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Navy in Space Chronology, 1945 - 1981

Related sources:

From the Sea to the Stars: A History of U.S. Navy Space and Space-Related Activities
Vanguard – A History
Astronauts: Chronology of Space Mission Involving U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Crew Members, 1961-April 1981

August 1945 - Lieutenant Robert Haviland and Commander Harvey Hall of the Bureau of Aeronautics were most excited over the potential of satellites. Lieutenant Robert Haviland wrote an internal memorandum proposing that the Navy initiate a program leading to a manned space station. He also developed the Tsiolkovskiy equation relating vehicle velocity to exhaust gas velocity and mass ratio, but referred only to available fuels, with no mention of hydrogen.

3 October 1945 - The Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) established the Navy Committee for Evaluating the Feasibility of Space Rocketry (CEFSR). In November 1945, CEFSR recommended high priority for satellite development and estimated cost between 5 and 8 million dollars.

17 December 1945 - Rocket-Sonde Research Branch was constituted in Naval Research Laboratory to conduct scientific exploration of the upper atmosphere.

December 1945 - Navy BuAer awarded contract to Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at Cal Tech to conduct research whose findings would be used in formulating policy for a projected high-altitude earth satellite vehicle.

16 January 1946 - Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) directed its efforts to the development of a large high-altitude rocket, first called the Neptune, later the Viking.

7 March 1946 - BuAer Committee for Evaluating the Feasibility of Space Rocketry (CSFSR) held joint meeting with Army Air Force (AAF) representatives to work out joint satellite development program based on BuAer proposal. Nothing resulted until a subsequent Project Rand report and Navy CEFSR proposal were presented to RDB, Committee on Guided Missiles, Technical Evaluation Group in March 1948.

8 May 1946 - Chief of Naval Operations directed BuAer to make preliminary investigation of Earth satellite vehicle, such an investigation to "contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of guided missiles, communications, meteorology, and other technical fields with military applications."

24 June 1946 - Office of Naval Research approved program for high-altitude manned flight, Project Helios, based upon concept presented by Jean Piccard in February for using clustered plastic balloons.

During fall of 1946 - Reaction Motors began design and development of rocket engine for the Navy Viking sounding Rocket.

During 1946 - Office of Naval Research contracted with General Mills for construction of a cluster of 100 plastic balloons for high altitude atmosphere research (Project Helios).

7 March 1947 - USN V-2 flight from WSPG took first photograph at 100-mile altitude.

6 September 1947 - German V-2 rocket launched from U.S. carrier Midway in Atlantic tests, exploding prematurely after a 6-mile flight.

28 November 1947 - USS Norton Sound was assigned to Operational Development Force for use as an experimental rocket firing ship, alterations initiated at Naval Shipyard at Philadelphia in March 1948, and completed 1 October 1948.

29 March 1948 - Technical Evaluation Group of the RDB, Guided Missiles Committee, after reviewing Navy CEFSR and USAF Project Rand satellite proposals, stated that "neither the Navy nor the USAF has as yet established either a military or a scientific utility commensurate with the presently cost of a satellite vehicle." However, the question of utility deserves further study and examination.

26 July 1948 - Two separate rockets fired from White Sands, one a V-2 that reached an altitude of 60.3 miles and the other a Navy Aerobee that reached an altitude of 70 miles, carried cameras which photographed the curvature of the earth.

19 October 1948 - Navy released photographs of the earth's surface taken from altitudes between 60 and 70 miles by cameras installed in the rockets.

26 January 1949 - First guided-missile test ship, USS Norton Sound, launched its first missile, a Loon, off Point Mugu, CA.

During March 1949 - Concept of launching of small high-performance rockets suspended from a balloon above most of the atmosphere (later called "Rockoons") developed by Commander Lee Lewis, Commander G. Halvorson, S.F. Singer, and J.A. Van Allen during Aerobee firing cruise of Norton Sound.

3 May 1949 - Naval Research Laboratory's Martin Viking rocket No.1 fired at White Sands Proving Grounds, NM., reached an altitude of 51 1/2 miles and a speed of 2,250 mph; its payload contained upper air pressure and temperature experiments.

10 January 1950 - USS Norton Sound began 19-day firing cruise in Alaskan waters, launching two Aerobees, one Lark, and one Loon. Eight scientists connected with Aerobee upper atmosphere research program and Army, Navy, and Air Force observers made the cruise.

