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2001: A Space-Time Odyssey (first version)

This page covers major events and dates in the 2001: A Space-Time Odyssey Timeline by SpaceGeek and Michel Van.

Key Dates


November 1: Beginning of Algerian War between the Fourth French Republic, the Algerian Muslim National Front of Liberation (NFL) and the French Algerian Organisation of the Secret Army (OAS).

December 30: Requests for proposal issued for American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft.


November: North American Aviation contracted to build X-15 airframe.


???: Reaction Motors contracted to build X-15 engines.


May 13: Beginning of May Crisis in France. The military threatens an armed takeover of the French Republic if Charles de Gaulle is not recalled to power.

June 1: de Gaulle is appointed Premier by the French Parliament and given emergency powers to rule by decree for six months.

September 28: The French Fifth Republic is created.


June 8: First unpowered glider test of X-15.

September 17: First powered flight of X-15 using XLR11 engines.

November 15: First flight of X-15 using uprated XLR99 engines.


February 13: France detonates its first atomic bomb.

October 24: Successful first launch of Soviet R-16 ICBM.


January 8: French Referendum approves granting independence to Algeria.

January 20: John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States of America.

February: in meeting of COSPAR the europeans came to agreement for join-venture Space program under agency “European Space Development Organization”

February 9: An IL-18 plane carrying the nominal Head of State of the USSR, Leonid Brezhnev, strays into French Algerian airspace. The plane is accidentally shot down by French fighter jets, killing all on board. A major international crisis ensues between the Soviet Union and France. de Gaulle decides to pursue closer relations with NATO to avoid a more serious confrontation with the USSR.

April: The UN releases its report on the shooting down of Brezhnev’s IL-18, blaming lack of communications between the Soviets and French and pilot error.

April 12: Vostok 1 is launched; Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human being in space. Gagarin orbits the Earth once in a 108-minute flight.

April 17: The Bay of Pigs invasion, which is easily defeated by Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

April 21: The Four Generals attempted nuclear coup d'état in France and Algeria.

April 26: The Four Generals surrender and are taken into custody.

May 5th: Launch of Mercury Redstone-3 (Freedom 7) with Alan Shepard on board for fifteen minute suborbital mission. First American manned spaceflight.

May 25: In a speech in front of a special joint sitting of Congress, President Kennedy declares “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

June 1: Khrushchev authorises draft work for a booster and spacecraft capable of landing and returning cosmonauts from the surface of the Moon. Vladimir Chelomei's UR-500/LK-1 and UR-700/LK-700 projects are approved.

The United States begins to deploy Jupiter nuclear missiles in Turkey. To counter the threat, Khrushchev approves the deployment of more operational ICBMs.

June?: Soviet spy Oleg Pennkovsky contacts the CIA about Chelomei’s new rockets, but the CIA ignores the information.

July 21: Mercury Redstone-4 (Liberty Bell 7) launched with Virgil “Gus” Grissom on board. Second suborbital Mercury mission.

August: The Soviet R-16 ICBM becomes operational deployment.

August 6: Vostok 2 launched with Gherman Titov for a one-day mission in Earth orbit.

August 13: East Germany begins constructing the Berlin Wall. Beginning of the Berlin Wall crisis.

August 29: Mercury Redstone-5 (Freedom 7) with John Glenn on board launched. Third and final suborbital Mercury flight.

September: The UN begins its investigation into the shooting down of an airplane carrying the UN Secretary-General over Congo by Belgium mercenaries.

October 27: Standoff between US and Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin. High point of the Berlin Crisis.

November 9: X-15 reaches speed of Mach 6.04.

November 18: U.S. President John F. Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.


???: X-15A-2 damaged in crash landing. The crash prompted immediate talk of improving the X-15 design by adding delta wings and upgraded engines in light of a (baseless) rumour that the Soviet Union was designing its own spaceplane.

January 26: Ranger 3 is launched to study the Moon, it later misses the Moon by 22,000 miles.

February 10: Gary Powers is released by the USSR as part of a prisoner exchange with the United States. Powers had flown a U-2 spyplane over the Soviet Union and was shot down.

February 20: Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7) launched. John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn also becomes the first human to travel to space twice.

April 26, The Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.

May 24: Mercury-Atlas 7 (Aurora 7) launched, carrying Scott Carpenter. Carpenter repeats Glenn's three orbits of Earth before returning safely to Earth.

July 17: Flight No-62 of X-15 sets altitude record of 95.9 kilometres. Pilot Robert M. White qualifies for USAF Astronaut Wings by crossing 80 kilometre threshold. White’s flight would be followed by thirteen other X-15 flights that crossed this barrier.

August 11: Launch of Vostok 3, carrying first two-person crew to Earth orbit (Pavel Popovich, Vladimir Komarov). First flight of Vostok 3KD spacecraft. Komarov conducts the first human spacewalk, which nearly ends in disaster.

August 12: Launch of Vostok 4, three-man crew breaking Vostok 3's record set the day before (Andrian Nikolayev, Boris Volynov, Valery Bykovsky). Vostok 4 passes to within 6.5 kilometers of Vostok 3 on its first orbit.

August 15: Vostok 3 and 4 successfully return to Earth. Popovich and Komarov set four-day spaceflight record.

October 3: Mercury Atlas-8 (Sigma 7) launched with Walter M. Schirra on board. Schirra's nine-hour flight tests the endurance of the Mercury spacecraft; it returns in perfectly operating condition.


Early 1963?: CIA reconnaissance satellites show an increase in activity at Chelomei’s OKB-52 factory and the beginning of further construction work at Baikonur. With President Johnson banning U-2 flights, the CIA looks at other options for its surveillance programs.

