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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 6

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Born, Joseph von Fraunhofer, German physicist (studied the Sun's spectrum)

Born, Aaron Lufkin Dennison, father of American watchmaking (interchangeable parts)

Dmitri Mendeleev made a formal presentation to the Russian Chemical Society introducing the Periodic Table of Elements.

A Borrelly discovered asteroid #246 Asporina.

The first US alternating current power plant started operation in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.,_1886

Born, Madge Adam, English solar astronomer internationally known for her work on the nature of sunspots and on their magnetic fields

Born, Gordon Cooper, USAF colonel, astronaut (Mercury 9, Gemini 5) (deceased)

(Leroy) Gordon Cooper, Jr. (6 March 1927 - 4 October 2004) was an American astronaut. He was one of the original Mercury 7 pilots in the Mercury program, the first manned space effort by the United States.

While stationed in Germany in the early 1950's, Cooper claims to have seen several unidentified flying objects (UFOs). He related his account on Art Bell's radio program, stating the objects were shaped "like saucers - they were metallic looking, but we couldn't really get close enough to see more than that. You couldn't see any wings on them." Cooper initially suspected the objects were Russian, but later speculated they could be "some kind of extraterrestrial vehicle."

Cooper was a test pilot in the US Air Force before being selected as a Mercury astronaut in April 1959. He was launched into space on 15 May 1963 aboard Mercury-Atlas 9 (Faith 7), the last Mercury mission. He orbited the Earth 22 times and logged more time in space than all five previous Mercury astronauts combined in that flight, a mission which lasted 34 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds, the first time an American spent more than 24 hours in space. Cooper also gained the distinction of becoming the first American astronaut to sleep not only in orbit but on the launch pad during a countdown.

Two years later, on 21 August 1965, Cooper flew as the commander of Gemini 5 on an eight-day mission with Charles Conrad. Cooper was the first person to make a second orbital flight. He was tentatively scheduled to fly in the Apollo program, but was scratched after a falling-out with NASA management. He retired from NASA and the Air Force on 31 July 1970 with the rank of colonel.

Cooper wrote one book, Leap of Faith, which chronicled his experiences with the Air Force and NASA, as well as his efforts to expose an alleged UFO conspiracy.

Cooper was the last American astronaut to orbit the Earth for an entire mission by himself, but not the last US astronaut to reach space alone: Two flights of the X-15 later in 1963 passed the 100 km "edge of space", and the Mojave Aerospace Ventures SpaceShipOne made three flights past that barrier. The third flight by the latter craft, in which it won the Ansari X Prize, occurred on 4 October 2004 - the same day that Cooper died of natural causes at age 77 in Ventura, California.

Astronaut Gordon Cooper, NASA photo

Born, Colonel-Engineer Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, Soviet cosmonaut, the first woman in space

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born 6 March 1937, in the village of Maslennikovo, in the Yaroslavl region. A fascination with parachute jumping led Valentina Tereshkova the unlikely, history making role as the first woman in space; unlikely because Valentina, differing from the other cosmonauts, had never been a test pilot.

Five women were selected on 16 February 1962 as cosmonaut trainees. Valentina was one of them and underwent the rigorous training program which included 120 parachute jumps. Valentina did extremely well in the physical aspects of her training, but had trouble with the engineering topics.

Vostok 6 was launched on 16 June 1963 with Valentina on board. This was to be a joint mission with Vostok 5, launched 14 June 1963; the primary mission was to collect data on the effects of space flight on men and women. Valentina came within roughly 5 km of Vostok 5 and made radio contact with Bykovsky. Sergei Korolev, the Soviet chief rocket designer, was not pleased with Valentina's abilities, suggested that she was psychologically instable, and never allowed her to take control of Vostok 6: She was basically along for the ride. Valentina returned to Earth on 19 June 1963, three hours before Vostok 5. After entering Earth's atmosphere, Valentina parachuted from her space craft, landing roughly 380 miles northeast of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Vostok 6 was recovered later the same day, east of where Valentina landed.

