On This Date

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Nov. 27, 1942: During World War II, the Vichy French navy scuttled its ships and submarines in Toulon to keep them out of the hands of German troops.
 
 
 
 

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Nov. 27, 1962: The first Boeing 727 was rolled out at the company’s Renton Plant, and the first test flight took place.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 27, 1968: A test team began the A-37B Qualitative Spin Test program. The A-37B was the attack version of the T-37 trainer, and was designed for combat in Vietnam, where it flew 165,000 combat sorties with the U.S. Air Force and South Vietnamese.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 27, 1980: Soyuz T-3, carrying three cosmonauts to the Salyut 6 space station, launched.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 27, 2001: A hydrogen atmosphere is discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 28, 1922: Royal Air Force Capt. Cyril Turner gives the first skywriting exhibition in New York City. Turner spelled out “Hello USA. Call Vanderbilt 7200.” Forty-seven thousand people called.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 28, 1943: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin meet at the Tehran Conference in Iran to map out strategy.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 28, 1956: The Ryan X-13 Vertijet made the world’s first jet vertical transition flight. Following a horizontal takeoff, pilot Pete Girard put the test airplane into a vertical hover, and then recovered flying speed for a conventional landing.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 28, 1964: Mariner 4 launched; 1st probe to fly by Mars. The Mariner 4 made its closest approach on July 15, 1965 — and took the first photos of another planet from space. In addition to providing key information about how to safely deliver future missions to the Martian surface, the spacecraft far outlasted its planned eight-month mission. It lasted about three years in solar orbit, continuing long-term studies of the solar wind and making coordinated measurements with the Mariner 5 spacecraft.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 29, 1961: Mercury-Atlas 5 carries a chimp (Enos) to orbit. The flight was an American unmanned spaceflight of the Mercury program. The craft orbited the Earth twice and splashed down about 200 miles south of Bermuda. Enos survived the mission in good condition, although he had removed all of the medical electrodes and the urine collection device from his body.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 29, 1962: Great Britain and France decide to jointly build the Concorde supersonic airliner. The aircraft would make its first flight on March 2, 1969.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 30, 1995: The B-1B was certified to carry and deliver up to 84 Mk 82 “iron” bombs in a combat situation, following the successful completion of Block C, Phase 1, of the bomber’s Conventional Munitions Upgrade Program.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 30, 1995: Official end of Operation Desert Storm. Although combat operations concluded on Feb. 28, 1991, the Operation Desert Storm did not officially end until Nov. 30, 1995. U.S. service members who served in the war from Aug. 2, 1990, to Nov. 30, 1995, were authorized to wear the Southwest Asia Service Medal created by President George H.W. Bush I 1991.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 30, 1999: British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems merge to form BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor and fourth largest aerospace firm in the world.
 
 
 
 
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Nov. 30, 2005: The Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., acquired the McDonnell Douglas YF-15A, S/N 71-0285, the eighth prototype built. It was primarily used for high angle of attack testing early in the program, and was later used to test the new F100-PW-220 engines for the F-15C. The -220 engine introduced single-crystal turbine airfoils, an advanced multi-zone augmentor, an increased airflow fan and a digital electronic engine control system. Later in its career, the aircraft had been assigned to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong FRC) at Edwards where it was used for digital electronic flight and engine control research under the Highly Integrated Digital Electronic Control program. The aircraft was also used to test and evaluate a computerized self-repairing flight control system for the Air Force that detected damaged or failed flight control services.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 1, 1921: The first U.S. helium-filled dirigible, U.S. Navy blimp C-7, made it first flight. The ship was commanded by Lt. Cdr. Ralph F. Wood, assisted by Lt. Cdr. Zachary Lansdowne, Lt. C.E. Bousch, and CMM Farriss. C-7 made several flights from Norfolk, Va., beginning on Dec. 1, including a flight to Washington, D.C., and back.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 1, 1941: Japanese Emperor Hirohito signs declaration of war against the United States and the British Empire. The declaration was not published until Dec. 8, 1941, an hour after Japanese forces attacked U.S. Navy bases at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and British forces in Malaya, Singapore and Hong King.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 1, 1941: U.S. Civil Air Patrol organizes. The Civil Air Patrol was conceived in the late 1930s by aviation advocate Gill Robb Wilson, who foresaw general aviation’s potential to supplement America’s military operations. With the help of New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, in his capacity as then-Director of the Office of Civilian Defense, CAP was created with Administrative Order 9, signed by LaGuardia on Dec. 1, 1941, and published Dec. 8, 1941. The Civil Air Patrol had 90 days to prove themselves to Congress. Maj. Gen. John F. Curry was appointed as the first national commander. During World War II, CAP was seen as a way to use America’s civilian aviation resources to aid the war effort instead of grounding them. The organization assumed many missions including anti-submarine patrol and warfare, border patrols, and courier services. During World War II, CAP’s coastal patrol reportedly flew 24 million miles and sighted 173 enemy U-boats, dropping a total of 82 bombs and depth charges throughout the conflict. Two submarines were reportedly destroyed by CAP aircraft, but later research found there was no basis for this claim. By the end of the war, 68 CAP members had lost their lives in the line of duty. With the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, and creation of the U.S. Air Force, the CAP became the civilian auxiliary of the USAF in 1948, and its incorporating charter declared that it would never again be involved in direct combat activities, but would be of a benevolent nature.
 
