This Day In History : December 12

1970 United States

Small Astronomy Satellite Explorer 42 launched

Uhuru was the first satellite launched specifically for the purpose of X-ray astronomy. It was also known as the X-ray Explorer Satellite, SAS-A (for Small Astronomy Satellite A, being first of the three-spacecraft SAS series), SAS 1, or Explorer 42. The observatory was launched on 12 December 1970 into an initial orbit of about 560 km apogee, 520 km perigee, 3 degrees inclination, with a period of 96 minutes.

Also on This Day in History December 12

Discover what happened on December 12 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, December 12
  • 1866 Alfred Werner

    Swiss chemist whose founding research into the structure of coordination compounds brought him the 1913 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

  • 1894 Philip Drinker

    American engineer whose invention of the Iron Lung was a negative pressure ventilator that provided external respiration support.

  • 1900 Maria Telkes

    Maria Telkes was a Hungarian-American biophysicist and inventor who worked on solar energy technologies.

  • 1903 Ross F. Nigrelli

    Ross Franco Nigrelli was an American marine biologist who was an expert on diseases of sea life, and was first to discover virus-induced tumours in fish.

  • 1926 Etienne-Emile Baulieu

    French biochemist and physician who is best known in the field of steroid hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, and receptors.

Deaths on This Day, December 12
  • 1849 Marc Isambard Brunel

    French-English engineer and inventor who solved the historic problem of underwater tunneling.

  • 1840 Jean-Étienne-Dominique Esquirol

    French psychiatrist who was the first to combine precise clinical descriptions with the statistical analysis of mental illnesses.

  • 1685 John Pell

    English mathematician who introduced the division sign (obelus,÷) into England. 

  • 1971 David Sarnoff

    American inventor who was a pioneer in the development of both radio and television broadcasting.

  • 1917 Andrew Taylor Still

    U.S. founder of osteopathy , who believed that remedies for disease are available in the correctly adjusted body, obtained through manipulative techniques and concomitant medical and surgical therapy.


First privately-built satellite

In 1961, the first satellite built by private citizens was put in to orbit. A Thor-Agena rocket, launched to deploy a military Discoverer-36 satellite, also carried the 10-lb OSCAR I .

Amateur radio satellite Oscar 1 launched with military Discoverer 36

OSCAR 1 (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio 1, also known as OSCAR 1) is the first amateur radio satellite launched by Project OSCAR into low Earth orbit. OSCAR I was launched December 12, 1961, by a Thor-DM21 Agena B launcher from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California.

Kenya Gains Independence from British Rule

On December 12, 1963, Kenya achieved independence from British colonial rule, marking a significant milestone in African history. Jomo Kenyatta became the country's first Prime Minister, leading Kenya into a new era of self-governance and national identity.

Adoption of the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement, adopted on December 12, 2015, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a landmark international treaty aiming to combat climate change. It sets out goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting climate resilience, and supporting developing countries in their climate actions.
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