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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautical and Astronautical Events
of July-September 1961

JULY 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. 31-51.

July 1: Weather Bureau announced that cloud cover pictures taken by Tiros I went on public sale at the National Weather Records Center, Asheville, N.C.

---: The space detection and tracking systems (Spadats) began NORAD operations as scheduled, a system which "detects, tracks, and identifies manmade objects in space and consolidates and displays information regarding such objects."

---: First anniversary of Marshall Space Flight Center as a NASA center, and NASA Administrator Webb visited the Huntsville facility.

---: U.S. Air Force reorganized its headquarters staff to reflect creation of Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), which made the Deputy Chief of Staff for Development, Lt. Gen. Roscoe C. Wilson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Technology.

July 5: NASA announced awarding of study contract of Douglas Aircraft Co. for the development of orbital placement techniques and engineering design for Project Rebound inflatable spheres.

---: NASA awarded contract with Boeing to investigate the development of large Saturn-Nova class rockets employing different combinations of liquid or solid types of fuel.

---: Israel fired a multistage solid-propellant Shavit (Meteor) II rocket to an altitude of 80 kilometers, releasing a sodium-cloud meteorogical payload.

---: Major Gagarin, speaking in Helsinki, Finland, stated that the U.S.S.R.would launch another manned space vehicle sometime before the end of the year.

---: French Foreign Ministry announced that West German Government had agreed in principle to participate in 12-nation program to construct launch satellites.

July 7: USAF Discoverer XXVI orbited from Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying instrument capsule to be recovered after 32 polar orbits and 4 days. Of the 25 previous Discoverers, 17 had gone into orbit and 15 carried recovery capsules, of which 5 had been recovered.

---: The second static firing of the Saturn SA-T2 test booster was successfully completed at Marshall Space Flight Center in an eight engine test of 119 seconds' duration.

---: Atlas E, launched from Cape Canaveral, established distance flight record of 9,050 miles, its nose cone landing 1,000 miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa.

July 9: Massive Soviet air show over Tushino Airport in Moscow, on Soviet Air Force Day, which demonstrated that U.S.S.R. had continued development of all classes of military aircraft.

---: Capsule of Discoverer XXVI snatched at 15,000 feet during final descent after 32 polar orbits. Midair recovery by C-119, Capt. Jack Wilson, U.S. Air Force, as pilot, was fourth so performed. Capsule carried undisclosed payload.

July 9: National Science Foundation released forecast of the Nation's science needs for the next decade, which predicted that United States would need nearly twice as many scientists in 1970 (168,000) as today (87,000).

---: Reported that Navy had been launching telephone poles with rocket boost in test of floating launching requirements.

July 10: National Science Foundation policy document entitled "Investing in Scientific Progress" was released, which showed dollar and manpower investments needed by United States in decade 1960-70 to ensure fulfillment of the Nation's research capabilities.

July 11: NASA announced that a complete F-1 engine had begun a series of static test firings at Edwards Rocket Test Center, Calif.

July 11-12: Cosmonaut Gagarin visited England.

July 12: NASA Tiros III weather satellite successfully launched into near-circular orbit by Thor-Delta from Cape Canaveral.

---: Midas III (missile defense alarm system) launched into polar orbit from Pacific Missile Range, with record 1,850-mile-high orbit and was heaviest U.S. satellite launched to date. Second-stage Agena B was restarted at apogee of first orbit.

---: Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that construction was underway on the first large space simulator in the United States capable of testing full-scale spacecraft of the Ranger and Mariner classes with the three primary space effects-solar radiation, cold space heat sink, and a high vacuum equivalent to about one part in a billion (1:1,000,000,000) of the atmospheric pressure on the Earth.

July 13: Mercury-Redstone 6 was static tested for 30 seconds at Marshall Space Flight Center to ensure satisfactory operation of the turbopump assembly.

July 13-14: Two Nike-Cajun rockets launched University of New Hamsphire-Goddard Space Flight Center payloads from NASA Wallops Station.

July 14: Advanced Polaris fired 1,600 miles down Atlantic Missile Range with all-inertial guidance system.

---: Simulated Mercury-Redstone 4 flight test held at Atlantic Missile Range.

July 16: Vice President Johnson announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Council had reached unanimous agreement on the national communications satellite policy, and unspecified recommendations transmitted to President Kennedy.

July 17: NASA announced selection of RCA Astro-Electronics Division to build seven capsules for experimental ion propulsion engines.

---: A joint tenancy agreement for NASA and DOD use of the Atlantic Missile Range was signed by Commander, Atlantic Missile Range, and the Director of Launch Operations, NASA.

July 18: FAI (Federal Aeronautique Internationale) officially recognized the first space flight records claimed by U.S.S.R. and the United States:

Yuri Gagarin (April 12, 1961): Duration in orbital flight, 108 minutes; greatest altitude in Earth orbital flight, 203 miles; greatest mass lifted in Earth orbital flight, 10,395 pounds.

Alan Shepard (May 15 1961: Altitude without orbit, 115.696 miles; greatest mass lifted without Earth orbit, 4,031.7 pounds.

---: United States-U.S.S.R. talks began on bilateral agreement on commercial air flights between New York and Moscow.

---: Saturn SA-T2 booster successfully static tested for 111 seconds at Marshall Space Flight Center.

July 18-20: NASA-Industry Apollo Technical Conference held in Washington, D.C., which assembled Apollo requirements with participation of Space Task Group, representatives of other NASA Centers, and the three Apollo study contractors-General Dynamics/Astronautics, General Electric, and Martin.

July 19: Mercury-Redstone (MR-4) with manned Liberty Bell 7 capsule canceled within minutes of launch because of adverse weather.

---: NASA and Weather Bureau invited over 100 of the world's weather services to participate in the Tiros III satellite experiment by conducting special ground-based observations synchronized with passes of the satellite.

---: Tiros III photographed tropical storm Liza in the Pacific Ocean, pinpointing its location for meteorologists.

