This Day In History : September 12

1992 United States

First African American Woman goes into Space

Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space on September 12, 1992. She flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-47, making history as both the first African American woman and the first woman of color to travel into space. Dr. Jemison's achievements continue to inspire and pave the way for diversity in space exploration and STEM fields.

Also on This Day in History September 12

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

Births on This Day, September 12
  • 1812 Richard March Hoe

    American engineer and businessman who invented the Rotary printing press

  • 1892 Alfred A. Knopf, Sr.

    American publisher, founded Alfred A. Knopf Inc.

  • 1725 Guillaume Le Gentil

    French astronomer who discovered M32 (Andromeda’s satellite galaxy), M36 and M38 (two open clusters of the constellation Auriga) and M8 (Lagoon nebula)

  • 1897 Irène Joliot-Curie

    French chemist and physicist (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1935) and daughter of Marie Curie

  • 1945 Richard Thaler

    American economist (nudge theory, Nobel Prize 2017)

Deaths on This Day, September 12
  • 2009 Norman Borlaug

    American agronomist (Green revolution - Nobel Peace Prize 1970)

  • 1994 Boris Borisovich Yegorov

    Soviet physician who was the first practicing doctor in space, and cosmonaut (Voskhod I)

  • 1813 Edmund Randolph

    US Founding Father, 1st US Attorney General (1789-94) and 2nd US Secretary of State (1794-95)

  • 1927 Sarah Frances Whiting

    American physicist and astronomer

  • 1963 Mervyn A. Ellison

    British astronomer (spectrohelioscope)


Switzerland as a federal state

A new constitution marked the establishment of Switzerland as a federal state on September 12, 1848. This constitution, known as the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, reorganized Switzerland's political structure and established it as a federal state with a central government and cantonal (state-level) autonomy. 

Salisbury, Rhodesia founded

Salisbury, now known as Harare, was founded in 1890 in what was then British South Africa. It was named after Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister at the time. Harare became the capital of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe after gaining independence from Britain in 1980.

The Soviet Union launches Lunik II at the moon

The Soviet Union launched Lunik 2 (later renamed Luna 2)  at the Moon on September 12, 1959. Luna 2 was the second spacecraft in the Luna program and the first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon. Its impact on the lunar surface provided valuable data on the Moon's composition and confirmed the feasibility of landing spacecraft on celestial bodies.

The Soviet Union launches the Luna 16

The Soviet Union launched Luna 16 on September 12, 1970. Luna 16 was an unmanned space mission that successfully landed on the Moon, collected lunar soil samples, and returned them to Earth. This mission demonstrated Soviet capabilities in robotic lunar exploration and contributed to scientific understanding of the Moon's composition.
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