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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautical and Astronautical Events
of April-June 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. 14-30.

APRIL 1961


April 1: Dr. Charles A. Roadman named as Acting Director of the NASA Office of Life Sciences to succeed Dr. Clark Randt, who resigned effective this date.

---: Secretary of Defense McNamara issued directive (5160.34) assigning research, development, and operational responsibilities for DOD reconnaissance, mapping, and geodetic programs. The USAF was assigned responsibility for reconnaissance satellite systems as well as research and development of instrumentation and data processing associated with these satellite systems. The U.S. Army was assigned responsibility for establishment and management of a worldwide master geodetic control system, and necessary R. & D. and library support, while the USAF was made responsible for launch and recovery of geodetic payloads. The U.S. Navy was assigned responsibility for R. & D. and operation of all oceanographic and geodetic programs at sea.

---: USAF reorganized its research and development activities, creating the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) to replace parts of the Air Research and Development Command and the Air Materiel Command, to be commanded by Lt. Gen. Bernard Schriever. Also separately created was the Office of Aerospace Research (OAR) to function as a separate air command reporting directly to Chief of Staff, USAF.

April 3: Naval Research Laboratory reported that Lofti, small piggyback satellite on Transit III-B launched on February 21, demonstrated that very low frequency radio signals pass through the ionosphere into space, thus opening new area for communications development.

April 4: Three astronauts selected for Mercury-Redstone flight (MR-3) were ordered to take refresher course in Navy centrifuge at Johnsville, Pa.

April 6: Six hundred mice placed in altitude chamber for 6-week environmental exposure at Armour Research Foundation.

---: Marshall Space Flight Center announced that 1,640,000 pounds thrust was achieved in test of F-1 rocket engine thrust chamber static firing at Edward, Calif., a record thrust for a single chamber.

---: United States and United Kingdom signed formal agreement covering tracking station on Canton Island.

April 7-14: NASA participated in Committee on Space Research symposium held in Florence, Italy.

April 8: USAF Discoverer XXIII placed into polar orbit from Pacific Missile Range but reentry capsule stayed in orbit.

April 10: President Kennedy requested Congress to approve legislation making the Vice President Chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

April 10: Radar tracking of planet Venus for 7 weeks by Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists had proved "astronomical yardstick" of 93,498,125 miles as the distance between the Earth and Sun (within 1,000 miles of error).

---: Attempt to recover capsule from Discoverer XXIII unsuccessful.

---: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory reported that Echo I satellite may remain in orbit another 3 years.

---: Rumors swept Moscow that U.S.S.R. had placed a man into space.

April 12: U.S.S.R. announced that Maj. Yuri A. Gagarin had successfully orbited the Earth in a 108-minute flight in a 5-ton Vostok (East), the first man to make a successful orbital flight through space.

---: President Kennedy, in his regular press conference, stated that "no one is more tired than I am" in seeing the United States second to Russia in the space field. "They secured large boosters which have led to their being first in Sputnik, and led to their first putting their men in space. We are, I hope, going to be able to carry out our efforts, with due regard to the problem of the life of the men involved, this year. But we are behind . . . the news will be worse before it is better, and it will be some time before we catch up."

---: USAF Blue Scout II was fired with test equipment for detection of high-altitude nuclear tests.

---: Announced in Moscow that a new State Committee for Coordinating Research Work was created, to be headed by Lt. Gen. Mikhail V. Khrunichev.

April 13: A.T. & T. stated that it hoped to orbit experimental communications satellite by May 1962, and would share use or ownership of a satellite system with other common carriers.

April 14: In response to questioning by the House Science and Astronautics Committee, Associate NASA Administrator Seamans repeated the general estimate of $20 to $40 billion as the cost for the total effort required to achieve a lunar landing, that an all-out program might cost more, and that 1967 could be considered only as a possible planning date at this stage of such a complex task.

---: Gigantic ceremony in Red Square in Moscow honoring Maj. Y. A. Gagarin, the first cosmonaut.

April 17: Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey as chairman, submitted report on "Coordination of Information on Current Research and Development Supported by the U.S. Government." It recommended innovations be developed to aid the management and conduct of research.

---: Construction of dynamic test stand for Saturn completed at Marshall Space Flight Center.

---: USAF Cambridge Research Laboratories' balloon was launched from Vernalis, Calif., maintained constant altitude of 70,000 feet for 9 days with payload of 40 pounds.

April 19: Preliminary data from Explorer X disclosed at NASA indicated that solar winds blow the Sun's magnetic field out past the orbit of the Earth.

---: Dr. Thomas Gold, of Cornell University, submitted that water exists on the Moon, perhaps shielded from evaporation by a layer of ice below the surface, in a paper given at American Physical Society.

---: Lincoln Laboratory's radar system near El Campo, Tex., began 32-day radar contact with the Sun, ending on July 7. Variations in solar activity were determined to have a corresponding effect upon the reflectivity of radio waves transmitted to the Sun from Earth.

