National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautics and Astronautics Chronology, 1960

SOURCE: Eugene M. Emme, comp., Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960 (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961), pp. 118-35.


February 25: First test launch of Army's Pershing tactical missile from Cape Canaveral.

February 26: First USAF Midas test launch with Atlas-Agena from AMR failed when a malfunction at staging damaged Agena.

---: Establishment of Project Mercury tracking networks in Australia was sanctioned by joint agreement.

February 27: 100-foot-diameter inflatable sphere successfully launched on third suborbital test to an altitude of 225 miles, from NASA Wallops Station, Va. Radio transmissions were reflected via the sphere from Holmdel, N.J., to Round Hill, Mass.

---: Atmosphere entry simulator at NASA Ames Research Center completed first successful launch and recovery of test model launched at satellite speed of 17,000 mph. First proposed by A. Eggers in 1955, it had previously provided important information at ballistic speeds. Throughout 1959-60, Ames scientists contributed to understanding of flight characteristics at altitudes over 100 miles, using low density research apparatus.

During early 1960: NASA Lewis Research Center completed flight safety research program involving over 30 full-scale experimental crashes and laboratory studies leading to improved criteria for survivability.

March 1: NASA announced establishment of the Office of Life Sciences to provide focal point for broad-based scientific study of life processes provided by the space exploration program, not to duplicate existing effort in military laboratories. Dr. Clark T. Randt was named as Director.

---: House Science and Astronautics Committee voted $915 million for NASA in fiscal year 1961.

March 8: First USAF Atlas flight using inertial guidance system.

March 9: Navy fired Polaris 900 miles in successful test of flight control equipment.

March 10: Office of Reliability and Systems Analysis was established in NASA Headquarters to conduct program design to evaluate and improve operational reliability of launch vehicles and payloads. Landis S. Gephardt was named as Director.

March 11: PIONEER V, NASA space probe, successfully launched by Thor-Able-4, the start of a historic flight to measure radiation and magnetic fields between Earth and Venus, and to communicate over great distances. Managed by AFBMD and Space Technology Laboratories for NASA, PIONEER V carried experiments designed by various civilian and governmental scientists.

March 13: PIONEER V transmitted radio signals from a distance of more than 409,000 miles, a new communications record.

---: Lunar atlas published by the USAF, representing a comprehensive collection of high-quality photographs of the visible surface of the moon prepared by G. P. Kuiper.

March 15: Saturn project officially transferred to NASA and ABMA.

---: George C. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Ala., named by Executive Order of the President.

March 16: Ban on nuclear weapons being placed in orbit around the earth in the future proposed by the representatives of the Western nations at the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

March 17: VANGUARD I still in orbit and transmitting on its second anniversary after traveling 131,318,211 miles. NASA reported that VANGUARD I orbit was being altered by solar pressure.

---: X-15 (No. 2) passed stress flight test.

March 18: PIONEER V reported on command to NASA Headquarters at 2 a.m. from 1,002,700 miles away and transmitting seven kinds of scientific readings.

---: Princess Margaret of England commanded PIONEER V 1,040,000 miles away and received answer 25 seconds later.

March 19: United States-Spanish agreement on Project Mercury tracking station in Canary Islands was announced (1 of 16 similar agreements with other nations).

March 22: USAF Titan fired 5,000 statute miles and data capsule recovered.

March 23: Explorer satellite launched by Juno II but did not orbit.

---: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories disclosed controlled thermonuclear fusion was achieved by Scylla II device for less than a millionth of a second at about 13 million degrees centigrade.

March 25: Aerobee 150-A, a new type, fired from new launch tower at Wallops Station, reached an altitude of 150 miles and achieved rocket performance objectives as well as micrometeorite impact counts.

---: First flight and first powered flight of the X-15 (No. 1) in the NASA/USAF research program, NASA's Joseph A. Walker as pilot.

---: First launch of missile from a nuclear submarine when a Regulus I was fired from the Halibut off Oahu, Hawaii.

---: DOD formally announced high priority for Midas project.

---: Signals received from a distance of 2 million miles from PIONEER V.

March 28: Two of Saturn's first-stage engines passed initial static firing test of 7.83 seconds duration at Huntsville, Ala.

---: NASA announced selection of Aero-jet-General to build the power conversion equipment for the SNAP-8 (System for Nuclear Auxiliary Power), and to integrate the reactor into an operational system. SNAP-8 is a joint NASA-AEC project.

March 29: Naval Weapons Annex, Charleston, S.C., was opened, providing capability for missile final assembly and loading of submarines.

---: First fully guided flight of Polaris from Observation Island.

During March: NASA let contract with Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, Calif., to study the feasibility of controlling the direction of thrust from a nozzle by injecting gas or liquid into the nozzle expansion cone.

April 1: First known weather observation satellite, TIROS I (Television Infra-Red Observation Satellite), launched into orbit by Thor-Able, and took pictures of earth's cloud cover on a global scale from 450 miles above until June 29. TIROS I was hailed as ushering in "a new era of meteorological observing."

---: Fourth suborbital Shotput test of the 100-foot-diameter sphere later known as Echo was launched from NASA Wallops Station to an altitude of 235 miles and inflated successfully.

April 2: LUNIK I completed first orbit around the sun.

April 4: Project Ozma initiated to listen for possible signal patterns from outer space other than natural "noise," at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, W. Va.

April 6: Four Saturn's first-stage engines successfully tested at Huntsville, Ala.

---: SPUTNIK III reentered the earth's atmosphere.

April 7: Maj. Gen. Donald N. Yates (USAF) named Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Ranges and Space Ground Support.

April 12: First production model of McDonnell-built Mercury capsule was delivered to NASA.

April 13: Navy TRANSIT I-B launched into orbit by Thor-Able-Star with navigation payload experiment at Cape Canaveral. Flight demonstrated the first engine restart in space and the feasibility of using satellites as navigational aids.

---: Cancellation of U.K. Blue Streak as IRBM project.

