Mariner 2 launched

Mariner 2NASA launches its first interplanetary spacecraft, the unmanned space probe Mariner 2, en route to Venus. During its three-month trip from Earth to Venus, Mariner 2 takes measurements of solar wind, charged particles, and an experiment is included to measure the amount of dust and micrometeoroids between the two planets. The probe briefly loses attitude control several times in flight, but regains proper orientation in each instance.

Discovery under construction

DiscoveryWith NASA anticipating ramping up its launch schedule to more than one shuttle flight per month to meet demand for the vehicle’s unique satellite deployment and retrieval capabilities, construction begins on the third orbiter intended for spaceflight, Space Shuttle Discovery. Construction and checking of the third shuttle takes almost exactly four years, with Discovery’s first liftoff about a year later.

STS-51I

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Discovery lifts off on a mission to deliver three communications satellites to orbit. The triple payload includes SYNCOM IV-4, the Australian AUSSAT-1 satellite, and American Satellite Company’s ASC-1. Discovery is manned on this mission by Commander Joe Engle, Pilot Richard Covey, and mission specialists James van Hoften, John Lounge and William Fisher. The mission lasts one week, and Discovery is able to return home a day early after achieving mission objectives ahead of time.

Juno gets up close and personal with Jupiter

JupiterNASA’s Juno spacecraft completes its first orbit of giant planet Jupiter with an orbit-shaping manever that takes it as close to Jupiter’s cloudtops as 2,600 miles – less than the width of the continental United States – at a speed of over 100,000 miles per hour. Juno obtains the first close-up views of the north and south poles of the planet, revealing a roiling hotbed of storm activity unlike the poles of relatively quiet Saturn. In addition to photos, Juno scans the planet in the infrared and ultraviolet portions of the spectrum. This is scheduled to be Juno’s closest flyby of its entire mission.