July 20: NASA and DOD, following an exchange of letters between the Administrator of NASA and the Secretary of Defense, established a joint study to determine the national large launch vehicle needs for the next decade, considering the requirements of both NASA and DOD.

July 21: MR-4 Liberty Bell 7, manned by Mercury Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom, made successful 15-minute, 118-mile-high and 303-mile-long flight down Atlantic Missile Range, premature blowout of escape hatch flooding capsule and making helicopter pickup of Grissom difficult. Capsule sank in 18,000 feet of water after warning light indicated helicopter engine was overheating and the capsule was cast loose. This was the second successful manned suborbital space flight.

---: President Kennedy signed NASA's fiscal year 1962 authorization bill providing for a total of $1,784,300,000.

---: USAF Discoverer XXVII destroyed by range safety officer 60 seconds after launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

---: At the request of Senator Paul H. Douglas, the membership of the American Astronautical Society was polled by the University of Illinois Observatory as to their opinion regarding the "scientific value" of the U.S. space program to land on and return one or more men from the Moon.

---: USAF processed 44 test pilots through the Dyna-Soar selection program, and reportedly both USAF and NASA test pilots would participate in the step I suborbital flight program.

July 22: Astronaut Virgil Grissom was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal by Administrator Webb at conclusion of MR-4 press conference at Cape Canaveral.

July 23: Red Star (Krasnaya Zvezda) of the U.S.S.R. stated Tiros III and Midas III launched on July 12 were comparable to the U-2: "A spy is a spy, no matter what height it flies."

July 23: NASA Administrator Webb, in congressional testimony, pointed out that the Tiros cloud-cover program was known to the entire world, involved no surveillance, and promised great benefit to all nations. He pointed out that data from Tiros satellites had been made available to all, including the Soviet Union.

---: Central Aero Club of the U.S.S.R., in seeking to place Gagarin's flight in the record books, revealed to FAI Astronautics Documentation Subcommittee, meeting in Paris, that Gagarin rode his spacecraft to Earth rather than parachuting.

July 24: White House issued statement by President Kennedy on "Communication Satellite Policy," which outlined governmental responsibilities for research and development "to give maximum assurance of rapid and continuous scientific and technological progress," and which affirmed that "private ownership and operation of the U.S. portion of the system is favored" within eight policy requirements. The President's statement said that through this country's leadership, communications through the use of space satellites should be developed "for global benefit at the earliest practicable date." He invited "all nations to participate in a communication satellite system in the interest of world peace and closer brotherhood among peoples throughout the world." And, during present phase of research and development, "no arrangements between the Government and private industry [should] contain any commitments as to an operational system." In conclusion, the President said that "I am anxious that development of this new technology to bring the farthest corner of the globe within reach by voice and visual communication, fairly and equitable available for use, proceed with all possible promptness."

---: Dr. Edward R. Sharp, Director Emeritus of the NASA Lewis Research Center since his retirement in January, died. Joining NASA in 1922, Dr. Sharp was the first Manager of the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in 1941, and became its Director in 1947. He had received the U.S. Medal for Merit from President Truman in 1947.

---: Joint FAA-DOD-NASA "Commercial Supersonic Transport Aircraft Report," prepared by a joint task force, said that the development of a commercial transport airplane to fly three times the speed of sound (mach 3) was feasible and could be developed by 1970-71.

July 25: NASA reported that one of the Tiros III cameras was inoperative, but that a duplicate camera was producing high quality pictures. Over 3,500 cloud cover pictures had been transmitted since the launching of Tiros III on July 12.

---: Titan ICBM with self-contained inertial guidance fired 5,000 miles down Atlantic Missile Range.

July 26: Cosmonaut Gagarin participated in anniversary celebration in Havana of July 26 revolutionary movement of Fidel Castro.

July 27: Third USAF Minuteman missile successfully flown on 4,000-mile flight down Atlantic Missile Range.

---: France announced plans to launch its first satellite by the end of 1964.

July 28: NASA and the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. signed a cooperative agreement for the development and testing of two, possibly four, active communication satellites during 1962. A.T. & T. would design and build the TSX satellites at its own expense, and would reimburse NASA for the cost of the launchings by Thor-Delta vehicles at Cape Canaveral. Relationship between this contract and the overall NASA communications satellite program aimed at early development of an operational system was explained at a NASA press conference.

---: NASA invited 12 companies to submit prime contractor proposals for the manned lunar Apollo spacecraft by October 9.

---: NASA representatives meeting with Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) fixed the guidelines for the Centaur propulsion system testing program.

---: Interviewed in the Netherlands West Indies, en route Brazil, Maj. Yuri Gagarin said that his next assignment would be a flight to the Moon. Asked about U.S. efforts, he reportedly stated that "there is a place on the Moon for everybody."

July 29: Chief of Japanese Weather Bureau, Kiyoo Wadachi, reported that 30 observations from Tiros III had been received from the United States.

---: World press reported opposition of astronomers to proposed USAF placement of 350 million needles into a 2,000-mile-high Earth orbit to test their feasibility as reflectors for global communications.

July 30: Draft text of program of the Soviet Communist Party to be presented to its 22nd Congress in October was released in English by Tass, official Soviet press agency. This new program, the first proposed since the one submitted by Lenin and adopted in 1919, made no direct or indirect reference to space exploration. On the role of science, it stated: "The Party will do everything to enhance the role of science in the building of Communist society, it will encourage research to discover new possibilities for the development of the productive forces, and the rapid and extensive application of the latest scientific and technical achievements, a decisive advancement in experimental work, including research directly at enterprises, and the efficient organization of scientific and technical information and of the whole system of studying and disseminating progressive Soviet and foreign methods. Science will itself in full measure become a productive force . . . ."

July 31: NASA's Tiros II transmitted photograph of a major storm off the south tip of Africa. Launched on November 23, 1960, Tiros II was expected to only have a useful lifetime of about 3 months.

---: NASA awarded contract to the University of Michigan to continue to provide research instrumentation for measurement of temperatures and winds at altitudes up to 150 kilometers with Nike-Cajun and other sounding rockets.