April 14: First underwater launch of Polaris missile, from an underwater tube off San Clemente Island, Calif.

---: William M. Holaday's resignation as Chairman of the Civil-Military Liaison Committee accepted by the President.

---: One week in self-sustained simulated space capsule environment concluded by C. A. Metzgen at USAF Aerospace Medical Laboratory.

April 15: DISCOVERER XI launched from Vandenberg AFB and stayed in orbit, reentry capsule was not recovered.

April 17: PIONEER V transmitted telemetry a distance of 5 million miles from earth.

April 18: Scout test vehicle, with live first and third stages, fired from Wallops Station, but vehicle broke up after first-stage burnout.

---: NASA selected Avco Manufacturing and General Electric to conduct engineering and development studies on an electric rocket engine.

April 19: NASA announced negotiation of a contract for development of a spacecraft solar powerplant, Sunflower I, with Thompson-Ramo-Woolridge.

---: ONR Aerobee-Hi made series of X-ray photographs of the sun from an altitude of 130 miles.

April 20: Spin of TRANSIT I-B was reduced from 170 to 4 rpm by ground control.

April 22: Radar beam transmitted along electron lines of the earth's magnetic field extending into the exosphere, first confirmation of theory and work of Roger M. Gallet of the National Bureau of Standards and Henry G. Booker of Cornell University. Echo reflected from the earth successfully received 0.2 of a second later after traveling 37,000 miles, perhaps offering a new tool to study the effect of solar eruptions on the earth's magnetic field and a new long-range surveillance method using radar.

April 23: NASA fired first of five Aerobee-Hi sounding rockets from Wallops Station in program to measure ultraviolet radiation.

---: NASA announced that Robert E. Gottfried of GSFC had successfully "repaired" faulty diode in PIONEER V (5.5 million miles from earth) by reworking of telemetry.

April 26: IRAC Table of Frequency Allocations (official allocation of frequency table for United States and possessions) was approved, related to frequency assignments for space research based on 1959 ITU Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

---: NASA announced selection of Douglas Aircraft for construction of second (S-4) stage of initial C-1 Saturn launch vehicle.

April 27: Completion of technical review of Dyna-Soar program announced by the Air Force.

---: NASA signed contract with Aeronutronic, a division of Ford Motor Co., for development and production of the first survivable capsule for landing instruments on the moon.

April 29: Milestone achieved in completion of interim or formal agreements concluded for all oversea Mercury tracking stations.

---: NASA press conference with participating scientists reporting on the correlation of data received from EXPLORERS VI and VII, and PIONEER V during the solar storm on March 21.

---: All eight engines of the Saturn engine were fired for the first time at Huntsville, Ala.

During April: Seven Mercury astronauts completed training session at the Navy Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory, Johnsville, Pa.

May 4: Lewis Research Center began testing of high-energy hydrogen-oxygen engines in an altitude test facility capable of subjecting an entire propulsion system to a space environment. On June 17, LRC began similar testing of hydrogen-fluorine engines.

May 5: NASA held a press conference on high-altitude weather research using Lockheed U-2 aircraft, one of which was reportedly lost on May 1 over Turkey.

May 8: 150-watt transmitter on PIONEER V interplanetary spacecraft was commanded at 5:04 a.m. e.d.t., and operated satisfactorily while it was 8,001,000 miles from earth, another communications record.

May 9: First production model of Project Mercury spacecraft was successfully launched from NASA Wallops Station to test escape, landing, and recovery systems. Known as the "beach abort" shot, the Mercury capsule reached 2,540 feet before parachute landing and pickup by Marine helicopter returned it to Wallops' hangar 17 minutes after launch.

May 10: Submarine U.S.S. Triton completed 41,519-mile submerged cruise around the world.

May 12: Speed of Mach 3.2 and 78,000-foot altitude attained in X-15 (No. 1) with interim engines by NASA's Joseph A. Walker. This was the first remote-launch operation (100 miles from release from "mother" aircraft to landing site at Edwards AFB).

May 13: Echo satellite, a 100-foot passive reflector sphere, failed to orbit with first complete three-stage Thor-Delta launch vehicle.

May 14: Founding of the International Academy of Astronautics announced by the IAF and the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation.

May 15: SPACECRAFT I weighing 10,000 pounds launched into orbit by the U.S.S.R., the first successful effort to orbit a vehicle large enough to contain a human passenger, although efforts to recover the space capsule failed.

May 19: TIROS I weather satellite spotted a tornado storm system in the vicinity of Wichita Falls, Tex.

---: X-15 (No. 1) flown to 107,000 feet, its highest altitude to date, by Maj. Robert M. White (USAF), at Edwards AFB.

May 20: Atlas ICBM fired 9,040 statute miles from AMR to Indian Ocean, longest known flight of an ICBM to date. Missile attained an apogee of about 1,000 miles.

May 21: First public showing of F-1 engine mockup.

May 24: MIDAS II test satellite successfully launched into orbit from AMR by an Atlas-Agena launch vehicle, a test of an USAF surveillance system designed to provide warning of long-range missile launching, the first anti-missile early-warning satellite.

May 27: Rate of spin of TIROS I satellite was increased by ground command.

---: ONR Aerobee-Hi launched to 135-mile altitude carrying eight telescopes to map sky by means of ultraviolet light, from WSPG.

May 30: NASA established Office of Technical Information and Educational Programs (OTIEP) in Headquarters to carry out pertinent requirements of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 and related functions. Shelby Thompson of AEC was named as Director.

May 31: 100-foot inflatable sphere launched from NASA Wallops Station to an altitude of 210 miles to test payload configuration carrying two beacon transmitters, a development flight of Project Echo.

---: NASA disseminated telemetry calibration for EXPLORER VII to members of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).

---: NASA selected Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation to develop a 200,000-pound-thrust engine utilizing hydrogen and oxygen propellants. This engine is second only to the F-1 in single-thrust chamber level.

