July Really Is Space Exploration Month

Tomorrow, July 20th, marks the 46th anniversary of the first landing of humans on the moon.  While the case can be made for April or October being a bigger space month, historically speaking, July is rife with current and past space activity.  Here’s a list (possibly incomplete) of space exploration milestones in July.

Fifty years ago this month, Mariner 4 sent the first pictures of Mars.  July 14th, when New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto, marked the exact date of the 50th anniversary.

In July 1971 crew of Apollo 15 took a lunar rover for its first lunar drive.

In July 1975 Apollo and Soyuz craft docked in orbit, some two decades before the the U.S. and the now former Soviet Union would collaborate in such a way on the Mir space station.

In July 1976 the first Viking lander touched down on Mars.

In July 1977 Voyager 2 arrived at Jupiter.

In July 1997 the Pathfinder arrived on Mars, and the Sojourner rover became the first of many to wander the surface.

In July 2004 Cassini sent back its first images of Saturn’s rings.

In July 2011 the Dawn spacecraft became the first to successfully orbited an asteroid.

And we hopefully remember what’s happened this month already.  I understand how people are frustrated at the lack of humans outside of low Earth orbit.  But when I think back to what we could see and what we knew when I was a small(er) lad, it’s impossible for me not to feel some kind of awe.  Try and do the same, and I hope you end up in the same place.


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