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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 20

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The eighth recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet occurred.

Comet C/1702 H1 approached within 0.0437 AUs (6.54 million km, 4.06 million miles) of Earth.

Died, John Goodricke, English astronomer, discovered the periodic variation of Delta Cephei, studied Algol (Beta Persei) in 1782, proposing it to be an eclipsing binary

Born, Heinrich Gobel (Henry Goebel), German/US inventor (claimed invention of the first practical light bulb in 1854 which lasted for up to 400 hours)

Born, Charles Gordon Curtis, American engineer, inventor (Curtis Turbine)

The first pasteurization test was completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard. Pasteurization is an important step in preparing many foods for extended storage, such as for use on space missions.

R S Dugan discovered asteroid #508 Princetonia.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #532 Herculina.

Halley's Comet passed its twenty-ninth recorded perihelion, at 87.9 million km.

F Kaiser discovered asteroid #786 Bredichina; and G Neujmin discovered asteroid #787 Moskva.

Died, K. Ferdinand Braun, German physicist (radio, Nobel 1909 with G. Marconi "in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy")

Born, Karl Alexander Muller, Swiss superconductivity physicist (Nobel 1987 with J. Georg Bednorz "for their important break-through in the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials")

Born, Gerald S. Hawkins, astronomer (Stonehenge as a primitive observatory)

R C Cameron discovered asteroid #1575 Winifred.

Harold Graham made the first untethered flight of the Bell Rocket Belt.

Astrogeologist Gene Shoemaker wearing a Bell Rocket Belt while training astronauts
(public domain photo, from Wikipedia)

NASA civilian pilot Neil A. Armstrong flew X-15 flight 51 to 63.246 km (207,500 feet, 39.3 miles) with a maximum speed of 6,098 km/hr (3742 mph, Mach 5.31).

1964 08:08:28 GMT
USSR launched Luna E-6 No.5, originally identified by NASA as Luna 1964B, an attempted Lunar landing mission. The spacecraft and SL-6/A-2-e booster failed to attain Earth orbit when the upper stage power system malfunctioned 340 seconds into the flight.

1967 00:04:53 GMT
NASA's Surveyor 3 made a soft landing on the Moon, the second US spacecraft to do so.

Surveyor 3, launched 17 April 1967, was the second spacecraft in the Surveyor series to acheive a soft landing on the Lunar surface. The main purpose of the mission was to determine various characteristics of the Lunar terrain in preparation for Apollo Lunar landing missions. Equipment on board included a television camera and auxiliary mirrors, a soil mechanics surface sampler, strain gages on the spacecraft landing legs, and numerous engineering sensors. The spacecraft landed on the Moon at 3.01 deg S latitude, 23.42 deg W longitude in the southeastern part of Oceanus Procellarum at 00:04:53 UT on 20 April 1967 (19 April 19:04:53 EST). Touchdown on the Lunar surface occurred three times because the Vernier engines continued to fire during the first two touchdowns causing the spacecraft to lift off the surface. A large volume of new data on the strength, texture, and structure of Lunar material was transmitted by the spacecraft, in addition to the Lunar photography transmission. The last data were returned on 4 May 1967.

On 19 November 1969, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module (LM) landed within about 180 meters of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean visited the earlier spacecraft on their second moonwalk on 20 November, examining Surveyor 3 and its surroundings, taking photographs, and removing about 10 kg of parts from the spacecraft, including the TV camera, for later examination back on Earth.

The Surveyor 3 camera is now on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

1972 18:08:00 GMT
NASA Apollo 16 astronauts Young and Duke undocked the Lunar Module Orion from the Command/Service Module Casper in preparation for descent to the Lunar surface.