June 1: Navy assumed operational responsibility PMR.

June 2-3: Panel on Science and Technology of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics held its second meeting in Washington.

June 5: Winzen Research launched 107-cubic-foot balloon from NAS Glynco, Ga., for cosmic ray studies; after 10 days of flight the balloon disappeared over the Pacific on a westerly heading.

June 7: Contract for ion engine development was awarded by NASA to Hughes Aircraft.

June 8: Complete eight-engine static firing of Saturn successfully conducted for 110 seconds at MSFC, the longest firing to date.

---: XLR-99 engine mounted in X-15 (No. 3) during test-stand runs by the contractor exploded, which damaged aircraft but did not injure contractor's test pilot in the cockpit.

June 14: AEC's SNAP-2 Experimental Reactor (SER) reached 147,300 kilowatt-hours of operation at design temperatures and power during which 1,000 hours of continuous operation was attained.

---: NASA announced creation of Launch Operations Directorate (LOD) to become operational on July 1, to be headed by Dr. Kurt Debus of Marshall Space Flight Center, who headed the Army launch operations of EXPLORER I and the first American payload to orbit the sun, PIONEER IV.

---: Small explosive charge ignited flare package on side of Titan ICBM at AMR, causing first missile fatality (J. G. Sibole) in 10 years of missile launchings at Cape Canaveral.

June 15: Saturn static test firing of 121 seconds successful at MSFC.

June 22: Navy TRANSIT II-A, an experimental navigation satellite with two payloads (navigation and radiation measurement), successfully launched into orbit by Thor-Able-Star vehicle. This was the first time that two instrumented satellites have been placed into orbit at the same time.

June 24: 500-w SNAP mercury-Rankin cycle-turbine alternator package endurance test was successfully terminated at 2,500 hours of operation at design conditions, by AEC.

June 25: Aerospace Corp., a nonprofit civilian organization to manage engineering, research, and development aspects of missile and military space programs, was established by the USAF.

June 26: Six-minute message received by Jodrell Bank, England, was last communication received from PIONEER V, then 22.5 million miles from earth moving at a relative velocity of 21,000 mph. Since March 11 when launched, PIONEER V traveled some 180 million miles, and it would fly 18 million miles closer to the sun than any manmade object.

June 28: The Smithsonian Institution awarded its highest honor, the Langley Medal, to Robert H. Goddard posthumously.

---: U.S.S.R. announced that it would conduct new series of long-range missile shots into the Pacific, July 5-31, 1960.

June 29: DISCOVERER XII failed to go into polar orbit.

---: TIROS I ended its operational life time, transmitting a total of 22,952 picture frames of the earth's cloud cover and completing 1,302 orbits since launch on April 1.

July 1: NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, with Dr. Wernher von Braun as its Director, officially opened with formal transfer to NASA from ABMA, at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala.

---: First complete Scout launch vehicle fired from NASA Wallops Station, but fourth stage separation and firing was not accomplished.

---: Pacific Missile Range (PMR) Facility established at Eniwetock, Marshall Islands.

---: First operational version of Titan ICBM failed to launch at Cape Canaveral.

July 4: Soviet Tass announced that Russia last month successfully launched a new 4,400-pound-thrust rocket carrying a rabbit and two dogs to a reported altitude of 124.8 miles.

---: Piper Comanche set a world distance record in a closed circuit of 6,921.28 miles, Max Conrad as pilot.

July 8: Second experimental reactor (Kiwi-A Prime) in the Project Rover nuclear rocket program was successfully tested at full power and duration at Jackass Flats, Nev.

July 11: NASA selected Hughes, North American, Space Technology Laboratory, and McDonnell to study designs for the first lunar soft-landing spacecraft.

---: Dr. Ivan A. Getting of Raytheon was named first president of the Aerospace Corp.

---: Bell Telephone outlined to FCC a plan for worldwide service based upon a network of 50 satellites in polar orbit at 3,000-mile altitude.

July 12: Mistran (Missile trajectory measurement system) for AFMTC initiated by USAF contract with General Electric.

July 17: First of three NASA experiments carried by USAF balloons, carrying a NASA capsule containing 12 mice to 130,000-foot altitude for 11 1/2 hours, in support of study of effects of heavy primary cosmic ray particles.

July 18: Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., formerly chief engineer of RCA Missile Electronics and Control Division, was named Associate Administrator of NASA to replace Richard E. Horner.

July 20: Two Polaris (A-1X) test missiles successfully launched from submerged submarine, the George Washington, marking a major milestone in the Navy ballistic missile program.

July 21: NASA fired a Nike-Cajun sounding rocket from Fort Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, containing an instrumented payload to measure data on energetic particles during a period of low solar activity.

July 22: First flight of NASA's Iris sounding rocket successful, designed for 100-pound payloads to altitudes of about 200 miles, from Wallops Station.

July 23: Second of USAF-NASA balloon flights carrying NASA life science experiment to an altitude of over 130,000 feet for 11 1/2 hours.

July 24: Donald Piccard established Class I world altitude record of 3,740 feet in plastic balloon HOLIDAY, from Minneapolis, Minn.

July 26: End of series of Army Bell HU-1 Iroquois helicopter flights which established four new world records.

July 28-29: First NASA-Industry Program Plans Conference held in Washington, D.C.

July 29: Project Apollo, advanced manned spacecraft program, was first announced at NASA's Industry Conference.

---: Atlas launch vehicle carrying unmanned Mercury capsule exploded 65 seconds after launch from AMR.

---: The 300-kw(e) static reactor electric power system attained first criticality. SNAP 10, utilizing thermoelectric conversion with no moving parts, was being developed for satellite application.

July 31: Dr. John F. Victory, the first employee of NACA hired in 1915 and recently assistant to the Administrator of NASA, retired after 52 years of continuous Government service, including many important contributions in formulating national air policies and in establishing aeronautical research facilities and programs.

