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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 March 3

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Died, Robert Hooke, experimental scientist, inventor, astronomer (discovered the first known binary star)

Born, George William Hill, mathematician, astronomer (three-body problem, four-body problem)

Born, Alexander Graham Bell, Scottish inventor. In addition to his work in telecommunications, he also was responsible for important advances in aviation and hydrofoil technology.

President Abraham Lincoln approved the charter for the US National Academy of Sciences.

American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) was incorporated.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #482 Petrina.

A Kopff discovered asteroid #589 Croatia.

Born, Walter Thiel, German rocket engineer, provided the decisive ideas for the A4 (V-2) rocket engine

The US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor of NASA, was founded.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #819 Barnardiana.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #948 Jucunda.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1018 Arnolda and #1019 Strackea; and V Albitzkij discovered asteroid #1071 Brita.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1182 Ilona.

S Arend discovered asteroid #1633 Chimay.

Y Vaisala discovered asteroid #1947 Iso-Heikkila.

Born, Vladimir V. Kovalyonok (at Beloye, Minsk Oblast, Belorussian SSR), USSR cosmonaut (Soyuz 25, Salyut 6, Soyuz T-4)

Y Vaisala discovered asteroids #2204 Lyyli, #2333 Porthan and #2502 Nummela.

Born, James C. Adamson (at Warsaw, New York, USA), Colonel US Army, NASA astronaut (STS 28, STS 43)

Astronaut Jim Adamson, NASA photo

Born, Bonnie J. Dunbar PhD (at Sunnyside, Washington, USA), NASA astronaut (STS 61-A, STS 32, STS 50, STS 71, STS 89)

Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar PhD, NASA photo

Born, James S. Voss (at Cordova, Alabama, USA), Colonel US Army, NASA astronaut (STS 44, STS 53, STS 69, STS 101, ISS 2)

Astronaut James S. Voss, ISS Expedition 2 crew, NASA photo

M Itzigsohn discovered asteroid #1688 Wilkens.

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #2026 Cottrell.

1959 17:11:00 GMT
NASA launched Pioneer 4, the first US spacecraft to fly by the Moon and the first to go into Solar orbit.

1969 16:00:00 GMT
NASA launched Apollo 9 into Earth orbit, the first crewed Lunar Module test.

Apollo 9, launched 3 March 1969, was the third crewed Apollo flight and the first crewed flight to include the Lunar Module (LM). The crew was Commander James McDivitt, Command Module (CM) pilot David Scott, and LM pilot Russell Schweickart. The primary objective of the mission was to test all aspects of the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, including operation of the LM as an independent self-sufficient spacecraft and performance of docking and rendezvous manuevers. The goal was to simulate maneuvers which would be performed in actual Lunar missions. Other concurrent objectives included overall checkout of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems, crew, and procedures. A multispectral photographic experiment was also performed.

On 7 March at 13:03 UT, the LM ("Spider"), carrying McDivitt and Schweickart, separated from the CSM ("Gumdrop"). It was put into a circular orbit about 20 km higher than the CSM. The LM descent stage was jettisoned and for the first time in space the ascent stage engine was fired, lowering the LM orbit to 16 km below and 120 km behind the CSM. A simulated rendezvous of the LM returning from a Lunar mission with the orbiting CSM culminated in docking at 19:02 UT. The crew transferred back to the CSM, The LM ascent stage (1969-018C) was jettisoned and its ascent engine was commanded to fire to fuel depletion, into an Earth orbit of 235 x 6970 km. The LM ascent stage orbit decayed on 23 October 1981, the LM descent stage (1969-018D) orbit decayed 22 March 1969. The remaining four days of the Apollo 9 flight included more orbital manuevers and a landmark tracking exercise. All systems on all spacecraft worked nearly normally during the mission, and all primary objectives were accomplished.

