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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 April 8

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Born, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, at Konstanz, Grand Duchy of Baden (now part of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany), first large-scale builder of the rigid dirigibles which eventually became synonymous with his name

Died, Elisha Graves Otis, inventor (safe elevator)

H Alikoski discovered asteroid #2911.

1964 16:00:01 GMT
NASA launched the unmanned GT-1 test of the structural integrity of the Gemini spacecraft and compatibility of Gemini and the Titan II launch vehicle. The test was successful, recovery was not planned; it reentered after the 64th orbit and disintegrated.

Gemini 1 was an uncrewed orbital test of the Titan 2 launch vehicle, the Gemini spacecraft structural integrity, and the launch vehicle-spacecraft compatibility. The test covered all phases through the orbital insertion phase. Other objectives were to check out launch vehicle-spacecraft launch heating conditions, launch vehicle performance, launch vehicle flight control system switch-over circuits, launch vehicle orbit insertion accuracy, and the malfunction detection system. This was the first production Gemini spacecraft and launch vehicle.

The Gemini 1 launch took place on 8 April 1964 at 11:00:01 a.m. EST from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy, Florida. Six minutes after launch, the Titan 2 booster placed the Gemini spacecraft and the attached second stage in a 160.5 x 320.6 km orbit with a period of 89.3 minutes. An excess speed of 22.5 km/hr sent the spacecraft 33.6 km higher than planned. Mission plans did not include separation of spacecraft from the 3.05 meter diameter, 5.8 meter long Titan stage 2, both orbited as a unit. The planned mission included only three orbits and ended about 4 hours 50 minutes after launch with the third pass over Cape Kennedy. The spacecraft was tracked until it reentered the atmosphere and disintegrated on the 64th orbital pass over the southern Atlantic on 12 April 1964. The systems functioned well within planned tolerances and the mission was deemed a successful test.

Gemini 1 lifting off from Cape Kennedy, Florida, NASA photo

1966 19:40:00 GMT
NASA's OAO 1, the first orbiting astronomical observatory, was launched to measure absorption and emission characteristics from visible to gamma-ray wavelengths.

Artist's conception of OAO 1, NASA illustration

1967 09:07:00 GMT
USSR launched the unmanned Cosmos 154 satellite with orbital data similar to a manned flight. It reached Earth orbit but the Block D translunar injection stage failed to fire, and was believed to be a precursor to a later Zond flight.

A 6 pound meteorite struck the home of Paul and Minnie Cassarino in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

W Liller discovered asteroid #2449.

Died, Albert Puellenberg, German rocket engineer, formed and led the Hannover Group of rocket experimenters 1931-1935, renewed German private citizen rocketry 1952-1964

1993 01:29:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 56 (Discovery 16, 54th Shuttle mission) carrying the ATLAS-2 and SPARTAN-201 experiment packages.

The first launch attempt of STS 56 on 6 April 1993 was halted at T-11 seconds by orbiter computers when instrumentation on the liquid hydrogen high point bleed valve in the main propulsion system indicated off instead of on. Later analysis indicated the valve was properly configured; 48 hour scrub turnaround procedures were then implemented. The final countdown on 8 April 1993 proceeded smoothly.

The primary payload for STS 56 was the second flight of the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS-2), designed to collect data on the relationship between the Sun's energy output and the Earth's middle atmosphere, and how these factors affect the ozone layer. It included six instruments mounted on a Spacelab pallet in the cargo bay, with the seventh mounted on the wall of the bay in two Get Away Special (GAS) canisters. Atmospheric instruments included the Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS) experiment, the Millimeter Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS), and the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet/A (SSBUV/A) spectrometer (on the cargo bay wall). Solar science instruments were the Solar Spectrum Measurement (SOLSPEC) instrument, the Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM), and the Active Cavity Radiometer (ACR) and Solar Constant (SOLCON) experiments.

ATLAS-2 is one element of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program. All seven ATLAS-2 instruments first flew on ATLAS-I during STS-45, and were scheduled to fly a third time in late 1994.

On 11 April, the crew used the remote manipulator arm to deploy the Shuttle Point Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201), a free-flying science instrument platform designed to study velocity and acceleration of the Solar wind and observe the Sun's corona. Collected data was stored on tape for playback after return to Earth. SPARTAN-201 was retrieved on 13 April.

