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FEBRUARY 1

* Highest air pressure, 31.85 mm Hg, for North America recorded in Alaska (1989).

* Capt. G. E. Price flew Bell Airacobra through flight tests (1940).

* Chance Vought delivered last propeller-driven fighter, the Navy F4U Corsair, the 12,571st built since first one flew in 1940 (1953).

* Army activated the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., to weaponize the Redstone and to develop the Jupiter IRBM (1956).

* Life Sciences Laboratory established by NASA at Ames Research Center to augment, lead, direct, encourage, and coordinate biomedical research related to the space program (1960).

* X-15 (No. 1) flown to 49,780 feet by John B. McKay, NASA test pilot, at Edwards, California (1961).

* USAF Minuteman successful on first test launch from AFMTC, a three-stage solid-propellent ICBM with full guidance, all tested on its first launching (1961).

* The space surveillance system (Spasur) was formally commissioned at the Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Va., under the operational control of the North American Defense Command (1961).

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FEBRUARY 2

* First telecast of a solar eclipse (BBC, 1961).

(The following narrative is paraphrased from "Discovering the Universe," by William J. Kaufmann, III, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1987, p. 22.)

ECLIPSES

Eclipses are considered among the most phenomenal of heavenly happenings. Since the ancients watched in awe as the Moon's disk covered the sunlight in a few minutes, man has been fascinated by both lunar and solar eclipses. By definition, an eclipse is the blocking of all or part of the light from one object onto another. As an example, a "lunar eclipse" happens when the Earth shadows the Moon preventing the Sun's light from striking the Moon, and a "solar eclipse" occurs when the Moon's shadow falls on the Earth blocking most or part of the Sun's light from falling on the Earth. This phenomena (solar eclipse) can only happen when there is an alignment of the Moon, Sun, and Earth at new moon. A "lunar eclipse" can only occur when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun (at full Moon).

We know that new moon and full moon phases occur every 29 1/2 days on average, but eclipses of the Moon and Sun happen much less frequently. The reason for this is that a slight tilt of 5 degress exists between the plane of the Earth's orbit and the plane of the Moon's orbit. Due to this tilt, a new moon and full moon happens when the Moon is not directly aligned with the Earth's orbit, being above or below the plane of the Earth's orbit so that the Sun's light is not affected or shadowed.

* Groundhog Day. Annual search for Punxsutawney Phil, King of the Weather Prophets.

* The NACA recommended to the President, for transmittal to Congress for approval, that the Government acquire basic aeronautical patents (1917).

* President Coolidge signed the Kelly bill authorizing contract air transport of mail (1925).

* NASA-AEC Space Nuclear Propulsion Office invited industry to submit proposals for participation in development of Nerva (nuclear engine for rocket vehicle application), a part of Project Rover initiated in 1955 by USAF-AEC (1961).

* Nomination of James E. Webb to be Administrator of NASA reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (1961).

* Dr. T. Keith Glennan was named consultant to the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (1961).

* NASA announced that it would negotiate with Boeing Co., Chance Vought Corp., and Martin Co., for tanks for five first-stage Saturn launch vehicles. It later announced additional selection of Chrysler Corporation (1961).

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FEBRUARY 3

* Luna 9 made a soft landing on the Moon (1966).

* First untethered flight of a man away from a manned spacecraft occurred during Bruce McCandless' MMU EVA on STS 41B (1984). * Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin in a letter to President Eisenhower stated that the Soviet Union "is ready to examine also the question of the intercontinental rockets if the Western powers are willing to reach agreement to ban atomic and hydrogen weapons, to end tests thereof, and to liquidate foreign military bases in other nations' territories. In that case, an agreement on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes only would unquestionably meet no difficulties (1958)"

* Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology reported that initial data from EXPLORER I showed that cosmic radiation on its orbit did not exceed 12 times the amount on earth (1958).

* At Wright Field, Lt. H. A. Sutton began a series of tests to study the spinning characteristics of planes, for which he was awarded the Mackay Trophy (1928).

* Development of a plane with automatic devices to preset takeoff, flight, and landing, with the pilot doing nothing except monitoring the equipment, disclosed by AAF (1946).

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FEBRUARY 4

* Charles Lindbergh born in Detroit (1902).

* FAA began 6-month test of public reactions to sonic booms (Oklahoma City, 1964).

* Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, born (1916).

* First flight of reseach airplane Douglas D-558-II (No. 1), John Martin of Douglas as pilot. Airplane had both jet and rocket engines and was flown from ground takeoff (1948).

* ONR Viking No. 12 research rocket attained altitude of 144 miles from White Sands (1955).

* President Eisenhower directed James R. Killian, Jr., to head a committee to study and make recommendations on the governmental organization of the Nation's space and missile program (1958).

* Sputnik IV launched into orbit by U.S.S.R., a 7.1-ton payload, but mission of flight was not announced (1961).

* Plans to launch a Japanese Kappa 6 sounding rocket within a year announced by Yugoslavia (1961).

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FEBRUARY 5

* Mariner 10 took first close-range photo of Venus (1974).

* 7 in. of snow fell on San Francisco (1887).

* Navy-sponsored project of developing radio-loop antennas for navigational purposes (1920).

* First civil airline with passenger service, Germany's Deutsche Luftreederei which operated between Berlin, Leipzig, and Weimar (1919).

* Capt. Frank Hawks and O. E. Grubb established new nonstop transcontinental West-East record of 18 hours 22 minutes, in a single-engine Lockheed Air Express, the first practical application of NACA cowling for radial air-cooled engines (1929).

* Bureau of Standards developed photoelectric detector to simplify measurement of height of clouds (1941).

* President Truman directed that production of nuclear weapons continue, following the recommendations of the AEC and the Secretaries of War and Navy (1947).

