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October in History

October 13, 902 - A storm of Leonid meteors was observed. One observer described it as a "small starlike fire." The storm occurred 597 days after the passing of parent comet P/Temple-Tuttle.

October 14, 1002 - A storm of Leonid meteors was observed. One observer reported that the "stars flew early in the morning." The storm occurred 634 days after the passing of parent comet P/Temple-Tuttle.

October 18, 1202 - A storm of Leonid meteors was observed. One observer reported that "stars rushed across the heaven." The storm occurred 613 days after the passing of parent comet P/Temple-Tuttle.

October 18, 1238 - A storm of Leonid meteors was observed. One observer reported "countless large and small meteors." The storm occurred 1,456 days after the passing of parent comet P/Temple-Tuttle.

October 25, 1533 - A storm of Leonid meteors was observed. One observer reported that there were "countless meteors till dawn." The storm occurred 230 days after the passing of parent comet P/Temple-Tuttle.

October 13, 1838 - A small shower of meteorites fell at Cold Bokkeveld, South Africa. The fragments were remarkable in that they contained small amounts of solid hydrocarbons, which could be extracted from them by alcohol and ether.

October 13, 1914 - A meteorite weighing 33 pounds fell in Appley, Bridge, Lancashire, England.

October 9, 1926 - A Draconid shower was seen with a rate of 17 per hour.

October 9, 1933 - On this Monday night a great, brief, and unexpected Draconid meteor storm was seen over Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The overall rate for the fall was estimated at 5,000 per hour. Observers in Malta recorded a meteor rate of 480 per minute. In Ireland it was reported that the meteors fell as thickly as flakes of snow in a snow storm. Several Russian observers reported more than 100 meteors per minute and in Syria 168 meteors were counted in a 30-minute period. About five hours after the shower had reached its maximum in Europe some of the meteors struck different parts of the United States, but U.S. observers reported lower fall rates up to 10 per minute. The parent comet, Giacobini-Zinner had passed this point in Earth's orbit in July, just three months earlier.

October 10, 1946 - A great Draconid meteor storm was seen over Europe and the United States with an estimated rate of 5,000 per hour.

October 7, 1947 - Dutch astronomer G. H. Kuiper, while at the McDonald Observatory in Texas, compared the infrared spectrum of Mars with that of the Moon obtained at the same time. From this examination Kuiper concluded that the planet Mars had an atmosphere which contained carbon dioxide. This was the first scientific data to provide insight on the composition of the Martian atmosphere. This data was strengthened by more detailed observations made in February of 1948 when Mars was closer to Earth.

October 9, 1952 - A Draconid meteor shower was seen with an estimated rate of 180 per hour.

October 4, 1957 - The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, Earth's first artificial satellite, officially opening the age of space exploration. The satellite had a mass of 83 kilograms (184 pounds), was spherical in shape and had for whip antennae to transmit its radio signal.

October 7, 1958 - NASA, then a six-day-old government agency, initiated its first program, Project Mercury. The objective of Mercury was to orbit and retrieve a manned Earth satellite.

October 4, 1959 - The Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 was launched. The spacecraft flew around and passed the moon, transmitting back to Earth the first pictures of the lunar far side on October 7.

October 3, 1962 - An Atlas rocket launched Walter M. Schirra Jr. into orbit aboard the Mercury spacecraft Sigma 7. The flight lasted 9 hours, 13 minutes. Schirra allowed the spacecraft to drift for most of the flight in order to conserve fuel for the maneuvering thrusters. The flight was declared a piloting success because Schirra was able to maneuver the spacecraft to a splash-down landing just 5 miles from the planned target coordinates in the Pacific Ocean.

October 12, 1964 - The Soviet spacecraft Voskhod 1 was launched, achieving the first 3-man orbital flight, with cosmonauts Vladimir M. Komarov, Konstantin P. Feoktistov and Boris B. Yegorov. This was also the first flight without space suits. The mission lasted 24 hours and 17 minutes, with the spacecraft returning safely to Earth on October 13.

October 11, 1968 - A Saturn 1B rocket launched the Apollo 7 spacecraft with astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham. This was ths first piloted flight of the Apollo program. The crew was in orbit for 260 hours 9 minutes. The returned safely to Earth on October 22.

