Launched 06:40 local time. Reached 144.4 km. Carried Density, pressure, temperature, composition, cosmic and solar radiation (Naval Research Lab) experiments for Signal Corps Engineering Lab, University of Michigan.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a message to Congress, proposed the establishment of a National Aeronautics and Space Agency into which the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics would be absorbed. The new agency would conduct the civilian space program through research in its own facilities or by contract and would also perform military research required by DOD. Projects primarily military in character would remain the responsibility of DOD. Additional Details: Eisenhower proposed the establishment of NASA. References: 16 .
A preliminary briefing was conducted for prospective bidders on construction of the worldwide tracking range for Project Mercury. This meeting was attended by representatives from 20 companies. At this time the preliminary plan called for an orbital mission tracking network of 14 sites. Contacts had not been made with the governments of any of the proposed locations with the exception of Bermuda. It was planned that all the sites would have facilities for telemetry, voice communications with the pilot, and teletype (wire or radio) communications with centers in the United States for primary tracking. The tracking sites would provide the control center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with trajectory predictions; landing-area predictions; and vehicle, systems, and pilot conditions. References: 483 .
Seven astronauts were selected for Project Mercury after a series of the most rigorous physical and mental tests ever given to U.S. test pilots. Chosen from a field of 110 candidates, the finalists were all qualified test pilots: Capts. Leroy G. Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Donald K. Slayton, (USAF); Lt. Malcolm S. Carpenter, Lt. Comdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Lt. Comdr. Watler M. Schirra, Jr. (USN); and Lt. Col. John H. Glenn (USMC). References: 17 .
NASA announced the signing of a contract with McDonnell for the Gemini spacecraft. Final negotiations had been completed February 27, 1963. Estimated cost was $428,780,062 with a fixed fee of $27,870,000 for a total estimated cost-plus-fixed-fee of $456,650,062. NASA Headquarters spent two weeks on a detailed review of the contract before signing. Development of the spacecraft had begun in December 1961 under a preliminary letter contract which the final contract superseded. The contract call for a 13 flight-rated spacecraft, 12 to be used in space flight, one to be used for ground testing. In addition, McDonnell would provide two mission simulator trainers, a docking simulator trainer, five boilerplates, and three static articles for vibration and impact ground tests.
Luna 4 was the second attempted Soviet unmanned lunar soft lander probe. The spacecraft, rather than being sent on a straight trajectory toward the Moon, was placed first in an earth parking orbit. The rocket stage then reignited and put the spaccecraft on a translunar trajectory. Failure of Luna 4 to make a required midcourse correction resulted in it missing the Moon by 8336.2 km on April 6, at 4:26 a.m. Moscow time. It thereafter entered a barycentric Earth orbit. The Soviet news agency, Tass, reported that data had been received from the spacecraft throughout its flight and that radio communication would continue for a few more days. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 16 , 64 , 296 .
NASA Hq. confirmed oral instructions to MSC and KSC to use 60 percent oxygen and 40 percent nitrogen to pressurize the Apollo CM cabin in prelaunch checkout operations and during manned chamber testing, as recommended by the Design Certification Review Board on March 7 and confirmed by the NASA Administrator on March 12. This instruction was applicable to flight and test articles at all locations. References: 16 .
Mars probe intended to enter Martian orbit and comprehensively photograph Mars, together with a landing probe. Further Mars launches during the 1969 launch window were cancelled when this attempt resulted in a major accident, which almost wiped out all of the leaders of the space industry. The Proton rocket lifted off, but one engine failed. The vehicle flew at an altitude of 50 m horizontally, finally exploding only a few dozen metres from the launch pad, spraying the whole complex with poisonous propellants that were quickly spread by the wind. Everyone took off in their autos to escape, but which direction to go? Finally it was decided that the launch point was the safest, but this proved to be even more dangerous - the second stage was still intact and liable to explode. The contamination was so bad that there was no way to clean up - the only possibility was just had to wait for rain to wash it away. This didn't happen until the Mars launch window was closed, so the first such probe was not put into space until 1971. References: 5 , 67 , 118 , 274 , 296 , 445 .
Replaced Molniya 1-52. Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio communications system in the USSR; transmission of USSR Central Television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
Time 20 minutes. References: 81 .
TV, business communications for Nordic countries; 5 deg E. High power telecommunications satellite with a dual mission; direct TV broadcasting and data communications. Four active transponders with two redundant; power output 200 W per transponder. Coverage area - East Nordic coverage zone as defined by ITU (WARC -77). Mission period estimated to be 6 to 8 years. Position 5 deg E. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
Stationed at 103 deg E. Transmission of Russian radio and television programmes in Siberia and the solution of communications problems in Russia's eastern regions. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 67 , 111 , 274 .
NASA's third Small Explorer, the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE), was successfully launched by an Orbital Pegasus XL. The L-1011 carrier aircraft took off from Vandenberg and dropped the Pegasus over the Pacific Ocean. TRACE, a project led by Lockheed's solar physics group, carried a 30-cm extreme ultraviolet imaging telescope which will study the Sun. The telescope mirrors were made by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. TRACE had an 8.5 arcmin field of view and 1 arcsecond resolution.
Subscale amateur radio model of Sputnik 1. Reentered July 29.
Resupply craft docked uneventfully with the Mir complex two days later. It also delivered the Sputnik-99 amateur radio satellite, launched into orbit by hand by the cosmonauts during an EVA on April 16. Still hopeful of finding a backer to pay to keep Mir in space, Progress M-41 began a series of engine burns in late April to raise the orbit of the station. It finally undocked from Mir at 11:20 GMT on July 17 and was deorbited over the Pacific later the same day.
ISRO's Insat 2E was placed in geostationary transfer orbit. The Indian-built satellite carried a C and S band communications package. Stationed at 83 deg E.