Apollo 16 (AS 511) consisted of the Command and Service Module (CSM) "Casper" and the Lunar Module (LM) "Orion." The launch on 16 April 1972 was postponed from the originally scheduled 17 March date because of a docking ring jettison malfunction. It was the fifth mission in which humans walked on the Lunar surface and returned to Earth. On 21 April 1972 two astronauts (Apollo 16 Commander John W. Young and LM pilot Charles M. Duke, Jr.) landed in the Descartes region of the Moon in the Lunar Module (LM) while the Command and Service Module (CSM) (with CM pilot Thomas K. Mattingly, II) continued in Lunar orbit. During their stay on the Moon, the astronauts set up scientific experiments, took photographs, and collected Lunar samples. The LM took off from the Moon on 24 April and the astronauts returned to Earth on 27 April.

The primary mission goals of inspecting, surveying, and sampling materials in the Descartes region, emplacement and activation of surface experiments, conducting inflight experiments and photographic tasks from Lunar orbit, engineering evaluation of spacecraft and equipment, and performance of zero-gravity experiments were achieved despite the mission being shortened by one day. Young, 41, was a Navy Captain who had flown on three previous spaceflights (Gemini 3, Gemini 10, and Apollo 10; he later flew on STS-1 and STS-9), Mattingly, 36, was a Navy Lt. Commander on his first spaceflight (he later flew STS-4 and STS-51C), and Duke, 36, was an Air Force Lt. Colonel also on his first spaceflight.

Apollo 16 was launched at 17:54:00 (12:54:00 p.m. EST) on Saturn V SA-511 from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The spacecraft entered Earth parking orbit at 18:05:56 UT and translunar injection took place at 20:27:37 UT. The CSM and S-IVB stage separated at 20:58:59 UT and CSM-LM docking was achieved at 21:15:53 UT. The S-IVB stage was released into a Lunar impact trajectory, but due to an earlier problem with the auxiliary propulsion system (APS) helium regulators, which resulted in continuous venting and loss of helium, the second APS burn could not be made. Tracking of the S-IVB was lost on 17 April at 21:03 UT due to a transponder failure. (The S-IVB stage impacted the Moon on 19 April at 21:02:04 UT at 1.3 N, 23.8 W with a velocity of 2.5 to 2.6 km/s at a 79 degree angle from the horizontal, as estimated from the Apollo 12, 14 and 15 seismic station data.) A mid-course correction was performed at 00:33:01 UT on 18 April. During translunar coast a CSM navigation problem was discovered in which a false indication would cause loss of inertial reference, this was solved by a real-time change in the computer program. The SIM door was jettisoned on 19 April at 15:57:00 UT and Lunar orbit insertion took place at 20:22:28 UT. Two revolutions later, the orbit was lowered to one with a perilune of 20 km.

At 15:24 UT on 20 April, Young and Duke entered the LM. The LM separated from the CSM at 18:08:00 UT, but the LM descent was delayed almost 6 hours due to a malfunction in the yaw gimbal servo loop on the CSM which caused oscillations in the service propulsion system (SPS). Engineers determined that the problem would not seriously affect CSM steering and the mission was allowed to continue with the LM descent. The LM landed at 02:23:35 UT on 21 April in the Descartes highland region just north of the crater Dolland at 9.0 S, 15.5 E. Young and Duke made three moonwalk EVAs totaling 20 hours, 14 minutes. During this time they covered 27 km using the Lunar Roving Vehicle, collected 94.7 kg of rock and soil samples, took photographs, and set up the ALSEP and other scientific experiments. Other experiments were also performed from orbit in the CSM during this time.

The LM lifted off from the Moon at 01:25:48 UT on 24 April after 71 hours, 2 minutes on the Lunar surface. After the LM docked with the CSM at 03:35:18 UT the Lunar samples and other equipment were transferred from the LM and the LM was jettisoned at 20:54:12 UT on 24 April. The LM began tumbling, apparently due to an open circuit breaker in the guidance and navigation system. As a result the planned deorbit and Lunar impact could not be attempted. The LM remained in Lunar orbit with an estimated lifetime of one year. The instrument boom which carried the orbital mass spectrometer would not retract and was jettisoned. Because of earlier problems with the SPS yaw gimbal servo loop the mission was shortened by one day. The orbital shaping maneuver was cancelled, and the subsatellite was spring-launched at 21:56:09 UT into an elliptical orbit with a lifetime of one month, rather than the planned one-year orbit. Transearth injection began at 02:15:33 UT on 25 April. On 25 April at 20:43 UT Mattingly began a cislunar EVA to retrieve camera film from the SIM bay and inspect instruments, two trips taking a total of 1 hour, 24 minutes. The CM separated from the SM on 27 April at 19:16:33 UT. Apollo 16 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 27 April 1972 at 19:45:05 UT (2:45:05 p.m. EST) after a mission elapsed timeof 265 hours, 51 minutes, 5 seconds. The splashdown point was 0 deg 43 min S, 156 deg 13 min W, 215 miles southeast of Christmas Island and 5 km (3 mi) from the recovery ship USS Ticonderoga.