The crew also made numerous radio contacts to schools around the world using the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment II (SAREX II), including brief radio contact with the Russian Mir space station, the first such contact between Shuttle and Mir using amateur radio equipment.

The other cargo bay payload was the Solar Ultraviolet Experiment (SUVE), sponsored by Colorado Space Grant Consortium and located in a Get Away Special (GAS) canister on the cargo bay wall.

The middeck payloads were the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiment (CMIX), the Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE), Space Tissue Loss (STL-1) experiment, the Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) experiment, the Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES), Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III), and an Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) calibration test.

STS 56 ended on 17 April 1993 when Discovery landed on revolution 148 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 9,530 feet (2,905 meters). Rollout time: 63 seconds. Launch weight: 236,659 pounds. Landing weight: 206,855 pounds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: nine days, six hours, eight minutes, 24 seconds. Miles Traveled: 3.9 million. The landing originally set for 16 April at Kennedy Space Center was waved off due to weather.

The flight crew for STS 56 was: Kenneth D. Cameron, Commander; Stephen S. Oswald, Pilot; C. Michael Foale Ph.D., Mission Specialist 1; Kenneth D. Cockrell, Mission Specialist 2; Ellen Ochoa, Mission Specialist 3.

1997 14:33:11 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 83 (Columbia 22, 83rd Shuttle mission) landed early, the third shortened mission in the Shuttle program, due to fuel cell concerns.

STS 83's launch was originally set for 3 April 1997, but was delayed 24 hours on 1 April due to a requirement to add additional thermal insulation to a water coolant line in the orbiter's payload bay. Managers determined that the line, which cools various electronic systems on the orbiter, was not properly insulated and could possibly freeze on-orbit. Liftoff on 4 April 1997 was then delayed an additional 20 minutes, 32 seconds due to an orbiter access hatch seal which had to be replaced.

The first flight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1), the primary payload of STS 83, was cut short due to concerns about one of Columbia's three fuel cells, marking only the third time in the Shuttle program history that a mission ended early. (STS-2, 1981 and STS-44, 1991 were the other two times). Fuel cell number 2 had shown some erratic readings during prelaunch startup, but was cleared to fly after additional checkout and test procedures. Shortly after on-orbit operations began, the number 3 fuel cell substack differential voltage began trending upward. There are three fuel cells on each orbiter, each containing three substacks made up of two banks of 16 cells. In one substack of fuel cell number 2, the difference in output voltage between the two banks of cells was increasing. The fuel cells use a reaction of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to generate electricity and produce drinking water. Although one fuel cell produces enough electricity to conduct on-orbit and landing operations, Shuttle flight rules require all three to be functioning properly to ensure crew safety and provide sufficient backup capability during reentry and landing.

When a purge failed to halt the upward trend, the fuel cell was shut down. Additional purges and other measures failed to correct the anomaly, and around 10 a.m. on 6 April, the Mission Management Team ordered the mission to end early. Fuel cell number 2 was shut down for the remainder of the mission later that afternoon and safed.

The crew was able to conduct some science in the MSL-1 Spacelab module despite the early return. Work was performed in the German electromagnetic levitation furnace facility (TEMPUS) on an experiment called Thermophysical Properties of Undercooled Metallic Melts. This experiment studied the amount of undercooling that can be achieved before solidification occurs. Another experiment performed was the Liquid-Phase Sintering II experiment in the Large Isothermal Furnace. This investigation used heat and pressure to test theories about how the liquefied component bonds with the solid particles of a mixture without reaching the melting point of the new alloy combination.

Also conducted were two fire-related experiments. The Laminar Soot Processes experiment allowed scientists to observe for the first time the concentration and structure of soot from a fire burning in microgravity. The Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number experiment completed two runs. This experiment was designed to determine under what conditions a stable flame ball can exist, and if heat loss is responsible in some way for the stablilization of the flame ball during burning.

A decision to refly the MSL-1 mission in its entirety was made by the Mission Management Team in the days following Columbia's return. The reflight was first designated STS 83R and then renamed STS 94.

STS 83 ended on 8 April 1997 when Columbia landed on revolution 64 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the first KSC opportunity for the day. Rollout distance: 8,602 feet (2,622 meters). Rollout time: 59 seconds. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: three days, 23 hours, 12 minutes, 39 seconds. Miles Traveled: 1.5 million.

