Week in History – Engineering Edition May 29 through June 4

1971 – Mariner 9 departs for Mars

On 5/30, 1971, Mariner 9, an unmanned space probe, was launched toward Mars. Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, but only by a slim margin – two soviet space probes reached Mars within the month. Mariner 9 transmitted over 7,000 pictures during the course of its mission.


Photo By NASA – http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1971-051A, Public Domain,


1965 – First American to Walk in Space
Major Edward H White was the first American to walk in space, on June 3, 1965. While he was out in space, an extra thermal glove floated out of the open hatch, becoming one of the first pieces of space debris.


Featured Image – Photo By NASA / James McDivitt – Great Images in NASA Description, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6449912


1876 – First Transcontinental Express train crosses US in 83 hours
The Transcontinental Express arrives in San Francisco on June 4, 1876, 83 hours after leaving New York City. This was the fastest means of transportation across the country that had ever been achieved, spanning 1,907 miles.


Original photograph: John B. Silvis; Digital restoration: DigitalImageServices.com (uploader) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


1859 – Big Ben goes into operation
On May 31, 1859, the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London was finished. The clock’s movement is notorious for its reliability, having been designed by an astronomer and constructed by a clockmaker.


By Diliff (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons