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April 6, 2009 - American Idols

American Idols  It was five decades ago this week at a news conference in Washington, D.C., that NASA’s Administrator, T. Keith Glennan, introduced to the public the seven men chosen to be America’s nominees for the first human voyagers into space. These Project Mercury astronauts were the cream of the crop, survivors of the most stringent and grueling astronaut selection processes ever conducted. With varying degrees of reluctance, the astronauts soon became celebrities and idols to the American public, answering the nation’s need for a new breed of hero. Arguably the most famous of the seven was John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first American to orbit Earth. In 1998, at age seventy-seven, Glenn flew on the space shuttle STS-95 mission, becoming the oldest person ever to fly in space.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

April 6-12, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 6

1965: Early Bird  (Intelsat 1) launched
1984: STS-41C Challenger launched

Tuesday 7

Saturn 6° north of Moon

1991: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory deployed
2001: Mars Odyssey Orbiter launched
2007: ISS Expedition 15 crew launched

Wednesday 8

Passover begins at sunset

1964: Gemini I launched
1966: OAO-1 launched
1993: STS-56 Discovery launched
2002: STS-110 Atlantis launched
2008: ISS Expedition 17 crew launched

Thursday 9

Full Moon 10:56 am

1959: NASA selects original seven Mercury astronauts
1994: STS-59 Endeavour launched

Friday 10

Good Friday

1919: John C. Houbolt born

Saturday 11

1960: Project Ozma started
1970: Apollo 13 launched
1980: Viking 2 lander mission ends
1984: Challenger retrieves Solar Max
1986: Halley’s Comet closest to Earth

Sunday 12

Easter Sunday

1961: Yuri Gagarin first human in space
1981: STS-1 Columbia  launched
1985: STS-51D Discovery  launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.