August 2: NRL Aerobee reached 90-mile altitude from WSPG with instruments to measure ultraviolet spectrum of the sun.

---: Army Ordnance five-stage Strong-arm sounding rocket launched from Wallops Station, reaching an altitude of 300 miles, although fifth stage did not function.

August 3: First Sparrowbee sounding rocket launched from Wallops Station, lifting 56-pound University of Michigan payload to 260-mile altitude.

August 4: X-15 (No. 1) rocket airplane with interim engines established new unofficial world speed record of 2,196 mph, with Joseph Walker, NASA test pilot, at the controls. This topped Captain Apt's speed of 2,094 mph attained in the X-2 on September 27, 1956.

August 5: NASA and the Department of Defense announced the settlement of patent infringement claim by the estate of the late Robert H. Goddard, which had been pending since 1951, for $1 million $765,000 by USAF, $125,000 by USA, $100,000 by NASA, and $10,000 by USN).

---: IGY data released indicated that upper atmosphere's density becomes twice as great in December as in June.

August 6: While over Blossom Point, Md., simultaneously with a Class 1 solar flare, TRANSIT II-A satellite transmitted 6 minutes of clear reception showing history of development of ultraviolet and X-ray emission in relation to ionospheric behavior and to solar-radio noise.

August 10: DISCOVERER XIII launched successfully into polar orbit.

August 11: First manmade object recovered from an orbiting satellite, the 85-pound instrumented capsule of DISCOVERER XIII recovered from the ocean off Hawaii after 16 orbits. Silken 50-star American flag it carried was presented to the President on August 15.

August 12: X-15 (No. 1) with interim engines and with Maj. Robert M. White (USAF) at the controls, established a new altitude record for a manned vehicle of 136,500 feet. This topped Captain Kincheloe's record altitude of 126,200 feet attained on September 7, 1956, in the X-2 rocket research aircraft.

---: NASA's ECHO I, the first passive communications satellite, successfully launched into orbit by a Thor-Delta. It reflected a radio message from the President across the Nation, thus, demonstrating the feasibility of global radio communications via satellites. The 100-foot-diameter aluminized Mylar-plastic sphere was the most visible and largest satellite launched to date.

---: USAF Atlas carrying radiation experiments in nose cone was fired 5,000 miles from Cape Canaveral, but nose cone was not recovered.

---: Navy Polaris missile fired 1,000 miles down AMR.

August 13: Army announced completion of a project for mapping lunar landing sites.

August 15: NASA announced selection of Plasmadyne Corp. for contract negotiations on a 1-kilowatt electric arc jet rocket engine.

---: Two pilots sealed in "space cabin" for 17-day simulated flight to the moon, at SAM, Brooks AFB, Tex.

August 16: Capt. Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr. (USAF), parachuted from EXCELSIOR III balloon at 103,000 feet, falling 17 miles before chute was employed at 17,500 feet, a new parachute record.

---: 11th Congress of the IAF opened in Stockholm.

August 17: ECHO I visible to sky-watchers and provided reflection for numerous long-range radio transmissions by private and governmental research agencies in the United States.

August 18: ECHO I utilized for transatlantic communications when carrier signal was received by the French Telecommunications Establishment (CNET). Subsequently, voice and music transmissions were received by the University of Manchester at Jodrell Bank and other British Installations.

---: USAF DISCOVERER XIV launched into polar orbit from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

---: USAF-Army COURIER IA communications satellite failed to orbit due to premature shutdown of first stage of Thor-Able-Star.

August 19: SPACECRAFT II launched into orbit by the U.S.S.R. weighing 5 tons and carrying a biological payload including two dogs.

---: Second time a manmade object was recovered intact from earth orbit and the first midair recovery of an object from space, when USAF C-119 transport snared the 300-pound capsule of DISCOVERER XIV at 10,000 feet, Capt. H. F. Mitchell (USAF) as pilot of the C-119.

---: Wirephoto of President Eisenhower transmitted from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Dallas, Tex., via ECHO I satellite.

August 21: U.S.S.R. announced safe recovery of biologic payloads of SPACECRAFT II after 17 orbits, and reported that 2 dog passengers were in excellent physical condition. This was the first successful recovery of life forms from orbit.

August 22: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory reported that solar pressure was pushing ECHO I's perigee 1 1/2 miles closer to the earth every 24 hours.

August 23: Bell Laboratory technicians successfully transmitted a voice and music message from New Jersey to Jodrell Bank, England, via ECHO I.

---: Aerobee-Hi with 208-pound payload launched from NASA Wallops Station 118-mile altitude.

August 24: ECHO I first went into earth's shadow with its two tracking beacons still operating. Since going into orbit on August 12, it had relayed hundreds of telephonic experiments and transmissions.

August 26: Construction begun on the world's largest radar at Arecibo, P.R., capable of bouncing signals off Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, with Cornell University as the prime contractor under direction of ARPA and USAF.

August 30: First Industry Conference conducted by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

August 31: Joint NASA-AEC Nuclear Propulsion Office (NPO) created at Germantown, Md., with Harold B. Finger as Manager.

During August: NASA suspended work on geodetic satellite program pending determination of whether it was to be a civilian or military program.

---: USAF Atlas squadrons became operational at Warren AFB, Wyo.

September 5: McDonnell F4H-1, Phantom II Navy fighter flown 1,216.78 mph on 500-km closed course for a new record, Lt. Col. T. H. Miller (USMC) as pilot.

September 8: ONR announced that radio signals had been received from the planet Saturn and a star 3,000 light-years away by the University of Michigan's 85-foot radio telescope.

---: President Eisenhower formally dedicated the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Ala.

September 10: X-15 flown at more than 2,100 mph and to 80,000 feet.

September 13: NASA and DOD announced the creation of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board "to review planning, avoid duplication, coordinate activities of common interest, identify problems requiring solution either by NASA or the Department of Defense and insure a steady exchange of information." Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Deputy Administrator of NASA, and Dr. Herbert F. York, Director of Research and Engineering of DOD, were named co-chairmen of the Board.