Apollo 9 splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on 13 March 1969 after a mission elapsed time of 241 hrs, 0 mins, 54 secs. The splashdown point was 23 deg 15 min N, 67 deg 56 min W, 180 miles east of Bahamas and within sight of the recovery ship USS Guadalcanal. The Apollo 9 Command Module is on display at the San Diego Aerospace Museum in San Diego, California.

The Apollo program included a large number of uncrewed test missions and 12 crewed missions: three Earth orbiting missions (Apollo 7, 9 and Apollo-Soyuz), two Lunar orbiting missions (Apollo 8 and 10), a Lunar swingby (Apollo 13), and six Moon landing missions (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). Two astronauts from each of these six missions walked on the Moon, the only humans to have set foot on another solar system body (as of 2015). Total funding for the Apollo program was approximately $20,443,600,000, an average bill of only about $100 per person for the population of the United States at the time.

Apollo 9 in orbit, NASA photo

C U Cesco and A Samuel discovered asteroid #1867 Deiphobus.

1972 01:49:04 GMT
NASA launched Pioneer 10 toward Jupiter and Aldebaran, the first mission to the outer solar system.

Pioneer 10 was launched 3 March 1972. This mission was the first to be sent to the outer solar system and the first to investigate the planet Jupiter, after which it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on 3 December 1973, when it flew over the cloud tops at a distance of approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km - 130,000 miles). After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Neptune on 13 June 1983 and became the first human-built space vehicle to leave the Solar system. As of 1 January 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. This solar system escape direction is unique because the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (and the Pioneer 11 spacecraft) are heading in the opposite direction towards the nose of the heliosphere in the upstream direction relative to the inflowing interstellar gas. Pioneer 10 is heading generally towards the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull). The journey over a distance of 68 light years to Aldebaran will require about two million years to complete. Routine tracking and project data processing operatations were terminated on 31 March 1997 for budget reasons. Occasional tracking continued later under support of the Lunar Prospector project at NASA Ames Research Center with retrieval of energetic particle and radio science data. The last successful data acquisitions through NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on 3 March 2002, the thirtieth anniversary of Pioneer 10's launch date, and on 27 April 2002. The spacecraft signal was last detected, from a distance of 82 AU from the Sun, on 23 January 2003 after an uplink was transmitted to turn off the last operational experiment, the Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT), but lock-on to the sub-carrier signal for data downlink was not achieved. No signal at all was detected during a final attempt on 6-7 February 2003. Pioneer Project staff at NASA Ames then concluded that the spacecraft power level had fallen below that needed to power the onboard transmitter, so no further attempts would be made.

See also
See also

Pioneer 11 in space, NASA illustration

S J Bus discovered asteroid #3059.

T Niijima and T Urata discovered asteroid #3686.

Died, Gerhard Herzberg, Canadian physicist (molecular structure, Nobel 1971 "for his contributions to the knowledge of electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals")

One of the last successful data acquisitions from NASA's Pioneer 10 probe through the Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on the thirtieth anniversary of its launch date.
see above

2002 03:31:00 CST (GMT -6:00:00)
NASA STS 109 astronauts grappled the Hubble Space Telescope to retrieve it for the fourth HST servicing mission.

STS 109 was launched 1 March 2002 as the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Its crew performed a total of five spacewalks on five consecutive days to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. Grunsfeld and Linnehan conducted the mission's first, third and fifth EVAs; while Newman and Massimino performed the second and fourth spacewalks. Currie operated the shuttle's robot arm to assist the spacewalkers, as Carey and Altman documented the EVA activities with video and still images.

The spacewalks installed new solar arrays, a new camera, a new Power Control Unit, a Reaction Wheel Assembly and an experimental cooling system for Hubble. The crew accumulated a total of 35 hours, 55 minutes of EVA time. Through STS 109, a total of 18 spacewalks have been conducted during the four Shuttle missions to service Hubble, for a total of 129 hours, 10 minutes by 14 different astronauts.

