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 . Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel  

Space History for January 12

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Died, Pierre de Fermat, French lawyer and mathematician (work toward infinitesimal calculus)

The Astronomical Society of London was conceived at a dinner meeting at the Freemason's Tavern, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, which later became the Royal Astronomical Society.

J Chacornac discovered asteroid #38 Leda.

The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain was founded in London which later became the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Born, Paul Guthnick, German astronomer, studied variable stars and stars of the southern hemisphere

M Wolf discovered asteroid #352 Gisela.

Born, Sergei Korolev, leader of Soviet space program (30 December 1906 Old Style date)

G Van Biesbroeck discovered asteroid #993 Moultona.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1012 Sarema and #1092 Lilium.

The History of Science Society was organized at Boston, Massachusetts.

Born, Aleksandr P. "Sasha" Alexandrov (at Omurtag, Bulgaria), USSR cosmonaut (Soyuz TM-5 / Soyuz TM-4)

President Eisenhower called on the USSR to dedicate outer space "to the peaceful uses of mankind."

A Boeing 747 aircraft landed at London's Heathrow airport, completing its first transatlantic flight from New York City.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroid #2078 Nanking.

B A Skiff discovered asteroids #2864 Soderblom and #2881; and N G Thomas discovered asteroid #3614.

1986 06:55:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 61-C (Columbia 7, 24th Shuttle mission) which successfully deployed the SATCOM KU-1 satellite, with the first Hispanic-American astronaut aboard, Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.

STS 61-C was launched 12 January 1986 with a countdown that proceeded with no delays after having been scrubbed from 6 previous launch attempts. During the mission, the SATCOM KU-1 (RCA Americom) satellite, attached to a Payload Assist Module-D2 (PAM-D2) motor, was deployed. The Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program (CHAMP) experiment, a 35mm camera to photograph Comet Halley, did not function properly due to battery problems. Other payloads were: Materials Science Laboratory-2 (MSL-2); Hitchhiker G-1; Infrared Imaging Experiment (IR-IE); Initial Blood Storage Experiment (IBSE); Hand-held Protein Crystal Growth (HPCG) experiment; three Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments and 13 Get Away Specials (GAS), 12 of them mounted on a special GAS Bridge Assembly.

The mission ended on 18 January 1986 when Columbia landed on revolution 98 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California after landing attempts at Kennedy for three days were abandoned due to bad weather. Rollout distance: 10,202 feet. Rollout time: 59 seconds. Launch weight: 256,003 pounds. Landing weight: 210,161 pounds. Mission duration: six days, two hours, three minutes, 51 seconds. Orbit altitude: 212 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Miles traveled: 2.5 million. Columbia was returned to KSC 23 January 1986.

The flight crew for STS 61-C was: Robert L. Gibson, Commander; Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Pilot; Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Mission Specialist 1; Steven A. Hawley, Mission Specialist 1; George D. Nelson, Mission Specialist 2; Robert J. Cenker, Payload Specialist 1; Congressman Bill Nelson, Payload Specialist 2.

1997 04:27:23 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 81 (Atlantis 18, 81st Shuttle mission) for the fifth Shuttle-Mir docking.

STS 81 was launched 12 January 1997 on time after a smooth countdown. The flight was highlighted by the return of U.S. astronaut John Blaha to Earth after a 118 day stay aboard the Russian Space Station Mir (his place was taken by U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger who remained on Mir when STS 81 returned to Earth), and the largest transfer to date of logistics between a Shuttle and Mir. Atlantis also returned carrying the first plants to complete a life cycle in space - a crop of wheat grown from seed to seed. This fifth of nine planned dockings continued Phase 1B of the NASA/Russian Space Agency cooperative effort, with Linenger becoming the third U.S. astronaut in succession to live on Mir. The same payload configuration flown on previous docking flight, featuring the SPACEHAB Double module, was flown again.