The flight crew for STS 83 was: James D. Halsell, Mission Commander; Susan L. Still, Pilot; Janice E. Voss, Payload Commander; Donald A. Thomas, Mission Specialist; Michael L. Gernhardt, Mission Specialist; Roger Crouch, Payload Specialist; Greg Linteris, Payload Specialist.

2001 20:54:00 GMT
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor photographed the "Face on Mars" discovered by Viking 1 in 1976 in the Cydonia region, revealing an eroded hill.

A 2 km (1.2 miles) long mesa in the Cydonia region of Mars, seen in one of the images taken by Viking 1 on 25 July 1976, situated at 40.75 degrees north latitude and 9.46 degrees west longitude, had the appearance of a humanoid face. When the image was originally acquired, Viking chief scientist Gerry Soffen dismissed the "Face on Mars" in image 035A72 as a "trick of light and shadow." However, a second image, 070A13, also shows the "face", and was acquired 35 Viking orbits later at a different sun-angle from the 035A72 image. This latter discovery was made independently by Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, two computer engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. DiPietro and Molenaar discovered the two misfiled images, Viking frames 035A72 and 070A13, while searching through NASA archives.

In a press release issued on 31 July 1976, NASA provided a caption for the picture stating "The picture shows eroded mesa-like landforms. The huge rock formation in the center, which resembles a human head, is formed by shadows giving the illusion of eyes, nose and mouth. ..."

Since it was originally first imaged, the "face" has been near-universally accepted as an optical illusion. After analysis of the higher resolution Mars Global Surveyor data NASA stated that "a detailed analysis of multiple images of this feature reveals a natural looking Martian hill whose illusory face-like appearance depends on the viewing angle and angle of illumination."

On 8 April 2001 the Mars Global Surveyor was rolled 24.8 degrees to the left so that it was looking at the "face" 165 km to the side from a distance of about 450 km. The resulting image has a resolution of about 2 meters (6.6 feet) per pixel. It can be found at (2400 x 2400 pixels) See for other images and discussion.

An image of a three dimensional model of the "Face" constructed from data collected by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express satellites can be found at (3721 x 2480 pixels)

In 1958, almost two decades prior to the first images of the Face from the Viking probes, the comic book artist Jack Kirby wrote a story entitled "The Face on Mars" for Harvey Comics (Race for the Moon Number 2, September 1958), in which a large face served as a monument to an extinct humanoid race from Mars.

April 2001 view of the "Face on Mars" MOC image E03-00824, NASA photo
from (2400 x 2400 pixels)

2002 15:44:19 CDT (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 110 (Atlantis 25) carrying the the 43 foot long S0 (S-Zero) Truss to the International Space Station (ISS).

STS 110 lifted off on 8 April 2002 on a mission to install the 43 foot long S0 (S-Zero) Truss, the backbone for future station expansion, to the International Space Station (ISS). While in orbit, the STS-110 crewmembers performed four spacewalks and used the shuttle and station robotic arms to install and outfit the S0. They prepared the station for future spacewalks and spent a week in joint operations with the station's Expedition Four crew. They also prepared the first railroad in space, the Mobile Transporter, for use.

The S0 (S-Zero) Truss is the first of nine pieces that will make up the station's external framework that will eventually span 109 meters (356 feet).

STS 110 Mission Specialist Jerry Ross became the first human to be launched into space seven times. With the two spacewalks that he performed, he tightened his grip on the most US spacewalks (nine) and spacewalking time - 58 hours, 18 minutes. Second on the list for both spacewalking milestones is Ross' crewmate Mission Specialist Steve Smith, who also conducted two spacewalks during STS 110 to give him a total of 49 hours, 48 minutes during seven spacewalks.

The mission had other spacewalk milestones. This was the first time that the station's robotic arm was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station, and it was the first time that all of a shuttle crew's spacewalks were based out the station's Quest Airlock.

The flight crew for STS 110 was: Michael J.Bloomfield, Commander; Stephen N. Frick, Pilot; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist; Steven L. Smith, Mission Specialist; Ellen Ochoa, Mission Specialist; Lee M.E. Morin, Mission Specialist; Rex J. Walheim, Mission Specialist.

ISS S-Zero Truss assembly sequence, NASA drawing

A hybrid solar eclipse occurred, with a path of totality crossing a portion of the Pacific Ocean.

Eclipse map courtesy of Fred Espenak - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. For more information on solar and lunar eclipses, see Fred Espenak's Eclipse Home Page:

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