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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 February 22

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Died, Amerigo Vespucci, explorer and cartographer

Amerigo Vespucci (9 March 1454 - 22 February 1512) was a Italian merchant who voyaged to and wrote about the Americas. His exploratory journeys along the eastern coast of South America convinced him that a new continent had been discovered. That was a bold contention when everyone, including Christopher Columbus, thought the voyages setting out from Europe's docks were travelling to East Asia.

Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was published.

Born, L. Adolphe J. Quetelet (at Ghent, French Republic), Belgian mathematician, astronomer, statistician

Born, Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen, discovered helium in the Sun (1868)

Born, Heinrich Hertz, German physicist

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (22 February 1857 - 1 January 1894) was the German physicist for whom the hertz, the SI unit of frequency, is named. In 1888, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic radiation by building apparatus to produce radio waves.

Following Michelson's 1881 experiment (precursor to the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment) which disproved the existence of luminiferous aether, he reformulated Maxwell's equations to take the new discovery into account. Through experimentation, he proved that electric signals can travel through open air, as had been predicted by James Clerk Maxwell and Michael Faraday, and which is the basis for the invention of radio. He also discovered the photoelectric effect (which was later explained by Albert Einstein) when he noticed that a charged object loses its charge more readily when illuminated by ultraviolet light.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #453 Tea.

M Wolf discovered asteroids #587 Hypsipyle and #588 Achilles.

J H Metcalf discovered asteroid #661 Cloelia.

Jules Vedrines made the first airplane flight over 100 mph, achieving a speed of 161.29 kph (100.22 mph).

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1156 Kira.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1183 Jutta.

Y Vaisala discovered asteroids #1451 Grano, #2397 Lappajarvi, #2733 Hamina and #2737 Kotka.

A Patry discovered asteroid #1510 Charlois.

Born, James P. Bagian MD, PE (at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), NASA astronaut (STS 29, STS 40)

Astronaut Dr. James Bagian, NASA photo

1965 07:41:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 57, an unmanned precursor to Voskhod II. The spacecraft exploded in orbit when ground controllers sent commands to the spacecraft simultaneously instead of sequentially, setting off the self destruct mechanism.

1966 20:09:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 110 for a 22 day flight with 2 dogs (Verterok - "Breeze", and Ugolyok - "Little Piece of Coal") aboard to evaluate the prolonged effects of radiation in space travel; the flight was successful, reportedly a Soyuz-type reentry capsule.

USSR's Luna 20 return vehicle was launched from the Moon for its return to Earth.

Luna 20 was placed in an intermediate Earth parking orbit from its launch on 14 February 1972, and from that orbit was sent towards the Moon where it entered orbit on 18 February 1972. On 21 February 1972, Luna 20 made a soft landing in the Apollonius highlands near Mare Foecunditatis (Sea of Fertility), 120 km from where Luna 16 had impacted. While on the Lunar surface, the panoramic television system was operated, and Lunar samples were obtained using an extendable drilling apparatus. Luna 20's ascent stage of was launched from the Lunar surface on 22 February 1972 carrying 30 grams of collected Lunar samples in a sealed capsule. It landed in the Soviet Union on 25 February 1972; the Lunar samples were recovered the following day.

Harvard College discovered asteroid #2923 Schuyler.

1996 15:18:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 75 (Columbia 19, 75th Shuttle mission) to refly the Tethered Satellite System, and to fly the US Microgravity Payload experiment.

STS 75 was launched 22 February 1996 on time following a smooth countdown. Six seconds after liftoff, the crew reported the left main engine chamber pressure tape meter was reading only 40 percent thrust, instead of the expected 104 percent. Mission controllers in Houston reported telemetry showed all three engines were performing nominally, and there was no effect on the ascent phase.

Reflight of the US/Italian Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R), the primary payload for the first part of STS 75, was marred by loss of the satellite on flight day three, although valuable scientific data was still gathered. The other primary payload, the US Microgravity Payload-3 (USMP-3), performed nominally.

TSS was designed to study electrodynamics of a tether system in the electrically charged portion of Earth's atmosphere called the ionosphere. The satellite itself was provided by Italy, and the tether/deployer assembly by the US. Twelve investigations were planned. Deployment was delayed one day for troubleshooting of the onboard TSS computers by the flight crew. Excellent scientific data was being gathered when the tether snapped on flight day three as the satellite was just short of full deployment of about 12.8 miles (20.6 kilometers). The satellite immediately began speeding away from Columbia as a result of orbital forces, and the crew was never in any danger. The reason for the tether break was not immediately clear, and an investigative board convened on the ground to determine its cause. The crew retracted the deployer and the remaining tether the following day.

TSS scientists were able to gather useful data from the curtailed deployment. Currents measured during the deployment phase were at least three times greater than predicted by analytical modeling, and the amount of power generated was directly proportional to the current. Tether voltages of as high as 3,500 volts were developed across the tether, and current levels of about 480 milliamps were achieved. Researchers were also able to study how gas from the satellite's thrusters interacted with the ionosphere. Also collected were first-time measurements of the ionized shock wave around the TSS satellite, a phenomenon that cannot be studied in the laboratory and is difficult to model mathematically. Another first was collection of data on the plasma wakes created by a moving body through the electrically-charged ionosphere. Some experiments were conducted using the free-flying satellite and its attached tether before it re-entered Earth's atmosphere and broke up.

