This Day in Geek History: July 20
The Ford Motor Company ships its first car.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike is elected the Prime Minister of Ceylon, becoming the world’s first elected female head of state.
Two of Polaris missiles are successfully launched for the first time from a submerged submarine, the USS George Washington off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The missile’s target was more than 1,100 miles away. The Polaris has a designed range of 1,500 nautical miles and is capable of being launched when the submarine is hidden far below the surface. The George Washington was the first Fleet Balistic Missile submarine. Fitted with sixteen tubes for Polaris A1 missiles, the submarine was commissioned on December 30th 1959 and will be decommissioned on January 24th 1985.
The USSR recovers two dogs, the first living organisms to successfully return from space alive.
Gemini 10 becomes the first spacecraft in history to make multiple rendezvous with other spacecrafts while in orbit, the Agena 10 and Agena 8.
Apollo 11 lands on the Moon at 09:18 GMT/4:18 EDT on the Sea of Tranquillity and transmits the message, “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed…” Six and a half hours later, astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the Moon, followed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. As Armstrong steps onto the lunar surface at 10:56 ET, he proclaims, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Across the globe, nearly 700 million television viewers witness the event as it happens. The astronauts will spend 21.5 hours on the lunar surface, 2.5 hours of which was spent outside their lunar excursion module as millions watch from the Earth. Before returning to the command module, the astronauts leave behind a plaque inscribed with the words: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind.” The Apollo 11 was comprised of many technologies manufactured by Texas Instruments (TI) and the Hewlett-Packard Company (HP).
The NASA Viking 1 Lander, launched on August 20, 1975, makes its successful, first-ever landing on Mars at Chryse Planitia, and begins transmitting pictures. Later, a robot arm that can scoop up samples of material and deposit them into on-board experiments, will investigate hints of life on Mars. Both weathered top soil and deeper soil samples will be tested. Although the Viking probes will find no evidence of life on Mars, it will return detailed pictures of the planet and information about the soil’s composition