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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 22

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Race To Space
Someone will win the prize...
               ... but at what cost?
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Born, Ulugh Beg, Timurid astronomer

Ulugh Beg (22 March 1394 - 27 October 1449) was a Timurid astronomer, mathematician and sultan. Lacking telescopes to work with, he increased his accuracy by increasing the length of his sextant; the so-called Fakhri Sextant had a radius of circa 36 meters and the optical separability of 180" (seconds of arc). Using it he compiled the 1437 Zij-i Sultani of 994 stars, generally considered the greatest of star catalogues between those of Ptolemy and Brahe.

Born, Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander (at Memel, East Prussia), astronomer, cataloguer of 324,188 stars

Born, Robert A. Millikan (at Morrison, IL, USA), physicist (Nobel 1923 "for his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect")

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #327 Columbia.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1041 Asta.

L. Boyer discovered asteroid #1511 Dalera; and Y. Vaisala discovered asteroid #2486 Metsahovi.

L. Boyer discovered asteroid #1574 Meyer.

Born, Musa Khiramanovich Manarov (at Baku, Azerbajan SSR), Colonel Russian AF, Reserve, Soviet cosmonaut (Mir 3, Mir 8; 541 total days in space)

Cosmonaut Musa Manarov (10 October 2004)
Source: UR3IRS at Russian Wikipedia

Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes received the first patent for a LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) system.

C. Torres discovered asteroids #2282 Andres Bello and #2518 Rutllant.

N. Chernykh discovered asteroids #2149 Schwambraniya and #2563 Boyarchuk.

1981 14:59:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 39, carrying cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Jugderdemidiyn Girragcha to the Salyut 6 space station as the eighth international crew in the Intercosmos program.

1982 11:00:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 3 (Columbia 3, third Shuttle mission) to continue testing the Shuttle systems in preparation for operational flights.

STS 3 lifted off on 22 March 1982 after the launch was delayed one hour due to the failure of a heater on a nitrogen gas ground support line. During the mission, testing continued of the Space Shuttle systems for qualification for operational flights. Testing of the remote manipulator system, and measurements of the thermal response of the orbiter in various attitudes to the Sun were conducted. A Get Away Special (GAS) test canister and Spacelab pallet-mounted experiments for NASA's Office of Space Science-1 (OSS-1) were carried in the payload bay. OSS-1 obtained data on the near-Earth space environment, including contamination (gases, dust, etc.) introduced into space by the orbiter itself. Other experiments were: Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Electrophoresis Equipment Verification Test (EEVT), Heflex Bioengineering Test (HBT) and the first Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment. Problems encountered during the flight included: space sickness, a malfunctioning toilet, thermostat difficulties, and unexplained static interfering with the crew's sleep. An auxiliary power unit registered overheating during ascent, but functioned properly during descent. Three communications links were lost.

STS 3 ended when Columbia landed on revolution 130 on 30 March 1985 on Runway 17, Northrup Strip, White Sands, New Mexico. Rollout distance: 13,732 feet. Rollout time: 83 seconds. Launch weight: 235,415 pounds. Orbit altitude: 147 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 38.0 degrees. Mission duration: eight days, zero hours, four minutes, 46 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.335 million. The landing site was changed from Edwards Air Force Base to White Sands due to wet conditions on the Edwards dry lake bed landing site. High winds at White Sands resulted in a one day extension of the mission. Some brake damage occurred upon landing, and a dust storm caused extensive contamination of the orbiter. The orbiter was returned to KSC 6 April 1982.

The flight crew for STS 3 was: Jack R. Lousma, Commander; C. Gordon Fullerton, Pilot.

Official STS-3 crewmember portrait, Jack R. Lousma (commander), left, and C. Gordon Fullerton (pilot)
Source: Wikipedia ( unavailable March 2019)

E. Bowell discovered asteroid #3713.

1989 21:42:00 GMT
4581 Asclepius, a 300 meter (approx. 1000 foot) diameter Near-Earth asteroid, missed the Earth by only 0.00457 AU (684,000 km; 425,000 mi), passing through the volume of space where Earth had been six hours earlier.

1995 04:04:05 GMT
Russia's Soyuz TM-20 returned to Earth with cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko, Elena Kondakova and Valeri Polyakov aboard. Polyakov set a record of nearly 438 days in space on the Mir space station in his mission that ended with this landing.

Soyuz TM-20 was launched 3 October 1994 with the Mir Expedition EO-17 crew aboard. It carried 10 kg of equipment for use by Merbold in ESA's month-long Euromir 94 experiment program. During automatic approach to Mir's front port, the spacecraft yawed unexpectedly. Viktorenko completed a manual docking without additional incident. Soyuz TM-20 docked at the Mir forward port at 00:28 on 6 October 1994.

The Mir crew of Viktorenko, Kondakova and Polyakov boarded Soyuz TM-20 on 11 January 1995, and undocked from Mir's front port at 09:00 GMT. The spacecraft withdrew to about two hundred meters from Mir, and then redocked at 09:25 GMT in a test of the automatic Kurs system, which had failed in Progress M-24's docking attempt.

Soyuz TM-20 returned to Earth 54 km NE of Arkalyk (50.52 N, 67.35 E) on 22 March 1995 with cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko, Elena Kondakova and Valeri Polyakov aboard. Polyakov set a record of nearly 438 days in space on the Mir space station in his mission that ended with this landing.