---: Scientists from the United Kingdom and NASA announced agreement on the scientific instrumentation of a second United Kingdom satellite to be launched by NASA with a Scout vehicle.

---: Polaris fired more than 1,100 miles from submerged U.S.S. Robert E. Lee.

April 20: National Academy of Sciences issued report by its Space Science Board which stated that "the history of geographic exploration on Earth tells over and over again of the deaths of bold explorers. . . . To ignore this in the far more difficult and hazardous areas of man in space is foolish. Men will perish in space as they have on the high seas, in the Antarctica, in the heart of Africa, and wherever they have ventured into unknown regions."

---: House and Senate approved bill to permit Vice President of the United States to serve as Chairman of the National Space Council.

---: Dr. John R. Winckler, of the University of Minnesota, reported at the American Geophysical Union, that the first direct sampling of a cross section of solar material had revealed that particles of heavier elements of the sun ejected by solar flares have been captured in the vicinity of the Earth in study of emulsions flown by balloons and rockets during the solar activity of the fall of 1960. Tracks of helium, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen had been detected.

April 21: USAF-USN-NASA X-15 flown to controlled-flight record speed of 3,074 miles per hour by Maj. Robert White (USAF) at Edwards, Calif. This was the first flight of X-15 with full throttle.

---: NASA fired Nike-Asp rocket carrying aluminum thermite and sodium pellets to an altitude of 34-miles, one of a series of sodium cloud firings in connection with similar launchings in Italy.

---: Dr. W. O. Roberts, Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), announced that a national balloon flights facility would be established to encourage upper atmospheric research.

April 22: NASA fired first seven-stage Trailblazer rocket from Wallops Station, first three stages firing meteorite to 175-mile altitude and next four stages back through the atmosphere in a high-speed reentry experiment.

---: Italian Air Force personnel fired Jupiter IRBM in training launch at Cape Canaveral.

April 23: Tiros II completed 5 months in orbit. Useful radiation observations ceased due to detector malfunctions, but radiation electronics and tape recorder continued to function, and TV cameras continued to operate as well as on day of launch.

April 24: Dr. Leonard S. Sheingold, director of applied research at Sylvania Electronic Systems, was named by the President to be Chief Scientist, USAF.

April 25: Mercury-Atlas (MA-3) launched unmanned Mercury spacecraft in orbital test from Atlantic Missile Range, which was destroyed at 16,000 feet by range safety officer, while Mercury capsule was boosted by escape tower rockets above Atlas and subsequently recovered intact.

---: President Kennedy signed legislation making the Vice President Chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

---: Official Soviet report described preliminary weightlessness training of the Soviet cosmonauts as follows: "It was established that all selected cosmonauts possess a good ability to endure weightlessness up to 40 seconds, the cosmonaut can eat food liquid, semiliquid, and solid; can perform delicate coordinated acts, such as writing or purposeful hand motions; can maintain communication by radio; can read; and, besides, can orient himself visually."

April 27: Javelin launched 70.6-pound payload to altitude of 475 miles in beginning of Goddard Space Flight Center program to measure the density of eletrons in the ionosphere.

---: Explorer XI, a gamma-ray satellite, was successfully launched into orbit by NASA Juno II from Cape Canaveral.

---: NASA Ames Research Center measured the intensity of radiation from the hot gas over the nose of a model flying through the air at 42,300 feet per second. This speed was in excess of parabolic atmospheric entry speed and the data are significant in relation to development of lunar spacecraft. The speed, 11,100 feet per second higher than maximum air speed obtained previously, was achieved by firing the model from a light-gas gun into a highspeed jet of air flowing in the opposite direction from a shock-driven wind tunnel.

---: F. W. Reichelderfer, Chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau, testified before the House Appropriations Committee that getting the same information contained in the cloud structure photographs taken by the Tiros I weather satellite would have required thousands of weather ships over the Pacific. With Tiros I, he said, "for the first time man had a complete look at the weather over a large segment of the Earth's surface."

April 28: Little Joe 5-B launched Mercury spacecraft from Wallops Station, which provided abort test under severe atmospheric flight conditions.

---: Simulated countdown of Mercury-Redstone 3 was completed successfully.

---: First manned balloon launched from and landed back aboard a naval vessel, a Stratolab High test flight over U.S.S. Antietam in the Gulf of Mexico (6,000 feet).

April 28: Final NASA report on the study proposed for Saturn for use as Dyna-Soar booster was presented to the Air Force.

---: World altitude record for aircraft of 113,891 feet (34,714 meters) flown by G. Mussolov in Soviet E-66A.

April 29: Saturn booster firing of 30 seconds using timer at predetermined setting was successful in flight qualification test.