9 February 1950 - Navy's Martin Viking No.3 successfully launched to 50-mile altitude from White Sands.

11 May 1950 - Naval Research Lab, Viking No. 4 research rocket fired from Norton Sound near Jarvis Island in the Pacific, at the intersection of the geographic and geomagnetic equators, obtaining cosmic-ray and pressure-temperature data. It set a 106.4-mile altitude record for an American single-stage rocket and was the first firing of the Viking from Shipboard.

21 November 1950 - Navy Viking No. 5 attained 108-mile altitude.

11 December 1950 - Navy Viking No. 6 in night firing attained only 40-mile altitude.

7 August 1951 - Navy Viking No. 7 rocket set an altitude record for single-stage rockets, climbing to 136 miles and reaching a speed of 4,100 mph, at White Sands, New Mexico. Highest flight of original airframe design.

15 December 1952 - Naval Research Lab, Viking No. 9 research rocket launched to an altitude of 135 miles at White Sands, and Navy revealed that it had launched rockets from balloons in the geomagnetic North Pole area for cosmic ray research.

7 May 1954 - Naval Research Lab, Martin Viking No. 10 a single-stage research rocket, successfully fired to an altitude of 135 miles from White Sands with experimental instrumentation.

24 May 1954 - Naval Research Lab, Martin Viking No. 11 set an altitude record of 158 miles and attained a speed of 4,300 mph in a flight from White Sands, Minnesota.

25 June 1954 - Project Orbiter outlined by informal committee of rocket specialist to launch a satellite into a 200-mile orbit with a Redstone missile and a Loki second stage, that became a joint Army-Navy study project after meeting at Redstone Arsenal on 3 August.

25 July 1954 - Naval Research Lab transmitted the first voice earth-to-earth messages using the moon as a reflector of radio signals. This was later developed into the Communications Moon Relay (CMR) system, which was successfully used in November 1959 when solar disturbances in the ionosphere disrupted conventional high-frequency circuits between Washington and Hawaii.

5 October 1954 - Naval Research Lab Aerobee fired at White Sands took photographs at 100-mile altitude, first picture taken of complete hurricane, off the Texas Gulf Coast.

4 February 1955 - Office of Naval Research Viking No. 12 research rocket attained altitude of 144 miles from White Sands, New Mexico.

9 September 1955 - Department of Defense Advisory Group known as Stewart Committee recommended that proposed Navy satellite programs utilizing Viking and Aerobee-Hi rockets for satellite development proceed, with Chairman Homer J. Stewart submitting a dissenting minority report. The DOD policy council endorsed the majority recommendation. Designated Project Vanguard, this tri-service program was placed under Navy management and DOD monitorship. Objectives of Project Vanguard were to: develop and procure a satellite-launching vehicle, to place at least one satellite in orbit around the earth during IGY, and to accomplish one scientific experiment, and to track flight to demonstrate the satellite actually attained orbit.

November 1955 - Naval Research Laboratory first transmitted transcontinental communications by means of reflecting teletype messages on the moon, from Washington, D.C. to San Diego, CA. A technique repeated on 12 August 1960 using the ECHO I satellite for two-way reflected message transmission.

10 August 1956 - Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Ross (USNR) and L. Lewis (USN) made first stratospheric manned flight on polyethylene balloon, reached 40,000 feet in an open gondola. Flight was part of Office of Naval Research Project Strato-lab.

26 September 1956 - H. Froehlich and K. Long of General Mills flew Office of Naval Research Strato-lab balloon to new altitude record for an open-basket gondola of 42,000 feet.

8 November 1956 - Lieutenant Commander M. L. Lewis (USN) and Malcom D. Ross established a world altitude record in a plastic Strato-lab balloon by ascending to a height of 76,000 feet, taking off near Rapid City, SD., and landing 175 miles away near Kennedy, Nebraska, thus breaking the record of 72,394 feet set in 1935 by O.A. Anderson and A.W. Stevens.

8 December 1956 - First test rocket in the IGY-U.S. satellite program, a one-stage NRL Viking, renamed Vanguard Test Vehicle Zero (TV-0), attained an altitude of 126 miles and a speed of 4,000 mph. Viking No. 13 carried a "minitrack" radio transmitter that was ejected at 50 miles and tracked.

11 April 1957 - U.S.-IGY scientific satellite equipment, including a radio transmitter and instruments for measuring temperature, pressure, cosmic rays, and meteoric dust encounters, was tested above earth for the first time, as a rocket containing this equipment was fired by the Navy to a 126-mile altitude.