At the time, the Soviet space program had one eligible bachelor, Andrian Nikolayev, who had flown aboard Vostok 3. Rumors began that Valentina and Andrian were an item. Although they were untrue, the rumors eventually reached the ear of Premier Nikita Khrushchev who thought such a union would be a wonderful and novel thing. He turned on the pressure, and Valentina and Andrian were wed on 3 November 1963 in a ceremony at the Moscow Wedding Palace with Khrushchev presiding. Valentina's marriage to Andrian did not last long, but it did last long enough for the couple to have one child: Seven months after the wedding, on 8 June 1964, Valentina gave birth to their only child, a daughter named Elena Andrionovna. Elena grew up to became a doctor.

After Elena's birth, Valentina attended the Zhukovskiy Military Air Academy and earned her college degree in October, 1969. The female division of the Soviet space program was done away with after Valentina's graduation.

Valentina did not allow the fact that she would never again fly in space keep her from being active in Soviet life. She represented the Soviet government in many worldwide women's organizations. Valentina served as a member of the World Peace Council (1966) and the Union of the Supreme Soviet (1966 - 74). In 1974, Valentina was elected to the presidium of the Supreme Soviet and served as the Soviet Union's representative to the UN Conference for International Women's Year in Mexico City (1975). Valentina was designated as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet, Vice President of International Woman's Democratic Federation and was President of the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society. When the Soviet era came to an end, Valentina lost all of her political standings; however, the former cosmonaut remained the head of the government center for international scientific and cultural cooperation in Star City, northeast of Moscow, where she resides.

The first telecast from an airplane was made in New York City.

Born, Patrick Pierre Roger Baudry, (at Douala, Cameroon), CNES astronaut (STS 51-G)

The farthest radio signal heard at the time was received from Pioneer IV, 400,000 miles (655,000 km) from Earth.

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #3363.

P Wild discovered asteroid #1657 Roemera.

C Kowal discovered asteroid #1981 Midas.

L Chernykh discovered asteroid #2273 Yarilo; and N Chernykh discovered asteroids #2832 Lada, #3466, #3470 and #3348.

C-I Lagerkvist discovered asteroid #3250.

H Debehogne discovered asteroid #3235; and S J Bus discovered asteroid #3269.

Died, Ayn Rand, writer (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead)

E Bowell discovered asteroids #3356 Resnik and #3697 Guyhurst.

USSR Vega 1 passed Comet Halley at a distance of approximately 8,889 km.

The Vega mission combined a Venus swingby and a Comet Halley flyby by two identical spacecraft, Vega 1 and Vega 2, which were launched 15 December 1984 and 21 December 1984, respectively. After carrying Venus entry probes to the vicinity of Venus on 11 and 15 June 1985, respectively, the two spacecraft used Venus' gravity to get speed boosts to intercept Comet Halley. The first spacecraft encountered Comet Halley on 6 March 1986, and the second three days later. The flyby velocity was 77.7 km/s. Although the spacecraft could be targeted with a precision of 100 km, the position of the spacecraft relative to the comet nucleus was estimated to be known only to within a few thousand kilometers because of variations in the comet's orbit. This, together with the problem of dust protection, led to estimated flyby distances of 10,000 km for the first spacecraft and 3000 km for the second. Data were taken from 2.5 hours before through 0.5 hours after the closest approaches, with several periods of data taking before and after, each lasting about 2 hours.

The Venus instrumentation packages each consisted of a sphere 240 cm in diameter, which separated from the spacecraft bus two days before arrival at Venus and entered the planet's atmosphere on an inclined path, without active maneuvers, as was done on previous Venera missions. The lander probes (identical to those of Venera 9 through 14) had two objectives, the study of the atmosphere and the study of the superficial crust. In addition to temperature and pressure measuring instruments, the descent probes carried a UV spectrometer for measurement of minor atmospheric constituents, an instrument dedicated to measurement of the concentration of H2O, and other instruments for determination of the chemical composition of the condensed phase: a gas-phase chromatograph; an X-ray spectrometer observing the fluorescence of grains or drops; and a mass spectrograph measuring the chemical composition of the grains or drops. The X-ray spectrometer separated the grains according to their sizes using a laser imaging device, while the mass spectrograph separated them according to their sizes using an aerodynamical inertial separator. A toroidal system similar to that on Veneras 13 and 14 was designed to absorb shock on landing. After landing, a small surface sample near the probe was to be analyzed by gamma spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence. The UV spectrometer, the mass spectrograph, and the pressure- and temperature-measuring instruments were developed in cooperation between French and Soviet investigators.