During April: The Navy reactivated the former NACA hydrodynamic research facilities at Langley Research Center, to conduct R. & D. on hydrofoils, air-cushion vehicles, hydroskis, catamarans, STOL seaplanes, torpedoes, and underwater rockets. NASA continued investigations at other facilities of Langley of ditching and water landing of space vehicles.

MAY 1961


May 1: NASA Administrator Webb issued a statement concerning the 2-year Mercury manned space flight program, which said, in part: "NASA has not attempted to encourage press coverage of the first Mercury-Redstone manned flight. It has responded to press and television requests, with the result that over 100 representatives of the press, radio, and TV are now at Cape Canaveral. . . . We must keep the perspective that each flight is but one of the many milestones we must pass. Some will completely succeed in every respect, some partially, and some will fail. From all of them will come mastery of the vast new space environment on which so much of our future depends."

---: May Day parade in Red Square, Moscow, reviewed by Maj. Yuri Gagarin beside Premier Khrushchev.

---: Tiros operations at Belmar, N.J., terminated to begin move of equipment to Wallops Station, Virginia.

May 2: Manned Mercury-Redstone (MR-3) launch postponed because of rain squalls in the recovery area.

---: USAF Bomarc B area defense missile destroyed Regulus II target missile flying at mach 2, in test at Eglin Gulf Test Range.

May 3: First silo launching of an ICBM, a USAF Titan at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

May 4: ONR Stratolab High V balloon launched from carrier Antietam in Gulf of Mexico reached world altitude balloon record of 113,600 feet, remaining above 104,000 feet for 2 hours 11 minutes, Comdr. Malcolm D. Ross, U.S. Naval Reserve, as pilot, and Lt. Comdr. Victor G. Prather, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy, as observer.

---: House Science and Astronautics Committee approved $126.6 million additional to the President's space budget, marking most of the increase for the Apollo program.

---: First part of MR-3 firing countdown began at T-640 minutes (7:30 a.m. eastern standard time) and held at T-390 minutes until final countdown began at 11:30 p.m. eastern standard time.

May 5: Freedom 7, manned Mercury spacecraft (No. 7) carrying Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., as pilot, was launched from Cape Canaveral by Mercury-Redstone (MR-3) launch vehicle, to an altitude of 115.696 miles and a range of 302 miles. It was the first American manned space flight. Shepard demonstrated that man can control a vehicle during weightlessness and high G stresses, and significant scientific biomedical data were acquired. He reached a speed of 5,100 miles per hour and flight lasted 14.8 minutes.

---: Saturn static firing of 44.17 seconds duration to test-fire detection system at engine position No. 2 was successful, the second SA-1 flight qualification test at Marshall Space Flight Center.

May 5: In-house testing of Ranger I spacecraft completed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

May 8: Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Mercury astronaut, was awarded NASA's Distinguished Service Medal by President Kennedy in a special White House ceremony. It was followed by an informal parade to the Capitol by the seven astronauts for lunch, and a press conference at the State Department auditorium.

May 9: Senator Robert S. Kerr, chairman of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, told a group at the National Radio and Television Convention that President Kennedy accepted the views of NASA and congressional leaders in approving the manned Mercury-Redstone flight of May 5.

May 9-10: Twenty-four Arcas-Robin weather sounding rockets fired within 24 hours by AFPGC at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

May 11: Jet Propulsion Laboratory briefed NASA headquarters on the Venus radar tracking experiment, after 2 months of intensive study begun on March 10.

---: U.S.S.R's Izvestia headlined the result of Soviet radar probes of planet Venus, a report which said that the Venusian day was from 9 to 11 Earth days, and that the astronomical unit (mean distance from the Earth to the Sun) was computed at 149,457,000 kilometers (92,812,797 miles). These figures were at variance with detailed study by scientists of JPL and MIT.

---: Static test of 111 seconds duration of Saturn booster was successful, the final SA-1 flight qualification test of the S-I stage.

May 12: USAF announced plans to institute special course for the instruction of space pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, and it was activated in June.

May 13: NASA legislative program for the 87th Congress was submitted (S. 1857 and H.R. 7115), asking for authority to lease property, authority to acquire patent releases, elimination of the CMLC, replacement of semiannual reports to Congress with an annual one, and authority to indemnify contractors against unusally hazardous risks.

May 14: AEC's Tory II-A-1 experimental powerplant for atmospheric ramjet vehicles underwent first power tests, a part of USAF Project Pluto.

May 15: In testimony before House Appropriations Committee, Hugh L. Dryden revealed that simulated free-flight speeds just under 30,000 miles per hour had been achieved at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

---: National Aeronautic Association announced selection of Vice Adm. William F. Raborn, Jr., to receive the Robert J. Collier trophy for his direction of the Polaris missile program.

---: Test firing of GE plug-nozzle engine developed 50,000 pounds of thrust.

May 15-17: Final reports of study contracts on Project Apollo presented by the three contractors at Langley Research Center and Space Task Group.

