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Questions tagged [spaceflight-firsts]

First or earliest instances of a notable event, implementation, or technological achievement related to spaceflight. Use the record tag instead for questions of the class fastest, smallest etc. as these records can be set and broken while firsts never change (in principle)

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14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Which was the first liquid non hypergolic engine to be reignited in space?

Which was the first liquid non hypergolic engine to be reignited in space? ( space = above 100km )
1 vote
0 answers
94 views

What exactly is Part 450 and how will it "streamline the regulatory process for companies requesting both launch and spacecraft reentry licenses"?

CNBC's Astra shares drop 14% after rocket launch attempt aborted and postponed says: Notably, for this launch Astra received the first Federal Aviation Administration license under Part 450 – a new ...
9 votes
4 answers
3k views

Did any astronauts smoke within a spacecraft while in space?

A recent question yielded the image below that appears to show Buzz Aldrin smoking a pipe in space. Is there any confirmation that the contents of the pipe were ignited or was he just posing with it ...
14 votes
2 answers
1k views

Have there ever been cubesats in GEO?

This answer to the question How often do reaction wheels require desaturation, normally? says: One practical example I know of is for a 6U in GEO that is always sun pointed, there's a thruster ...
3 votes
0 answers
192 views

Are there examples of spaceflight equipment being redesigned to remove right hand bias? (To make it less difficult to use left-handed)

Writing First left-handed primate on the Moon? First in space? got me thinking. The first left-handed astronaut may "break a barrier" but not all barrier-breakings result in an improvement ...
2 votes
0 answers
266 views

First instance of a frangible nut in space? Which space-nut was first successfully "franged"?

Wikipedia's Frangible nut begins: Not to be confused with Explosive bolt. The frangible nut is a component used in many industries, but most commonly by NASA[citation needed], to sever mechanical ...
8 votes
1 answer
205 views

First water deluge system?

Does anyone know what the first use of a water deluge system was? I've done some light googling and discovered that the Titan II ICBM rocket silos (first built in 1962) used a water deluge system, but ...
7 votes
1 answer
298 views

How was the Moon's first telescope used? (Apollo 16)

From Gizmodo's There's Poop on the Moon list of things left on the moon: This gold-plated telescope that was the first tool used to make astronomical observations from the surface of another ...
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who was the first to successfully implement on practice ablative heat shield?

Up until Shuttle/Buran era, all manned orbital reentry vehicles used ablative heat shield for reentry (Vostok, Mercury, Voskhod, Gemini, Soyuz, Apollo). This made me curious about who was the first in ...
3 votes
0 answers
58 views

Radio coherent transponders are the foundation of deep space navigation, have optical analogues been used? If so, the furthest distance measured?

Coherent radio transponders receive a signal from Earth containing specially encoded modulation, amplify it and retransmit it back to Earth. Correlating the received signal with the transmitted signal ...
11 votes
2 answers
454 views

How many of these six military "orbital threat" techniques have been demonstrated in a (more or less) publicly recognized way?

If you are having a good day then under no circumstances should you read the US Defense Intelligence Agency's Challenges to Security in Space1 (Information cutoff date, January 2019) linked in Axios' ...
8 votes
1 answer
187 views

Who was the first left handed astronaut (or cosmonaut) to orbit retrograde?

Most astronauts are right handed, and most crewed orbits are prograde. Who was the first retro lefty?
4 votes
2 answers
325 views

What was the first space telescope to produce a 2D image with recognisable features?

I recently learned about the Orbiting Astronomical Observatories (OAO) program, a series of four space telescopes, the first launched already in 1966. Only two made it to orbit and entered operational ...
4 votes
2 answers
349 views

When and what was the first successful photograph of an orbital spacecraft from Earth taken?

Early artificial satellites were tracked by radio and visually by amateurs, scientists and military personnel for various reasons including fun and improving the understanding of orbital dynamics ...
7 votes
1 answer
227 views

When was the first time for each of these USA states that it launched a rocket into orbit?

Only five states and territories had launches that got into orbit: Florida, California, Virginia, Alaska and Marshall Islands But when was the first time for each of those states that a launched ...
7 votes
1 answer
243 views

Has Same Beam Interference (SBI) been used or at least tested at Mars? Are there plans to use it in the next few years?

Question: Has Same Beam Interference (SBI) been used or at least tested at Mars? Are there plans to use it in the next few years? Considering that there's already some orbiters and landers and rovers ...
25 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is it true that Armstrong was not designated as being the first to walk on the moon?