Blaha had joined the Mir 22 crew of Commander Valeri Korzun and Flight Engineer Aleksandr Kaleri on 19 September 1996 when he arrived there with the crew of STS 79. Linenger worked with the Mir 22 crew until the arrival in February of the Mir 23 crew of Commander Vasili Tsibliev, Flight Engineer Aleksandr Lazutkin and German researcher Reinhold Ewald (who returned to Earth with the Mir 22 crew). Linenger stayed on Mir until the STS 84 mission arrived in May 1997.

Docking occurred at 10:55 p.m. EST on 14 January, followed by hatch opening at 12:57 a.m. on 15 January. Linenger officially traded places at 4:45 a.m. with Blaha who had spent 118 days on the station and 128 days total on-orbit. During five days of mated operations, the crews transferred nearly 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms) of logistics to Mir, including around 1,600 pounds of water; around 1,138 pounds of U.S. science equipment; and 2,206 pounds of Russian logistical equipment. About 2,400 pounds of materials returned with Atlantis from Mir. Undocking occurred at 9:15 p.m. EST on 19 January, followed by a flyaround of Mir.

The STS 81 crew also tested the Treadmill Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System (TVIS) on the Shuttle, designed for use in the Russian Service Module of the International Space Station. Another activity related to the International Space Station involved firing the orbiter's small vernier jet thrusters during mated operations to gather engineering data.

The STS 81 mission ended on 22 January 1997 when Atlantis landed on revolution 160 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the second KSC opportunity for the day. Rollout distance: 9,350 feet (2,850 meters). Rollout time: one minute, nine seconds. Mission duration: 10 days, four hours, 55 minutes, 21 seconds. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 51.60 degrees. Miles traveled: 4.1 million.

The flight crew for STS 81 was: Michael A. Baker, Mission Commander; Brent W. Jett, Jr, Pilot; John M. Grunsfeld, Mission Specialist; Marsha S. Ivins, Mission Specialist; Peter J.K. Wisoff, Mission Specialist; Jerry M. Linenger, Mission Specialist (returned on STS 84); John E. Blaha returned from Mir (launched on STS 79).

2005 18:47:08 GMT
NASA launched the Deep Impact probe toward comet Tempel 1, which struck the comet nucleus with a 370 kg impactor on 4 July 2005 as the probe's flyby component took pictures.

The goals of the Deep Impact mission were to rendezvous with comet 9P/Tempel 1 and launch a projectile into the comet nucleus. This objective was achieved on 4 July 2005 at approximately 0545 GMT. Observations were made of the ejecta (much of which represented pristine material from the interior of the comet), the crater formation process, the resulting crater, and any outgassing from the nucleus, particularly the newly exposed surface. The scientific objectives of the mission were to: improve the knowledge of the physical characteristics of cometary nuclei and directly assess the interior of cometary nucleus; determine properties of the surface layers such as density, strength, porosity, and composition from the crater and its formation; study the relationship between the surface layers of a cometary nucleus and the possibly pristine materials of the interior by comparison of the interior of the crater with the surface before impact; and improve our understanding of the evolution of cometary nuclei, particularly their approach to dormancy, by comparing the interior and the surface. The project was selected as a Discovery class mission in July 1999.

Deep Impact was launched on 12 January 2005 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta II booster. The spacecraft transferred into a heliocentric orbit to rendezvous with comet P/Tempel 1 on 4 July 2005. Deep Impact was about 880,000 km from the comet on 3 July 2005, moving at 10.2 km/s relative to the comet, when the projectile was released and the flyby spacecraft executed a maneuver to slow down by 120 m/s and divert by 6 m/s. On 4 July, the impactor struck the sunlit side of the comet nucleus approximately 24 hours after release, at 0545 UT. At 10.2 km/s velocity, the impactor had an impact energy of about 19 gigajoules, and was expected to form a crater roughly 25 meters deep and 100 meters wide. (The estimate was based on models of comet structure and subject to large uncertainty.) Material from the nucleus were ejected into space, and the impactor and much of the ejecta vaporized.