October 11, 1969 - The Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 6 was launched with cosmonauts Georgi S. Shonin and Valery N. Kubasov. On October 12 they were joined by the Soyuz 7 spacecraft with cosmonauts Anatoly V. Flipchenko, Vladislav N. Volkov, and Viktor V. Gorbatko. On October 13 they were joined by the Soyuz 8 spacecraft with cosmonauts Vladimir A. Shatalov and Aleksei S. Yeliseyev. This was the first time three spacecraft and seven crew members orbited the Earth at one time. The crews performed space lab construction tests. The Soyuz 6 crew performed the first welding of metals in space. The Soyuz 6 crew returned safely to Earth on October 16, the Soyuz 7 crew returned on Oct 17 and the Soyuz 8 crew returned on Oct 18.

October 16, 1975 - The U.S. weather satellite GOES 1 was launched into Earth orbit. GOES 1 was the first weather satellite to photograph a complete disk of the Earth every 30 minutes from geosynchronous orbit.

October 30, 1981 - The Soviet spacecraft Venera 13 was launched. The spacecraft landed on Venus on March 1, 1982. Venera 13 took the first X-ray fluorescence analysis of the planet's surface. It transmitted data to Earth for 2 hours and 7 minutes before it was destroyed by the planet's atmospheric pressure.

October 5, 1984 - The Space Shuttle Challenger (41-G) was launched with the first 7-person crew: Robert L. Crippen, Jon A. McBride, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Sally K. Ride, Marc Garneau, David C. Lesstma, and Paul D. Scully-Power. The Challenger returned to Earth on October 13.

October 8, 1985 - A Draconid meteor shower was seen with an estimated rate of 400 per hour. The size of the shower came as a surprise to astronomers.

October 18, 1989 - The Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-34) was launched with astronauts Donald E. Williams, Michael J. McCulley, Shannon W. Lucid, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, and Ellen S. Baker. In addition to other mission activities, the crew launched, on October 18, the Galileo spacecraft on its mission to Jupiter. The Atlantis crew returned safely to Earth on October 23. Galileo used Earth's gravity to propel it toward Jupiter, encountering Venus in February of 1991. Galileo took close-up images of Comet Shoemaker-Levy as the pieces impacted Jupiter's upper cloud layer in July of 1994. Galileo encountered Jupiter on December 7, 1995 and released a probe into the Jovian atmosphere.

October 6, 1990 - The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-41) was launched with astronauts Richard N. Richards, Robert D. Cabana, Bruce E. Meinick, William M. Shepherd, and Thomas D. Akers. The crew launched the Ulysses spacecraft to investigate interstellar space and the Sun. The Discovery crew returned safely to Earth on October 10.

October 9, 1992 - A meteorite weighing 27 pounds slammed into the trunk portion of a red 1980 Chevy Malibu then owned by Michelle Knapp in Peekskill, New York. The meteorite was probably related to a spectacular meteor that was seen traveling north-northeast over neighboring states. Following the event, the car was purchased by a rock collector and became an attraction at national rock and meteorite conventions.

October 23, 1995 - An unmanned Conestoga rocket whose satellite contained 14 scientific experiments exploded 45 seconds after blast-off from a NASA facility in Virginia.

October 15, 1997 - A Titan IV rocket launched the Cassini spacecraft on its mission to Saturn. Cassini flew passed Venus in April 1998 and June 1999, and passed Earth in August 1999. Cassini will also fly passed Jupiter in December 2000. These "swingbys" allow Cassini to use the gravity of the planets to propel it toward Saturn. Cassini will study Saturn's atmosphere, its rings, and its moons. A probe, named Huygens, will land on the largest moon, Titan. Cassini will reach Saturn in 2004.

October 8, 1998 - A Draconid meteor shower was seen over Japan and China, with Europe witnessing the tail end of the activity. The shower peaked between 13:00 and 14:00 UT with an estimated rate greater than 500 per hour.

October 28, 1999 - A Russian Proton rocket carrying a communications satellite crashed shortly after take-off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.


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

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