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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 26

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The fifth recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet occurred, as determined by the records of ancient Chinese astronomers.

In 2000 years of observations since 240 BCE, Chinese records have never missed a return of Halley's Comet. From those records, Cowell and Crommelin computed the dates of perihelion passage as:

 1. 15 May 240 BCE
 2. 20 May 163 BCE
 3. 15 August 87 BCE
 4. 8 October 12 BCE
 5. 26 January 66 CE
 6. 25 March 141 CE
 7. 6 April 218 CE
 8. 7 April 295 CE
 9. 13 February 374 CE
10. 3 July 451 CE
11. 15 November 530 CE
12. 26 March 607 CE
13. 26 November 684 CE
14. 10 June 760 CE
15. 25 February 837 CE
16. 17 July 912 CE
17. 2 September 989 CE
18. 25 March 1066 CE
19. 19 April 1145 CE
20. 10 September 1222 CE
21. 22.7 October 1301 CE
22. 8.8 November 1378 CE
23. 8.2 January 1456 CE
24. 25.8 August 1531 CE
25. 26.9 October 1607 CE
26. 14.8 September 1682 CE
27. 12.6 March 1758 CE
28. 15.9 November 1835 CE
29. 19.7 April 1910 CE
30. 9 February 1986 CE

Note that the precision of the dates from passage 21 onward could be computed with increased accuracy because of additional observations. However, at the time of their computation, the 1986 passage was still a future event. (The actual date was found from other sources.)

On 19 April 607, Comet 1P/607 H1 (Halley) approached within 0.0898 AU (13.5 million km, 8.4 million miles) of Earth. On 374-April-1.9, it had approached closer, having come within 0.0884 AU (13.2 million km, 8.2 million miles), and on 837-April-10.5, it became the third closest approach in history prior to 1900, passing within 0.0334 AU (5 million km, 3.1 million miles).

On 16 October 1982, astronomers David Jewitt and G. Edward Danielson using a CCD camera with the 5.1 m Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar Observatory were the first to detect Halley's Comet on its thirtieth recorded return.

See also The past orbit of Halley's Comet (SAO/NASA ADS)

See also Comet Close Approaches prior to 1900 (CNEOS)

See also History of Halley's Comet (Wikipedia)

See also Halley's Comet (CQ Press)

See also Comet 1P/Halley (Halley's Comet) (Smithsonian NASM)

Died, Edward Jenner, English physician, discovered vaccination

Paul Henry discovered asteroid #159 Aemilia.

Died, Edward Davy, English physician, chemist, and inventor (telegraph)

Born, Bessie Cole[man], the first black person to receive a pilot's license. She started a flying school, and was nick-named "Brave Bessie" for her daring flights.

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #557 Violetta.

Glenn H. Curtiss flew the first successful seaplane in the United States.

The first public demonstration of a "true television system" with easily discernable images was given by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird in London. The system used mechanical rotating disks to scan moving images into electronic impulses.

Born, Philip Jose Farmer, American science fiction writer

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1083 Salvia and #1155 Aenna.

E. Delporte discovered asteroid #2545 Verbiest.

Y. Vaisala discovered asteroids #1446 Sillanpaa, #1447 Utra and #1529 Oterma.

Died, Felix Hausdorff, German mathematician (topology and set theory)

Felix Hausdorff (8 November 1868 - 26 January 1942) was a German mathematician who is considered to be one of the founders of modern topology and who contributed significantly to set theory and functional analysis. He defined and studied partially ordered sets, Hausdorff spaces, and the Hausdorff dimension. He proved the Hausdorff maximality theorem. He published philosophical and literary works under the pseudonym "Paul Mongre".

In 1942, when Hausdorff (a Jew) could no longer avoid being sent to a concentration camp, he committed suicide together with his wife and sister-in-law.

The 200" (5.08-m) Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory, California, saw first light when Edwin Hubble exposed an image of NGC 2261, an object of variable brightness named Hubble's Variable Nebula.

Born, Mario Runco Jr. (at Bronx, New York, USA), Commander USN, NASA astronaut (STS 44, STS 54, STS 77; over 22d 23h total time in spaceflight)

Astronaut Mario Runco Jr., STS-54 mission specialist, NASA photo S93-32840 (27 April 1993)
Source: NASA Image and Video Library

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #1741 Giclas.

1962 20:30:00 GMT
NASA launched Ranger 3 as an attempted Lunar impact mission. The space probe missed the Moon by 22,000 miles on 28 January.

Ranger 3 was designed to transmit pictures of the Lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar reflectivity of the Lunar surface, and to continue testing of the Ranger program for development of Lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. Due to a series of malfunctions the spacecraft missed the Moon.

The mission was designed to be boosted towards the Moon by an Atlas/Agena, undergo one mid-course correction, and impact the Lunar surface. At the appropriate altitude a capsule was to separate and retrorockets would ignite to cushion the capsule's landing. After launch on 26 January 1962, a malfunction in the booster guidance system resulted in excessive spacecraft speed. Reversed command signals caused the spacecraft to pitch the wrong direction and the TM antenna to lose Earth acquisition, and so the mid-course correction was not possible. Finally, a spurious signal during the terminal maneuver prevented transmission of useful TV pictures. Ranger 3 missed the Moon by approximately 36,800 km (22,000 miles) on 28 January and is now in a heliocentric orbit. Some useful engineering data were obtained from the flight.

Ranger 3 Lunar impact probe, NASA photo
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Stewardess Vesna Vulovic reportedly survived a 10.160 km (33,330 ft; 6.31 mi) fall without a parachute, a record recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records in 1985.

Vesna Vulovic (3 January 1950 - 23 December 2016) was a stewardess on a Yugoslav DC 9 jet airliner that blew up on 26 January 1972 (probably as the result of a terrorist bomb: Ustashe, the Croatian National Movement, reportedly later admitted their responsibility for the bombing). She fell more than 33,000 feet (10.160 km) in the wreckage of the plane, which hit a snow-covered slope. The only survivor, she was badly injured and was paralyzed from the waist down, but later recovered and was able to walk again.

In January 2009, a report was published challenging the story, indicating instead that the plane had been shot down by MiG fighters at 600-900 meters altitude. One of the journalists conceded that the evidence was only circumstantial, and Ms Vulovic's Guiness record still stands, see Highest fall survived without parachute

1978 17:36:00 GMT
The International Ultraviolet Explorer was launched into Earth orbit.

Died, Mikhail Fedorovich Reshetnev, Russian Chief Designer and General Designer of OKB-10 (1961-1996), Korolev protege, led work on communications satellites

Mikhail Fedorovich Reshetnev (10 November 1924 - 26 January 1926), was the Russian Chief Designer and General Designer of OKB-10 (1961-1996), a Korolev protege, and led work on communications satellites.

Reshetnev was assigned a Filial of Korolev's OKB-1 at Plant 1001 in Krasnoyarsk on 4 June 1959. He was tasked with developing the first Soviet communications satellite, the Molniya. In December 1961, the Filial was upgraded to an independent OKB-10 with Reshetnev at its head. He went on to become the primary Soviet designer of communications and navigation satellites. He made one foray into launch vehicle integration in the 1960's (the Kosmos-1/65S3).

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