This Day In History : August 21

1965 United States

Gemini 5 launched into Earth orbit (2 astronauts)

Gemini 5, the third crewed mission of NASA's Gemini program, was launched on August 21, 1965. The spacecraft was crewed by astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. Its primary objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of long-duration spaceflight, lasting eight days, and to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform tasks in weightlessness for extended periods. Gemini 5 completed 120 orbits of the Earth during its mission, testing various systems and conducting scientific experiments.

Also on This Day in History August 21

Discover what happened on August 21 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, August 21
  • 1754 William Murdoch

    Scottish engineer and inventor who created gas lighting

  • 1973 Sergey Brin

    Russian-born American computer scientist and businessman (co-founded Google with Larry Page)

  • 1811 William C. Kelly

    American inventor (pneumatic process of steelmaking)

  • 1660 Hubert Gautier

    French engineer, wrote 1st book on bridge building

  • 1879 Claude Grahame-White

    English aviation pioneer who was the 1st to make a night flight

Deaths on This Day, August 21
  • 2005 Robert Moog

    American businessman who was the pioneer of electronic music and founder of Moog Music

  • 1995 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

    Indian physicist (Nobel Prize 1983 for work on structure and evolution of the stars)

  • 1814 Benjamin Thompson

    American physicist and inventor (Royal Institution of Great Britain)

  • 1836 Claude-Louis Navier

    French engineer and physicist who specialized in mechanics (Navier–Stokes equations)

  • 1947 Ettore Bugatti

    Italian-French automobile designer and manufacturer (Automobiles E. Bugatti)


The Mona Lisa is stolen by a Louvre employee

The most famous theft of works of art in history, when the most famous painting in the world was stolen – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, took place on August 21, 1911. It was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by one of the museum’s employees, named Vincenzo Peruggia.

An eclipse travels across the continental United States

In 2017, a total solar eclipse traveled across the continental United States on August 21st. It was a significant event known as the Great American Eclipse, where the path of totality spanned from Oregon to South Carolina. This rare celestial occurrence captivated millions of people across the country who witnessed either a partial or total eclipse depending on their location along the path.

Jarvis Island is discovered by the crew of the ship, Eliza Frances

Jarvis Island was first discovered on August 21, 1821, by Captain Brown of the British ship Eliza Frances. This uninhabited island is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is known for its unique wildlife and coral reefs.

Hawaii becomes the 50th US state

Hawaii officially became the 50th state of the United States on August 21, 1959, following a referendum in which over 90% of Hawaiian voters favored statehood. After years of territorial status, Hawaii was finally admitted to the Union as a state, with Honolulu as its capital.
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