Four months before his address on September 12, 1962, John F. Kennedy delivered a historic speech to congress. He said:
“Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.”
Since then, we’ve seen missions and moon landings along with huge technological advances.
Mark Your Calendars
Ambitious goals were set and the world learned just how much fun could be had by a spaceboy with a guitar. Here are some space moments we think are worth remembering this May.
May 5, 1961
Alan Shepard Jr. was the first American Astronaut to be launched into space aboard a Project Mercury flight, MR-3. The spacecraft was named Freedom 7. The flight lasted 15 minutes and 22 second, staying on a suborbital parabolic trajectory.
Millions watched Shepard, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven, on television. Freedom 7 landed with Alan Shepard Jr. still in the spacecraft, making it the first complete spaceflight by a human according to Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) definitions.
May 12, 2013
Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space. He was also the first to film a music video in space. The music video features a modified version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” David Bowie said the cover of his 1969 song was “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”
It may not mark any technological leaps, but it sure is fun to watch. It also started a conversation around legal implications of publicly performing a copyrighted work while in Earth’s orbit.
May 14, 1973
The United States launched its first orbiting laboratory, Skylab I. Skylab I contained a microgravity lab, a medical lab and an observatory. The space craft proved humans could live and work in outer space for extended periods of time.
Skylab I spent 2,249 days in space, 171 of which it was occupied by astronauts. Skylab I completed 34,981 orbits before it fell back to Earth on July 11, 1979.
May 25, 1961
In a bold and determined speech, President John F. Kennedy proposed the American space objective of putting a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade. A little over eight years later, American astronauts aboard Apollo 11 became the first humans on the moon.
May 29, 1999
After launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 27, Discovery became the first shuttle to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery delivered cargo for outfitting the ISS along with equipment for multiple experiments.
The mission lasted just under ten days, with Discovery landing in Florida on June 3.
May 30, 2020
Nearly a decade since NASA astronauts last launched from American soil, NASA and SpaceX sent two veteran astronauts into space to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Astronauts Robert L. Behnken, 49, and Douglas G. Hurley, 53, were sent to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX rockets were built to be reusable, making space flight significantly less expensive and more sustainable.
This launch was only the fifth time American astronauts have launched aboard a brand new space vehicle. Previous vehicles included Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and the space shuttles. “It’s probably a dream of every test pilot school student to have the opportunity to fly on a brand-new spaceship, and I’m lucky enough to get that opportunity with my good friend here,” Behnken said at a press conference.