Archive for May 13th, 2009

13
May
09

Spaceship One

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The Ansari X-Prize challenged anyone to build a privately-owned spaceship — one that would actually fly into space.  The spaceship, in order to win the Ansari X-Prize would have to fly into space under its own power, return to Earth, safely land and then within two weeks do it again.  Pictured here is the scale model replica of Spaceship One located at EAA Air Venture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  The actual Spaceship One can be found at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

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On October 4, 2004; Spaceship One, designed by Burt Rutan (President, Scaled Composites) and piloted by Brian Binnie, achieved an altitude of 367,442 feet in the record setting event.

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On Sep 29, 2004 – Pilot Mike Melvill makes the first of two X-Prize competition flights, reaching an altitude of 337,500 feet (63.9 miles).

Oct 4, 2004 – Pilot Brian Binnie makes the second of two X-Prize competition flights, reaching an altitude of 367,442 feet (69.6 miles), winning the $10 million X-Prize. Brian also broke the 42-year old altitude record of 354,200 feet held by the X-15.

For more information see: http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/

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13
May
09

On This Day, May 13: US Declares War on Mexico

May 13, 1846

President Polk declares war on Mexico

On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.

Under the threat of war, the United States had refrained from annexing Texas after the latter won independence from Mexico in 1836. But in 1844, President John Tyler restarted negotiations with the Republic of Texas, culminating with a Treaty of Annexation.
The treaty was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate because it would upset the slave state/free state balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico, which had broken off relations with the United States. But shortly before leaving office and with the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845. Texas was admitted to the union on December 29.
While Mexico didn’t follow through with its threat to declare war, relations between the two nations remained tense over border disputes, and in July 1845, President Polk ordered troops into disputed lands that lay between the Neuces and Rio Grande rivers. In November, Polk sent the diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the U.S. government’s settlement of the claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico and also to make an offer to purchase California and New Mexico. After the mission failed, the U.S. army under Gen. Zachary Taylor advanced to the mouth of the Rio Grande, the river that the state of Texas claimed as its southern boundary.

Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces River to the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered the advance of Taylor’s army an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of U.S. soil, and on May 11, 1846, asked Congress to declare war on Mexico, which it did two days later.

After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary of Texas, and California and New Mexico were ceded to the United States. In return, the United States paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico.

“President Polk declares war on Mexico,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=58864 [accessed May 13, 2009]

On This Day

1607 – Jamestown, Virginia, was settled as a colony of England.

1648 – Margaret Jones of Plymouth was found guilty of witchcraft and was sentenced to be hanged by the neck.

1865 – The last land engagement of the American Civil War was fought at the Battle of Palmito Ranch in far south Texas, more than a month after Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, VA.

1867 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis became a free man after spending two years in prison for his role in the American Civil War.

1888 – Slavery was abolished in Brazil.

1912 – Royal Flying Corps was established in England.

1954 – U.S. President Eisenhower signed into law the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Act.

1968 – Peace talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam began in Paris.

1981 – Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Agca.

1985 – A confrontation between Philadelphia authorities and the radical group MOVE ended as police dropped an explosive onto the group’s headquarters. 11 people died in the fire that resulted.

May 13, 1958

Vice President Nixon is attacked

During a goodwill trip through Latin America, Vice President Richard Nixon’s car is attacked by an angry crowd and nearly overturned while traveling through Caracas, Venezuela. The incident was the dramatic highlight of trip characterized by Latin American anger over some of America’s Cold War policies.

By 1958, relations between the United States and Latin America had reached their lowest point in years. Latin Americans complained that the U.S. focus on the Cold War and anticommunism failed to address the pressing economic and political needs of many Latin American nations. In particular, they argued that their countries needed more basic economic assistance, not more arms to repel communism. They also questioned the American support of dictatorial regimes in Latin America simply because those regimes claimed to be anticommunist-for example, the U.S. awarded the Legion of Merit medal to Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1954; Jimenez was overthrown by a military coup early in 1958.

This was the atmosphere into which Vice President Richard Nixon arrived during his goodwill trip through Latin America in April and May 1958. The trip began with some controversy, as Nixon engaged in loud and bitter debates with student groups during his travels through Peru and Uruguay. In Caracas, Venezuela, however, things took a dangerous turn. A large crowd of angry Venezuelans who shouted anti-American slogans stopped Nixon’s motorcade through the capital city. They attacked the car, damaged its body and smashed the windows. Inside the vehicle, Secret Service agents covered the vice president and at least one reportedly pulled out his weapon. Miraculously, they escaped from the crowd and sped away. In Washington, President Eisenhower dispatched U.S. troops to the Caribbean area to rescue Nixon from further threats if necessary. None occurred, and the vice president left Venezuela ahead of schedule.

The riot in Caracas served as a wake-up call to U.S. officials in Washington, alerting them to America’s deteriorating relations with Latin America. In the next few months, the United States increased both its military and economic assistance to the region. However, it was not until communist Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba beginning in 1959 that the United States truly realized the extent of discontent and rebelliousness in Latin America.

“Vice President Nixon is attacked,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2666 [accessed May 13, 2009]




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