May 15: Mercury Atlas-9 (Faith 7) with Gordon Cooper launched on a one-day mission in Earth orbit.

May 16: A series of technical failures forced Cooper to manually land Faith-7. Although successful debate raged within NASA whether to continue the Mercury program or end it and focus on Gemini. Eventually it was decided to continue with Mercury, given with the already long lead the Soviets had on the Americans.

July 20: First Mach 3 test flight of the A-12 Oxcart.

August 5: The Partial Test Ban Treaty is signed by the UK, USA and USSR. The three nations agree to prohibit the testing of nuclear weapons everywhere except for underground.

August 25: Launch of Vostok 5. Valery Bykovsky completes eight-day endurance flight and safely returns on 2 September.

August 27: Launch of Vostok 6, with Valentina Tereshkova, Valentina Ponomaryova and Irina Solovyova. Vostok 6 launched the first women into space for a one-day mission, performing a second rendezvous with Vostok 5 and coming within 4.5 km of each other.

October 10: Mercury Atlas-10 (Freedom 7-II) launched, Alan Shepard's second spaceflight. Unlike Cooper's flight, Shepard's mission is a complete success, returning after spending a day in orbit.

November 14: Mercury Atlas-11 (Liberty Bell 7-II) launched with Virgil “Gus” Grissom, another one-day spaceflight.

November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. His Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is inaugurated as the 36th President of the United States.

December 10: Cancellation of USAF Dyna Soar project.

December 18: Mercury Atlas-12 (Sigma 7-II) launched with Walter Schirra, the final Mercury flight. Schirra returns after another successful day-long flight.

September-December: Vostok 7 flight, with Boris Volynov. Vostok 7 is launched into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of just over 1,000 kilometres. Volynov becomes the first human being to see the Earth as a whole from space, returning after ten days in orbit.


No Date Italy, Netherlands, Belgium Join ESDO, while Australia and Canada cooperate in ESDO

March 30: The democratically-elected President of Brazil, Joa Goulart, is overthrown in a military coup d’etat.

April 4: Vostok 8 launched with Pavel Belyayev and Yevgeni Khrunov. Vostok 8 travelled in the same elliptical orbit that Vostok 7 did, but the mission only lasted a single day. Belayev performed the Soviets’ second spacewalk, with none of the problems Komarov encountered on Vostok 3.

April 4?: Vostok 9 launched several hours after Vostok 8, performing another “rendezvous” without manoeuvring thrusters.

April 12: Gemini 1 (unmanned) launched into Earth orbit. First flight of the Gemini spacecraft.

April 20: President Johnson and Premier Khrushchev announce plans to reduce production of materials for making nuclear weapons.

August 4: Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Two US Navy destroyers are supposedly fired upon by North Vietnamese vessels. As a result the US adopts the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, leading to deeper involvement in the Vietnam War.

October 16: China detonates its first nuclear weapon.

October 14: First Deputy Premier Alexander Shelepin and KGB Chairman Vladimir Semichastny are arrested for conspiring against Khrushchev. Both are sentenced to seventeen years’ imprisonment and barred from any political activity.


???: the Government of Harold Wilson threaten ESDO with British withdrawal, Canada joins ESDO.

January 1: Death of Mao Zedong, leader and founding father of the People’s Republic of China, from apparent natural causes.

January 2?: The “Gang of Four,” consisting of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, Yao Wenyuan, Wang Hongwen and Chunqiao, attempt to seize power after Mao’s death. They are able to seize control of Beijing and its surrounds. Beginning of the “30 Day Crisis.”

February 1?: The Gang of Four are arrested and imprisoned in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) counter-coup. Lin Biao becomes the leader of Communist China.

October: Upgraded X-15 design first dropped from a B-52, reaching speeds of Mach 7-8. Later flights would drop the X-15 from the supersonic XB-70 Valkyrie at speeds already exceeding Mach 3.


???: The A-12 Oxcart enters operation, conducting reconnaissance flights over the OXB-52 facility and Baikonur from Iran and the UK, respectively. Photographs show a big increase in production at OXB-52, and the construction of a massive rocket assembly hall at Baikonur.


December 28: An A-12 crashes during takeoff at RAF Mildenhall in Great Britain, known as “the Mildenhall Forest incident.” All A-12 flights are suspended and the Oxcart is succeeded by the SR-71 Blackbird.


January: SR-71 reconnaissance photos over Baikonur show a gigantic rocket on its way to a launch pad, matching the description of an “organ pipe rocket” given by Oleg Pennkovsky in 1961.

November 30: Harold Wilson delivery a nation wide televised address, about British withdrawal out ESDO and review French British Join-Venture programs. In same time ESDO launch first Europa-1 rocket a test Satellite in polar orbit.

December 3: The cabinet of Harold Wilson resign, after Wilson meeting with British queen and later with french Ambassador


February 3: The Gang of Four are convicted in a show trial of murdering Mao Zedong to take over and the state and other anti-party activities. Jiang and Zhang are sentenced to death, but are later commuted to life imprisonment; Wang is given life imprisonment; and Yao is given twenty years’ imprisonment.

July??: ESDO declare the Europa-1 Rocket Operational.


May 10: An SR-71 Blackbird is lost over the Soviet Union, thanks to a mechanical malfunction.


May 14: Death of Jiang Qing (suicide).


August 3: Death of Wang Hongwen.


April 21: Death of Zhang Chunqiao.

December 23: Death of Yao Wenyuan.

timelines/keydates_uncomplet.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)