Died (light plane crash during testing), Robert Franklin "Bob" Overmyer (at Duluth, Minnesota, USA), Colonel USMC, NASA astronaut (STS 5, STS 51-B; nearly 12d 2.5h total time in spaceflight)

1996 03:13:04 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 76 (Atlantis 16, 76th Shuttle mission) for the third Shuttle-Mir docking, and carrying the SPACEHAB module.

STS 76 was originally set for a 21 March 1996 launch, pending resolution of an issue concerning wiper O-rings on the nozzle-to-case joints on both Redesigned Solid Rocket Motors (RSRMs) flown on the previous mission, STS-75. The first launch attempt set for 21 March was scrubbed prior to commencement of tanking operations on 20 March due to concerns about high winds. The launch reset for 22 March proceeded smoothly to an on-time liftoff. During ascent, a leak occurred in a hydraulic system powered by Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) number 3. The leak stopped after hydraulic system shutdown on-orbit. Mission managers concluded the system would remain stable, and proceeded with plans for a full-duration mission.

The third linkup between the US Space Shuttle and the Russian Space Station Mir was highlighted by the transfer of veteran astronaut Shannon Lucid to Mir to become the first American woman to live on the station. Her approximately four and a half month stay also eclipsed the long duration US spaceflight record set by the first American to live on Mir, Norm Thagard. Lucid was succeeded by astronaut John Blaha during STS-79 in August. Her stay give her the distinction of membership in four different flight crews in one mission -- two US, and two Russian -- and her stay on Mir kicked off a continuous US presence in space for the next two years.

The STS 76 payload bay configuration included the Orbiter Docking System in the forward area, and the SPACEHAB single module toward the aft. STS-76 marked the first flight of the SPACEHAB pressurized module to support Shuttle-Mir dockings; the single module primarily served as a stowage area for the large supply of equipment slated for transfer to the space station, but also carried the European Space Agency's Biorack experiment rack for on-orbit research.

Atlantis docked with Mir on 24 March 1996. Hatches opened a little less than two hours later. Awaiting Atlantis' arrival were Mir 21 Commander Yuri Onufrienko and Flight Engineer Yuri Usachev, launched to Mir on 21 February. In July, they were joined by Mir 22 Commander Gennady Manakov, Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov and French Space Agency cosmonaut researcher Claudie Andre-Deshays. After a two week stay, Andre-Deshays returned to Earth with Onufrienko and Usachev while Manakov and Vinogradov remained on board with Lucid.

During the five days of docked operations, about 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of water and two tons of scientific equipment, logistical material and resupply items were transferred to Mir; and experiment samples and miscellaneous equipment were brought over to the orbiter. In Biorack, 11 separate scientific investigations were conducted. Study topics included the effect of microgravity and cosmic radiation on plants, tissues, cells, bacteria and insects, and the effects of microgravity on bone loss. Also transferred to the station were the Mir Glovebox Stowage (MGBX) equipment to replenish the glovebox already on the station; Queen's University Experiment in Liquid Diffusion (QUELD) flown in an orbiter middeck locker; and the High Temperature Liquid Phase Sintering (LPS) experiment.

On flight day six, Godwin and Clifford conducted the first US extravehicular activity (EVA) around the two mated spacecraft. During the six hour, two minute, 28 second EVA, they attached four Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) experiments to the station's Docking Module. The experiments were designed to characterize the environment around Mir over an 18-month period. The two spacewalkers wore Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) propulsive devices first flight tested during STS-64.

Other payloads flown on STS 76 were: Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX); KidSat, a project that gives middle school students the opportunity to participate in space exploration; and Trapped Ions in Space (TRIS), a Naval Research Laboratory experiment flown in a Get Away Special (GAS) canister in the cargo bay.

STS 76 ended 31 March 1996 when Atlantis landed on revolution 145 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 8,357 feet (2,547 meters). Rollout time: 55 seconds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 56.1 degrees. Mission duration: nine days, five hours, 15 minutes, 53 seconds. Miles Traveled: 3.8 million (estimate). Mission managers re-scheduled the landing from 31 March to 30 March in anticipation of rain and clouds at the KSC landing site, but landing attempts at KSC on 30 March and 31 March were waved off due to weather, before the orbiter was finally diverted to California. A more conservative weather criteria was employed for the landing due to the leak in the APU number 3 hydraulic system, and special measures were taken during re-entry to minimize use of that particular APU. Following waveoff on 30 March, a payload bay door reopening process was interrupted when the release indicators for payload bay door centerline latches 9 through 12 on both sides failed to indicate release, suggesting the latches had not operated properly. The astronauts ventured into the SPACEHAB module in the aft payload bay to visually inspect the latches, which appeared to have opened as intended. The crew used manual mode to complete opening of the doors without further incident, and the glitch was attributed to faulty microswitches. Also, during prelanding preparations, three of the 38 Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters failed, but backup thrusters were available to perform the same functions. This was not considered a night landing because it occurred only 11 minutes before sunrise; flight rules define night launch/landing as one occurring no earlier than 15 minutes after sunset and no later than 15 minutes before sunrise.

The flight crew for STS 76 was: Kevin P. Chilton, Commander; Richard A. Searfoss, Pilot; Shannon W. Lucid, Mission Specialist (remained on MIR); Linda M. Godwin, Mission Specialist; Michael R. Clifford, Mission Specialist; Ronald M. Sega, Mission Specialist.

A continuous 1-year US presence in space was attained while astronaut Jerry Linenger was aboard the Russian space station Mir, following the visits of Shannon Lucid and John E. Blaha.

Comet Hale-Bopp made its closest approach to Earth (1.315 AU, 122,295,000 miles, 197 million km).

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