A documentary on Apollo program (I can't remember the name at the moment) stated that Aldrin and not Armstrong was the first astronaut designated to walk on the moon. But after LEM landed, mission ...
0 votes
1 answer
278 views

Has there ever been a dish antenna on a lander? If so, which was the first? How about rovers?

At about 04:49 in Scott Manley's January 30, 2022 video Deep Space Radiation, Black Holes And Other Questions - Episode 14 a painting by the science fiction and ...
0 votes
1 answer
168 views

First use of spacecraft thermal control louvers, doors, pinwheels, or other things that physically actuate either passively or actively?

Below are some examples of Question: What was the first use of spacecraft thermal control louvers, doors, pinwheels, or other things that physically actuate either passively or actively? From this ...
1 vote
0 answers
95 views

Has an aircraft's flight ever been delayed on another planet? If so, who, what, when, where and why exactly?

For the benefit of future readers and our spaceflight-firsts tag: Question: Has an aircraft's flight ever been delayed on another planet? If so, who issued the delay order, what spacecraft's flight ...
2 votes
1 answer
61 views

What was the first spacecraft intentionally placed in a supersynchrous Earth orbit? (period longer than a sidereal day)

Why “super” for supersynchronous orbits? Why not “trans”? and discussions and answers there got me wondering: Question: What was the first spacecraft intentionally placed in a supersynchronous Earth ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

When and why did three-axis stabilization become prominent in geostationary satellites?

Since the very first Sycom 1, geostationary satellites from 1960s to 1980s are cylindrical with solar cells covering the body of the satellite. Such examples include: GOES 1 to 7 AsiaSat 1 and its ...
5 votes
3 answers
475 views

What was the first satellite built with mostly COTS electronics?

Computers and memory, radios, cameras, light sensors, temperature sensors, accelerometers & gyros1, power supplies, power conditioners and converters and battery interfaces can all be put together ...
2 votes
1 answer
132 views

What was the first spacecraft intentionally moved from GEO to the graveyard orbit to die? (just a bit above geosynchronous)

Why “super” for supersynchronous orbits? Why not “trans”? and discussions and answers there got me wondering: Question: What was the first spacecraft intentionally moved from GEO or geosynchronous to ...
6 votes
1 answer
118 views

First multi-pin electrical connection made in vacuum in space? Was it a part of a docking maneuver? Were precautions against cold welding taken?

Wikipedia's Docking and berthing of spacecraft says that The first spacecraft docking was performed between Gemini 8 and an uncrewed Agena Target Vehicle on March 16, 1966. Were multi-pin electrical ...
9 votes
2 answers
442 views

What was the first unplanned "over-the-air" software update of a spacecraft?

From time-to-time spacecraft have had to be rebooted, in one case Voyager 2 mutinied and had to be reprogrammed and in another Opportunity had it's memory "hacked". As far as I know, deep space ...
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

Has DSS-43 ever been used in high power mode (>>20 kW) for an emergency situation?

This answer notes that while most Deep Space Network transmitters are 20 kW of power or less, one dish (DSS-43 in Canberra) is equipped with a transmitter capable of 400 kW. As described in 101, 70-m ...
6 votes
1 answer
105 views

Was Tianwen-1 the first "triple-depl"? (orbiter-deploys-lander-deploys-rover-deploys-selfie cam) What are the highly hierarchical deep space missions?

What are the highly hierarchical deep space mission, those where one thing deploys the next which deploys the next... after leaving cis-lunar space. An example would be Tianwen-1 where a Mars orbiter ...
12 votes
1 answer
3k views

Which launch was the first to use a dogleg maneuver?

Jake Blocker's excellent answer to How does one dogleg from Florida to a sun-synchronous orbit? explains what a dogleg maneuver is, what it's for, what it looks like, and even what a real dog's leg ...
7 votes
4 answers
2k views

Has ion propulsion ever been used in a deep space trajectory correction maneuver proper?

Answer(s) to What types of propulsion are used to adjust an orbit? lead me to wonder if electric propulsion has ever been used for a proper TCM or "trajectory correction maneuver" in deep ...
5 votes
1 answer
787 views

How much did we know about space in 1940? [closed]

I'm reading a thoroughly ridiculous book, Calling Captain Future. It was written as a pulp serial in the 1940's, and is set in a very futuristic 1990. In addition to its many rather entertaining ...
3 votes
0 answers
353 views

Have there been any Foucault pendulum demonstrations beyond Earth?

