This Month in History-December

November 19, 2013



Dec. 1, 1783 — Professor Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert flew from Paris to Nesles-la-Vallée in a hydrogen-filled balloon, completing the first manned gas balloon flight.

Dec. 2, 1993 — Astronauts Richard O. Covey and Kenneth D. Bowersox piloted Space Shuttle Endeavour on a successful mission to repair the optics of the Hubble Space Telescope  and perform routine servicing on the orbiting observatory.

Dec. 3, 1973 — The American space probe, Pioneer 10, completed the first flyby of Jupiter.

Dec. 7, 1941 — The Japanese launched a surprise air attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After two hours of bombing, more than 2,400 Americans were dead, 21 ships had either been sunk or damaged, and more than 188 U.S. aircraft destroyed. The following day, the U.S. declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II.   7-Cernan_Apollo 17.jpg

Dec. 7-19, 1972  —(right) Apollo 17 was the last of the six Apollo missions to the moon, and the only one to include a scientist-astronaut/geologist Harrison Schmitt as a member of the crew. Schmitt and Eugene Cernan had extended EVAs on the moon — 22 hours, 4 minutes each. 

Dec. 14-23, 1986 —(above) Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, aboard the Voyager, became the first to fly a non-stop, un-refueled fixed-wing aircraft around the world. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

Dec.  15-16, 1965 — During Gemini VI, U.S. astronauts Wally Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford complete the first true space rendezvous by flying within a few feet of Gemini VII.

Dec. 17, 1903 —(below) Wilbur and Orville Wright took turns piloting and monitoring their flying machine in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Orville piloted the first flight that lasted just 12 seconds and 120 feet. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur traveled 852 feet, remaining airborne for 59 seconds. That morning, the brothers became the first people to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine under the complete control of the pilot. 7-WrightFlight.jpg

Above: Orville Wright piloted the first flight ever of a heavier-than-air machine. Photo credit: Daniels, John T., photographer. First Flight, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 1903. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction Number LC-DIG-ppprs-00626.