May 17: An HSS-2 helicopter, flown by Comdr. Patrick L. Sullivan and Lt. Beverly W. Witherspoon, set a new world class speed record of 192.9 miles per hour for 3 kilometers at Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Conn.

May 18: First test inflation of 135-foot rigidized inflatable balloon satellite in dirigible hangar, conducted by NASA Langley Research Center and G. T. Schjeldahl Co. at Weeksville, N.C.

---: NASA selected RCA to construct the Relay experimental communications satellite to test the feasibility of transoceanic telephone, telegraph, and television communications using an active repeater satellite.

---: Announced by NASA Institute of Space Studies in New York that first major project, a 2-month seminar on the origin of the solar system, would be held in fall 1961.

May 19: Soviet Academy of Sciences revealed that the pulse rate of Maj. Yuri A. Gagarin had risen to 158 beats a minute in his Vostok flight, according to a report circulated by Tass.

---: Second Minuteman test launch was destroyed by range safety officer 90 seconds after lift.

May 19-20: Cape Canaveral opened to the general public for the first time in its history.

May 20: Unconfirmed signals were received on the frequency used by Soviet Venus probe launched February 12, according to Sir Bernard Lovell, of the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station.

May 22: Gen. Curtis E. LeMay nominated by the President to be Chief of Staff, USAF.

May 23: Tiros II completed 6 months in orbit, transmitting over 31,000 photographs of which over 75 percent have been classified as fair to good for meteorological analysis.

---: In a brief ceremony, a bust of Samuel P. Langley was presented by Paul Garber, Curator of the National Air Museum, to the NASA Langley Research Center, during which Dr. Langley's first demonstration of mechanical flight with his "Aerodrome" model in 1896 and his scientific contributions to astrophysics (i.e., the thermopile and the bolometer) were reviewed by Garber and Deputy NASA Administrator Dryden.

---: "Workshop: Telemetry in Europe" at National Telemetering Conference in Chicago brought seven European representatives together with American scientists in working out unofficial preliminary standardization planning on bands, means, and frequencies.

---: New 20-inch wind tunnel at the Aeronatical Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base announced as capable of testing at mach 14, at 200,000-foot altitude, and at 2,500þ F.

May 24: FCC endorsed the ultimate creation of a commercial satellite system to be owned jointly by international telephone and telegraph companies and announced that it was calling a meeting on June 5 to explore "plans and procedures looking toward early establishment of an operable commercial communication satellite system."

---: Launching of NASA ionosphere beacon satellite (S-45 II) at Atlantic Missile Range unsuccessful when Juno II power supply failed and prevented ignition of second stage.

---: Operational Atlas raised from emplacement and fired in an operational test exercise at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

May 24: Three Navy F4H Phantom II fighters, competing for the Bendix Trophy, bettered the existing record for transcontinental flight from Los Angeles to New York. The winning team of Lt. R. F. Gordon, pilot, and Lt. (jg.) B. R. Young, RIO, averaged 870 miles per hour on the 2,421.4-mile flight and established a new record with a time of 2 hours 47 minutes.

---: Comdr. P. L. Sullivan, U.S. Navy, and Lt. B. W. Witherspoon, flying an HSS-2 helicopter, set another new world class speed record with a mark of 174.9 miles per hour over a 100-kilometer course between Milford and Westbrook, Conn.

---: National Rocket Club President H. A. Timken announced proposal to Secretary of the Treasury Dillon to consider a special series of savings bonds and savings stamps to finance the U.S. space program, to be known as series S bonds for space.

May 25: In his second State of the Union Message President Kennedy reported to Congress regarding the space program: "With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we [United States] are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. . . . Now is the time to take longer strides-time for a great new American enterprise-time for this Nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth." President Kennedy set forth an accelerated space program based upon the long-range national goals of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth; early development of the Rover nuclear rocket; speed up the use of Earth satellites for worldwide communications; and provide "at the earliest possible time a satellite system for worldwide weather observation." An additional $549 million was requested for NASA over the new administration March budget requests; $62 million was requested for DOD for starting development of a solid-propellant booster of the Nova class.

May 25: At NASA press conference following President Kennedy's call to Congress for an accelerated space program, NASA Administrator Webb pointed out that the long-range and difficult task of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the decade offered a chance to beat Russia.

---: X-15 flown to record speed of 3,300 miles per hour by NASA test pilot, Joseph Walker, at Edwards Air Force Base.

---: Kaman H-43-B Huskie helicopter flown to claimed altitude record of 25,814 feet by Capt. W.C. McMeen (USAF), bettering Russian record of 24,491 feet established on March 26, 1960.

---: Prerecorded voice message successfully transmitted from NRL to BTL via Echo I, the quality of the transmission being virtually as good as previous experiments.

