October's Historical Firsts

The Month of October

October 3, 2013



Oct. 1, 1958 NASA formally opens for business. Its first administrator was T. Keith Glennan, the president of Case Institute of Technology and a former member of the Atomic Energy Commission.


Oct. 3, 1967 — The X-15 was launched Oct. 3, 1967. X-15 was the first rocket powered aircraft to reach the edge of outer space. The knowledge retrieved from the X-15s mission helped to develop programs for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo piloted spaceflight programs as well as the Space Shuttle program. The program's final flight was Oct. 24, 1968. To this day, it still holds the official world record of fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft.


Oct. 4, 1905Orville Wright became the first person to fly an airplane more than a half hour. He kept up the Wright Flyer III for 33 minutes and 17 seconds and flew nearly 21 miles. The next day, Wilbur flew 24 miles in 39.5 minutes, and on Oct. 9, he wrote to the Secretary of War, offering to sell the world’s first practical airplane.


Oct. 11-22, 1968Apollo 7  launches October 11,, 1968. Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the U.S. Apollo space program and the first manned U.S. space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew during a launch pad test in ’67. Apollo 1 was to have been the first manned mission. The crew, including commander Walter Schirra, command module pilot Donn Eisele and lunar module pilot R. Walter Cunningham, also became the first astronauts to drink coffee in space and experience head colds, as well as the first to have their mission broadcast live on network television. Apollo 7 landed on October 22, 1968.


Oct. 14, 1947Capt. Charles E. Yeager, U.S. Air Force, became the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager flew the Bell X-1 rocket-powered research plane, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife, faster than the speed of sound at Muroc Air Force Base, Calif.