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Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966: Chronology on Science, Technology, and PolicyAt the opening of the tenth year in the era of man’s mobility in outer space, we can look back on 1966 as offering convincing evidence that the United States had gained great competence. This evidence included: five orbital space flights by ten Gemini astronauts; four lunar missions undertaking the orbiting of and soft landing on the moon; numerous contributions to scientific knowledge by unmanned spacecraft and sounding rockets; and further demonstrations of the practical utility of operational space systems, including weather and communications satellites.

During 1966, a record 100 American spacecraft were placed into earth orbit or on escape trajectories. Thousands of revealing and useful pictures of the earth were taken from space and of the moon from lunar orbit and on its surface. The Gemini program ended with rendezvous and docking experiments and extravehicular activity by the Gemini test pilots as the Apollo R&D test flights leading to the manned lunar mission came into the schedule. Thirty-five major scientific, technological, and operational milestones were cited for 1966 by the President in his Report to the Congress on aeronautical and space activities of the United States. This was one measure
of the American commitment to share in the peaceful exploration of space for all mankind. Another was our support of the final steps toward a United Nations space treaty, undertaken to ensure that the peaceful exploitation of space had juridical basis in international law.

Spectacular as some events in the space venture were in 1966, they nonetheless came to have diminished novelty in the eyes of many laymen. The multitude of both important and unspectacular space activities attained almost an accepted and routine place. This volume, as well as its predecessor chronicles, offers a ready reference on the major as well as the less-well known events. Beyond the welter of documented details on the complex nature of aeronautical and space related events and their impact, this volume helps to provide a better perspective upon today as we contemplate tomorrow. Such intent also serves future historians and analysts who
cannot be unmindful of what is herein presented.

When the Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, it charged NASA with the responsibility to “contribute materially to . . . the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space’’ and to “provide for the widest practical and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and results thereof.” NASA has attempted to do this and to include documentation for the historical record. The relating of NASA history begins with this day-by day chronicle and leads to more specialized studies and histories of the unprecedented task of extending man’s mobility and understanding beyond
his planet. While a chronology cannot in itself serve as a full-fledged history, the size of this annual volume alone is illustrative of the scope and complexity of the historical task yet to be completed as memories fade and the records disappear.
Document ID
Document Type
Special Publication (SP)
Date Acquired
August 3, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1967
Subject Category
Space Sciences
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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