---: NASA provided for transfer of funds to ONR for balloons, launching services, and related expenses in connection with high-altitude measurements of electron, low-energy proton, and alpha-particle spectrum of primary cosmic radiation to be conducted by the University of Chicago from Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Canada.

July 31: At Cape Canaveral with the President's Missile Sites Labor Commission, Secretary of Labor Goldberg made public President Kennedy's message praising the voluntary, no-strike, no-lockout pledges covering labor-management relations at missile and space sites. The President's message stated that "the Nation cannot afford the luxury of avoidable delay in our missile and space program. Neither can we tolerate wasteful and expensive practices which add to the great financial burden our defense effort already places on us."

---: Atlas E fired from Atlantic Missile Range with simulated atomic fuel cores to demonstrate dispersal on reentry into the atmosphere of the radioactive material in an atomic space generator.

---: Vice Adm. T. G. W. Settle (Ret.) stated in Washington that Navy blimps should have been used in recovery of Mercury capsule, a proposal submitted to Navy 2 years ago, and which would have avoided recovery difficulties of Liberty Bell 7 and Astronaut Grissom. Settle pointed out that Navy had announced the end of its lighter-than-air program in June 1961.

During July: Langley Research Center simulated spacecraft flights at speeds of 8,200 to 8,700 feet per second in approaching the Moon's surface. With instruments preset to miss the Moon's surface by 40 to 80 miles, pilots with control of thrust and torques about all three axes of the craft were able to learn to establish orbits 10 to 90 miles above the surface, using a graph of vehicle rate of descent and circumferential velocity, an altimeter, and vehicle attitude and rate meters, as reported by M. J. Queijo and Donald R. Riley of Langley Research Center.

---: "Celestial simulator" at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in final checkout, an "instant universe" chamber which can duplicate white light and infrared point sources of solar system bodies likely to be used for navigation and attitude control of spacecraft.

---: U.S.S.R. has scheduled "at least two more manned space flights this year, one to circle the Earth, the other perhaps the Moon," according to Dr. Grigori A. Tokaty, head of Northhampton College of Advanced Technology, London, England. Former director of Russia's long-range rocket group, Tokaty also stated that the U.S.S.R. was planning to establish "one or two" unmanned lunar stations in 1962.

---: U.S.S.R. claimed three new world aircraft weight-lifting records for the Tu-114, in a flight from Vnukovo Airfield in which a 30,035-kilogram load was carried to an altitude of 41,125 feet, I. Sukhomlin as pilot.

AUGUST 1961


August 1: NASA directed Marshall Space Flight Center to enter contract negotiations with contractors for procurement of five operational Atlas-Centaur vehicles. These launchings were planned to begin in second quarter of 1964.

---: NASA Ranger I launch from Atlantic Missile Range postponed at T minus 15 minutes because of failure of ground-support equipment.

---: NASA Apollo briefing held at Space Task Group for all prime contractors interested in submitting bids.

August 2: NASA headquarters announced that it was making a world-wide study of possible launching sites for Moon vehicles; the size, power, noise, and possible hazards of Saturn-Nova type rockets requiring greater isolation for public safety than presently available.

---: Dr. Sydney Chapman of the British Royal Observatory reported at Langley Research Center-National Research Foundation-Virginia Polytechnic Institute conference that evidence suggested existence of a third radiation belt surrounding the Earth-except for areas above the poles-at altitudes between 20,000 and 28,000 miles.

---: USAF announced that two Lockheed U-2 aircraft would begin series of air-sampling flights from Okinawa.

August 3: USAF Discoverer XXVIII (total payload weight of 2,100 pounds) launched but did not attain orbit.

---: Tiros II transmitted photograph of a major storm in the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

August 5: Segmented solid-propellent rocket engine fired by United Technology Corp. at Sunnyvale, generating over 200,000 pounds of thrust in 80-second firing. Developed under NASA contract, center section of engine contained over 55,000 pounds of propellant, the largest single piece yet manufactured in the United States.

---: First Saturn (SA-1) booster began water trip to Cape Canaveral on Navy barge Compromise after overland detour around Wheeler Dam.

August 6: U.S.S.R. launched Vostok II into orbit carrying Maj. Gherman S. Titov. Spacecraft weighed 13 pounds more than Vostok I (April 12) and progress of Cosmonaut Titov's flight was reported continuously of Radio Moscow.

---: In press conference at Hyannis Port, Mass., U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Adlai Stevenson, said: "Russia's scientific contribution to the conquest of outer space commands our admiration. Orbiting a new astronaut for a longer period of time is another step forward . . . this event [Vostok II] sharpens the need for some international action to regulate the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and to keep the arms race from spreading to that field. The President has recently announced his proposal for cooperative sharing of communications and weather satellites. We hope the Russians won't delay longer in joining us in cooperation."

August 6: February report of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences was released recommending exploration of the Moon and planets "as the official goal of the U.S. space program and clearly announced, discussed, and supported."

August 7: Reported from Moscow that Major Titov has successfully landed in Vostok II after 17 orbits and 25 hours, 18 minutes, the first test of man's reaction to prolonged weightlessness. This was the second manned orbital flight, the first manned flight of more than one orbit.

---: A joint message issued by Tass for the Soviet Party's Central Committee, the Cabinet, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet said: "Our achievements in the exploration of outer space are placed at the service of peace and scientific progress, for the benefit of all people on our planet."

---: Two U.S. Air Force officers were sealed in space simulator for 17-day test of man's reaction to almost pure oxygen at 350,000 feet altitude, at School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, Tex. Emerging on August 25, Lts. B. Appel and J. Slider had eaten dehydrated food, drunk water processed from the atmosphere and their own body wastes, and were pronounced in good physical condition.

August 8: Over 100 foreign weather services were invited jointly by NASA and the U.S. Weather Bureau to participate in the Tiros III experiment for a 9-week period beginning today. The program provides cooperating services with an opportunity to conduct special meteorological observations synchronized with passes of the satellite.