STS 109 ended on 12 March 2002 when Columbia landed at Kennedy Space Center after a 10 day, 22 hour, 10 minute mission.

The flight crew for STS 109 was: Scott Altman, Commander; Duane Carey, Pilot; Nancy Currie, Mission Specialist 1; John Grunsfeld, Mission Specialist 2; Rick Linnehan, Mission Specialist 3; Mike Massimino, Mission Specialist 4; Jim Newman, Mission Specialist 5.

Hubble space telescope as viewed from the shuttle Columbia
NASA photo STS109-E-5014 (3 March 2002)

By this date, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had transmitted over 100 terabits of data to Earth, more than all other interplanetary probes sent from Earth combined.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched 12 August 2005 on an Atlas V, was designed to orbit Mars over a full Martian year and gather data with six scientific instruments, including a high-resolution imager. The science objectives of the mission are to: characterize the present climate of Mars and its physical mechanisms of seasonal and interannual climate change; determine the nature of complex layered terrain on Mars and identify water-related landforms; search for sites showing evidence of aqueous and/or hydrothermal activity; identify and characterize sites with the highest potential for landed science and sample return by future Mars missions; and return scientific data from Mars landed craft during a relay phase. MRO was planned to return high resolution images, study surface composition, search for subsurface water, trace dust and water in the atmosphere, and monitor weather.

The launch window opened at Kennedy Space Center on 10 August 2005, with launch opportunities available until 5 September. The cruise to Mars took about seven months and included checkouts, calibrations, navigation, and three trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs). The planned fourth TCM and possible fifth TCM were not required, saving 60 pounds (27 kg) of fuel, usable during MRO's extended mission. On 10 March 2006, MRO reached Mars and performed a Mars orbit insertion maneuver, passing under the southern hemisphere of Mars at an altitude of 370–400 km (230–250 mi) and firing its main engines for about 27 minutes. Signals that the burn had started reached Earth at 21:24 UT (4:24 PM EST) on 10 March. With 6 minutes left in the burn MRO passed behind Mars as seen from Earth. Radio communication resumed when it re-emerged about 30 minutes later.

The 1641 second orbit insertion burn slowed the spacecraft by about one km/sec, leaving it in a 400 x 35000 km polar capture orbit with a 35.5 hour period. The helium pressurization tank was colder than expected, which reduced the pressure in the fuel tank by about 21 kilopascals (3.0 psi). The reduced pressure caused the diminished engine thrust by 2%, but MRO automatically compensated by extending the burn time by 33 seconds. Shortly after insertion, the periapsis (closest approach to Mars) was 426 km (265 mi) from the surface (3,806 km (2,365 mi) from the planet's center). The apoapsis (the farthest distance from Mars) was 44,500 km (27,700 mi) from the surface (47,972 km (29,808 mi) from the planet's center).

Aerobraking was used over the next five months, from 30 March to 30 August 2006, to lower the orbit. MRO fired its thrusters twice more in September 2006 to fine-tune its final, nearly circular science orbit to approximately 250 to 316 km (155 to 196 mi) above the Martian surface (with periapsis over the south pole and apoapsis over the north pole). There are twelve sun-synchronous orbits per day so that the orbiter will always see the ground at 3:00 PM local time at the equator.

The SHARAD radar antennas were deployed on 16 September 2006. All of the scientific instruments were tested and most were turned off prior to the solar conjunction which occurred from 7 October to 6 November 2006. The "primary science phase" began after the conjunction ended.

MRO took its first high resolution image from its science orbit on 29 September 2006, resolving items as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. On 6 October, NASA released detailed pictures from the MRO of Victoria crater with the Opportunity rover on the rim above it. On 17 November 2006 NASA announced the successful test of the MRO as an orbital communications relay: Using the NASA rover Spirit as the point of origin for the transmission, the MRO acted as a relay for transmitting data back to Earth.

