This Day In History : December 6

1958 United States

Pioneer 3 Launched

On December 6, 1958, NASA launched Pioneer 3, a space probe intended for lunar exploration. Despite missing its lunar impact, Pioneer 3 provided crucial data on Earth's radiation belts during its mission. This early NASA mission advanced understanding of space travel and laid groundwork for future lunar exploration efforts.

Also on This Day in History December 6

Discover what happened on December 6 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, December 6
  • 1863 Charles Martin Hall

    American chemist who invented the inexpensive electrolytic method of extracting aluminium from its ore, enabling the wide commercial use of this metal.

  • 1786 Johann Georg Bodmer

    Swiss mechanic and prolific inventor of machine tools and textile-making machinery.

  • 1900 George Eugene Uhlenbeck

    Dutch-American physicist who, with Samuel A. Goudsmit, proposed the concept of electron spin (Jan 1925) - a fourth quantum number which was a half integer.

  • 1742 Nicolas Leblanc

    French surgeon and chemist who in 1790 developed the process for making soda ash (sodium carbonate) from common salt (sodium chloride).

  • 1778 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

    French chemist best known for his work on gases. In 1805, by exploding together given volumes of hydrogen and oxygen, Gay-Lussac discovered they combined in ratio 2:1 by volume to form water.

Deaths on This Day, December 6
  • 1893 Rudolf Wolf

    Swiss astronomer and astronomical historian. Wolf's main contribution was the discovery of the 11 year sunspot cycle and he was the codiscoverer of its connection with geomagnetic activity on Earth.

  • 1799 Joseph Black

    Scottish chemist and physicist who experimented with "fixed air" (carbon dioxide), discovered bicarbonates and identified latent heat.

  • 1867 Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens

    French physiologist who was the first to demonstrate the general functions of the major portions of the vertebrate brain.

  • 1892 Werner von Siemens

    German electrical engineer who played an important role in originating the modern electrical industry.

  • 1957 Robert Esnault-Pelterie

    French engineer and aviator who made important pioneering contributions to the beginnings of heavier-than-air flight in Europe.


First U.S. satellite launch fails

In 1957, America's first attempt at putting a satellite into orbit failed when the Vanguard rocket carrying it blew up on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Finnish Declaration of Independence

On December 6, 1917, Finland declared its independence from Russia, marking the beginning of its sovereignty as a nation. This declaration followed political unrest and the Russian Revolution, leading to Finland's establishment as an independent state.

Spain adopts constitution

On December 6, 1978, Spain adopted its current constitution, officially known as the Spanish Constitution of 1978. This constitution established Spain as a parliamentary democracy and guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms for its citizens, marking a pivotal moment in the country's transition to democracy after the Franco era.

NASA Launches Intelsat V Satellite No. 502

On December 6, 1980, NASA launched Intelsat V satellite, No. 502, as part of the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (Intelsat). This satellite aimed to enhance global communication capabilities, providing crucial telecommunications services worldwide.
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