World Aviation in 1960

16 January
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces the launch and inflation of a 30 metres (100 feet) plastic balloon at high altitude.

21 January
NASA launches a monkey named Miss Sam in a low altitude test of the Mercury escape system. The monkey is recovered unharmed after the escape module is activated immediately after launch.

13 February
France explodes an atomic weapon in the Sahara Desert.

1 April
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launches Tiros 1 (Television and Infa Red Observation Satellite). It carries two TV cameras, which transmit some 22,000 cloud cover pictures. The satellite continues to transmit for 78 days before its batteries are exhausted.

13 April
The United States Navy (USN) launches its Transit 1B navigational satellite. This is the first of a series intended to provide an accurate all-weather navigational reference for United States Navy ballistic missile carrying submarines.

7 May
A Lockheed U2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft over-flying the Soviet Union at an altitude of 43,890 metres (144,000 feet), piloted by Gary Powers, is shot down by a Soviet surface-to-air missile near Sverdlovsk.

11 May
A United States Army Signals Corps balloon ascends to an altitude of 43,890 metres (144,000 feet) before bursting. This is a record breaking night time altitude ascent.

17 May
Khrushchev angrily denounces American spying activities over the Soviet Union, resulting from the Gary Powers incident, causing the break-up of a Summit conference in Paris.

9-28 July
Following the granting of independence to the Belgian Congo the Belgian state airline Sabena begins to airlift 25,711 Belgian nationals back to Europe.

12 August
Major Robert White of the United States Air Force (USAF), pilots the North American X15 research aircraft to an altitude of 41,600 metres (136,500 feet)

12 August
The United States launches a communications satellite named Echo I.

16 August
Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr the United States Air Force (USAF), jumps from a balloon at 31,150 metres (102,200 feet) making a free fall of 25,815 metres (84,700 feet).

19 August
The Soviet Sputnik 5 satellite is launched into earth orbit, carrying two dogs named Belka and Strelka. They complete 18 orbits before being recovered successfully.

1 October
A United States Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radar site at Thule in Greenland becomes operational.

4 November
The United States Air Force discloses that it has used the Boeing C97 as an airborne tactical command post and communications centre.

9 November
The United States Post Office demonstrates the potential of the Echo 1 satellite, using it for high speed transmission of a ‘speed mail’ letter from Washington DC to Newark in New Jersey by bouncing microwave signals from its surface.

6 December
France’s president General de Gaulle announces plans to establish an independent French nuclear strike force.