 
 
 
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Dec . 1, 1943: At the end of the Tehran Conference, the Big Three (Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt) agree that the invasion of Normandy should take place in May 1944.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 1, 1958: The North American X-15 and the Boeing B-52 launch aircraft were mated for the first time.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 2, 1942: The first flight of the experimental Curtiss canard fighter design, the CW-24B, took place from the dry lakebed at Muroc. The company pilot was J. Harvey Gray. The CW-24B was a swept-wing pusher design with a small canard which was developed into three XP-55 Ascender prototypes. The design lacked stability and never went into production.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 2, 1971: Soviet space probe Mars 3 is first to soft land on Mars. It failed 110 seconds after landing, having transmitted only a gray image with no details.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 2, 1974: A U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School team began a weeklong evaluation of the BD-5J for the Very Low Cost Air Combat Trainer project. The BD-5J was a tiny (12.4 feet long) civilian sport airplane made by Bede Aircraft, Inc. with side-arm control and a fully automatic turbojet engine. Three BD-5Js were studied for supplemental air combat maneuvering training and possible inclusion in the TPS fleet.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 2, 2013: China launches its first moon rover mission with the Yutu rover. Yutu reached the Moon’s surface Dec. 14, 2013. The mission marks the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976 and the first rover to operate there since the Soviet Lunokhod 2 ceased operations on May 11, 1973. The rover encountered operational difficulties toward the end of the second lunar day after surviving and recovering successfully from the first 14-day lunar night. It was unable to move after the end of the second lunar night, though it continued to gather useful information for some months afterward. In October 2015, Yutu set the record for the longest operational period for a rover on the Moon. On July 31, 2016, Yutu ceased to operate after a total of 31 months, well beyond its original expected lifespan of three months. In total, while working on the Moon, the rover was able to travel a distance of 114 meters.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 3, 1973: Pioneer 10 passes Jupiter on the first fly-by of an outer planet. Pioneer 10 (originally designated Pioneer F) is an American space probe, launched in 1972 and weighing 569 pounds, that completed the first mission to the planet Jupiter. Thereafter, Pioneer 10 became the first of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave the Solar System. This space exploration project was conducted by the NASA Ames Research Center in California, and the space probe was manufactured by TRW Inc.
Pioneer 10 was assembled around a hexagonal bus with a 9-foot diameter parabolic dish high-gain antenna, and the spacecraft was spin stabilized around the axis of the antenna. Its electric power was supplied by four radioisotope thermoelectric generators that provided a combined 155 watts at launch.
It was launched on March 2, 1972, by an Atlas-Centaur expendable vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Between July 15, 1972, and Feb. 15, 1973, it became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt. Photography of Jupiter began Nov. 6, 1973, at a range of 16,000,000 miles, and about 500 images were transmitted. The closest approach to the planet was on Dec. 4, 1973, at a range of 82,178 miles. During the mission, the on-board instruments were used to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter, the solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the Solar System and heliosphere. Radio communications were lost with Pioneer 10 on Jan. 23, 2003, because of the loss of electric power for its radio transmitter, with the probe at a distance of 12 billion kilometers (80 AU) from Earth.
 
 
 
 
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Dec.3, 1999: NASA loses radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere. The Mars Polar Lander, also known as the Mars Surveyor ’98 Lander, was a 290-kilogram robotic spacecraft lander launched by NASA on Jan. 3, 1999, to study the soil and climate of Planum Australe, a region near the south pole on Mars. It formed part of the Mars Surveyor ’98 mission. On Dec. 3, 1999, however, after the descent phase was expected to be complete, the lander failed to reestablish communication with Earth. A post-mortem analysis determined the most likely cause of the mishap was premature termination of the engine firing prior to the lander touching the surface, causing it to strike the planet at a high velocity. The total cost of the Mars Polar Lander was $165 million. Spacecraft development cost $110 million, launch was estimated at $45 million, and mission operations at $10 million.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 3, 2005: XCOR Aerospace flew its EZ-Rocket (a rocket-powered Long-EZ aircraft the company built as a demonstrator for its reusable rocket engines) from Calif., to California City, Calif., both in Kern County. Test pilot Dick Rutan made the flight, which lasted about 9 minutes and carried U.S. mail from the post office in Mojave to addresses in California City. This was the first time that a manned, rocket-powered aircraft was used to carry U.S. Mail.
 
 
 
 
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Dec. 3, 2017: Expedition crew members on board the International Space Station hosted the first pizza party in space. From left: NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei; Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryazanskiy and Alexander Misurkin; European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Randy Bresnik show off their pizza creations.
 
 
 

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