May 26: USAF B-58 Hustler flown from Carswell Air Force Base, Tex., to Le Bourget, Paris, in record 6 hours 15 minutes, covering distance from New York to Paris in 3 hours 20 minutes. This flight commemorated the 34th anniversary of Charles A. Lindbergh's transatlantic crossing on May 20-21, 1927, and the opening of the 24th Paris International Air Show.

---: Atlas E fired successfully from Atlantic Missile Range.

May 26-27: First National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space, held at Tulsa, Okla., at which leading American space scientists and technologists appraised the current and future applications of space science and technology for human welfare. It was sponsored by NASA and the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, with the Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace Medical Association, American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Rocket Society, the Electronic Industries Association, Frontiers of Science Foundation (Oklahoma), and the Institute of the Aerospace Sciences as cosponsors.

May 26-June 4: Freedom 7, Mercury spacecraft in which Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made his space flight on May 5, was a major drawing card at the Paris International Air Show. Details of the spacecraft and of Shepard's flight were related to about 650,000 visitors.

May 27: Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, Chairman of the Space Science Board of the NAS, stated: "Since, as space activity becomes more difficult and advanced, the space effort will be limited by our knowledge of space at any time, leadership in space science must soon become one of the controlling factors in acquiring space leadership generally." Berkner spoke at the first National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space held at Tulsa, Okla.

May 29: Atlas booster 111-D, to be used for Ranger I, was erected on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

May 30: U.S.S.R. revealed first details concerning Cosmonaut Gagarin's orbital space flight on April 12, when application was made to the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) to have flight made an official world record: Duration, 108 minutes; maximum altitude, 203 miles; launch site, cosmodrome at Baikonur (near Lake Aral); landing site, near village of Smelovka in Seratov region; launch booster, six-engine rocket with total boost of 20 million horsepower.

May 31: Three-week meeting of the executive council of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization in Geneva concluded, at which 18 national representatives (including A. A. Zolotoukhin of the U.S.S.R.) discussed general basis for international use of weather satellites. Dr. Francis W. Reichelderfer, Chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau, was a U.S. representative.

During May: Army Chemical Corps Biological Laboratories completed preliminary tests of microorganisms in a simulated space vacuum at the National Research Corp.

---: Complete system studies of the Apollo spacecraft system that were begun in November 1960 were completed by three industrial contractors.

JUNE 1961


June 1: NASA awarded contract for developing means of sterilizing space vehicles to Wilmont Castle Co.

---: AEC and NASA jointly announced plans for Kiwi B reactor test at Jackass Flats test site in Nevada.

---: NASA announced that a two-stage Saturn C-1 will be used for the first 10 research and development flights.

June 2: Collapse of a lock in the Wheeler Dam below Huntsville on the Tennessee River interdicted the planned water route of the first Saturn space booster from Marshall Space Flight Center to Cape Canaveral on the barge Palaemon.

---: Deputy Premier Mikhail Khrunichev, chief coordinator of the Soviet Union's man-in-space program, died in Moscow.

June 3: Dr. Edward R. Sharp, former Director of Lewis Research Laboratory (1942-61), was presented NASA's first Outstanding Leadership Medal by Dr. Hugh L. Dryden.

---: USAF B-58 which established Atlantic crossing record to Paris of 3 hours 19 minutes crashed after takeoff from Le Bourget Airport, killing its three-man crew. Maj. Elmer E. Murphy, pilot, had recently been awarded the Louis Bleriot Speed Trophy for record speed flight of 1,302 miles per hour in January.

---: Aerojet-General test-fired large solid-propellent rocket motor which generated a half million pounds' thrust, at Sacramento, Calif.

---: A leading Istanbul newspaper, Milliyet, reported Turkish newsmen's reactions after seeing movies of both the Shepard and Gagarin space flights: "When the film was over the journalists asked the Soviet consul general: "In the Shepard film we followed all phases of his space flight, but in yours we followed only Khrushchev. . . . Why don't you show your space flight too?' The Tass correspondent on behalf of the consul general answered: '. . . We are mainly interested in people's excitement and reaction. This is what we wanted you to see.' Gagarin may have gone into space, but this is not the impression of the journalists who saw both films: Shepard really went into space, not Gagarin, and in front of the whole world, too."

June 4: Nationwide Gallup poll released which showed that 38 percent of those questioned thought the United States led in space research, while 38 percent thought the U.S.S.R. led. The same balance also was tabulated on which Nation will be the first to place a man on the Moon.

---: Northrop disclosed "porous wing" plane under development for USAF, modified version of WB-66D based on inhalation concept (eliminating up to 80 percent of the frictional drag) proposed by Werner Pfenninger. Work on drag reduction by means of increasing the laminar flow by boundary layer suction had been performed at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in the late 1930's by Albert E. Doenhoff and Ira H. Abbott.

June 5: Huge Saturn launch complex at Cape Canaveral dedicated in brief ceremony by NASA, construction of which was supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers. Giant gantry, weighing 2,800 tons and being 310 feet high, is largest movable land structure in North America.

