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Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28, 1960: Atomic Planes, Republican Politics and the Moon Shot

A design for a nuclear airplane was unveiled on this day in 1960. General Dynamics unveiled its design for an atomic-powered plane for the US Air Force. The nuclear power plant would be in the rear. The plane was to have jet engines under the wings.

In other aviation news this day in 1960, NASA announced its space exploration plans for the rest of the decade. This comes long before President Kennedy -- still Senator Kennedy on this day -- announced plans for a manned mission to the moon.

"We expect to accomplish manned flight to a landing on the moon and return to the earth beyond 1970," NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden said.

Meanwhile, the first launching in a program leading to the establishment of a space station in near-Earth orbit was set for sometime between 1965 and 1967.

Also on this day the Republicans wrapped up their nominating convention at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago. They nominated Vice President Richard M. Nixon for president. Henry Cabot Lodge, the U.S. representative at the United Nations, was selected as the vice presidential candidate.

It was also reported that the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kennedy, had accepted an invitation from Robert Sarnoff, chairman of the National Broadcasting Company, to engage in a series of television debates with the Republican candidate.