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DECEMBER21

* Apollo 8, first manned flight to the Moon, launched (1968). This photo of the far side of the Moon was taken by the Apollo 8 crew. They named eight craters for the 8 American astronauts who had died.

* OSCAR 4, the amateur radio satellite, launched which is the first high altitude hamsat 1965.

* Soviet Moon probe Luna 13 launched for the Moon. Reaching the Moon in a soft landing 80 hours later, the craft sent back pictures, drove a spike into the Moon's surface, and excavated the surface using a digging arm (1966).

* The USSR launched a Venus probe called Vega 2 which flew by Venus and the Comet Halley (1984). Vega 2's lander dropped onto Venus on the 15th of June, 1985. Vega 2 flew by Halley's Comet on March 9, 1986.

* A longest duration space trip record (366 days) was set by Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov as they returned to Earth from their orbiting space station (1988).

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DECEMBER 22

* Cecil Grace, flying a short biplane, was killed over the English Channel as a result of structural failure of the aircraft (1910.)

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DECEMBER 23

* Giovanni Cassini discovered Saturn's moon Rhea (1672).

Pictured is the surface of Saturn's moon Rhea imaged by Voyager 1. It is the northern polar region of the moon. Rhea is 1500 kilometers (950 miles) in diameter and has the most craters per unit area of any of Saturn's moons. The largest crater is 300 kilometers (190 miles) in diamater.

* Voyager completed a round-the-world flight without refueling (1986). The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986.664 miles.

* First case of space sickness as a result of motion reported (1965).

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DECEMBER 24

* Apollo 8 astronauts wished Earth a Merry Christmas, reading the story of creation from the Bible on Christmas Eve (1968).

* First launch of Ariane 3-stage liquid propellant rocket from Guiana Space Center, Korou (1979).

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DECEMBER 25

* Was Christ really born on this date? Wisemen reported a star led to the birthplace. This may have been the conjunction (alignment) of several planets, but according to astronomy no conjunction occurred on December 25th .

* The Skylab 3 crew (Carr, Pogue, and Gibson) celebrated Christmas in Orbit (1973).

* President Dwight Eisenhower's prerecorded Christmas greeting is broadcast to Earth from orbit by the Score communications satellite (1958).

* Isaac Newton is born (1642).

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DECEMBER 26

* Soyuz 13 landed after completing 128 orbits. Soyuz had extended solar panels for electric power (1973).

* Australia plans to construct its first spaceport (1989).

* Soviets launch into orbit Salyut 4 space station which is the fourth in the Salyut series (1974).

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DECEMBER 27

* Kepler born (1571).

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DECEMBER 28

* The nuclear-powered Soviet satellite, Cosmos 1402, in preparation for descent from orbit, failed to place nuclear reactor in higher (600 mile) parking orbit (1982).

* First time an airplane was able to attain the height of 20,000 feet (1913).

* The famous astronomer Arthur Eddington was born (1882).

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DECEMBER 29

* STS-1 rolled-out onto Launch Complex 39-A in preparation for first Space Shuttle flight (1980).

* The famous inventor Charles Macintosh was born (1766).

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DECEMBER 30

* The first time a comet was photographed from space when the Comet Kohoutek was photographed by the crew of Skylab (1973).

* First rocket of Robert H. Goddard is launched in New Mexico. The rocket reached an altitude of 2,000 feet. Its speed was 500 miles per hour (1930).

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DECEMBER 31

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JANUARY 1


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