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March in History

March 27, 15 BC - A spectacular Lyrid meteor storm was observed. One observer recorded that the "stars fell like rain."

March 14, 1881 - A meteorite weighing 3-1/2 pounds fell in Middlesboro, Yorkshire, England.

March 9, 1923 - A meteorite weighing 2-3/4 pounds fell a few yards from a laborer in Ashdon, Essex, England. A visible trail was not seen, but the whizzing of its flight was heard before impact.

March 24, 1933 - A fireball exploded in the early morning over northern New Mexico. The flash of light and the sound of the explosion awoke people in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. A cloud of meteoric dust remained in the atmosphere and was visible until long after sunrise. A collection of meteorite material weighing 4 kilograms was later recovered from an area 45 kilometers (28 miles) long.

March 17, 1958 - The U.S. Vanguard team successfully launched Vanguard 1, the second U.S. satellite into Earth orbit. Vanguard 1, a 1.5-kilogram (3.5-pound) sphere, was covered with solar cells. Though no longer functioning, it remains the oldest satellite in orbit. It is expected to stay aloft for 2,000 years.

March 18, 1965 - The Soviet spacecraft Voskhod 2 was launched into orbit with cosmonauts Pavel I. Belyayev and Aleksei A. Leonov. Leonov performed the first "spacewalk," lasting 10 minutes. Leonov was not able to re-enter the airlock hatch until he released air from his space suit to reduce its size. The mission lasted 26 hours and 2 minutes, with the spacecraft returning safely to Earth on March 19.

March 23, 1965 - A Titan rocket launched U.S. astronauts Virgil I. "Guss" Grissom and John Young aboard the Gemini 3 spacecraft, Molly Brown. Grissom so named the spacecraft after jokes that his Mercury spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7, had sunk in the Atlantic Ocean because it had a crack in it, like its namesake. This was the first piloted flight of the Gemini space program and the first piloted spacecraft to change its orbital path. The flight lasted 4 hours 53 minutes and the crew landed safely in the Pacific Ocean.

March 15, 1966 - A Titan rocket launched U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Scott into orbit aboard the Gemini 8 spacecraft. The flight lasted 10 hours 42 minutes. The crew returned safely and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

March 27, 1969 - An Atlas-Centaur rocket launched the U.S. spacecraft Mariner 7 toward the planet Mars.

March 18, 1980 - Fifty technicians died at Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome when a Vostok booster exploded while being fuelled. The incident was not reported to the public until 1989.


J. M. Thomas, last updated November 15, 1999.

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