To Boldly Go
June 19, 1976: Viking 1 Enters Mars Orbit
The Viking 1 spacecraft enters into orbit around the planet Mars 10 months after being launched from Earth. Viking 1 would become the first US spacecraft to land on Mars and the first spacecraft overall to successfully soft land and perform a mission on Mars.
Launched aboard a Titan IIIE rocket August 20, 1975, Viking 1 arrived at Mars on June 19, 1976. The first month was spent in orbit around the martian planet and on July 20, 1976, Viking Lander 1 separated from the Orbiter and touched down at Chryse Planitia.
Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft (along with Viking 2) sent to Mars as part of NASA’s Viking program. It was the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars and perform its mission, and held the record for the longest Mars surface mission of 6 years and 116 days or 1775 sols (from landing until surface mission termination, Earth time) until that record was broken by the Opportunity Rover on May 19, 2010.
The Viking 1 Orbiter was inserted into Mars orbit on June 19, 1976 and trimmed to a 1513 x 33,000 km, 24.66 h site certification orbit on June 21. Landing on Mars was planned for July 4, 1976, the United States Bicentennial, but imaging of the primary landing site showed it was too rough for a safe landing. The landing was delayed until a safer site was found. The lander separated from the orbiter on July 20 08:51 UTC and landed at 11:53:06 UTC. It was the first attempt by the United States at landing on Mars.
Test of General Relativity
NASA’s 1976 Film