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December 17, 2018 - The Dream of Flight

The Dream of Flight   From the windy sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville Wright made the world’s first powered flight 115 years ago this week, a 12-second jaunt in a wood and canvas airplane that he and his brother, Wilber, had built. That historic flight was the realization of the age-old human quest to fly like birds through the ocean of air above us, to conquer the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth. This week also marks another milestone in human flight: the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8, the first human spaceflight around the Moon. From the breezy salt marshes of Merritt Island, Florida, a Saturn V rocket, the product of hundreds of thousands of workers, thundered aloft in the morning sky, startling a flock of birds—descendants of those we envied long ago.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 17 - 23, 2018

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 17

Uranus 5° north of Moon

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines
2012: GRAIL A & B spacecraft impact Moon
2017: Soyuz MS-07 launched carrying ISS Expedition 54/55 crew

Moon phase Tuesday 18

1999: Terra spacecraft launched

Moon phase Wednesday 19

Jupiter 5° north of Antares

1960: MR-1A launched, first Mercury capsule
1961: CNES founded
1966: United Nations approves Outer Space Treaty
1999: STS-103 Discovery launched
2012: Soyuz TMA-07M launched carrying ISS Expedition 34/35 crew
2013: Gaia spacecraft launched

Moon phase Thursday 20

1904: Mount Wilson Solar Observatory founded
1972: Final M2-F3 lifting body flight
1978: Venera 12 lander lands on Venus
2009Soyuz TMA-17 launched carrying ISS Expedition 22/23 crew

Moon phase Friday 21

Mercury 6° north of Antares
Mercury 0.9° north of Jupiter
Solstice 5:23 PM ET

1968: Apollo 8 launched
: Vega 2 launched
: Cosmonauts Titov and Manarov return after spending one year aboard Mir space station
2011Soyuz TMA-03M launched carrying ISS Expedition 30/31 crew
2015: SpaceX Falcon 9 makes first powered vertical landing of orbital booster

Moon phase Saturday 22

Full Moon 12:49 PM ET
Ursid meteor shower

1966: Luna 13 launched
1966: First glide test of the HL-10 lifting body

Moon phase Sunday 23

Ursid meteor shower

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn’s moon Rhea

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