---: Atlas F successfully fired 5,000 miles from Atlantic Missile Range.

August 9: NASA selected MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory to develop the guidance-navigation system for Project Apollo spacecraft. This first major Apollo contract was required since guidance-navigation system is basic to overall Apollo mission. The Instrumentation Laboratory of MIT, a nonprofit organization headed by C. Stark Draper, has been involved in a variety of guidance and navigation systems developments for 20 years.

---: Enormous reception for Cosmonaut Gherman S. Titov in Red Square, Moscow. That evening at a Kremlin reception, Premier Nikita Khrushchev made an impromptu speech in which he asserted that the Soviet Union could construct a rocket with an explosive warhead equivalent to 100 million tons of TNT.

---: Dr. Clifford C. Furnas, chancellor of the University of Buffalo, was appointed Chairman of the Defense Science Board by Secretary McNamara.

August 10: X-15 (No. 1) on its first flight with new XLR-99 engine was flown to 2,735 miles per hour by Comdr. Forrest S. Petersen, U.S. Navy, at Edwards Air Force Base.

---: In regular press conference, President Kennedy stated that "we are spending as much money and devoting as large a percentage of scientific personnel, engineering, and all the rest as we possibly can to the space program. We are constantly concerned with speeding it up. We are making what I consider to be a maximum effort."

---: In passing NASA fiscal year 1962 appropriations, Congress cut $226,686,000 requested for salaries and expenses to $206,750,000.

August 11: Thomas F. Dixon of North American Aviation was appointed Director of NASA's Office of Launch Vehicle Programs (OLVP), effective September 18, 1961. He replaced Maj. Gen. Don R. Ostrander, U.S. Air Force, who returned to military duty as Vice Commander of AFBSD (AFSC), having served as first Director of OLVP since December 16, 1959.

---: Project West Ford received approval in National Aeronautics and Space Council policy statement released at the National Academy of Sciences by Presidential Scientific Adviser Jerome B. Wiesner. Conceived at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, project proposed placement of 350-million copper threads (0.7-inch long and 0.001-inch diameter) into a 5-mile wide and 24-mile long belt around the Earth from a satellite, which would serve as reflector antennas for extremely short wave lengths (8,000 megacycles), perhaps expanding usable frequency channels.

---: Vostok II press conference held in Moscow, featuring President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Matislav Keldysh, and Cosmonaut Maj. Gherman S. Titov.

---: NASA announced negotiation of a contract with Hughes Aircraft for construction of three experimental synchronous communications satellites.

---: Aerojet-General Corp. announced first successful underwater launching of a liquid-fueled rocket, an Aerobee fired from a water test basin at Azuza, Calif.

---: NASA Langley Research Center awarded contract to Marquardt Corp. to increase structural wind tunnel testing temperature from 600þ to 2,000þF.

August 12: Echo I completed first year in orbit, still clearly visible to the naked eye, after 4,480 orbits and traveling 138 million miles. Echo I provided basis for over 150 communications experiments, recent ones indicating only a 40-percent reduction in transmission reflection caused by the changed shape. Echo I provided significant data on atmospheric drag and solar pressure.

---: Aerobee 150-A fired with liquid hydrogen experiment from Wallops Island.

---: Record six Polaris missiles fired underwater in 1 day by U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

August 14: Navy barge Compromise, carrying first Saturn booster, stuck in the mud in the Indian River just south of Cape Canaveral. Released several hours later, the Saturn was delayed only 24 hours in its 2,200-mile journey from Huntsville.

---: Swedish scientists fired a U.S. Arcas rocket to 55.8-mile altitude from Arctic Circle test range at Vidsel.

August 15: Explorer XII (S-3) placed into highly eccentric orbit by Thor-Delta from Atlantic Missile Range, which would provide detailed evaluation of behavior of energetic particles between 170- and 50-000-mile altitude. Under Goddard Space Flight Center, this "windmill" satellite carried six experiments developed by Ames Research Center, State University of Iowa, University of New Hampshire, and Goddard Space Flight Center. Several days were required to confirm orbit.

August 15: Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the radiotelescope at Jodrell Bank, England, expressed concern in an interview about the USAF Project West Ford, to place 350 million small pieces of wire into an orbital band encircling the Earth at a height of 500 to 1,000 miles. Sir Bernard stated that "the published intention of the plan is to provide a reflector for radio communications from one side of the Earth to the other. Those of us who have studied this notice it is being carried out under the auspices of the USAF and not the NASA. . . ."

---: Dr. Frank B. Voris, captain, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy, Navy liaison officer to Project Mercury since 1958, reported aboard as Assistant Director for Aerospace Medicine in NASA's Office of Life Science Programs.

August 16: F-1 rocket engine tested in first of firing series of the complete flight system.

---: The International Academy of Astronautics, meeting in Paris, named Sir Bernard Lovell, Director of Jodrell Bank radio-telescope, as the first winner of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim International Astronautics Award.

---: Centaur vehicle C-1 was tested and accepted by Marshall Space Flight Center.

August 16-18: General meeting of the International Astronomical Union at the University of California, Berkley.

---: International Hypersonics Conference held at MIT.

August 17: NASA announced that Explorer XII had successfully completed first orbit, radioing data on magnetic fields and solar radiation from an apogee of nearly 54,000 miles and perigee within 170 miles of the Earth.

---: Tiros III spotted two storm cells about 500 miles south and southwest of Hawaii, reports which alerted Honolulu and Guam of these previously unknown potential typhoons.

---: President Kennedy signed into law the bill providing NASA appropriations for fiscal year 1962 of $1,671,750,000.

---: USAF Blue Scout launched from Atlantic Missile Range, radio contact lost during the fourth stage with payload intended to reach 140,000 miles into space.

August 18: NASA announced that analysis of Project Mercury suborbital data indicated that all objectives of that phase of the program had been achieved, and that no further Mercury-Redstone flights were planned.

---: Announced that NASA had decided to add 15 Agena B vehicles to the original Agena B program.