---: Two pilots sealed in 8- by 12-foot simulated space cabin for 17-day round trip to the Moon, at the School of Aerospace Medicine, San Antonio, Tex.

June 6: Biomedical results of Mercury-Redstone space flight of Alan B. Shepard, Jr., publicly reported at a special conference in Washington sponsored by NASA, National Institutes of Health, and the National Academy of Sciences. Shepard's heart reached a maximum of 138 beats per minute during the flight.

---: NASA Agena B management meeting was held at Marshall Space Flight Center with representatives from MSFC, NASA headquarters, AFSSD, LMSD, JPL, and GSFC.

---: USAF Aerobee-Hi with Cambridge Research Laboratory payload designed to trap space dust, reached 101 miles over White Sands Missile Range.

June 7: In address at George Washington University, NASA Administrator Webb stated that the exploration of space was an important part of man's "driving, restless, insatiable search for new knowledge."

---: Research Analysis Corporation established by U.S. Army as a nonprofit advanced research organization to replace ORO of Johns Hopkins University.

---: AEC-NASA jointly announced plans to negotiate with an industrial team for a first-phase contract for the development of the Nerva nuclear rocket engine. Team selected for the Nerva part of Project Rover consisted of Aerojet-General Corp. and Westinghouse Electric Corp.

---: NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced creation of a new Office of Programs to be headed by D. D. Wyatt, and the renaming of the Office of Administration under Albert F. Siepert.

June 8: Small rocket lift device demonstrated publicly for the first time at Fort Eustis, Va., a rocket belt developed by Bell Aerosystems, which lifted Harold M. Graham in a controlled free flight to an altitude of 15 feet and a standup landing 150 feet from his starting point.

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

---: NASA announced accelerated recruiting of qualified scientists and engineers at its field centers to fill anticipated manpower requirements in the expanded space exploration program. During 1960 NASA interviewed 3,000 persons on 100 college campuses.

---: Astronomers of Lick Observatory positioned 36-inch refractor telescope so as to intersect the path of Echo I at its predicted point of maximum elevation. Prediction of Goddard Space Flight Center was confirmed at exact time and within 10 minutes of arc.

June 9: NASA press conference revealed that data from Vanguard III (during November 15-17, 1960) and Explorer VIII (also during November 1960) indicated that high-velocity clouds of micrometeorites moved near the Earth, perhaps in a meteor stream around the Sun. This new data was just revealed from completed analysis.

---: Echo I completed its 3,697th orbit after 9 months. When this first passive communications "balloon satellite" was launched on August 12, 1960, it was not expected to have a long life span.

June 10: National Bureau of Standards broke ground for new research facility at Gaithersburg, Md., which will include a mega-pound deadweight testing machine to provide measurement standards for multimillion rocket thrust requirements.

---: NASA Ad Hoc Task Group, created on May 25 to survey launch vehicles and their development schedules pertinent to the manned lunar landing program, reported its findings.

June 12: British and Soviet scientists were still unable to identify signals received since May 17 as being transmitted from the Soviet Venus probe launched on February 12.

---: Reuters reported that the United States pays about $140 per hour for use of the Jodrell Bank Observatory in England, while the U.S.S.R. pays nothing. Sir Bernard Lovell explained that "the Americans occupy the telescope for long periods, where the Russians scarcely use it."

---: NASA's Incentive Awards Committee determined that Dr. Henry J. E. Reid, Director Emeritus of the Langley Research Center, would receive NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal.

June 13: NASA Engineer Test Pilot Joseph A. Walker, who hit record altitude of 169,600 feet on March 30 and record speed of 3,300 miles per hour on May 25 in the X-15, received the 1961 Octave Chanute Award at IAS meeting in Los Angeles.

June 13-25: Freedom 7 Mercury capsule displayed to approximately 750,000 visitors at the Rassegna International Electronic and Nuclear Fair at Rome, Italy.

June 14: NASA's Plum Brook nuclear test reactor at Sandusky, Ohio, went critical for the first time. This reactor was begun in September 1956, and the facility presently has a staff of 100 persons, headed by Dr. Theodore M. Hallman.

---: NASA and the Argentine Comision Nacional de Investigaciones Espaciales signed a memorandum of understanding for a cooperative space science research program using sounding rockets.

---: Four-stage Javelin fired to 560-mile altitude from Wallops Island, testing extension of two 75-foot antenna arms on radio command at altitude, a test flight in the United States-Canadian Alouette satellite development.

June 15: Search for U.S.S.R. Venus probe "lost" since February was ended at Jodrell Bank radiotelescope, as visiting Soviet space scientists, Alla Masevitch and Jouli Khodarev, prepared to leave. The U.S.S.R. Venue probe was last commanded on February 12.

---: President Kennedy presented the Robert J. Collier Trophy to Vice Adm. William F. Raborn, Jr., who had directed the development to the Polaris IRBM.