19 August 1957 - Stratoscope I, an unmanned balloon-telescope system, launched by General Mills under Navy contract for Princeton University astronomers, which produced first "clear" photos of the sun from 80,000 feet using a 12-inch telescope.

26 September 1957 - 36 Rockoons (balloon-launched rockets) were launched from Navy icebreaker, USS Glacier, in Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic areas ranging from 75 N. To 72 S. Latitude, as part of the U.S.-IGY scientific program headed by James A. Van Allen and Lawrence J. Cahill of the State University of Iowa. These were the first known upper atmosphere rocket soundings in the Antarctic area.

6 December 1957 - Vanguard TV-3 exploded two seconds after lift-off, an event captured on television and provoking a public outcry. As a result, the U.S. Army team led by Wernher von Braun received authorization to proceed with the launch of Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite.

17 March 1958 - Vanguard TV-4, carrying the Vanguard I satellite, was launched sucessfully. Vanguard I achieved the highest altitude of any man-made vehicle to that time, confirmed the Earth’s pear shape, initiated the use of miniature circuits, and was the first satellite to use solar cells as a power source. Vanguard I is still in orbit.

17 April 1958 - Simulated 7-day trip to the moon made by six Navy men in chamber at Philadelphia Naval Base.

6-7 May 1958 - Lieutenant Commander M. Ross (USNR) and A. Mikesell (Naval Observatory) used open gondola Strato-Lab balloon to reach 40,000 feet altitude from Crosby, Minnesota; Mikesell becoming the first astronomer to observe stratosphere, and it was the first flight in which crew remained in stratosphere in open basket after sunset.

26-27 July 1958 - Commanders M. Ross and L. Lewis (USN) reached maximum altitude of 82,000 feet in Strato-Lab High III flight from Crosby, Minnesota which set new unofficial record for stratospheric flight of 34.7 hours.

8 September 1958 - Unmanned Office of Naval Research balloon carried telescope and camera to an altitude of 104,600 feet.

September 1958 - Wearing a Goodrich lightweight full-pressure suit, Lieutenant R.H. Tabor, USN completed a 72 hour simulated flight in pressure chamber at NAS Norfolk, in which he was subjected to altitude conditions as high as 139,000 feet.

28 September 1958 - Nike-Asp test flight from Navy LSD USS Point Defiance near Puka Island reached 800,000 feet, the highest altitude ever reached by ship-launched rocket, in preliminary test of Nike-Asp for use in IGY solar eclipse studies.

12 October 1958 - Naval Research Laboratory rocket firings in Danger Island region of the South Pacific from USS Point Defiance, reached 139, 148, 152, and 150 miles altitude to chart solar spectrum in the ultraviolet and X-ray portion.

5 December 1958 - Modified Navy Terrier rocket with camera launched to an altitude of 86 miles from Wallops Island, providing a 1,000 mile composite photograph of a frontal cloud formation.

During 1958 - Experimental tests for launching satellites via rocket fired from fighter aircraft conducted by Navy Project Pilot.

23 February 1959 - Navy revealed development of steerable molybdenum nozzle used in the solid-propellant Polaris missile.

13 March 1959 - From an altitude of 123 miles, the first ultraviolet photographs of the sun were taken and recorded by an NRL Aerobee-Hi rocket, fired from White Sands.

2 April 1959 - 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: Captains Leroy G. Cooper Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Donald K. Slayton, USAF; Lieutenant Malcolm S. Carpenter, Lieutenant Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Lieutenant Commander Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN; and Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, USMC.

18 June 1959 - Six U.S. Navy enlisted men began an 8-day experiment in a simulated space cabin at the Air Crew Equipment Laboratory of the Naval Air Material Center at the Philadelphia Naval Base.

11 July 1959 - Office of Naval Research, Stratoscope I balloon with a camera was launched from St. Paul, Minnesota to an altitude of 81,250 feet to photograph the sun.

29 July 1959 - Two-stage Nike-Asp fired from Naval Missile Facility, Point Arguello. This was the first of 12 designed to record radiation 150 miles up and also the first ballistic missile fired from this new facility.

4 September 1959 - Office of Naval Research, Skyhook, an unmanned balloon launched from Sioux Falls, South Dakota by Raven Industries, established a new unofficial altitude record of 148,000 feet for unmanned balloon.

28-29 November 1959 - Commander M. Ross and Dr. C.B. Moore flew Office of Naval Research Strato-Lab High IV balloon to an altitude of 81,000 feet, using a 16-inch telescope and spectrograph, and observing water vapor in the atmosphere of the planet Venus.

