This Day In History : September 17

1976 United States

NASA unveils the Space Shuttle Enterprise

NASA unveiled the Space Shuttle Enterprise on September 17, 1976. Enterprise was NASA's first space shuttle orbiter, designed for atmospheric test flights and never intended for space travel. It played a crucial role in the development and testing of the space shuttle program, paving the way for subsequent missions with operational shuttles like Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.

Also on This Day in History September 17

Discover what happened on September 17 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, September 17
  • 1905 Merrill W. Chase

    American immunologist who made groundbreaking discoveries in cellular immunology and experimental allergy.

  • 1857 Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

    Russian pioneer space theorist who, while a provincial Russian schoolteacher, worked out many of the principles of space travel.

  • 1826 Bernhard Riemann

    Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann was a German mathematician whose work widely influenced geometry and analysis.

  • 1764 John Goodricke

    English astronomer who was the first to notice that some variable stars were periodic.

  • 1677 Stephen Hales

    English botanist, chemist and physiologist who pioneered the quantitative experimental approach in plant and animal physiology.

Deaths on This Day, September 17
  • 1823 Abraham-Louis Bréguet

    Swiss-French horologist and inventor who became the leading French watchmaker of his time because of his artistic as well as technical skill.

  • 1877 Henry Fox Talbot

    William Henry Fox Talbot was an English inventor, mathematician, chemist, physicist, philologist and Egyptologist who invented the negative-positive photographic process.

  • 1836 Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu

    French botanist who developed the principles that served as the foundation of a natural system of plant classification.

  • 1958 Friedrich Adolf Paneth

    Austrian chemist who improved methods in the 1920's to isolate and measure the minute amounts of helium (as little as 10-10 cm3) slowly released by traces of radioactive elements in rocks.

  • 1702 Olof Rudbeck

    Swedish naturalist who discovered the lymphatic vessels (1650). These resemble the veins and capillaries, but have thinner walls and carry the clear, watery fluid portion of the blood (lymph).


The United States Constitution is signed in Philadelphia

The United States Constitution was signed in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. This historic event laid the foundation for the American government, establishing principles of democracy, separation of powers, and individual rights that continue to shape the nation today.

In 1911, "Cal" (Calbraith Perry) Rogers (1879-1912) took off from Long Island, NY, on the first coast to coast airplane flight

On September 17, 1911, Calbraith Perry "Cal" Rogers took off from Long Island, NY, embarking on the first coast-to-coast airplane flight across the United States. His journey was a milestone in aviation history, demonstrating the feasibility of long-distance flight in the early days of powered aviation.

First U.S. airplane fatality

The first U.S. airplane fatality occurred on September 17, 1908, when Orville Wright crashed during a demonstration flight at Fort Myer, Virginia. This tragic event marked the first recorded airplane fatality in American history.

William Herschel discovers Mimas, satellite of Saturn

On September 17, 1789, the astronomer William Herschel discovered Mimas, one of Saturn's moons, while observing the planet through his telescope. Mimas is the smallest and innermost of Saturn's major moons, with a diameter of about 396 kilometers (246 miles). It is known for its large impact crater, named Herschel after its discoverer, which is approximately 130 kilometers (81 miles) wide and covers a significant portion of Mimas's surface.
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