HiRISE continues to return images enabling discoveries regarding the geology of Mars. Among these is the banded terrain observations indicating the presence and action of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or water on the surface of Mars in its recent geological past. HiRISE photographed the Phoenix lander during its parachute descent to Vastitas Borealis on 25 May 2008 (sol 990). On 6 August 2012 (sol 2483) the orbiter passed over Gale crater, the landing site of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, during its EDL phase. The HiRISE camera captured an image of the Curiosity rover descending with its backshell and supersonic parachute.

On 3 March 2010, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed another significant milestone, having transmitted over 100 terabits of data back to Earth, which was more than all other interplanetary probes sent from Earth combined.

Science operations took place nominally from the end of solar conjunction in November 2006 to the start of the next solar conjunction in November 2008, roughly one Martian year. Following the nominal mission, extended science and communications relay missions have been undertaken.

In November 2006, problems began to surface with two MRO instruments: A stepping mechanism in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) skipped on multiple occasions, resulting in a field of view that is slightly out of position. By December normal operations of the instrument were suspended, although a mitigation strategy allows the instrument to continue making most of its intended observations. Also, an increase in noise and resulting bad pixels has been observed in several CCDs of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Operation of the camera with a longer warm-up time has alleviated the issue, but the cause is still unknown and the problem may return. The orbiter continued to experience recurring problems in 2009, including four spontaneous resets, culminating in a four-month shut-down of the spacecraft from August to December. While engineers did not determine the cause of the recurrent resets, they have created new software to help troubleshoot the problem should it recur.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter consists of a main bus, constructed of titanium, carbon composites, and aluminum honeycomb. Extending from the bus are two solar panel wings and a 3 meter high-gain antenna dish. The bus houses the propulsion system, telecommunications, command, guidance, and science instruments. The maximum spacecraft mass was 2180 kg, including 1149 kg of propellants.

Propulsion is provided by a total of 20 thrusters. Six 170N monopropellant (hydrazine) main-engine thrusters were used for the Mars Orbit insertion burn, which used about 70% of the total fuel onboard. Six 22N thrusters are used for trajectory correction maneuvers and eight 0.9N thrusters for pointing. All thrusters are fed from a single propellant tank mounted near the center of the main bus. A pressurant tank is used to force propellant to the motors. Spacecraft control is achieved with the use of reaction wheels and reaction control system thrusters. Navigation and attitude knowledge is determined by 16 Sun sensors, two star tracker cameras, and two inertial measurement units which use accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Two way telecommunications is done via X-band at about 8000 MHz, primarily through the 3 m diameter steerable high-gain dish antenna. Two low-gain Ka-band antennas, mounted on the high-gain dish, are also available for transmission and reception. Two transponders and three TWT amplifiers allow maximum data rates of 6 megabits/sec. Power is provided by the two solar cell array wings mounted on opposite side of the bus. Each array has an area of 10 square meters and contains 3744 solar cells. The panels produce 1000 Watts at Mars which is used to run the equipment directly, and to charge two nickel-hydrogen 50 A-hr, 32-volt batteries. Thermal control is achieved by a combination of radiators, surface coatings, insulation, and heaters.

MRO's science payload includes the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a visible stereo imaging camera; the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), a visible/near-infrared spectrometer to study the surface composition; the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), an infrared radiometer to study the atmosphere, a shallow subsurface sounding radar (SHARAD) provided by the Italian Space Agency to search for underground water; the Context Camera (CTX), to provide wide-area views; and the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), to monitor clouds and dust storms. In addition, there are three engineering instruments aboard MRO: the Electra UHF communications and navigation package, used as a relay between the Earth and other Mars missions; the optical navigation camera, tested for possible navigational use on future planetary spacecraft; and the Ka-band telecommunications experiment package, for testing high performance Ka-band communications. Engineering accelerometer data is used to study the structure of the Martian atmosphere, and tracking of the orbiter is used to study the gravity field of Mars.

Died, William R. Pogue, Colonel USAF, astronaut (Skylab 4)

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