November 1959 - Prototype Goodrich full-pressure Mercury astronaut suits (modified Navy Mark IV diving suit) were delivered to NASA. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory (NACEL) of Philadelphia fitted the suits and indoctrinated the astronauts on their use.

January 1960 - The first operational military satellite communications system, the Communications Moon Relay (CMR, an earth-moon-earth link that connected Washington, D.C. and Hawaii) was tested when Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke sent a teletype message to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet Admiral Herbert G. Hopwood.

13 April 1960 - Thor-Able-Star launched into orbit Navy Transit I-B launched with navigation payload experiment at Cape Canaveral. Flight demonstrated the first engine restart in space and the feasibility of using satellites as navigational aids.

19 April 1960 - Office of Naval Research Aerobee-Hi made series of X-ray photographs of the sun from an altitude of 130 miles.

April 1960 - Seven Mercury astronauts completed training session at the Navy Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory, Johnsville, Pennsylvania.

28 May 1960 - Office of Naval Research Aerobee-Hi launched to an altitude of 135 miles carrying eight telescopes to map sky by means of ultraviolet light.

22 June 1960 - Thor-Able-Star vehicle successfully launched into orbit Navy Transit II-A, an experimental navigation satellite with two payloads (navigation and radiation measurement. This was the first time that two instrumented satellites have been placed into orbit at the same time.

2 August 1960 - Naval Research Lab Aerobee reached 90 mile altitude from White Sands with instruments to measure ultraviolet spectrum of the sun.

8 September 1960 - Office of Naval Research announced that radio signals had been received from the planet Saturn and a star 3,000 light-years away by the University of Michigan's 85 foot radio telescope.

3 October 1960 - Office of Naval Research Stratoscope balloon carrying equipment to photograph the halo around the sun was launched at 80,000 feet in a series of high-altitude coronascope flights.

9 November 1960 - Naval Research Lab Aerobee-Hi collected data on ultraviolet radiation in the night sky 131 miles above White Sands.

November 1960 - Navy announced development of techniques for low-cost satellite launching facilities from airplanes, barges, ships, or from underwater.

30 November 1960 - Applied Physics Lab Transit III-A was launched but failed to orbit.

21 February 1961 - Applied Physics Lab Transit III-B was launched for navigation and tracking experiments.

5 May 1961 - America's first man in space with launch of Freedom 7 (Mercury 3) piloted by Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., USN. The flight of 15 minutes and 28 seconds reached an altitude of 116.5 statute miles with a velocity of 5,134 mph. USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) recovered Freedom 7.

29 June 1961 - Applied Physics Lab Transit IV-A was launched for fleet navigation trials

15 November 1961 - Applied Physics Lab Transit IV-B was launched for fleet navigation trials

19 December 1962 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-A1 was launched but failed 20 hours after launch

20 Februrary 1962 - First American to make an orbital flight with launch of Friendship 7 (Mercury 6) piloted by Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC. His flight consisted of 3 orbits in 88 minutes at a velocity of 17,544 mph with the highest altitude of 162.2 statute miles. Recovery was by USS Noa (DD-841)

24 May 1962 - Launch of Aurora 7 (Mercury 7) piloted by Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Scott Carpenter, USN. He completed 3 orbits in 4 hours, 56 minutes and reached an altitude up to 166.8 statute miles at 17,549 mph. Recovery was by USS Intrepid (CVS-11).

3 October 1962 - Launch of Sigma 7 (Mercury 8) piloted by Commander Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN. In a mission lasting 9 hours and 13 minutes, he made 6 orbits at an altitude up to 175.8 statute miles at 17,558 mph. Recovery was by USS Kearsarge (CVS-33).

5 April 1963 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-A2 was launched but failed to orbit

16 June 1963 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-A3 was launched but encountered memory problems on orbit and was never operational.

28 June 1963 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-BN-1 was launched and carried a prototype nuclear power source.

28 September 1963 - Applied Physics Lab 5E-1 was launched with a mission of space physics.

5 December 1963 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-BN-2 was launched and became operational with nuclear power source.

21 April 1964 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-BN-3 was launched but failed to orbit.

4 June 1964 - Applied Physics Lab Transit V-C1 was launched with a prototype solar power only.

13 December 1964 - Applied Physics Lab 5E-2 was launched on a space physics mission but failed to orbit.

23 March 1965 - Lieutenant Commander John W. Young, USN, Pilot of Gemini 3 completed 3 orbits in 4 hrs., 53 min. At an altitude of 224 km. Recovery was by USS Intrepid (CVS-11).

