Sputnik 1 launched (1957)

posted Saturday, 4 October 2014

The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 83 kg, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. It was launched on this day, at this time in 1957.

STS-51-J Atlantis first flight (1985)

posted Friday, 3 October 2014

Hurricane: First UK nuclear weapon test (1952)

posted Thursday, 2 October 2014

Date: 3 October 1952 (8:00 AM Western Australia Standard Time)
Code name: Hurricane
Type: plutonium fission
Yield: 25 thousand tons of TNT
Location: Monte Bello Islands, Australia

NASA founded (1958)

posted Wednesday, 1 October 2014

NASA became operational on 1 October 1958 — almost exactly one year after the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite.

Rudolph Diesel last seen alive (1913)

posted Monday, 29 September 2014

Rudolph Diesel, of diesel engine fame, was last seen alive around 10:00 PM on 29 September 1913 aboard the steamship Dresden en route from Antwerp to London. Eleven days later the crew of the Coertsen found his decomposed body floating in the North Sea. Circumstances leading to Diesel’s death remain a mystery.

First Chinese Space Walk (2008)

posted Saturday, 27 September 2014

Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang made the nation’s first spacewalk on this day in 2008 floating outside the Shenzhou VII spacecraft for 18 minutes as it orbited the earth. Another astronaut, Liu Boming, briefly poked his head and part of his body out of the module, becoming the second Chinese astronaut to touch outer space, while the third astronaut, Jing Haipeng, stayed behind in the re-entry module.

Zhai ZhigangSource: Xinhua/Associated Press

Luna 16 lands on the earth (1970)

posted Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample to Earth.

The Vela Incident (1979)

posted Monday, 22 September 2014

A double flash characteristic of a nuclear explosion was recorded by the US Department of Defense Vela 6911 satellite in the South Indian Ocean on this day in 1979. No government has officially taken credit for the event, but it is generally thought to have been a joint Israeli-South African test of a low-yield fission bomb.

Further Reading (listed in reverse chronological order, just like a resume):

Do your own independent research. Search for the phrase "South Africa" and the keyword "Nuclear" at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Freedom of Information Act website. It’s not easy to use, but there are a lot of interesting, original documents to peruse in this online archive. Also great for people who don’t like reading a lot since the CIA has a thing for censoring text.

Luna 16 leaves the moon (1970)

posted Sunday, 21 September 2014

Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample to Earth.

AAAS founded (1848)

posted Saturday, 20 September 2014

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (a.k.a. the "Triple A-S") was established on this day in 1848.