August 19: Controversy over Project West Ford aired at International Astronomical Union meeting at Berkeley, Calif.

August 21: NASA held a news conference on Explorer XII, at which the great amount of continuous coverage on interrelated data in its eccentric orbit was pointed out.

---: DC-8 jet airline flown beyond mach 1 in experimental flight by Douglas Aircraft.

August 22: University of Michigan astronomers reported reception of natural radio signals from the planet Mercury.

---: Republic of China announced plans to initiate a rocket research program.

August 23: Ranger I test satellite of unmanned lunar spacecraft, launched from Atlantic Missile Range by Atlas D-Agena B into low parking orbit, but did not attain its programed eccentric orbit.

---: Maj. Gherman S. Titov, in his serialized account of his orbital flight in Pravda, described the state of weightlessness.

---: Saturn H-1 engine drop-tested into salt water at Cape Canaveral, then returned to Marshall Space Flight Center for inspecting, cleaning, and static firing.

August 24: NASA announced decision to launch manned lunar flights and other missions requiring Saturn and Nova class vehicles from expanded Cape Canaveral facilities. Based upon national space goals announced by the President in May, NASA plans called for acquisition of 80,000 acres north and west of AFMTC, to be administered by the USAF as agent for NASA and as a part of the Atlantic Missile Range. Decision followed intensive NASA-DOD survey for launching facilities, including trajectory advantages, overflight or booster impact hazards, air and water transportation, instrumentation support, and cost, time, and land availability advantages. Expansion of Cape Canaveral was noted as first of three major steps in accelerating the U.S. space program, the remaining two steps being a manned space flight research center, and a booster fabrication and test facility.

---: Mercury-Atlas 4 launch postponed.

---: NORAD charts showed that flight of Vostok II was tracked continuously.

August 25: Explorer XIII (S-55A) placed into orbit by NASA Scout from Wallops, a micrometeorite counting satellite developed by Langley Research Center and Goddard Space Flight Center.

---: NASA announced selection of Blaw Knox Co. to conduct second-phase feasibility study for a 240-foot diameter deep space tracking antenna for Jet Propulsion Laboratory's deep space instrumentation facility at Goldstone, Calif.

August 26: Explorer XIII, popularly referred to as the "beer can satellite" because of its micrometeorite counting structure, completed its 15th orbit.

---: Aerojet-General fired largest solid-fuel-rocket motor to date, over one-half million pounds of thrust, at Sacramento, Calif. The motor weighed over 70 tons and was made in several segments which were joined together at the static test site.

---: Northrop T-38 (Talon) jet flown 842.6 miles per hour to claim world speed record for women, by Jacquelin Cochran at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

August 27: In a letter to the President, 35 members of Congress urged that a decision on the Nation's satellite communication system be delayed to determine "whether such a system should be publicly or privately owned and under what circumstances."

---: The Soviet Communist Party organ, Pravda, explained why Russian space techniques and the names of spaceship designers were kept secret as follows: "A corrupt capitalist society, by it very nature, is extremely capable of turning the greatest peaceful achievements of mankind into the total means of destruction of mankind. This is why it is risky to open even the smallest loopholes in the world of Soviet rocket technique for the gentlemen who are lagging considerably behind as far as their technique is concerned, but who become militarily agitated and distracted from an honest program of general and complete disarmament and who mumble something about the right of inspection of neighbors' orchards and storerooms. That is why the wonderful group of heroes who insured the mastering of the cosmos remain nameless until now."

August 28: NASA selected Vitro Engineering Co. for negotiation of a design contract for an engine maintenance and disassembly building, one of the facilities to be a part of the National Nuclear Rocket Development Center.

---: Lt. Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, Commander of Air Force Systems Command, said that plans to orbit a monkey in Discoverer XXII (March 30) were canceled at the last minute, and that such plans had not been rescheduled.

---: Reported that Martin Co. originally required 75,000 man-hours to produce the first Titan I's, which had now been reduced to 19,000 man-hours per Titan. Man-hour rate for the first five Titan II's averaged 35,000 man-hours on each one.

---: Lt. Hunt Hardisty, U.S. Navy, pilot, and Lt. Earl H. DeEsch flew an F4H Phantom II over the 3-kilometer course of Holloman Air Force Base, N. Mex., and averaged 902.769 miles per hour for a new world's record for speed at low altitude.

August 29: NASA announced that Explorer XIII launched on August 25 had reentered the atmosphere. Transmitting considerable data on micrometeoroids, spacecraft was last heard on August 27 by the Minitrack facility at Antofagasta, Chile.

---: NASA Associate Administrator Seamans announced the addition of four additional Ranger spacecraft, bringing the total to nine, the number of Rangers to be launched in this phase of the lunar exploration program. "This new third phase of the Ranger program is a part of the general acceleration of the program to land an American on the Moon by 1970," said Dr. Seamans.

---: Ranger I completed 100 orbits, transmitting data on all engineering devices and eight scientific experiments. It was expected to come down soon.

August 30: USAF Discoverer XXIX launched into polar orbit with 300-pound data capsule, from Pacific Missile Range.

---: NASA announced that Ranger I spacecraft had reentered the Earth's atmosphere. Launched on August 23, Ranger I made 111 orbits, traveled almost 3 million miles, and its orientation, communications, and electronic systems performed satisfactorily.

---: USAF Minuteman ICBM exploded seconds after firing in silo at Cape Canaveral due to guidance malfunction.

August 31: U.S.S.R. announced policy of resumption of nuclear weapon testing which had been suspended March 31, 1958, and that bombs can be delivered anywhere in the world by "powerful rockets like those Majs. Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov rode to begin their unrivaled space flights around the Earth."

During August: NASA site selection team headed by John F. Parsons, Associate Director of Ames Research Center, toured possible sites for a manned spacecraft center.

---: New wind tunnel became operational at Ames Research Center, capable of research on reentry problems at speeds of mach 7.5, 10, and 15.

