaceful activities, which should be carried forward by the civilian space agency."

---: The first World Meteorological Day was observed by 50 nations under sponsorship of the World Meteorological Organization.

March 24: Mercury-Redstone successfully flew capsule in 115-mile flight test at Atlantic Missile Range.

---: Tiros II completed 4 months in orbit and continued to provide useful cloud picture and radiation data. Signal from Tiros II was used on 1,763d orbit to trigger dynamite to break ground for new RCA Space Environment Center at Princeton, N.J.

---: NASA and United Kingdom's Department of Science and Industrial Research signed agreement covering data acquisition unit in Falkland Islands for "topside sounder," a joint United States-Canada project.

March 25: NASA Thor-Delta fired Explorer X (P-14) into highly elliptical orbit (apogee of 148,000 miles, perigee of 100 miles) with instruments to transmit data on the nature of the magnetic fields and charged particles in this region of space where the Earth's magnetic field merges with that in interplanetary space.

---: Prof. Martin Schwarzschild, of Princeton University, named by the National Academy of Sciences to receive the Henry Draper Medal for his work as director of ONR's Project Stratoscope (produced clear photos of the structure of the surface of the Sun).

---: U.S.S.R. launched Spacecraft V, a more than 5-ton payload, and recovered capsule containing a dog named Little Star. This was apparently a repeat of the March 9 shot.

March 26: NASA Aerobee research rocket with University of Michigan payload shot to 252-mile altitude from Wallops Station.

---: Pravda article stated that the day was "not far distant when a Soviet human being will rocket into space."

March 27: Budget Director David E. Bell made known to Joint Economic Committee of Congress that the new administration would request for fiscal year 1962 $125.67 million more for NASA (in addition to previous $1,110 million) and $65 million more for the National Science Foundation (additional to $210 million).

March 27: President Kennedy initiated actions to speed up the development of large boosters.

---: Dr. Carl Sagan, of the University of California, suggested that the seeding of the atmosphere of Venus with algae might alter its atmosphere to support human life.

---: Its instruments recording a magnetic impulse, Explorer X became the first satellite to measure the shock wave generated by a solar flare.

March 28: USAF Dyna-Soar System Project Office personnel visited NASA headquarters for review of technical and management programs.

---: President Kennedy requested Congress for $2 million so that NASA could aid FAA in development of supersonic transport aircraft. President also asked for $12 million increase in FAA budget.

---: NASA Goddard scientists reported that Explorer X had encountered magnetic fields considerably stronger than expected in its elongated orbit which carried it 112,500 miles from Earth (almost halfway to the Moon), although it would take several weeks to analyze acquired data.

---: Soviet press conference at Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow, at which Biochemist N.M. Sisakian announced that all six of Strelka's pups, on exhibit, were developing normally: "Our research on these animals, just completed, has proved that no dangerous consequences to the functioning of the organs have stemmed from the space flight. This problem has an important bearing on our preparations for man's orbiting."

---: Alexander Topchiev, Vice Chairman of the Soviet Academy of Science, stated in Moscow that Western reports that some Soviet astronauts had perished in space flight attempt were "a complete fabrication . . . entirely and absolutely unfounded." Occasion was press conference at the Academy of Science on the subject of the imminent flight of man into space, at which four space dogs and six offspring were televised.

---: Draft DOD directive on "Reconnaissance, Mapping, and Geodetic Programs" (5160.34), relative to development of military space systems, was sent to the services for comment.

March 29: At 280th session of disarmament conference at Geneva, Arthur H. Dean presented U.S. proposal that a system of space satellites for patrolling a ban on nuclear testing be fully operational 6 years after ratification of such a ban. Such a space patrol could "open up a new frontier of knowledge for the benefit of mankind."

March 30: Reactor-in-flight-test system (Rift) study, a part of the NASA-AEC program on nuclear rockets, was briefed by contractors at NASA headquarters.

---: USAF Discoverer XXII failed to achieve orbit.

---: NASA-USAF-USN rocket research X-15 flown to 169,600 feet by Joseph A. Walker, NASA pilot, the highest altitude ever reached by man and which included 2 minutes of weightlessness at the top of his climb. The X-15, powered by XLR-99 rocket engine designed to thrust it to 50 miles altitude and speeds of up to 4,000 miles per hour, was only run at three-quarters throttle.

March 30: USAF announced reduction of the B-70 program contract commitments to North American, Westinghouse, and other firms. Five major subcontracts were canceled and four others sharply reduced.

March 31: NASA selected GE's Space Sciences Laboratory and Avco Corp. for negotiation of contracts to study feasibility of magneto gas dynamic electric rocket or thermal arc jet rocket engines.

---: By this date, all stations of NASA's worldwide Mercury tracking network were operational.

---: Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences submitted its recommendation of February 10-11 that "scientific exploration of the Moon and planets should clearly be stated as the ultimate objective of the U.S. space program for the foreseeable future."

During March: Announced that National Institutes of Health scientists were growing organisms found inside of a meteorite that fell at Murray, Ky., around 1950; first reported instance of living material, perhaps extraterrestrial, grown in a laboratory.

---: In an experiment at Boeing, biologist J.D. McClure spent 26 hours in a sealed environment with atmosphere recycled through algae to retain 21 percent oxygen content.

---: Marine helicopter crews conducted extensive tests to perfect water recovery of Mercury capsule at Langley Air Force Base.

---: Personnel of NASA's technical and international programs participated in task force study of methods for increasing effectiveness of U.S. international scientific activities.

---: It was reported that the Institute of Space Technology at Stuttgart, Germany, had developed inexpensive static test stand and fired steam motors producing 30 tons of thrust.



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Last Updated: January 27, 2005