As NASA celebrates its 50th anniversary, we continue our highlights of technology innovations and important moments in NASA history, leading to our special 50th Anniversary Issue in October.

This Month in NASA History: On March 23, 1965, Gemini III, the first manned Gemini mission, launched. On board were Commander Gus Grissom and Pilot John Young. The mission lasted almost five hours and demonstrated manned orbital flight, and evaluated the two-man design. It also demonstrated controlled reentry and landing.

Astronauts John W. Young (left) and GusGrissom are shown during their first inspectionof the Gemini 3 spacecraft aboard theU.S.S. Intrepid following their successfulflight. (NASA-JSC)
On March 2, 1972, NASA launched Pioneer 10, the first manmade object to leave the solar system. This mission was the first to be sent to the outer solar system and the first to investigate the planet Jupiter, after which it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on December 3, 1973, when it reached approximately 200,000 km. The last successful data acquisitions through NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on March 3, 2002, the 30th anniversary of Pioneer 10’s launch, and on April 27, 2002. The spacecraft signal was last detected on Jan. 23, 2003.

Learn more about these events at http://www.nasa.gov/50th.

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