---: DISCOVERER XV placed into polar orbit.

---: NASA gave bidders briefing to industry representatives on Project Apollo study contract at Space Task Group, Langley AFB, Va.

---: Bilateral agreement with South Africa ratified providing for construction of new tracking station in South Africa.

September 13-14: First meeting of the NASA Advisory Committee on Space Biology, chaired by Dr. Melvin Calvin.

September 14: Recovery capsule of DISCOVERER XV located from aircraft, but bad weather prevented surface pickup before it sank.

September 15: Two USAF pilots, Capt. W. D. Habluetzel and Lt. J. S. Hargreaves, completed a 30-day, 8-hour, and 24-minute simulated round trip to the moon in the space cabin simulator at the School of Aviation Medicine, Brooks AFB, Tex.

September 16-22: 27 research rockets were launched by U.S. scientists as a part of the COSPAR International Rocket Interval for 1960.

September 19: Atlas ICBM fired 9,000 miles from Cape Canaveral to the Indian Ocean in 50 minutes, the second record distance flight.

---: NERV (Nuclear Emulsion Recovery Vehicle) experiment successfully launched from Point Arguello, Calif., by an Argo D-8 rocket, the first NASA launching at PMR. NERV instrumented capsule reached an altitude of 1,260 miles before landing 1,300 miles downrange where it was picked up by Navy ships 3 hours later. It reached the highest known altitude that any manmade object had attained to be recovered successfully from space.

September 20: Aero Commander 680F set a world class altitude record of 36,932 feet for light aircraft, Jerrie Cobb as pilot.

September 21: USAF Blue Scout rocket fired from Cape Canaveral placed instrumented payload 16,600 miles above the earth, the first of 11 such tests, but no data were received due to radio malfunction.

September 22: President Eisenhower's address to the General Assembly of the United Nations pointed to the importance of international agreement on measures to "enable future generations to find peaceful and scientific progress not another fearful dimension in the arms race, as they explore the universe."

September 25: Atlas-Able 3 lunar orbital probe of NASA failed to achieve trajectory because of malfunction in one of the upper stages.

---: McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II Navy fighter flown record 1,390.21 mph over 100-km closed course at Edwards AFB, Comdr. J. F. Davis as pilot.

September 26: NASA and Weather Bureau issued joint invitation to scientists of 21 nations to participate in meteorological research connected with future Tiros satellite.

---: Heat balance between atmospheric pressure areas near the earth's surface and temperature readings in space, reported as a result of experiments in EXPLORER VII launched October 13, 1959, by Dr. Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.

---: Formal meeting of the DOD-NASA Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board (AACB).

September 27: Parachute designed to slow reentry speed of space capsules successfully tested at a speed of 2,000 mph after rocket boost to 30-mile altitude, over Eglin AFB, Fla.

---: Massive Soviet news buildup for this as "a day in the history of the world," while Premier Khrushchev was at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Rumored space spectacular did not apparently take place.

September 30: To date, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory had photographed approximately 17,200 satellite passages with the Baker-Nunn Optical Network, and had recorded 17,000 visual observations by Moonwatch.

---: Soviet test pilot K. K. Kokkinaki established world speed record of 2,148.3 km/hr in delta-wing E-66 jet aircraft over 100-km closed course.

---: Formal agreements for all NASA tracking stations, planned at present, were either concluded or near conclusion.

October 1: First BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) station went into operation, at Thule, Greenland.

October 2: JPL announced that 85-foot receiving antenna for space tracking at Woomera, southwestern Australia, would be operational by November 1.

October 3: ONR STRATOSCOPE balloon carrying equipment to photograph the halo around the sun was launched at 80,000 feet in a series of high-altitude coronascope flights.

October 4: COURIER I-B active communications satellite successfully placed into orbit by Thor-Able-Star launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral. After completing one orbit it received and recorded a transcribed message to the United Nations by President Eisenhower transmitted from Fort Monmouth, N.J., and retransmitted it to another earth station in Puerto Rico. This marked the 100th launch of the Douglas Thor, military and scientific combined, and a Thor record of 60 percent of the U.S. satellites boosted into orbit.

---: Second complete NASA Scout vehicle fired successfully to its predicted 3,500-mile altitude and 5,800-mile impact range, from Wallops Station.

October 7: AEC briefing held at the Nevada Test Site at Jackass Flats, Nev., for representatives of 26 companies for proposals to study the requirements for a National Nuclear Rocket Engine Development Facility. Existing test facilities are fully committed to the development of nuclear reactors.

---: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale meeting at Barcelona, Spain, accepted first rules to govern establishment of official records for manned spacecraft. The first record to be recognized must be at least 100 km, and later records must exceed existing record by 10 percent. Four categories for records are duration of flight, altitude without orbiting earth, altitude in orbit, and mass lifted above 100 km.

October 10: Interagency meeting on the establishment of an operational meteorological satellite system was held at NASA Headquarters.

October 11: USAF SAMOS I launched from Vandenberg AFB, but failed to orbit.

October 12: Dr. T. Keith Glennan, NASA Administrator, announced that communications satellites developed by private companies on a commercial basis would be launched by NASA at cost to assist private industry in developing a communications network.

---: Heavy-equipment parachute drop record of 41,740 pounds, from Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport to ground at El Centro, Calif.

October 13: USAF Atlas launched at AMR placed nose cone containing three black mice 650 miles up and 5,000 miles downrange at 17,000 mph. Nose cone was recovered in target area near Ascension Island, the three mice surviving the flight in "good condition."

---: Transmitter of EXPLORER VII failed to stop as programmed.

---: Camera mounted in nose of Atlas photographed stars at 700-mile altitude, providing first color picture of the earth from 600-mile altitude.

October 15-18: Four operational-type Polaris missiles successfully launched from submerged Patrick Henry off the Florida coast.

