1. 1990: The Hubble Telescope is put into orbit
On this day in 1990, the United States’ Space Shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Telescope into a low altitude orbit around the earth. The idea for the massive telescope started back in the 1940’s and took 30 years before the design was completed, then another ten or more years to build it. It was the size of a school bus and was able to provide pictures with resolution ten times greater than any telescope used on the surface. Although it has needed many repairs and updates over the years, the Hubble Telescope has given mankind a brief look into the vastness of space. It allowed us to see the surface of Pluto, a comet smashing into Jupiter and many other things that can’t even be explained yet.
2. 1947: President Truman gets a bowling alley in the White House
A group of President Truman supporters, who also lived in Missouri where the President was born, funded a project to build two lane bowling alley in the White House for Truman’s 63rd Birthday. It was scheduled to be completed by May 8th but was completed ahead of schedule. On this day Truman lined up to throw the first ball down the lanes and was able to knock down seven of the ten pins, we are not sure if was able to pick up the spare or not. But one of those pins is said to be on display at the Smithsonian today. There was apparently a White House bowling league that was started where you could see the Secret Service team up against the groundskeepers and many other match ups. The lanes were closed in 1955 by President Eisenhower and another lane was built in the building next door, but later President Nixon would have yet another lane installed directly beneath the North Portico entrance during his term as President.
3. 1983: Russian Leader Yuri Andropov sends response letter to fifth grader
The early 1980’s was a very tense time in history with two of the worlds superpowers, the United States and Russia (Soviet Union at the time), at the brink of a potential Nuclear war. President Ronald Reagan made it very clear that he disagreed with the communist actions of “the evil empire”. Things took an interesting turn when it was reported that Samantha Smith, a fifth grade girl from Manchester, Maine had received a letter that apparently had been written by Yuri Andropov, the Leader of Russia at the time. The letter was in response to one that Smith had written for a class project earlier in the year . The letter also invited Smith to come on a three week tour of the Soviet Union which Smith accepted. In 1984 Andropov had massive kidney failure and passed away, interestingly just about a year later Samantha Smith was killed in a plane crash at the young age of 13