June 15: President Kennedy directed the National Aeronautics and Space Council to undertake a full study of the Nation's communications satellite policy, stated that leadership in science and technology should be exercised to achieve worldwide communications through the use of satellites at the earliest practicable date. While no commitments as to an operational system should be made, the President stated that the Government would "conduct and encourage research and development to advance the state of the art and to give maximum assurance of rapid and continuing scientific and technological progress."

June 16: USAF Discoverer XXV placed into polar orbit by Thor-Agena B, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

---: NASA Ad Hoc Task Group, established to determine the main problems, the pacing items, and the major decisions required to accomplish the manned lunar landing mission, reported its findings. The direct ascent mission was used in this intensive study with less detailed consideration of the rendezvous method.

June 18: Senate Government Operations Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery released report on "Science Organization and the President's Office." This study recommended that a new Office of Science and Technology be created in the Executive Office of the President.

---: Skindivers parachuted north of Hawaii to recover the capsule of Discoverer XXV, which carried samples of common and rare metals.

---: Presidium of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet awarded 7,026 honors to those associated with the flight of the spaceship satellite Vostok I: Nikita S. Khrushchev received the Order of Lenin and a third Gold Hammer and Sickle Medal for "guiding the creation and development of the rocket industry, science, and technology" which "opened up a new era in the conquest of space;" 7 outstanding scientists and designers received a second Gold Hammer and Sickle Medal; 95 designers, officials, and technicians received the title of Hero of Socialist Labor; and 6,924 workers, designers, scientists, and technicians received various orders and medals (Order of Lenin, 478 persons; Order of the Red Banner of Labor, 1,218; Order of the Red Star, 256; Order of the Badge of Honor, 1,789; and medals to 3,183 other persons).

June 19: Harmon International Aviator's Trophy for 1961 announced as going to three winners for the first time-X-15 rocket research airplane pilots: A. Scott Crossfield, of North American; Joseph A. Walker, of NASA, and Maj. Robert A. White, U.S. Air Force.

---: NASA announced contract with the National Research Corp. to determine whether six types of microbes can sustain simulated exposure to the space environment including ultrahigh vacuum, ultraviolet radiation, and fluctuating temperatures.

---: Yuri Gagarin reported in Pravda that "I was in the center of a whirl of flames" when his Vostok spacecraft reentered the atmosphere on April 12. His book, "Road to Outer Space," was being serialized in Pravda.

---: Legislature of the State of Alabama considered investment of $3 million in establishing a Space Research Institute at Huntsville as a joint University of Alabama and Auburn University center.

June 20: Nuclear Vehicles Project Office established at Marshall Space Flight Center, Col. Scott Fellows, U.S. Air Force, named as Chief.

June 21: Five-year agreement on scientific cooperation signed in Moscow by representatives of the academics of science of the U.S.S.R. and Red China, according to Tass.

---: NASA Administrator Webb accepted one of the three President's Safety Awards for accident prevention during 1960. He pointed out that NASA's activities involved test flying of experimental aircraft, untried highly explosive fuels, high-voltage electricity, and highly pressurized air and superheated temperatures, in addition to rocket and spacecraft tests and launching and the operation of two nuclear reactors and a cyclotron.

---: Hypersonic wind tunnel at Douglas Aircraft became operational at El Segundo, reportedly the largest industry-owned tunnel in the United States (36 inches long, 6-inch diameter, capable of mach 10).

---: USAF Mace B made 1,100-mile guided flight, ending its R. & D. phase.

June 22: Deputy NASA Administrator Dryden sent an explanatory letter to Chairman Robert S. Kerr, of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, on the broad scientific and technological gains to be achieved in landing a man on the Moon and returning him to Earth. Dr. Dryden pointed out that this difficult goal "has the highly important role of accelerating the development of space science and technology, motivating the scientists and engineers who are engaged in this effort to move forward with urgency, and integrating their efforts in a way that cannot be accomplished by a disconnected series of research investigations in several fields. It is important to realize, however, that the real values and purposes are not in the mere accomplishment of man setting foot on the Moon but rather in the great cooperative national effort in the development of science and technology which is stimulated by this goal." Dr. Dryden pointed out that "the billions of dollars required in this effort are not spent on the Moon; they are spent in the factories, workshops, and laboratories of our people for salaries, for new materials, and supplies, which in turn represent income for others. . . . The national enterprise involved in the goal of manned lunar landing and return within this decade is an activity of critical impact on the future of this Nation as an industrial and military power, and as a leader of a free world."

---: Mercury-Redstone booster for MR-4 flight was erected on pad 5 at Atlantic Missile Range.

---: K. Kordylewski, of the Cracow Observatory in Poland, was reported to have photographed two cloudlike objects, possibly natural satellites of the Earth.

