France put a cat in space October 18, 1963. Félicette rode a Véronique rocket on a suborbital flight from the Hammaguira Blandine launch pad in Algeria to an altitude of 96 miles, and came back. Source.
On October 7, 1959, the Soviet space probe Luna 3 took the first pictures of the far side of the moon. This view is actually of the east side of the moon. That's Mare Moscoviense in the upper right. Compare.
Big Joe 1, the first Project Mercury spacecraft to cross the Karman Line (100 km) into space, and the first to ride an Atlas rocket, was launched on this day in 1959. The purpose of the flight was to test the capsule's heat shield, but it almost didn't come off, because the capsule almost didn't come off the rocket. Flight control had to fire the capsule's manoevring thrusters to yank it free of the rocket stage after the explosive bolts failed. Overall the Atlas didn't cover itself with glory, and it wasn't until 1962 that NASA dared put an astronaut atop one. The heat shield worked, though, and the capsule is now in the National Air and Space Museum.
In 1967, Jocelyn Bell became the first human to observe a neutron star. She went on to the presidency of the Royal Astronomical Society, and knighthood, but she was excluded from the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics that went to her supervisor. Her star, PSR B1919+21, is 2283 light years from here, and pulses every 1.33 seconds. The list of known neutron stars now runs above 2000. Today is her 73rd birthday.
The theoretical Planet Nine has been proposed to explain the behavior of other distant objects in the far outer solar system, and also to bring the solar system into line with observations of other planetary systems. Mike Brown thinks it will be discovered in the next five years. The six minor planets shown in this graphic have all been discovered since 2003, a rate of one every two years and two months. So I'm calling for the discovery of Planet Nine in March 2018.
In 2006 the province of Nova Scotia reserved 300 acres of land northwest of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton for the development of a spaceport. PlanetSpace, a London, Ontario company founded to exploit NASA's switch to commercial launch and catch an anticipated boom in space tourism, claimed it could build the spaceport for $200 million, and have a spacecraft flying by 2009. The argument in favour of Cape Breton was that it was northerly enough to compete with Baikonur, and far enough from population centres that falling debris wouldn't be a bother.
Well, the government of Nova Scotia never saw a get rich scheme it didn't want to buy into. But above and beyond the fantasy budget figures and timetable, there were two major problems with this concept. One, the ground around Sydney Mines is a honeycomb of old mineshafts. They've been digging coal there since the 18th century. The forces involved in space launches would have led to subsidence and maybe even fire. The other is that Cape Breton is right underneath the eastward trail of jet airliners traveling from the US to Europe. The population you're trying to stay clear of would be right there above your head.
PlanetSpace failed to secure a NASA contract. It held its last annual meeting in 2010, and was unincorporated by the Canadian government in 2013. To date no tourist has gone into space except aboard Soyuz, which was available before. But the dreamlives on.