april 1961

This Week @ NASA--April 14, 2017

Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope, two of our long-running missions, are providing new details about the ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Hubble’s monitoring of plume activity on Europa and Cassini’s long-term investigation of Enceladus are laying the groundwork for our Europa Clipper mission, slated for launch in the 2020s. Also, Shane Kimbrough returns home after 171 days aboard the Space Station, celebrating the first Space Shuttle mission and more!

Ocean Worlds

Our two long-running missions, Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope,  are providing new details about “ocean worlds,” specifically the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. 

The details – discussed during our April 13 science briefing – included the announcement by the Cassini mission team that a key ingredient for life has been found in the ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. 

Meanwhile, in 2016 Hubble spotted a likely plume erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa at the same location as one in 2014, reenforcing the notion of liquid water erupting from the moon.

These observations are laying the groundwork for our Europa Clipper mission, planned for launch in the 2020s.

Welcome Home, Shane!

Shane Kimbrough and his Russian colleagues returned home safely after spending 173 days in space during his mission to the International Space Station.

Meet the Next Crew to Launch to the Station

Meanwhile, astronaut Peggy Whitson assumed command of the orbital platform and she and her crew await the next occupants of the station, which is slated to launch April 20.

Student Launch Initiative

We’ve announced the preliminary winner of the 2017 Student Launch Initiative that took place near our Marshall Space Fight Center, The final selection will be announced in May. The students showcased advanced aerospace and engineering skills by launching their respective model rockets to an altitude of one mile, deploying an automated parachute and safely landing them for re-use.

Langley’s New Lab

On April 11, a ground-breaking ceremony took place at our Langley Research Center for the new Systems Measurement Laboratory. The 175,000 square-foot facility will be a world class lab for the research and development of new measurement concepts, technologies and systems that will enable the to meet its missions in space explorations, science and aeronautics.

Yuri’s Night

Space fans celebrated Yuri’s Night on April 12 at the Air and Space Museum and around the world. On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagrin became the first person to orbit the Earth.

Celebrating the First Space Shuttle Launch

On April 12, 1981, John Young and Bob Crippin launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-1 a two-day mission, the first of the Shuttle Program’s 30-year history.

Watch the full episode:

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If I am in something I will watch it once…maybe twice. That’s it. It always fascinates me that my best friend has seen Trainspotting maybe fifty times. I can’t do that. And I am sure he’s not alone; I am sure people watch it over and over again. I watch other films that I am not in it countless times, but it’s just your own face sometimes is weird.

Happy Birthday Robert Carlyle! (April, 14th - 1961)

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April 12th 1961: Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

On this day in 1961, the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space. Gagarin, a fighter pilot, was the successful candidate for the mission, being selected by Russian space programme director Sergei Korolev. Russia already had a lead in the Space Race, having launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, which was the first satellite in space. On April 12th 1961, Gagarin left Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft, famously declaring ‘Poyekhali!’ (which means ‘Let’s go!’ in Russian). He spent 108 minutes completing an orbit of the planet. Upon re-entering the atmosphere, Gagarin executed a successful ejection and landed by parachute in rural Russia, to the consternation of locals. Yuri Gagarin became famous worldwide and a Russian hero, being awarded the nation’s highest honour - Hero of the Soviet Union. Gagarin died in 1968 when the training plane he was piloting crashed; his ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin.

“Don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet citizen like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”
- Gagarin to some stunned farmers when he landed