USMP-3, flying on the Shuttle for third time, included US and international experiments, all of which had flown at least once before: Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace (AADSF), a crystal growth facility; Critical Fluid Light Scattering Experiment (Zeno), to study the element Xenon at its critical point; Isothermal Dendritic Growth Experiment (IDGE), to study formation of dendrites, tree-shaped crystals that in metals manufacturing dictate the final properties of a material; and Materials for the Study of Interesting Phenomena of Solidification on Earth and in Orbit (MEPHISTO) to study how metals solidify in microgravity using a furnace. The USMP-3 experiments were conducted primarily through telescience, where the principal investigators could control the research from Marshall Space Flight Center's Spacelab Mission Operations Control Center.

In the MEPHISTO investigation, changes in the microgravity environment caused by orbiter thruster firings were correlated with fluid flows in the crystal sample. The experiment was also able to monitor the point at which the crystal sample underwent critical change during the solidification process. The sample used was a tin-bismuth mixture representative of alloys found in airplane turbine blades, electronic materials and many other products.

In AADSF, three lead-tin-telluride crystals were grown while the orbiter was flown at three different attitudes to determine the effect on crystal growth. Also collected were data on the crystal's freezing point. Lead-tin-telluride is used in infrared detectors and lasers.

The IDGE experiment yielded twice the expected amount of data. The best images ever transmitted of dendrites were gathered. This also was the first Shuttle experiment controlled by a principal investigator at a remote non-NASA site, foreshadowing types of research to be conducted on the International Space Station, where researchers could be based at universities.

Zeno allowed investigators to observe with unprecedented clarity the behavior of xenon at its critical point, when it exists as both a gas and a liquid. Such phase change phenomena is common to many different materials, and knowledge gained from Zeno could apply to such fields as liquid crystal growth and superconductor research.

Space Acceleration Measurement Systems (SAMS) and Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE), both of which have flown previously, provided data about the on-orbit environment. In the middeck, the crew worked with the Middeck Glovebox Facility (MGBX) featuring three combustion experiments, all of which were successful. The Glovebox and Forced Flow Flamespreading Test experiment were both slated to fly on the Russian Space Station Mir later in the year, and the Glovebox is also to fly on the International Space Station. Also flying in middeck was the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG-09) experiment to process nine proteins into crystals to better understand their molecular structure.

Landing opportunities on 8 March were waved off due to unfavorable weather conditions. The first KSC landing opportunity on 9 March was also waved off, again due to weather. STS 75 ended 9 March 1996 when Columbia landed on revolution 252 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 8,459 feet (2,578 meters). Rollout time: 64 seconds. Mission duration: 15 days, 17 hours, 40 minutes, 21 seconds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Miles traveled: 6.5 million.

The flight crew for STS 75 was: Andrew M. Allen, Commander; Scott J. Horowitz, Pilot; Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Payload Commander; Maurizio Cheli, Mission Specialist (ESA); Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Mission Specialist; Claude Nicollier, Mission Specialist (ESA); Umberto Guidoni, Payload Specialist (Italy).

2000 17:22:00 CST (GMT -6:00:00)
NASA's STS 99 (Endeavor) landed after completing the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.

STS 99 was launched 11 February 2000 into an orbit at an altitude of 126 nautical miles with an inclination of 57 degrees with respect to the Equator. Endeavour's international crew of six spent their eleven days in orbit mapping the Earth's surface with radar instruments, working in two shifts to support around-the-clock operations.

The main objective of STS 99 was to obtain the most complete high resolution digital topographic database of the Earth. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, or SRTM, was an international project spearheaded by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency and NASA, with participation of the German Aerospace Center, DLR. SRTM consisted of a specially modified radar system that flew onboard the space shuttle during STS 99. This radar system gathered data that produced unrivaled 3-D images of the Earth's surface.

Deployed on Flight Day 1, the imaging radar orbited at 233 kilometers (145 miles) above Earth with its two radar antennas mounted in Endeavour's payload bay and extended on a 60-meter-long (200-foot) mast. The radar created images of vast, barren deserts, frozen tundra and deep valleys carved by glaciers, such as those found in Alaska, the Andes and Himalayan mountains. The 11,793 kilogram (13 ton) radar system collected highly accurate, high resolution images of the Earth's crust between 60 degrees north latitude and 56 degrees south latitude. The regions mapped are home to about 95 percent of the world's population, and were captured with an accuracy of better than 30 meters (100 feet) . When the radar was retracted, more than 222 hours of around-the-clock radar mapping operations had been completed. This extremely large amount of information is enough to fill more than 20,000 CDs.

STS 99 ended 22 February 2000 when Endeavor landed on Runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida to complete a mission spanning almost 4.7 million statute miles.

The STS 99 flight crew was: Kevin R. Kregel, Commander; Dom L. Gorie, Pilot; Gerhard P.J. Thiele (Germany), Mission Specialist 1; Janet L. Kavandi, Mission Specialist 2; Janice Voss, Mission Specialist 3; Mamoru Mohri (Japan), Mission Specialist 4.

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