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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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Who was the first human to sleep - perchance to dream - on the Moon?

Incidentally I don't mean "on the lunar surface, asleep laying on the surface of the moon" :) So (A) who (if anyone) was the first human to actually be asleep (that is to say, presumably inside the ...
Fattie's user avatar
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61 votes
6 answers
11k views

When was Newton "not good enough" for spaceflight; first use and first absolute requirement for relativistic corrections?

Concepts in Special Relativity (1905) and of General relativity (first developed between 1907 and 1915) substantially predated spaceflight; they were well known and had been tested well before objects ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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 ...
Hans's user avatar
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26 votes
1 answer
4k views

When was it publicly revealed that a KH-11 spy satellite took pictures of the first Shuttle flight?

Even before the first Shuttle flight, NASA was already concerned about possible damage during liftoff. They had arranged for a KH-11 spy satellite to photograph the shuttle in orbit. The operation ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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 ...
user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

First call to the moon 1969

During the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, there was a phone call where the POTUS at that time, Richard Nixon, was able to speak to astronauts Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin. How was this possible?
MarO's user avatar
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22 votes
2 answers
4k views

What was the first programming language in space?

Sputnik 1 was the first satellite in space. Did it have a programming language on board or was it purely analog? in 1949 Von Neumann released the language Short Code. Fortran was invented in 1957. ...
CodingMatters's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
4k views

What electronic game was first to be played in space?

Analogously to What card or board game was first played in space? I'd like to ask what electronic game was first to be played in space. It could be a handheld dedicated game or something running on a ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
694 views

Was Jules Verne the first to propose the retro-rocket concept?

In his novels 'From the Earth to the Moon', and 'Around the Moon', Jules Verne writes about a set of rockets fitted to the spacecraft he imagined, that were intended to be fired in order to slow down ...
xxavier's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was Alexander Gerst the first man to have bare skin exposed to the vacuum of space and live?

On August 30, 2018, a hole was found in the Soyuz Orbital Module on the ISS. Astronaut Alexander Gerst initially plugged it with his thumb, meaning a part of his bare skin touched space. I can't find ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
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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?
uhoh's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why did the USA fail to be the first rocket power? [closed]

This question is more on the history side. What I want to know is what the differences between the USA and Germany before 1945 were that led to the States falling behind in space technology. The ...
Deer Hunter's user avatar
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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. ...
Nate Barbettini's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Who was the first person to touch the moon rocks?

This might be a stupid question, but I can't find and don't know the answer: Everyone knows that Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin were the first men to land on/ walk on the moon. But were they ...
Coomie's user avatar
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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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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 )
Ashvin's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
1k views

What was the first time a "re-used booster" was used to put a payload into orbit?

In the excitement about SpaceX's Falcon recovery and relaunch development program, it's often forgotten in articles like this one that reusable spacecraft were in regular use far back in the 20th ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Setsu's user avatar
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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 ...
Sergiy Lenzion's user avatar
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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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' ...
uhoh's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
5k views

What was the first attempt in history for space exploration?

Before the space race or modern technology of 20th century, what was the earliest point in history that space exploration was attempted? If available, I'd love to read the documentation.
John Riselvato's user avatar
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 ...
Mys_721tx's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
541 views

What were the first Soviet spacecraft to use an internal docking tunnel?

The first crew transfer between space vehicles was from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4. It was done outside the spacecraft by Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov. The first U.S. crew transfer was during Apollo ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
1k views

What's the first recorded use of a countdown associated with a rocket launch?

Counting down the seconds leading up to a rocket launch is iconic - certainly it seems that every child knows that after "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" comes "Blast off!" However, the countdown can't always have ...
kgutwin's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
2k views

What was the first rocket to use gimbaled thrust?

A gimbaled thrust system was used on the Space Shuttle, which is easily recognized in the beginning of this launch video. Was this technology first used by jet fighters, or was it first invented for ...
Stu's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was the first proper Two Line Element to be generated?

In this question I describe looking for a TLE for Mercury-Atlas 6, the spacecraft piloted by John Glenn on February 20, 1962. I'll post here the relevant information: While the TLE catalog available ...
uhoh's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why alcohol had been selected as fuel for the first American space rockets?

I was surprised to read that Redstone used 75% ethyl alcohol as a fuel. Looks like this idea was abandoned later, and modern rockets use rectified petroleum or liquid hydrogen instead for burning with ...
Nightrider's user avatar
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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 ...
WaterMolecule's user avatar
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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
818 views

What card or board game was first played in space?

Was it chess, blackjack or some other game that was first played in space?
Owen Berkov's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
5k views

What was the first man made object to leave our solar system?

We have a lot of man made objects flying around the universe. Which one was the first one out of our solar system? How far away from the sun was it when it became "out of the solar system?
James Jenkins's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
265 views

When can we (public) expect to see the first optical images of Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft?

As many of us know, Juno spacecraft achieved orbit of Jupiter yesterday (July 4, 2016). Does anyone have an educated guess on approximately when we might see the first optical images from Juno in ...
iMerchant's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
1 answer
5k views

What was the first man-made object to enter space?

According to this article, the german V-2 rocket from WW2 had a max altitude of 206 km when launched straight up. That's clearly above the 100 km requirement to be considered 'in space.' The V-2 was ...
Travis Bear's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
467 views

What was the first Soviet spacecraft that could recharge its battery it each orbit? Where were the photovoltaic cells made?

Sputnik 1 (/ˈspʌtnɪk, ˈspʊtnɪk/; "Satellite-1", or "PS-1", Простейший Спутник-1 or Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
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?
Woody's user avatar
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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 ...
WhiteLancer64's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
732 views

What was the first practical use of a satellite constellation?

If I loosely define "constellation" here as a group of earth satellites where different ones are visible at different times, and you need all or most of them to get round-the-clock coverage, some ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
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-...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was the first animal sent into space?

I know that cats, dogs, apes, guinea pigs, and a few other animals and insects have been sent into outer space. But what was the first animal which has been sent into space (or better: into “orbit”)? ...
cHiMp's user avatar
  • 173
7 votes
2 answers
604 views

What was the first rocket with de Laval (convergent-divergent) nozzle to fly?

Rocket engine Wikipedia article states that Goddard was the first to use a De Laval nozzle on a solid-propellant (gunpowder) rocket engine, doubling the thrust and increasing the efficiency by a ...
Sergiy Lenzion's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
912 views

What was the first large rocket to use APCP solid fuel?

I'm surprised wikipedia doesn't have a history section for its APCP article. If I'm not mistaken, early solid rockets used something other than APCP, and really really early solid rockets used black ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 4,596
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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
2 answers
278 views

History of multiple-payload launches?

Another question asks why Spirit and Opportunity weren't launched together. My gut response was that multiple-payload launches were less common then than they are today, but I don't actually know if ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
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 ...
Joe Jobs's user avatar
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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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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