After separation, the Vega 1 lander entered the Venus atmosphere on 11 June 1985 at 01:59:49 UT at 10.75 km/s with an entry angle of 18.23 degrees. The pilot parachute was deployed at 02:00:27 UT at an altitude of 65 km and the braking parachute opened 11 seconds later at 64.5 km. The upper heat protection hemisphere was released at that time and the lower hemisphere 4 seconds later at 64.2 km. The upper hemisphere contained the deployment system for the balloon aerostat. The parachute was released at 02:09:37 at 47 km, after which the lander used aerobraking to descend through the thick Venus atmosphere, with drag devices minimizing vibrations and spin and providing stability. At an altitude of 18 km a mechanical shock of unknown origin (possibly due to a jammed valve in an upper compartment suddenly releasing) triggered a ground-contact accelerometer which caused early deployment of the soil drill of the X-ray flourescence spectrometer. The drill was rendered unusable at landing due to the premature deployment. The lander touched down at 03:02:54 UT on 11 June 1985 at 7.5 N, 177.7 E, just north of eastern Aphrodite Terra. The altitude of the touchdown site was 0.6 km below the planetary mean radius, the measured pressure at the landing site was 95 atm and the temperature was 740 K.

After separation, the Vega 2 lander entered the Venus atmosphere on 15 June 1985 at 01:59:30 UT at 10.80 km/s with an entry angle of 19.08 degrees. The pilot parachute was deployed at 02:00:05 UT at an altitude of 65 km and the braking parachute opened 11 seconds later at 64.5 km. The upper heat protection hemisphere was released at that time and the lower hemisphere 4 seconds later at 64.2 km. The upper hemisphere contained the deployment system for the balloon aerostat. The parachute was released at 02:09:15 at 47 km, after which the lander used aerobraking while descending through the thick Venus atmosphere, with drag devices minimizing vibrations and spin and providing stability. The lander touched down at 03:00:50 UT on 15 June 1985 at 8.5 S, 164.5 E, in eastern Aphrodite Terra. The altitude of the touchdown site was 0.1 km above the planetary mean radius, and the measured pressure and temperature at the landing site were 91 atm and 736 K. The surface sample was found to be an anorthosite-troctolite.

In addition to the lander probes, constant-pressure instrumented balloon aerostats were deployed immediately after entry into the atmosphere at an altitude of 54 km. Each 3.4 meter diameter balloon supported a total mass of 25 kg, including a 5 kg payload that hung suspended 12 meters below the balloon. It floated at approximately 50 km altitude in the middle, most active layer of the Venus three-tiered cloud system. Data from the balloon instruments were transmitted directly to Earth for the lifetime of the mission. Onboard instruments were to measure temperature, pressure, vertical wind velocity, and visibility (density of local aerosols). Very long baseline interferometry was used to track the motion of the balloon to provide the wind velocity in the clouds. Tracking was done by a 6 station network on Soviet territory and by a network of 12 stations distributed world-wide (organized by France and the NASA Deep Space Network). The balloons measured downward gusts of 1 meter/s and showed horizontal wind velocities up to 240 km/hr. After two days and 9000 km, the balloons entered the dayside of Venus where they expanded and burst due to solar heating.

Vega 1:
Vega 2:

An SR-71 set a US transcontinental record, flying 2,404 miles in 1:08:17 (2112 mph average speed - nearly 1 km/sec) from California to Washington on its final flight, retired by the USAF and donated to the Smithsonian for museum display.

Died, Hans Albrecht Bethe, German-American physicist (stellar nucleosynthesis, Nobel 1967 "for his contributions to the theory of nuclear reactions, especially his discoveries concerning the energy production in stars")

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