October 17: Project Mercury weather support group established at NASA's request in the Office of Meteorological Research of the Weather Bureau.

October 18: Second Iris rocket rose to 140 miles with a payload of 125 pounds from Walloops Station.

October 19: Kiwi-A No. 3 static test of nuclear rocket propulsion was successfully conducted at AEC Nevada test site, resulting in NASA-AEC call for bids for industrial development phase of Project Rover on November 1, 1960.

---: NASA announced award of preliminary design contracts for solid-fuel rockets with thrusts between 2 and 15 million pounds to Aerojet-General, Grand Central, and Thiokol.

---: Dr. Hugh L. Dryden received the Elliot Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute.

October 21: FCC received formal application of American Telephone & Telegraph for authority to operate a communications satellite.

October 23: COURIER I-B stopped transmitting, but radio tracking beacon continued to function. In 18 days it had transmitted 118 million words.

October 24: Titan ICBM fired 6,100 miles, 100 miles longer than any previous shot, with tactical-type nose cone.

October 25: NASA selected Convair, General Electric, and Martin to conduct individual feasibility studies of an advanced manned spacecraft as part of Project Apollo.

October 26: USAF DISCOVERER XVI successfully launched with new payload, but failed to go into polar orbit.

October 27: Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences (IAS) changed its name to the Institute of the Aerospace Sciences.

October 31: DOD ordered a stepup in development of the mach 3 B-70 supersonic bomber.

---: USAF announced consideration of proposals for "aerospace plane" capable of scooping up tons of oxygen in upper atmosphere before space flight, then reentering for landing as an airplane.

During October: Construction of space simulator began at Rye Canyon Research Center of Lockheed for study of disintegration of materials at simulated 800,000 feet at temperature of -320o F.

---: Structures Research Division of NASA Langley continued ablation studies begun in 1956 with electric arc-powered jet, achieving 9,000o F for 105 seconds on an illustrative test.

November 2: Lunar atlas prepared for USAF by group under technical direction of G. P. Kuiper was released, an "Orthographic Atlas of the Moon" charted 5,000 base points combined with best available photos and grids.

November 3: EXPLORER VIII launched into an elliptical orbit from AMR by four-stage Juno II, containing instrumentation for detailed measurements of the ionosphere. This was the 10th time that JPL-developed upper stage rocket clusters had successfully placed satellites or deep space probes into orbit.

November 4: New results in sustaining hydrogen fusion for 1 millisecond at 60o F reported by University of California scientists.

November 5: Operational date of first Minuteman squadron advanced a full year to July 1962 by USAF.

November 6: U.S.S.R. published atlas on the far side of the moon based on LUNIK III photographs.

---: Japanese Space Development Council recommended initiation of basic studies for launching an earth satellite.

November 8: USAF Blue Scout Junior with radiation-study payload reached 24,500-mile altitude, but second stage did not burn full program.

---: NASA LITTLE JOE test flight of Mercury capsule, capsule did not separate from booster.

November 9: NRL Aerobee-Hi collected data on ultraviolet radiation in the night sky 131 miles above WSPG.

---: Post Office Department transmitted a "speed mail" letter from Washington to Newark, N.J., by bouncing microwave transmission off ECHO I.

Early November: NASA-DOD Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board (AACB) and cognizant members agreed that NASA could drop the tracking light geodetic satellite and utilize other space projects to obtain geodetic data for the scientific community.

November 10: Advanced Polaris (A-2) successfully launched on record 1,600-mile flight at AMR.

---: Department of Defense placed Navy's SPASUR (Space Surveillance Detection Net) and the Air Force's SPACETRACK (National Space Surveillance Control Center) under the North American Air Defense Command for military functions. NASA would assume SPACETRACK's function of passing on information on space vehicles to the world's scientific community.

November 12: DISCOVERER XVII placed into polar orbit from Vandenberg AFB, restartable Agenda B second stage successfully flown for the first time.

---: Navy announced development of techniques for low-cost satellite-launching facilities from airplanes, barges, ships, or from underwater.

November 14: Capsule DISCOVERER XVII ejected after 31 orbits and successfully snared at 9,000 feet by USAF C-119 aircraft, the second such recovery in midair of a space object.

---: IGY Warning Center reported that solar flares were causing "extremely severe" magnetic disturbance of the earth's atmosphere, an event detected by EXPLORER VII and later analyzed as greatest burst of solar radiation in the satellite's 13 months of operation.

---: DOD announced that NASA, USAF, USA, and USN were jointly building a geodetic satellite to map the earth accurately.

---: USAF reported that printed messages and weather maps had been sent up to 900 miles by bouncing radio signals off meteor trails.

---: First letter carried by satellite mail (31 orbits and a distance of about a million miles), a letter from USAF Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense carried in capsule recovered from DISCOVERER XVII.

November 15: X-15 (No. 2) with new XLR-99 engine (57,000-pound thrust) flown to nearly 80,000 feet and 2,000 mph on first test flight by A. Scott Crossfield at Edwards AFB, Calif. Earlier interim engine, XLR-11 with one-quarter of the thrust of the XLR-99, had pushed the X-15 to new world speed and altitude records of 2,196 mph and 136,500 feet.

---: Prof. A. Gib DuBusk, geneticist at Florida State University, reported that bread mold specimens, rocketed to 1,200-mile altitude on Argo D-8 capsule on September 19, had shown 30 times as many changes as control cells.

---: USAF Mace-B flight tested 1,000 miles.

---: Data capsule fired 5,000 miles downrange from AMR by Atlas ICBM, which was recovered 1 hour later.

---: Aerobee-Hi launched to 145-mile altitude from NASA Wallops Station, Va.

November 17: NASA established Test Support Office at the Pacific Missile Range (PMR), to function under Launch Operations Directorate, Marshall Space Flight Center.

---: Last test of Polaris (A-1, 1,300-mile series) from AMR unsuccessful.