---: With successful launch of Explorer XII on August 15, NASA Delta launch vehicles had successfully launched five satellites out of six attempts, the only failure being the first attempt. Deta's high reliability record began with Echo I on August 12, 1960, and includes Tiros II and III, and Explorers X and XII. Built by prime contrator Douglas Aircraft, the NASA Delta launch vehicle consists of a Thor first stage (Rocketdyne MB-3 liquid engine), Aerojet-General second stage (AJ-10-118, an improved Vanguard second stage), and an ABL third stage (X-248 spin-stabilized version of Vanguard third stage).

---: New 210-foot diameter radiotelescope began operations at Parkes, New South Wales, operated by a group of scientists headed by Dr. E. G. Bowen, radar poineer.

---: NASA-DOD Large Launch Vehicle Planning Group in session since August 1 to study the policy, management structures, and requirements of launch vehicles beyond the size of Saturn. Meeting in NASA headquarters, the group was headed by Dr. Nicholas E. Golovin, technical assistant to the Associate Administrator of NASA.

---: Announced that RCA scientists determined the distance between Earth and Venus to an accuracy of 200 miles using 84-foot tracking antenna.

SEPTEMBER 1961


September 1: White House announced that the U.S.S.R. had resumed testing of nuclear weapons early this morning, the first known nuclear test by U.S.S.R., United States, or Britain since the fall of 1958.

---: Per NASA management instructions, all space vehicles and spacecraft under cognizance of NASA were to be equipped with fail-safe devices for terminating electromagnetic transmissions at the completion of their planned useful life.

---: Three parachuting skindivers recovered capsule of Discoverer XXIX, the seventh recovery of an object from orbit in the USAF Discoverer program. Capsule had made 33 orbits and contained human, animal, and soil life samples.

---: NASA Administrator Webb, appearing before the Senate Commitee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, requested $60 million additional for fiscal year 1962 for the acquisition of 80,000 acres adjoining Cape Canaveral for launching facilities for the expanded space program.

---: NASA issued its "Program Evaluation and Review Technique Handbook," its adaptation of the Navy PERT program management system.

September 2: Scientists at Nagoya University, Japan, were reported to be training monkey for space flight next year, hopefully in conjunction with Japanese Government-financed rocket program carried out by Tokyo University's Institute of Industrial Science.

September 3: Thirty days exposure to simulated vacuum of space killed bacteria by causing them to disintegrate molecule by molecule, was finding of studies reported by the Materials Testing Laboratory of Hughes Aircraft Co. Dr. Charles G. Walence reported that sterilization of space vehicles probably could be eliminated from current planning.

September 5: Authorization for NASA to acquire necessary land for additional launch facilities at Cape Canaveral was approved by the Senate.

---: In an interview with C. L. Sulzberger, Premier Khrushchev reviewed the world crisis in detail. "In a strange Darwinian interpretation of the advance of nations," Sulzberger reported, "Mr. Khrushchev jokingly considers that the United States is still in the stage of 'jumpingþ while the Soviet Union has learned how to 'fly.' This refers to the Earth-orbiting successes of the Soviet spacemen, Maj. Yuri A. Gagarin and S. Titov."

September 5-7: International Conference on Science and World Affairs held at Stowe, Vt., at which nonofficial proposals for a joint United States-U.S.S.R. space program were considered by delegates of 12 nations including the United States and the Soviet Union.

September 6: USAF Titan successfully launched from Atlantic Missile Range, making 6,100-mile flight.

---: AEC announced that U.S.S.R. had detonated a fourth nuclear device in the atmosphere, at a site east of Stalingrad.

---: After a series of six static firings, the Saturn SA-T2 booster was removed from the static test tower at Marshall Space Flight Center.

September 7: NASA announced that Government-owned Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans would be the site for fabrication and assembly of the first stage of Saturn as well as for making stages for larger booster.

---: Balloon flights to measure loss of radiation from the Van Allen radiation belts-the "dumping profile" experiment-was announced by National Science Foundation. Flights are part of joint project by University of Minnesota and University of California, taking place along line from Flin Flon, Manitoba, to Waterloo, Iowa.

---: USAF Titan with inertial guidance system successfully launched from Atlantic Missile Range, the second in as many days, impacting into target area over 5,000 miles down range.

---: The Agena B vehicle 6002 was delivered to Atlantic Missile Range, in preparation for the Ranger 2 launch.

September 8: Deep space tracking antenna dedicated by United States and South African officials. Located 40 miles from Johannesburg, the antenna has operated since July in collaboration with Goldstone and Woomera, and tracked Ranger I.

---: Reported from Stowe, Vt., that unofficial American-Soviet discussions on cooperative space exploration were near agreement, and that internationalized status for space similar to that achieved by treaty for the continent of Antarctica was under consideration. Delegations included seven members of President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee and six members of the ruling body of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The Stowe Conference was sponsored by the National Academy of Arts and Sciences of Boston, with costs defrayed by the Ford Foundation.

September 10: Tiros III photographed Hurricane Esther in process of formation, 2 days before hurricane-hunter aircraft verified winds of hurricane force. Quality of Tiros III pictures processed in 8 hours through the National Meteorological Center, Suitland, Md., was not alone sufficient for identification of a hurricane.

---: On the same day, Tiros III also observed one-eighth of the Earth, providing data on two other hurricanes (Carla and Debbie), one dissipating hurricane (Betsy), two typhoons (Nancy and Pamela), and at least one other vortex storm.

---: White House released "Project Horizon" report of task force created in March to establish goals to maintain America's primacy in aeronautics. The report made a strong recommendation for the development of a supersonic transport, among other recommendations.

---: U.S.S.R. announced that it would launch a series of "more powerful and improved rockets" into the Central Pacific in tests between September 13 and October 15.

September 11: NASA selected North American Aviation to develop an upper stage (S-II) for an Advanced Saturn launch vehicle to be used on both manned and unmanned missions.

September 12: In a speech before the National Press Club, NASA Administrator Webb reviewed NASA's program and outlined the interest in the rendezvous-in-space technique for staging flights to the Moon and nearby planets.

