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June in History

June 9, 1866 - About 1,000 meteorites fell near Knyahinya in Czechoslovakia. The largest one weighed 645 pounds and was reported to have made a hole in the ground 11 feet deep. The meteorite is on display at the National History Museum in Vienna.

June 25, 1890, 1 p.m. local time - A brilliant fireball was seen over the mid-west of the United States. The resulting meteorite landed in Farmington, Kansas. It was found to be chondrite, a form of stony meteorite.

June 30, 1908, 7:30 a.m. local time - A meteorite fell on the Tunguska River Valley, a region in the desolate swamps of northern Siberia. Eyewitnesses spoke of a brilliant object moving overhead from the southeast, dropping sparks and leaving behind a trail of smoke. The explosion was seen from four hundred fifty miles away and was heard from seven hundred miles away. The site was first located in 1927, nineteen years later, by a scientific expedition led by L. A. Kulik. The area of destruction was over 25 miles (40 kilometers) across, larger than New York City and its suburbs combined. The forest was obliterated in many areas. The remaining trees were charred and knocked down in a pattern that radiated outward from the center point of the blast. Only trees within the 9 miles of the central point remained standing, though they were stripped of their branches. No impact crater was found. It has since been accepted by most scientists that the destruction was cause by a comet or asteroid that was superheated from its passage through the atmosphere, and exploded above the ground from the rapid expansion of internal gases. Since the event occurred on the maximum of the annual daytime Beta Taurid shower, many suggest that the meteor was a large Beta Taurid meteor, and therefore a fragment of Periodic Comet Encke, which is the parent of the Beta Taurid shower.

June 14, 1963 - Soviet cosmonaut Valery F. Bykovsky was launched in Vostok 5. He was joined in orbit on June 16 by the launch of cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova in Vostok 6. The two spacecraft took part in the second group flight. Vostok 5 had a total flight time of 119 hours 6 minutes and returned safely to Earth on June 19.

June 16, 1963 - Soviet cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova was launched in Vostok 6. Tereshkova became the first woman in space. She joined in orbit cosmonaut Valery F. Bykovsky in Vostok 5, which was launched June 14. The two spacecraft took part in the second group flight. Vostok 6 had a total flight time of 70 hours 50 minutes and returned safely to Earth on June 19.

June 3, 1965 - A Titan rocket launched astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II into orbit aboard the Gemini 4 spacecraft. White became the first American to "walk in space" with an EVA (extra vehicular activity) of 36 minutes in length. The flight lasted 97 hours 57 minutes. McDivitt and White returned safely to Earth on June 7.

June 3, 1966 - A Titan rocket launched astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan into orbit aboard the Gemini 9 spacecraft. The flight lasted 72 hours 21 minutes. The crew returned safely to Earth.

June 18, 1966 - A Titan rocket launched astronauts John Young and Michael Collins into orbit aboard the Gemini 10 spacecraft. The flight lasted 70 hours 47 minutes. The crew returned safely to Earth.

June 14, 1967 - Mariner 5 was launched on a mission to Venus and was placed in a solar orbit. Mariner 5 made its closest pass of Venus with a fly-by on Oct. 19.

June 6, 1971 - The Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 11 was launched with cosmonauts Georgi T. Dobrovolskiy, Vladislav N. Volkov, and Viktor I. Patsayev. Soyuz 11 docked and entered the Soviet space station Salyut 1 for a stay of 23 days, making them the second crew to dock, but the first crew to stay in Salyut 1. Soyuz 11 undocked on June 30 for the return to Earth. Unfortunately, the spacecraft lost pressure during reentry the crew was killed.

June 18, 1983 - The Space Shuttle Challenger was launched (STS-7) with astronauts Robert L. Crippen, Frederick Hauck, Sally K. Ride, John M. Fabian, and Norman Thagard. The mission marked to U.S. milestones in that it was the first 5-person shuttle crew and that Ride became the first U.S. woman in space. The crew returned safely to Earth on June 24.

June 17, 1985 - The Space Shuttle Discovery was launched (STS 51-G) with astronauts Daniel Brandenstein, John O. Creighton, Shannon W. Lucid, Steven R. Nagel, John M. Fabian, Prince Sultan Salman al-Saud, and Patrick Baudry. The crew launched 3 satellites during the mission. Salman al-Saud became the first Arab in space and Baudry became the first French person on a U.S. mission. The crew returned safely to Earth on June 24.

June 7, 1988 - The Soviet spacecraft Soyuz TM-5 was launched with cosmonauts Viktor Savinykh, Anatoly Solovyev, and Aleksandr Panayotov Aleksandrov. The spacecraft docked with the Russian Space Station Mir. Aleksandrov became the first Bulgarian in space. Soyuz TM-5 and crew returned to Earth on June 17.

June 18, 1991 - A 46-foot (15-meter) Prospector rocket carrying 10 science experiments for NASA and several universities was destroyed after veering off course after launch from Cape Canaveral.

June 21, 1993 - The Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched (STS-57) with astronauts Ronald J. Grabe, Brian J. Duffy, G. David Low, Nancy J. Sherlock, Peter J. K. Wisoff, and Janice E. Voss. Activities during this mission centered in the Spacelab commercial payload module, carried by Endeavour. The crew returned safely to Earth on July 1.

June 27, 1995 - The Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched (STS-71) with astronauts Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Charles J. Precourt, Ellen S. Baker, Gregory J. Harbaugh, Bonnie J. Dunbar, Anatoly Y. Solovyev, and Nikolai M. Budarin. Atlantis made the first docking of a U.S. space shuttle with the Mir space station. Supplies were transferred and a crew exchange was performed. Solovyev and Budarin moved to Mir and Gennadi Strekalov, Vladimir Dezhurov, and Norman Thagard moved from Mir to Atlantis. Thagard completed his stay as the first U.S. astronaut to serve aboard Mir, with a time in space of 115 days. The revised 8-member crew returned safely to Earth on July 7.

June 4, 1996 - Europe's Ariane-5 rocket exploded 40 seconds into its maiden flight after launch off from the European Space Agency launch center in French Guiana.

June 20, 1996 - The Space Shuttle Columbia was launched (STS-78) with astronauts Terence T. Henricks, Kevin R. Kregel, Susan J. Helms, Richard M. Linnehan, Charles E. Brady, Jean-Jacques Favier, and Robert Brent Thirsk. The crew studied weightlessness with the Life/Microgravity Spacelab on board Columbia. The crew returned safely to Earth on July 7.

June 20, 1996 - A Soyuz-U rocket carrying reconnaissance satellites exploded after launch from Plesetsk cosmodrome.

June 2, 1998 - The Space Shuttle Discovery was launched (STS-91) with astronauts Charles J. Precourt, Dominic L. Gorie, Wendy B. Lawrence, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Janet L. Kavandi, and Valery Ryumin. Discovery performed the nineth and final shuttle docking with the Russian Space Station Mir and retrieved astronaut Andrew Thomas, who completed a total of 141 days in space. The revised crew returned safely to Earth on June 12.


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

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