---: U.S. proposed upper atmosphere rocket probes from Woomera Rocket Range in Australia.

November 19: Albert Hibbs of JPL reported that EXPLORER I had also discovered clouds of cosmic dust in its orbit, information found by continued examination of data obtained during 4 months of payload transmission after launch on January 31, 1958. EXPLORER I remained orbit.

November 21: Mercury Redstone flight test (MR-I) at AMR terminated prior to liftoff because of faulty ground-support circuitry which had not been noted on some 60 previous Redstone firings.

---: 500-pound capsule of USAF launched to 32-mile altitude and recovered intact by means of drag balloon and parachute known as the "Ballute" system.

November 22: India and United States announced joint program of some 40 high-altitude balloon flights from India, starting in December.

---: Aerobee-Hi fired to 105-mile altitude from NASA Wallops Station with four stellar spectrometers developed for an experiment by the University of Rochester's Institution of Optics.

---: National Science Foundation announced that the National Center for Atmospheric Research, operated by a group of universities, would be sited at Table Mountain, near Boulder, Colo. Walter Orr Roberts was named as Director of this NSF Center which will do fundamental research and serve as a coordinating center for a network of atmospheric investigations.

---: ARPA technical advisory group established to facilitate exchange of information between technical management and research personnel on Project Defender.

November 23: X-15 (No. 2) flown on second test flight with XLR-99 engine by A. Scott Crossfield, restarting the engine in flight for the first time.

---: TIROS II weather satellite launched by Thor-Delta at AMR, the 14th successful U.S. satellite launched to date in 1960.

---: In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, NASA Administrator Glennan defined low-altitude (orbits of 2,000 to 6,000 miles) active communications satellite development to "stimulate those developments which promise early benefits to our citizens."

---: Plastic balloon launched from Sioux Falls, S. Dak., with University of Michigan instrument package designed to take cloud pictures to compare with those taken by cameras in TIROS II.

November 25: NASA scientists increased the speed of spin of TIROS II by means of ground radio command.

November 27: Report of the President's Commission on National Goals was released, which stated that the United States "should be highly selective in our space objectives and unexcelled in their pursuit. Prestige arises from sound accomplishment, not from the merely spectacular, and we must not be driven by nationalistic competition into programs so extravagant as to divert funds and talents from programs of equal or greater importance...."

November 28: Discussions on creation of an European space research organization undertaken by scientific representatives of Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, with an observer from Spain.

---: TIROS II had successfully transmitted 998 pictures to receiving stations at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and San Nicholas Island, Calif., 85 percent of narrow angle and 5 to 10 percent of the wideangle pictures having some value.

November 28-December 3: Space Research Symposium sponsored by Argentina in which Dr. Hugh Dryden and other U.S. scientists participated.

November 30: TRANSIT III-A navigation satellite, with two instrumented payloads, was destroyed 40 minutes after launch from AMR by Thor-Able-Star booster.

During November: Under arrangements of the AACB (Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board), NASA will utilize existing NASA tracking stations for initial Centaur development vehicles and switch to the Advent network (which is to be planned, funded, and constructed by DOD) when Centaur is operational, perhaps as early as the fourth of 10 development launchings of Centaur.

December 1: SPACECRAFT III launched by U.S.S.R., weighing over 5 tons and carrying a biological payload in its "space cabin."

---: USAF delivered to JPL the first 1:1,000,000 scale map of the lunar landing site selected by NASA, the second in a continuing series of 1:1,000,000 charts prepared on USAF contract in response to NASA requirements.

---: Army Nike-Zeus A-ICBM missile with guidance successfully test fired from WSPG.

---: Delegates of 11 Western European nations approved an agreement aimed at establishing an organization for space research. Proposed intergovernmental agency would concentrate on satellites rather than rockets for launch vehicles.

December 2: First of new series of static firings of Saturn considered only 50 percent successful in 2-second test at MSFC.

---: Human tissues exposed to heavy radiation during 50-hour flight of recovered DISCOVERER XVII capsule according to USAF.

December 3: Moscow Radio reported that SPACECRAFT III descended along an "uncalculated trajectory" and burned up in the dense atmosphere.

---: Titan ICBM exploded in its silo at Vandenberg AFB during night fueling operations.

---: Senate Committee on Science and Astronautics issued staff study entitled "Policy Planning for Space Communications," which stated that the United States "must have a unified policy which effectively coordinates all our diverse and extensive resources in this area."

December 4: American Bar Association's "Report to NASA on the Law of Outer Space" was released, which contained collation of legal opinion on the broad spectrum of space activities.

---: Attempt to launch a Beacon satellite with a four-stage solid-propellant Scout from Wallops Station did not succeed due to failure of second stage.

December 5: Polaris A-2 successfully test fired 1,400 nautical miles down AMR.

---: USAF completed Snark R&D program with a 5,000-mile flight from Cape Canaveral.

December 6: Civil Service Commission approved new examination for career professional positions in aerospace technology, part A covering work in the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics, and part B covering work in the life sciences and related systems.

December 7: DISCOVERER XVIII launched into polar orbit by new Thor-Agena B from Vandenberg AFB, carrying surveillance-system equipment and human tissue in recovery capsule.

---: X-15 (No. 2) flown on final contractor's test flight by a Scott Crossfield, making two midair engine shutdowns and restarts.

December 7-10: Series of upper atmosphere sounding rockets from NASA Wallops Station, sodium vapor being ejected at about 212 miles altitude and a lithium flare released near peak altitude of about 450 miles to measure wind velocities and temperatures.

December 9: X-15 made first flight with ball-shaped "hot nose," reaching 50,000 feet and 1,254 mph, NASA's Neil Armstrong making his second familiarization flight.

---: Tory IIA reactor, part of AEC-USAF Pluto program to demonstrate feasibility of nuclear ramjet propulsion, achieved criticality of 1-watt nominal power, and later in day was run up to 200 watts.