24 June 1965 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-4 was launched and became an operational prototype.

21 August 1965 - Launch of Gemini 5, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Charles Conrad Jr., USN. He completed 120 orbits in almost 8 days at an altitude of 349.8 km. Recovery was by USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39).

4 December 1965 - Launch of Gemini 7 piloted by Commander James A. Lovell, Jr., USN. His flight consisted of 206 orbits at an altitude of 327 km and lasted 13 days and 18 hours. Recovery was by USS Wasp (CVS-18).

15 December 1965 - Launch of Gemini 6, Captain Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN, served as Command Pilot. The launch included 16 orbits in 25 hours and 51 minutes. Recovery was by Wasp (CVS-18).

22 December 1965 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-6 was launched and became an operational prototype.

16 March 1966 - Launch of Gemini 8. Former Naval Aviator Neil A. Armstrong flew on this mission that completed 7 orbits in 10 hours and 41 minutes at an altitude of 161.3 nautical miles. Recovery was by USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852).

25 March 1966 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-8 was launched and became an operational prototype.

19 May1966 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-9 was launched and became an operational prototype.

3 June 1966 - Launch of Gemini 9, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Eugene A. Cernan, USN. The mission included 45 orbits over 3 days. Recovery was by Wasp (CVS-18).

18 July 1966 - Launch of Gemini 10, Lieutenant Commander John W. Young, USN, was the command pilot. Mission involved 43 orbits at an altitude of 412.2 nautical miles and lasted 2 days, 22 hours, and 46 minutes. Recovery was by USS Guadacanal (LPH-7)

18 August 1966 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-10 was launched and became an operational prototype.

12 September 1966 - Launch of Gemini 11, piloted by Commander Charles Conrad, Jr., USN, and Lieutenant Commander Richard F. Gordon, Jr., USN. The mission lasted 2 days and 23 hours and included 44 orbits at an altitude of 1368.9 km. Recovery was by Guam (LPH-9).

11 November 1966 - Launch of Gemini 12, Commander James A. Lovell, Jr., USN, was the command pilot. The mission lasted 3 days, 22 hours, and 34 minutes and included 59 orbits at an altitude of 162.7 nautical miles. Recovery was by USS Wasp (CVS-18).

27 January 1967- Fire in Command Module at Cape Kennedy during simulation countdown. Lunar Module Pilot Lieutenant Commander Roger B. Chaffee, USN, and two other crew members died.

14 April 1967 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-12 was launched and became an operational prototype.

18 May 1967 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-13 was launched and became an operational prototype.

25 September 1967 - Applied Physics Lab Transit O-14 was launched and became an operational prototype.

11 October 1968 - Launch of Apollo 7, the first US 3-man space mission, commanded by Captain Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN. Major Ronnie W. Cunningham (USMCR), served as Lunar Module Pilot. The mission lasted 10 days and 20 hours. Recovery was by USS Essex (CVS-9).

21 December 1968 - Launch of Apollo 8, Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., USN, was Command Module Pilot. During the mission, Lovell was one of the first 2 humans to see the far side of the moon. The mission lasted 6 days and 3 hours and included 10 moon orbits. Recovery was by USS Yorktown (CVS-10).

18 May 1969 - Launch of Apollo 10, dress rehearsal for first lunar landing mission. Commander John W. Young, USN, was the Command Module Pilot and Commander Eugene A. Cernan, USN, was the Lunar Module Pilot. During the 8-day mission, the craft made 31 lunar orbits in 61.6 hours. Recovery was by USS Princeton (LPH-5).

20 July 1969 - Former naval aviator Neil A. Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon saying: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong was Commander of Apollo 11 during its 8-day mission that landed on the moons Sea of Tranquility. Recovery was by USS Hornet (CVS-12).

19 November 1969 - Commander Charles Conrad Jr., and Commander Alan L. Bean, USN, walked on the moon in the Ocean of Storms during the Apollo 12 mission. Commander Richard F. Gordon, Jr., USN, Command Module Pilot, remained in lunar orbit. During the mission lasting 10 days, 4 hours, and 36 minutes, the astronauts recovered 243 pounds of lunar material. Recovery was by USS Hornet (CVS-12).