A Foucault pendulum is a pendulum allowed to oscillate in 2 directions, unlike the pendulum in a clock which is restricted to 1 dimensional oscillation. On Earth, (except at the equator) the plane of ...
3 votes
1 answer
153 views

First hemispherical resonator used in spaceflight? First used on a deep space mission?

This answer to How exactly did Cassini provide rock-solid attitude control to enable high resolution low light imaging? (1.2 arcsec/pixel for narrow angle camera) says: Cassini was the first ...
2 votes
0 answers
127 views

How unusual is it to test vacuum engines at sea level?

How are vacuum optimized engines tested without disintegrating them? is an excellent question as it's attracted quite a number of informative and diverse answers. @Uwe's answer informs us that there ...
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

First left-handed primate on the Moon? First in space?

The various world space agencies' crewed missions have had a long series of firsts, Yuri Gagarin's first being the grandparent of them all. Crewed space missions are recognized worldwide as barrier-...
25 votes
4 answers
5k views

How did Apollo-12 manage to land next to Surveyor-3? First "Space-Tourists"?

To me this looks like the first instance of space-tourism (humor, pls don't add the tag, see exemplary documentation at end of question). The astronauts landed next to Surveyor-3 on purpose, got out ...
2 votes
0 answers
96 views

What was the first "all-civilian" animal spaceflight?

As long as SpaceX is (inaccurately) claiming the "first all-civilian spaceflight", what was the first spaceflight with animals that were all "civilians"? That is, they had never ...
3 votes
1 answer
205 views

How did the first manned flight re-entry happened?

How was Yuri Gagarin brought back to the Earth? Did he do entry himself, by ground control, or by software?
27 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why was InSight planned to launch from Vandenberg?

Why does the InSight Mars lander mission intend to launch from Vandenberg, which does not allow for prograde launches? Will it launch into polar or retrograde orbit? Why? It will do an interplanetary ...
15 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is the supercooled LOX used in Falcon 9 Full Thrust a first?

One of the changes made to the Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust was using supercooled liquid oxygen at 66 K (-340 F) as well as chilled RP-1. I've seen various claims that this is a first in the industry. ...
4 votes
1 answer
322 views

First interplanetary launch from California, why the initial polar orbit? [duplicate]

The Phys.org article Bound for Mars—countdown to first interplanetary launch from California says: In the early morning hours of May 5, millions of Californians will have an opportunity to witness a ...
1 vote
2 answers
269 views

When did ion propulsion first see some serious development efforts?

In the video below at about 01:35 Dr. Marc D. Rayman, Chief Propulsion Engineer, NASA JPL mentions that the first time he had heard about ion propulsion was on the ...
17 votes
2 answers
2k views

Has SpaceX re-used a first stage twice yet?

SpaceX has re-used a first stage once, several times now. Has it re-used the same first stage twice yet? If not, has a particular mission been named that will be the first second re-use?
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is the first Russian satellite still beeping?

The Russians were the first to launch a satellite into space - and it did one thing: beep. It would send out radio waves of nothing but beeps. Still, it was a huge technological achievement. My ...
0 votes
1 answer
125 views

First satellite dispenser?

A rocket upper stage, sometimes called kick stage, is the last stage of a rocket and it is used to deploy satellites in orbit. A space tug is a spacecraft released from the upper stage and it is used ...
2 votes
1 answer
210 views

How high is the first Deep Space Atomic Clock orbiting? Does it receive radiation equivalent to that in deep space?

The Livescience article NASA's Tiny New Atomic Clock Could Let Spacecraft Drive Themselves in Deep Space says: But the radiation still changes the way the electronics operate. And those changes ...
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did Neil Armstrong alone, not NASA, end up coming up with the first words uttered on the moon?

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" (Neil Armstrong) These words are now firmly established in the history of space travel, and at least according to his bio, was concocted ...
4 votes
2 answers
367 views

Was the teletype machine on MIR the first printer in space? Is there a photo, and what frequencies were used?

Seeing the video KK5IM 2021 Shack Tour spotted in The Ham Shack lead me to What paper size do they use on the International Space Station? which begins: We know they have at least one printer on the ...
2 votes
1 answer
178 views

Which mission delivered the first ever complete photograph of the Earth?

So far, I found a picture made from a captured V missile launched in US to image part of the Earth. Which mission did deliver a full view of the Earth from the space? Note. Of course it's ...
2 votes
1 answer
317 views

Will the Falcon Heavy make the first full fairing reuse ever?

The two side boosters will need some kind of aerodynamic protection, which could very much be recovered with the rocket in one piece. Will they be recovered and reused?