17. An ocean drone captures the first footage inside a major hurricane.
The unmanned vessel steered into the heart of Hurricane Sam, a Category 4 storm packing winds of more than 120 miles per hour, in September. Researchers from Saildrone, which makes oceanic research drones, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hope that the data collected will help them better understand how hurricanes intensify.
18. SpaceX launches the first all-civilian crew into space.
Jared Isaacman, the billionaire chief executive of Shift4 Payments, led the Inspiration4 mission to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and its four-person crew orbited Earth for three days with no professional astronauts onboard.
19. France recalls ambassadors to the United States for the first time in the alliance’s history.
President Biden announced in September that the United States would share closely guarded submarine propulsion technology with Australia — a rare move widely thought to be a countermeasure against China’s looming influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Just before this deal was made, Australia reneged on a prior agreement to purchase conventional submarines from France. In protest, France, which was not informed of the deal, angrily recalled its ambassadors in the United States for the first time in its long diplomatic history with the country, which started in 1778.
20. Sales of zero-emission vehicles surpass diesel sales in Europe.
In September, electric vehicles outsold diesel vehicles for the first time in Europe, according to The European Electric Car Report. While analysts predict it may be a blip for now, partly because of persistent global supply chain woes, they say they have seen a fundamental shift toward zero-emission technology.
21. A Filipino is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a first for her country.
The journalist Maria Ressa was co-awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her enterprising reporting in the Philippines on President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial strongman tactics in the war on drugs. She is the first Filipino Nobel laureate and won the award alongside Russia’s Dmitry Muratov, the editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is known for its critical reporting on the Kremlin.