December 10: 300-pound capsule of DISCOVERER XVIII caught at 14,000 feet by USAF C-119 crew, after making 48 polar orbits. Capsule contained human eye-lid tissue and blood and bone marrow to study effect of radiation in space. This was the second DISCOVERER capsule catch by C-119 crew headed by Capt. Gene Jones, while precision of the entire operation beginning with launch 3 days previous was considered the most successful to date.

December 11: SAM scientists reported that human tissue recovered from the capsule of DISCOVERER XVII after about 50 hours on 31 orbits (November 14), survived radiation in space, including that generated by one of the largest solar storms ever observed.

December 12: SAM scientists at Brooks AFB reported that biological specimens including human tissue recovered from the capsule of DISCOVERER XVIII two days ago, showed far less radiation effects than specimens recovered from DISCOVERER XVII in November.

---: Initial flight test of new guidance system of Army Pershing missile successful.

December 13: North American A3-J Vigilante set a world altitude record with 1,000 kilogram payload of 91,450.8 feet, Comdr. Leroy Heath (USN) as pilot.

---: Palaemon, a 180-foot barge built to transport the Saturn launch vehicle from MSFC to Cape Canaveral by water, was formally accepted by MSFC Director from Maj. Gen. Frank S. Besson, Chief of Army Transportation.

December 14: USAF B-52G completed 10,000-mile nonstop flight without refueling in 19 hours and 45 minutes, at Edwards AFB, which broke world and jet distance records over a closed course without refueling.

December 15: Atlas-Able launch vehicle with NASA cislunar spacecraft exploded 70 seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral.

December 16: Scientists from Great Britain and NASA completed a series of meetings leading to planning for British scientific satellite to be flown on a Scout vehicle.

---: Atlas-D with Mark 3 nose cone fired 4,384 nautical miles into Eniwetok Atoll in first SAC launching from Vandenberg AFB.

---: AEC-NASA Nuclear Propulsion Office announced selection of TALANT industrial team proposal to conduct study of the requirements for a National Nuclear Rocket Engine Development Facility.

December 17: National Science Foundation announced grants totaling $22.7 million to support summer institutes for 20,000 teachers of science, mathematics, and engineering in high schools and colleges.

December 19: Unmanned Project Mercury spacecraft launched by modified Redstone booster (MR-1) in a suborbital trajectory, impacting 235 miles downrange after reaching an altitude of 135 miles and a speed of near 4,200 mph. Capsule was recovered about 50 minutes after firing.

---: Secretariat of COSPAR released official Soviet data on 27 U.S.S.R. rockets launched in a series of high-altitude experiments from a research ship in the Pacific, and a total of 73 rocket launchings in the first half of the year 1960.

December 20: USAF DISCOVERER XIX successfully launched into polar orbit from PMR carrying Project Midas test payload.

---: President-elect Kennedy announced that Vice President-elect Lyndon B. Johnson would chair the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

---: Founded in 1912 by Glenn. L. Martin, the Martin Co. delivered its last airplane, a P5M-2, to the Navy, having produced more than 12,000 aircraft and entering the missile-space business with the NRL Viking research rocket in 1948.

---: Second stage of near-operational Titan ICBM failed to ignite over Cape Canaveral.

December 21: Space Technology Laboratories was selected by NASA for contract negotiations for an orbiting geophysical observatory (OGO) satellite program. To be managed by GSFC, OGO will be NASA's first standardized satellite, often referred to as the "streetcar" satellite, capable of placing 50 different geophysical experiments on any one flight.

---: Eight-engine cluster of Saturn successfully static fired for 65 seconds at MSFC, the firing generating 1,300,000 pounds of thrust.

December 22: Nuclear submarine Robert E. Lee fired Polaris A-1 IRBM 1,300 miles in an Atlantic shot.

December 23: Goddard Space Flight Center scientists, Robert Jastrow and Robert Bryant, reported that atmospheric drag acting on ECHO I during the severe solar storm of November 12, was increased by about a factor of two. Scientists had previously noted the rise and fall of the density of the upper atmosphere, and the heating effect of a solar flare had been noted on the orbit of SPUTNIK III in 1959.

December 25: Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced selection of Blaw-Knox Equipment, Hughes Aircraft, North American Aviation, and Westinghouse Electric to study feasibility of a large space-tracking antenna.

December 26: Successful firing of a solid-propellant rocket motor using "building block" method was announced by NASA.

December 27: EXPLORER VIII ceased transmitting ionospheric measurement data acquired in 20,866,706 miles and 694.3 orbits, which produced more than 700 miles of magnetic tape since launch on November 3.

December 28: U.S. Weather Bureau sent TIROS II cloud-cover picture to Australia, which was taken over the Indian and South Pacific Oceans and served as a basis for forecasting a break in severe heat wave.

December 29: Dr. T. Keith Glennan offered his resignation as Administrator of NASA, to be effective January 20, 1961.

December 31: To date, the United States had successfully launched 31 earth satellites (9 of 16 still in orbit were still transmitting) and 2 deep space probes into orbit around the sun. The U.S.S.R. had launched seven satellites (one of which remained in orbit) and one deep space probe. The U.S.S.R. had also launched one lunar impact mission (LUNIK II), while LUNIK III had passed once around the moon and then went into earth orbit before decaying.

During 1960: World Data Center A, Rockets and Satellites, of the National Academy of Sciences, continued to provide a means for international exchange of scientific data.

---: JPL turned the Army Sergeant missile over to Sperry Gyroscope Co. as production contractor.

---: Through a contract with the University of Chicago, the USAF's Aeromedical Field Laboratory and Missile Test Center developed a system for ascertaining the types and intensities of primary cosmic particles in space.

---: NASA launching record for the year: 22 major space flight attempts, over two-thirds of which were fully successful.

---: World's scheduled airlines (excluding U.S.S.R. and Communist China) carried 108 million passengers during the year according to ICAO, the first year air passenger traffic exceeded 100 million persons.

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Last Updated: January 27, 2005