---: X-15 flown to record 3,614 miles per hour by NASA's Joseph A. Walker at Edwards Air Force Base.

---: USAF Discoverer XXX launched into polar orbit from Pacific Missile Range.

September 13: Unmanned Mercury spacecraft orbited by Mercury-Atlas launch vehicle from Atlantic Missile Range and recovered 1 hour and 22 minutes after landing by destroyer U.S.S. Decatur. This MA-4 (capsule 8) flight demonstrated, said NASA Space Task Group Director Robert Gilruth, that "Atlas has the capability to fly a man in orbit; it brought in for the first time the Mercury worldwide tracking network; and demonstrated the ability of the capsule and its systems to operate completely unattended.

---: Two experiments to measure atmospheric winds, temperature, and density in relatively high altitudes conducted from Wallops Island in two four-stage Argo D-4 rocket launches. Sodium clouds were released at nearly 120 statue miles and again at 228 miles in first launch, and at 118 and 230 miles in the second launch. French scientists participated by using special optical instruments to observe the brilliant orange and yellow clouds which stirred a rash of public inquiries to newspapers from hundreds of miles around.

---: U.S.S.R. announced that it has fired new, powerful carrier rocket more than 7,400 miles to within less than five-eights of a mile from its Central Pacific target.

---: Soviet Marshal Kiril S. Moskalenko, chief of rocket forces, declared that 95 percent of all Soviet rockets fired reached their targets. (Article in Red Star timed to coincide with first firing of new rocket series in the Pacific.)

September 14: USAF C-130B cargo plane snagged the parachuting capsule of Discoverer XXX north of Hawaii, Capt. W. C. Schmensted as pilot.

---: White House released its reply to letter of August 27 signed by 35 members of Congress which expressed concern over the private ownership of an operational communications satellite system. The White House memorandum stated that "any decisions as to control should preserve as much flexibility as possible," and reemphasized the administration policies including "maximum competition" in any system of private ownership.

---: Resolution calling for the creation of an international space year program and an international space agency, both under the auspices of the United Nations, introduced in the Senate by Senator Hubert Humphrey.

September 14: AEC announced that the Soviet Union had fired its 10th nuclear blast in the current test series begun 2 weeks ago.

September 15: White House announced that AEC-DOD had conducted first U.S. nuclear weapons test since October 1958, and underground weapons development test at the Nevada testing site, one of low yield and which produced no fallout.

---: Army Nike-Zeus fired from White Sands Proving Ground met all test objectives, including controlled high-velocity in the atmosphere and evaluation of solid-fuel rocket motors and guidance system.

---: Marshall Space Flight Center's Procurement and Contracts Office reported that a contract was let to the Noble Co. for disassembling the Redstone gantry at Atlantic Missile Range and reassembling and erecting on pad 75-1-1 at Vandenberg Air Force Base for use with Thor-Agena B launches after January 1962.

September 16: Congressman Overton Brooks, of Louisiana, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics since its creation in January 1959, died at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

September 17: USAF Discoverer XXXI placed into polar orbit from Pacific Missile Range by Thor-Agena.

---: Soviet Union announced that 12 altitude and speed records had been broken by its twin-jet M-10 antisubmarine seaplane.

September 18: First of four scheduled Skylark rocket firings was launched from Woomera in the joint United States-Australian ultraviolet survey of the southern skies.

September 19: NASA Administrator Webb announced that location of the new Manned Spacecraft Center would be in Houston, Tex., the conclusion of an intensive nationwide study by a site selection team. The Manned Spacecraft Center would be the command center for the manned lunar landing mission and all follow-on manned space flight missions. This announcement was the third basic decision on major facilities required for the expanded U.S. Range and the establishment of the spacecraft fabrication center at the Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans, La.

---: Recovery of capsule of Discoverer XXXI was called off as capsule and satellite (launched Sept. 17, 1961) failed to separate and both remained in orbit.

---: USAF Bomarc B launched from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on command from SAGE Center at Montgomery, Ala., destroyed supersonic Regulus launched from Venice, Fla.

---: Air Force Systems Command formed a Bioastronautics Division, effective October 1, to consolidate all USAF applied research in this area into a single organization. School of Aerospace Medicine, now under Air Training Command, becomes a part of Air Force Systems Command.

September 19: In a speech to the USAF Worldwide Information Conference at Philadelphia, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Hooks, Commander of the Office of Aerospace Research, reported that predictions of OAR's Solar Laboratory at Sacramento Peak, N. Mex., were borne out by the flights of the U.S.S.R.'s Vostok I and II. High proton shower activity associated with solar flares had been predicted for April 1961, except from April 11 through 14 (Major Gagarin's flight in Vostok I was on April 12). August 6, the day of the launching of Major Titov's 17-orbit flight, was the "safest day" for low solar activity on record since 1955.

September 20: Robert Gilruth and other officials of the Space Task Group made survey of the new site of the Manned Spacecraft Center near Houston, Tex., to seek temporary operational quarters as soon as possible. Permanent quarters will be constructed under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers.

September 21: D. Brainerd Holmes was appointed NASA's Director of Manned Space Flight Programs. As general manager of RCA's Major Defense Systems Division, Holmes was project manager for the Ballistic missile early warning system(BMEWS).

---: Representative George P. Miller, Democrat, of California, was named chairman of the House Science and Astronautics Committee.

---: Soviet Union protested to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that Project West Ford might endanger Soviet cosmonauts, protest contained in a letter to Detlev W. Bronk, president of the NAS, signed by Matislav Keldysh, president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

September 22: Announced at Space Task Group that a 30-cubic-foot balloon would be installed in Mercury spacecraft to allow for ship recovery should helicopter be forced to drop it as happened during the MR-4 recovery.

September 23: U.S.S.R. announced that third flight of current series of Pacific tests of new multistage carrier rocket was successful.

---: NASA planned to spend $6 million on expansion of its Langley facilities in this fiscal year, according to Representative Thomas N. Downing after a conversation with NASA Administrator James E. Webb. Representative Downing said he was satisfied that the lower peninsula area of Virginia would not suffer financially when the Space Task Group moved to Houston, Tex.