11 April 1970- Launch of Apollo 13, commanded by Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., USN. Former naval aviator, Fred W. Haise, Jr., was the lunar module pilot. While 200,000 miles from earth an explosion on board forced Apollo 13 to circle the moon without landing. Mission duration was 5 days, 22 hours, and 54 minutes. Recovery was by USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2).

5 February 1971, Moonwalk by Captain Alan B. Shepard, Jr., USN, Commander of Apollo 14 and Commander Edgar D. Mitchell, USN, Lunar Module Pilot. During the 9 day mission, 94 pounds of lunar material was collected, and Shepard became the first person to hit a golf ball on the moon. Recovery was by USS New Orleans (LPH-11).

21 April 1972 - Moonwalk on the Descartes Highlands by Captain John W. Young, USN, Commander of Apollo 16. He was the ninth man to walk on the moon. Lieutenant Commander Thomas K. Mattingly II, USN, was Command Module Pilot. During the 11 day, 1 hour, and 51 minute mission, 213 pounds of lunar material was collected. Recovery was by USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14).

2 September 1972 - Applied Physics Lab Triad/TIP-1 was launched as a Transit improvement program (TIP) but failed 60 days after launch.

12 December 1972 - Moonwalk by Captain Eugene A. Cernan, USN, Commander of Apollo 17. Commander Ronald E. Evans, USN, was command module pilot. The mission lasted 12 days, 13 hours, and 52 minutes. Recovery was by USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14).

25 May 1973 - Launch of Skylab 2 mission commanded by Captain Charles Conrad Jr., USN. Commander Joseph P. Kerwin, USN, and Commander Paul J. Weitz, USN, made up the remainder of the all-Navy crew. During the 28-day mission of 404 orbits, the craft rendezvoused with Skylab to make repairs and conduct science experiments. This was the first U.S. manned orbiting space station. Recovery was by USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14).

28 July 1973 - Launch of Skylab 3, the second manned mission to the first US-manned space station, piloted by Major Jack R. Lousma, with Captain Alan L. Bean, USN, as Commander of the mission, and former Navy electronics officer Owen K. Garriott as Science Pilot. The mission lasted 59 days and 11 hours, and included 858 Earth orbits. Recovery by USS New Orleans (LPH-11).

16 November 1973 - Launch of Skylab 4, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel, Gerald P. Carr, USMC. The mission lasted 84 days and included 1,214 Earth orbits. Recovery by USS New Orleans (LPH-11).

July 1974 - The Navy built Timation IIIA satellite, or Navigation Technology Satellite #1 (NTS-1) was launched. It carried the Naval Research Lab rubidium time standard into orbit. This could also be considered the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite as the technology would later be called.

17 July 1975 - Docking in space of the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. This was the first manned space flight conducted jointly by two nations. Former Marine Corps aviator Vance D. Brand was the Apollo Command Module Pilot. The Apollo craft was in space for 9 days and 7.5 hours. Recovery was by New Orleans (LPH-11).

12 October 1975 - Applied Physics Lab TIP-II was launched but never became operational due to solar panel problems.

1 September 1976 - Applied Physics Lab TIP-III was launched but never became operational due to solar panel problems.

June 1977 - The Navy Navigation Technology Satellite #2 (NTS-2), or GPS was launched. It carried a new Naval Research Lab atomic clock based on an ultra-precise cesium standard into orbit.

28 October 1977 - Applied Physics Lab O-11/Transat was launched became an operational prototype and was used as a beacon for range calibration.

1 October 1979 - President Jimmy Carter awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to the following astronauts: former naval aviator Neil Armstrong, Captain Charles Conrad, Jr., USN (RET), Colonel John Glenn, USMC (RET), and Rear Admiral Alan Shepard Jr., USN (RET).

12 April 1981 - Launch of Columbia (STS-1), the first space shuttle flight, commanded by Captain John W. Young, USN (RET) and piloted by LCDR Robert L. Crippen, USN. Mission duration was 2 days, 6 hours, and 20 minutes. Sixteen of the shuttle's heat-shielding silicon tiles were lost and 148 damaged during reentry.

Sources:

Eugene M. Emme, comp.Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960. (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961, pp. 39-49.

Constance McLaughlin Green and Milton Lomask. Vanguard – A History. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1970), 172, 208-09, 218-19, 244.

From the Sea to the Stars, A History of U.S. Navy Space and Space-related Activities, Center for Naval Analysis, June 1997.

Naval Historical Center, http://www.history.mil, Astronauts: Chronology of Space Missions Involving U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Crew Members, 1961-April 1981.


8 January 2008