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July in History

July 14, 1847 - An iron meteorite fell through the roof of a house in Braunau, Bohemia. The impact was even more remarkable in that it only showered debris on a bed in which three children were sleeping.

July 19, 1912 - 14,000 meteorites fell near Holbrook, Arizona. Thousands of the fragments recovered were only slightly larger than grape seeds.

July 24, 1950 - A U.S. Army team from the Ordnance Proving Grounds at White Sands, New Mexico, conducted the first rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket was called Bumper 8, a modified German V-2 missile with a WAC (Without Any Control) Corporal missile for a second stage. It achieved an altitude of 16 kilometers (10 miles). For the launch, Army technicians employed a painter's scaffold as a gantry to service the rocket before launch, and the control center was a converted tarpaper bathhouse surrounded by sandbags.

July 21, 1961 - A Redstone rocket launched U.S. astronaut Virgil I. "Guss" Grissom in the Mercury 4 spacecraft, Libert Bell 7. This was the second U.S. sub-orbital space flight, and very similar to the flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr. a month earlier. It lasted 15 minutes, with a trajectory that took Grissom over the Atlantic Ocean where the spacecraft parachuted into the water. Grissom was recovered by helicopter from the ocean after leaving the spacecraft. Unfortunately, his spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7, sank and was lost until its recovery by a Discovery Channel-sponsored expedition early in 1999.

July 10, 1962 - The U.S. satellite Telstar 1 was launched into Earth orbit. Telstar 1 was the first communications satellite launched for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T).

July 28, 1964 - The U.S. spacecraft Ranger 7 was launched. Ranger 7 became the first U.S. spacecraft to impact on the Moon. It returned a series of photos and other data.

July 14, 1965 - The U.S. spacecraft Mariner 4 (launched November 28, 1964) reached the planet Mars and flew by on the far side of the planet. Mariner 4 transmitted back 22 televsion pictures of the cratered Martian surface from distance as close as 9,846 kilometers (6,118 miles).

July 18, 1966 - John Young and Michael Collins were launched into Earth orbit aboard Gemini 10. They performed the first U.S. docking maneuver, using an Agena target vehicle. They returned safely to Earth on July 21.

July 16, 1969 - Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins were launched in Apollo 11. Armstrong and Aldrin, aboard the Lunar Module Eagle, landed on the lunar surface on July 20. Armstrong, and then Aldrin, became the first men to walk on the moon. They spent a total of 21 hours, 36 minutes and 21 seconds on the lunar surface, and collected 48.5 pounds of soil and rock samples. They returned to the lunar orbit, docked with Collins in the Command-Service module, and returned safely to Earth on July 24.

July 1971 - Three Soviet cosmonauts died during re-entry after 24 days in an orbiting space laboratory, a record endurance flight at that time.

July 23, 1972 - The U.S. satellite LANDSAT 1 was launched into Earth orbit. LANDSAT 1 became the first satellite to perform major assessment of Earth resources from outer space.

July 15, 1975 - Aleksei A. Leonov and Valery N. Kubasov were launched in Soyuz 19. That same day Vance Brand, Thomas P. Stafford and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton were launched in an Apollo spacecraft . Both launches were part of a U.S.-U.S.S.R. joint flight. The spacecraft docked on July 17. The crews conducted experiments, shared meals, and held a joint news conference. Soyuz 19 returned to Earth on July 21 and the Apollo crew returned on July 24.

July 20, 1976 - The Viking 1 Lander made a soft landing on the surface of the planet Mars. It was originally scheduled for a July 4th landing, in time for the U.S. bicentennial, but was delayed when Viking 1 Orbiter photographs created uncertainty about the primary landing site. The craft performed scientific experiments and transmitted images back to Earth for 6-1/2 years.

July 4, 1996 - The Mars Pathfinder spacecraft, launched Dec. 4, 1996, landed on the Martian surface at 1:08pm EST. The following day the Lander was renamed Carl Sagan Memorial Station. On July 6th the Sojourner rover was released to begin its exploration of the Martian surface. The mission performed measurements of the Martian climate, soil composition, and send back thousands of surface images.

July 5, 1999 - A Russian Proton-K heavy booster rocket launched from Baikonur suffered a malfunction which detached the engine and parts of the booster, causing them to crash onto the steppe. A 200-kg (440 lb) chunk fell into the courtyard of a private house. Kazakhstan briefly closed Baikanur in a disagreement with Russia over clean-up costs and rent for the base.

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

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