September 24: Administrator Webb announced major organizational changes and top-level appointments in NASA. Keyed to the Nation's accelerated civilian space program, changes provided clearer focus on major programs, and provided center directors with a louder voice in policymaking and program decisions. Effective November 1, major headquarters program offices would be headed as follows: Ira H. Abbott, Director of the Office of Advanced Research and Technology; Homer E. Newell, Director of the Office of Space Sciences; D. Brainerd Holmes; Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight; and an Office of Applications Programs with no director yet named. Thomas F. Dixon was appointed Deputy of the Lewis Research Center and Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center.

September 24: Speaking at the Air Force Association convention in Philadelphia, Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, Commander of the Air Force Systems Command, said that "the United States has been notably slow to recognize the military application of new inventions. Two of the most significant inventions of this century-the airplane and the liquid-fuel rocket-are American inventions. Yet in each case their first application was made by other nations." Gen. Schriever also stated: "We should recognize that there is no inherent difference between basic military and non-military space technology. What really matters is not the technology but the intent . . . space power must become a vital part of our national strength and security."

---: NASA made a grant to Stanford University's School of Medicine for development of design of payload instrumentation to determine existence of life forms on nearby planets, a project under the direction of Dr. Joshua Lederberg and Dr. Elliott C. Leventhal.

September 25: In a stirring address to the Assembly of the United Nations meeting in New York, President John F. Kennedy called for "world law in the age of self determination" rather than proposals for waging effective peace, he urged "keeping nuclear weapons from seeding new battlegrounds in outer space." In projecting the theme that "the events and decisions of the next 10 months may well decide the fate of man of the next 10,000 years," President Kennedy spoke of the impact of space exploration as follows:

"As we extend the rule of law on Earth, so must we also extend it to man's new domain-outer space."

"All of us salute the brave cosmonauts of the Soviet Union. The new horizons of outer space must not be driven by the old bitter concepts of imperialism and sovereign claims. The cold reaches of the universe must not become the new arena of an even colder war."

"To this end, we shall urge proposals extending the United Nations Charter to the limits of man's exploration in the universe, reserving outer space for peaceful use, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies, and opening the mysteries and benefits of space to every nation. . . ."

September 25: Dr. George N. Constan of Marshall Space Flight Center named as acting manager of the new NASA Saturn fabrication plant near New Orleans by Director von Braun of Marshall Space Flight Center.

September 26: NASA bidders conference on a contract to produce the booster (S-I) stage of the Saturn vehicle was held at the Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans.

---: Meeting to examine the modification of C-133 aircraft for carrying Saturn S-IV stages was held at NASA Langley Research Center.

September 27: Ion engine developed on NASA contract demonstrated at Hughes Aircraft Laboratories.

September 28: NASA announced that instrumented Venus probe to be launched next year would be launched by an Atlas-Agena B rather than a Centaur rocket as originally planned.

---: Solar flare studied by Explorer XII and Injun I, readings within a few hours indicated energetic protons with velocities of near 10,000 kilometers per second, while 2 days after the solar flare both satellites saw a sudden increase in the intensity of low-energy protons (c. 10 mev) concurrently with a magnetic storm on Earth and bright aurora at low altitude. It was concluded that low-energy protons traveled slowly from the Sun with the magnetic stormcloud.

---: X-15 (No. 2) flown to 100,800 feet and 3,600 miles per hour by Comdr. Forrest S. Petersen, U.S. Navy, at Edwards, Calif.

September 28-29: Pair of spinup rockets on Tiros II successfully fired after more than 10 months in orbit.

September 29: USAF awarded three contracts for speeding development of the Dyna-Soar, a manned orbital space glider. Receiving contracts were Boeing Co. for development of the glider and related systems, Radio Corp. of America for communications and tracking devices, and Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. for the guidance system.

---: Dr. Charles M. Herzfeld, of the National Bureau of Standards, joined DOD's Advanced Research Projects Agency to coordinate the Project Defender program.

---: Navy Polaris (A-3) with modified second stage testing freon gas regulator launched from pad at Atlantic Missile Range.

September 30: NASA Office for the United Nations Conference headed by Dr. John P. Hagen was closed, effective this date. Continued uncertainty of arrangements for a conference on the peaceful uses of outer space within the United Nations made such a move necessary. Sustained NASA responsibility in this regard was assigned to the Office of International Programs.

---: Air Force Systems Command announced consolidation of all USAF research and development in bioastronautics under single management. The new Bioastronautics Division, Air Force Systems Command, would have its headquarters at Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Tex.

---: Two X-15 test pilots, USAF's Maj. Robert M. White and NASA's Joseph A. Walker, were jointly awarded the 1960 Iven C. Kincheloe Memorial Award as the Nation's outstanding test pilots; award of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

September 30: NASA received an additional $10 million for salaries in a supplemental appropriations bill approved by Congress, enough to hire an additional 1,250 persons.

During September: National Bureau of Standards and the Institut Geofisico de Huancago of Peru initiated construction of the Jucamarca Observatory, a 6-million-watt pulse transmitter and a 22-acre antenna with 9,216 crossed dipoles mounted above a reflecting screen. Located 17 miles east of Lima, Peru, the Observatory will be used for ground-based exploration of the upper atmosphere and space.

---: USAF established a Council of Scientists to be comprised of senior civilian scientists of major Air Force organizations, Dr. Leonard S. Sheingold as Chairman.

---: Congress appropriated funds to the U.S. Weather Bureau for implementation of the National Operational Meteorological Satellite System. To phase in as early as technology warrants and to continue expanding the operational capability through the early Nimbus launchings by NASA, the system planned to be fully operational by 1966 as Nimbus system became operational. The system would include data acquisition stations in northern latitudes, communications for transmitting the data, and a National Meteorological Center to receive, process, analyze, and disseminate the derived information over domestic and international weather circuits.


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Last Updated: January 27, 2005