On This Day in Space! April 19, 1971: World’s 1st space station launches into orbit

On April 19, 1971, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first space station, Salyut 1.

This space station was a modified version of the Soviet Union’s Almaz space station, which was part of a highly classified military program and was still under development at the time.

After NASA managed to put astronauts on the moon, the Soviet Union decided that its next big feat in the Space Race would be to put a crewed space station in orbit.

The first crew to visit Salyut 1 in orbit launched just four days after the space station did. However, that crew had some technical problems while trying to dock with the space station in their Soyuz spacecraft, so they went back home without ever actually entering the station.

Another crew launched two months later, and after a successful docking, they spent 23 days aboard the station.

Source: https://www.space.com/39251-on-this-day-in-space.html

On This Day in Space! April 11, 1960: ‘Project Ozma’ begins search for alien life

On April 11, 1960, astronomers began the first scientific experiment that would search for extraterrestrial life.

Known as Project Ozma, this experiment looked for interstellar radio transmissions coming from other star systems. This was the first time that radio astronomy was used to look for aliens. The effort was led by an astronomer named Frank Drake at Cornell University. He used an 85-foot telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia to check out two nearby stars called Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. He first pointed the telescope at Tau Ceti, but he didn’t detect any signals. 

When he pointed the telescope at Epsilon Eridani, he did see a signal, but it turned out to be a false alarm. He later found out that the signal was created by military radar equipment and was definitely not aliens.

Source: https://www.space.com/39251-on-this-day-in-space.html