The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), which contained scientific experiments that were deployed and left on the Lunar surface, operated until it was commanded to shut down on 30 September 1977.

The Apollo 16 Command Module "Casper" is on display at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

See also
* Apollo 16 Lunar Module /ALSEP
* Apollo 16 SIVB
* Apollo 16 Subsatellite

A R Klemola discovered asteroid #2261.

1983 13:11:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz T-8; its mission was aborted when the capsule failed to dock at the Salyut 7 space station.

1994 09:54:30 PDT (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 59 (Endeavour 6, 62nd Shuttle mission) landed after carrying the Space Radar Laboratory on the SRL-1 mission.

The STS 59 launch originally set for 7 April 1994 was postponed at the T-27 hour mark for one day to allow for additional inspections of metallic vanes in the SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) high pressure oxidizer preburner pumps. The launch on 8 April was scrubbed due to weather: high crosswinds and low clouds at the Shuttle Launch Facility and clouds at the launch pad. The countdown 9 April 1994 proceeded smoothly.

The primary payload for STS 59 was the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-1), located in the payload bay; it was activated by the crew and operated by teams on the ground. SRL-1 included the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and the X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR), and an atmospheric instrument called Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellites (MAPS). The German Space Agency (DARA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) provided the X-SAR instrument. SIR-C/X-SAR covered approximately 38.5 million square miles of the Earth, the equivalent of 20 percent of the planet. More than 400 sites were imaged, including 19 primary observation sites (supersites) in Brazil, Michigan, North Carolina and Central Europe. Thirteen countries were represented in the project with 49 principal investigators and more than 100 scientists, coordinated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Some 133 hours of data were collected. The MAPS experiment measured the global distribution of carbon monoxide in the troposphere, or lower atmosphere.

Get Away Special (GAS) experiments were sponsored by New Mexico State University, Matra Marconi Space (France), and the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies.

The Consortium for Materials Development in Space Complex Autonomous Payload-IV (CONCAP IV), carried in GAS hardware in the payload bay, was developed by the University of Alabama-Huntsville. It produced crystals and thin films through physical vapor transportation.

Middeck experiments included the Visual Function Tester-4 (VFT-4), Space Tissue Loss-4 and -5; and the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX).

The mission also marked the first flight of the Toughened Uni-Piece Fibrous Insulation, known as TUFI, an improved thermal protection tile. Several test tiles were placed on the orbiter's base heat shield between the three main engines.

STS 59 ended on 20 April 1994 when Endeavour landed on revolution 183 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. The landing originally was planned for Kennedy Space Center on 19 April, but two landing opportunities were waved off due to low clouds and possible thunderstorms in the area. An early landing opportunity on 20 April was also waved off in favor of landings at Edwards. Rollout distance: 10,691 feet (3,259 meters). Rollout time: 54 seconds. Orbit altitude: 121 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: 11 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, 30 seconds. Miles Traveled: 4.7 million. The orbiter was returned to the Kennedy Space Center by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on 2 May 1994.

The flight crew for STS 59 was: Sidney M. Gutierrez, Commander; Kevin P. Chilton, Pilot; Linda M. Godwin, Payload Commander; Jay Apt, Mission Specialist 1; Michael R. Clifford, Mission Specialist 2; Thomas D. Jones, Mission Specialist 4.

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