The flyby spacecraft was approximately 10,000 km away at the time of impact and began imaging 60 seconds earlier. At 600 seconds after impact, the spacecraft was about 4000 km from the nucleus and observations of the crater began and continued up to a range of about 700 km, about 50 seconds before closest approach. At this point (about 961 seconds after impact), imaging ended as the spacecraft reoriented itself by 45 degrees to optimize protection from dust damage as it flew by the nucleus. Closest approach to the nucleus was at a distance of about 500 km. At 1270 seconds, the crossing of the inner coma was complete and the spacecraft oriented itself to look back at the comet and begin imaging again. At 3000 seconds, the spacecraft began playback of data to Earth at 20 to 200 kilobits per second. The comet and spacecraft were about 0.89 AU from Earth and 1.5 AU from the Sun during the encounter. Selected impactor and flyby images and spectra were returned in real time to Earth during the encounter. Primary data was returned over the first day after encounter, with a 28 day supplemental data return period. Earth-based observatories also studied the impact. The spacecraft ranged over a distance of 0.93 to 1.56 AU from the Sun during the mission.

The end of the mission was originally scheduled for August 2005, and a subsequent extended mission included another comet flyby and observations of planets around other stars that lasted from July 2007 to December 2010. After almost 9 years in space and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, the project team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end on 20 September 2013 after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history's most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.71 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).

The Deep Impact spacecraft consisted of a 370 kg cylindrical copper impactor attached to a 650 kg flyby bus. The spacecraft was a box-shaped honeycomb aluminum framework with a flat rectangular Whipple debris shield mounted on one side to protect components during close approach to the comet. Body-mounted on the framework were one high- and one medium-resolution instrument, each consisting of an imaging camera and an infrared spectrometer, used to observe the ejected ice and dust. The medium resolution camera had a field of view (FOV) of 0.587 degrees and a resolution of 7 m/pixel at 700 km distance and was used for navigation and context images. The high resolution camera had a FOV of 0.118 degrees and a resolution of 1.4 m/pixel at 700 km. The infrared spectrometers covered the range from 1.05 to 4.8 micrometers with FOV of 0.29 degrees (hi-res) and 1.45 degrees (lo-res). The total flyby bus instrument payload had a mass of 90 kg and used an average of 92 W during encounter.

The impactor projectile was made of primarily copper (49%) and 24% aluminum, so it would be easily identifiable in the observed collision debris, and minimize contamination in the spectra after the projectile was largely vaporized and mixed in with the comet ejecta on impact. The impactor was a short hexagonal cylinder built above the copper cratering mass with a small hydrazine propulsion system for targeting which could provide delta-V of 25 m/s. Targeting was accomplished using a high-precision star-tracker, auto-navigation algorithms, and the Impactor Targeting Sensor (ITS), a camera which provided images for autonomous control and targeting. The ITS was operated until impact, and images were sent back to Earth via the flyby spacecraft. The impactor was mechanically and electrically connected to the flyby spacecraft until 24 hours prior to encounter. After separation, it ran on internal battery power.

Comet 9P/Tempel 1 is a periodic comet which orbits the Sun every 5.51 years. It has a semi-major axis of 3.12 astronomical units (AU, the distance from the Sun to the Earth) and a perihelion distance of 1.5 AU, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, in an orbit inclined 10.5 degrees to the ecliptic. The orbit has changed in the past, but its perihelion has been within 10 AU for at least 300,000 years. The nucleus is estimated to be roughly 14 km long and 4 km wide. Perihelion for the current orbit occured on 5 July 2005, the day after the encounter. The comet was discovered on 3 April 1867 by Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel, and was first recognized to be periodic in May of that year by C. Bruhns.

To view a movie of the collision, from the impactor's perspective, see

See also
See also

NASA illustration, Deep Impact vehicle consisting of a flyby spacecraft and the impactor

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