June 23: NASA-DOD Executive Committee for Joint Lunar Study and a Joint Lunar Study Program Office established by letter directive to work out and define support requirements for the U.S. manned lunar landing program.

June 23: NASA-USAF-USN X-15 flown to 3,603 miles per hour (mach 5.3), record for manned aircraft by Maj. Robert White, U.S. Air Force, which was faster than a mile per second. Losing cabin pressure at 100,000 feet, White was able to pilot the X-15 safely because of full-pressure suit. This was the fifth powered NASA flight with the XLR-99 engine.

---: Joint study was undertaken by NASA and DOD to make recommendations on the launch site to be used for the manned lunar exploration missions. A report of this study was completed in July.

---: Nike-Cajun sounding rocket fired from Eglin Gulf Test Range by Cambridge Research Laboratory with micrometeorite counting payload.

---: Director of Marshall Space Flight Center directed that further engineering work on Saturn C-2 configuration would be discontinued, and that efforts would be applied to clarification of the Saturn C-3 and Nova concepts.

---: Tiros II completed 7 months in orbit, still providing useful data.

June 24: President Kennedy assigned Vice President Johnson the task of unifying the Nation's communications satellite programs, in a letter which stressed urgency and "highest priority" for the public interest.

---: Mercury capsule was modified for MR-4 flight, with observation window replacing two viewports and with improved manual control system.

June 26: In an interview in U.S. News & World Report, NASA Administrator Webb stated that "the kind of overall space effort that President Kennedy has recommended . . . will put us there [on the Moon] first." This achievement, costing between $20 and $40 billion, "probably toward the $20 billion level . . . will be most valuable in other parts of our economy." Mr. Webb said that the U.S.S.R. did have an advantage in being able first to orbit a multimanned spacecraft around the Earth and also around the Moon.

---: A Navy YFNB barge was obtained by NASA to serve as a replacement for the Palaemon in transporting of the Saturn booster to Cape Canaveral.

June 27: Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee unanimously approved the administration's $1,782,300,000 budget for NASA in fiscal year 1962.

---: Eberhardt Rechtin, of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, questioned the Soviet calculations on the rotation speed of the planet Venus and the astronomical unit, and suggested that the Soviet scientists may have been influenced by earlier MIT studies (1958). Completion of extensive radar studies of Venus by Jet Propulsion Laboratory Goldstone, he submitted, provided more accurate information. The differing figures as reported are-U.S.S.R. (1961): 9 to 11 days' rotation-A.U. 92,812,797 miles Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1961): About 225 days' rotation-A.U. 92,956,000 miles.

---: Eight-engine static test of Saturn SA-T2 of 29.9 seconds' duration successful at Marshall Space Flight Center.

June 28: First showing of new Soviet aircraft in flight rehearsal for an air show on July 9 in Moscow (first major air show since 1956), one a large delta-wing jet bomber perhaps comparable to the B-58, as well as a turboprop Bear Tu-114 carrying missiles.

June 28-July 21: A Planning Task Force of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Atmospheric Sciences met in a series of six separate conferences in Boston to lay out a 10-year plan to guide long-range use of Government research funds.

June 29: First launching of three active satellites in one shot, and the first launching of a satellite with nuclear power, when a Thor-Able-Star launched Transit IV-A (equipped with an atomic radioisotope-powered battery of the Snap series), and two accompanying satellites, Injun and Greb III, from Atlantic Missile Range. Transit IV is forerunner of a navigation satellite system, while Injun gathers data on the radiation belts, and Greb III gathers data on X-ray radiation from the Sun.

---: NASA awarded contract to Pratt & Whitney for development of space radiators and condensors for the Lewis Research Center.

June 30: In Scout launching of micrometeorite counter satellite (S-55) from Wallops Station, third stage did not ignite, and the vehicle was destroyed.

---: Dr. Henry J. E. Reid, senior staff associate and former Director of the Langley Research Center, retired after over four decades of Government service. He began as a junior engineer at Langley in April 1921, became Director in 1926, in which capacity he served for 34 years.

---: Navy announced that Injun and Greb satellites placed in orbit with Transit IV-A had not separated and were thus not functioning at full efficiency.

During June: National Academy of Sciences established the Geophysics Research Board (GRB) in 1960 in response to a request from the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). By June 1961, it had four active panels to consider specific international Year of the Quiet Sun (IQSY); International Exchange of Scientific Data; and Solid Earth Problems.

---: Dr. von Karman and some of his associates organized the Astronautics Foundation, Inc., in Washington, D.C., to enable U.S. individuals and corporations to support through this non-profit foundation various cooperative international activities.

---: Boeing began modification of B-52 to carry aloft and release the Dyna-Soar manned space glider.

---: Army Redstone missile completed its 8-year military test program (41 successes in 45 launchings).

---: NASA entered letter contract with RCA for four additional Tiros weather satellites to extend the program.



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Last Updated: January 27, 2005