* Trial firing of IGY Vanguard (TV-3Bu) satellite failed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., 57 seconds after launch (1958).

* Orientation of Tiros II made it impossible to obtain Northern Hemisphere pictures and malfunctions made remote picture taking undesirable, so that use of satellite's cameras was suspended until orbit precession again made Northern Hemisphere pictures possible (1961).

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FEBRUARY 6

* First time a golf ball was hit on the Moon Alan Shepherd on Apollo 14 (1971).

* 54 in. of snow fell on Rhode Island (1978).

* Aeronautical Engine Laboratory transferred from Washington Navy Yard to the Naval Aircraft Factory, establishing the Naval Aircraft Factory as the center of naval aeronautical development (1923).

* Pratt & Whitney produced first Wasp engine, a nine-cylinder radial air-cooled engine of about 400 hp at 1,800 rpm (1926).

* Successful electronic flight control exercised on V-2 launch to a 70-mile altitude at White Sands, N. Mex., by General Electric technicians for Army Ordnance (1948).

* The Senate passed S. Res. 256, creating a Special Committee on Space and Astronautics to frame legislation for a national program of space exploration and development (1958).

* First test launch of USAF Titan ICBM (A-3) from Cape Canaveral (1959).

* NASA Aerobee-Hi successfully reached 96 miles above Wallops Station in test of behavior of liquid hydrogen in zero gravity for Lewis Research Center hydrogen propulsion development (1961).

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FEBRUARY 7

* Bruce McCandless became first human satellite (1984).

* The Joint Army and Navy Technical Aeronautical Board (JAN-TAB) passed resolution on Instrument Standardization in Army and Navy planes for incorporation in general specifications (1918).

* Completion of a 50-hour test of the Lawrance J-1, 200-hp radial air-cooled engine, by the Aeronautical Engine Laboratory, Washington Navy Yard, foreshadowed the successful use of radial engines in naval aircraft (1922).

* The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was established by the DOD, and Roy W. Johnson, a vice president of General Electric Co., was appointed by Secretary of Defense McElroy as its Director. ARPA was placed in charge of the Nation's outer space program (1958).

* X-15 flown to unofficial record 2,275 miles per hour by Maj. Robert White, U.S. Air Force (1960).

* Meeting of NASA and contractor personnel held at NASA headquarters to review Centaur development program (1961).

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FEBRUARY 8

* First college credit course via TV (Milwaukee, 1951).

* Jules Verne born (1828).

* When asked at press conference about U.S. man-in-space plans, President Kennedy stated: "We are very concerned that we do not put a man in space in order to gain some prestige and have the man take a disproportionate risk . . . even if we should come in second in putting a man in space, I will still be satisfied if when we finally put a man in space his chances of survival are as high as I think they must be (1960)."

* NAA delivered X-15 No. 2 with XLR-99 engine to NASA for the initiation of the NASA flight research program (1960).

* NAA delivered X-15 No. 2 with XLR-99 engine to NASA for the initiation of the NASA flight research program (1961).

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FEBRUARY 9

* Apollo 14 splashdown (1971).

* Grant signed law that created Federal Meteorological Service (1870).

* The Department of Space Medicine was established at the School of Aviation Medicine, Randolph AFB, Texas (1949).

* Navy's Martin Viking No. 3 successfully launched to 50-mile altitude from White Sands (1950).

* Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory reported that Earth is a slightly irregular ellipsoid according to new calculations (1960).

* James E. Webb confirmed by the Senate as Administrator of NASA (1960).

* Gen. Thomas D. White, USAF Chief of Staff, ordered space surveillance functions transferred from Air Research and Development Command to the Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., as technology in this field moved from research and development to an operational stage. The ADC established Spadats (space detection and tracking system) (1961).

* Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory reported that Earth is a slightly irregular ellipsoid according to new calculations (1961).

* James E. Webb confirmed by the Senate as Administrator of NASA (1961).

* Gen. Thomas D. White, USAF Chief of Staff, ordered space surveillance functions transferred from Air Research and Development Command to the Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., as technology in this field moved from research and development to an operational stage. The ADC established Spadats (space detection and tracking system) (1961). Click here to return to the calendar page.


FEBRUARY 10

* Comet Halley closest to the Sun (1986). Earlier appearances of Halley's Comet frightened people as shown by this article printed in England in 1680.

* British Hurricane fighter flown from Edinburgh to Northolt, near London, at an average speed of 408.75 mph, J. W. Gillan as pilot (1938).

* Secretary of the Air Force directed that the Air Engineering Development Center be renamed the Arnold Engineering Development Center in honor of the late General of the Air Force, Henry H. Arnold (1950).

* First successful radar returns from Venus (27,530,000 miles away) detected by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory Millstone Hill. It took 1 year to process confirmation of this event (1958).

* Airman 1/C Donald G. Farrell spent the week of February 10-16 in a space-cabin simulator at SAM, Randolph AFB, Texas (1958).

* Voice message sent from Washington to Woomera, Australia, by way of the Moon. NASA Deputy Administrator Dryden spoke on telephone to Goldstone, Calif., which "bounced" it to the deep space instrumentation station at Woomera. The operation was held as part of the official opening ceremony of the deep space instrumentation facility site in Australia (1960).

* First static test of prototype thrust chamber of F-1 engine achieved a thrust of 1,550,000 pounds for a few seconds, at Edwards, California (1961).

* Three-day meeting of Satellite Panel of the World Meteorological Organization concluded at Washington, D.C., minus participation by the Soviet member (1961).

* Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences worked out recommendation that "scientific exploration of the Moon and planets should be clearly stated as the ultimate objective of the U.S. space program for the foreseeable future." This report was submitted to the President on March 31 and was released publicly on August 6 (1961).

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FEBRUARY 11


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