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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 23

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Born, J. Thomas Romney Robinson, Irish astronomer, physicist, inventor (cup anemometer)

William Rowan Hamilton presented his "Theory of Systems of Rays" (wave nature of light) to the Royal Irish Academy.

Born, Max Planck, German physicist, considered to be the father of quantum mechanics (Nobel 1918 "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta")

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (23 April 1858 - 4 October 1947) was a German physicist who is considered to be the inventor of quantum theory. In 1899, he discovered a new fundamental constant, which is named Planck's constant, and is, for example, used to calculate the energy of a photon. Also that year, he described his own set of units of measurement based on fundamental physical constants. One year later, he discovered the law of heat radiation, which is named Planck's law of black body radiation. This law became the basis of quantum theory, which emerged ten years later in cooperation with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.

Born, Ivan Ivanovich Utkin, Russian engineer, Chief Designer of NII IT (1960-1970), specialized in spacecraft memory data recorders

H Van Gent discovered asteroids #1225 Ariane and #1267 Geertruida.

M Laugier discovered asteroid #1651 Behrens.

1962 20:50:00 GMT
NASA launched Ranger 4, the first US spacecraft to impact the Moon.

Ranger 4, launched 23 April 1962, was designed to transmit pictures of the Lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting on the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar reflectivity of the Lunar surface, and to continue testing of the Ranger program for development of Lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. Due to an apparent failure of a timer in the spacecraft's central computer and sequencer following launch, the command signals for the extension of the solar panels and the operation of the Sun and Earth acquisition system were never given. The instrumentation ceased operation after about 10 hours of flight. The spacecraft was tracked by the battery-powered 50 milliwatt transmitter in the Lunar landing capsule. Ranger 4 impacted the far side of the Moon (229.3 degrees E, 15.5 degrees S) at 9600 km/hr on 26 April 1962 after 64 hours of flight, without returning any scientific data.

Ranger 4 Lunar impact probe, NASA photo

1965 01:55:00 GMT
The first Soviet communications satellite, Molniya 1- 1, was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

1967 00:43:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 1 with Vladimir Komarov aboard, which ended in the first in-flight space fatality.

The mission objective for Soyuz 1, launched 23 April 1967, was developmental testing of the spacecraft systems and components in space flight conditions. Soyuz 1 was piloted by cosmonaut V. M. Komarov, who had made a previous flight in a Voskhod spaceship. On 24 April 1967, after 24 hours in space (18 orbits), cosmonaut Komarov successfully accomplished retrofire, and Soyuz 1 made a safe reentry into the dense layers of the atmosphere. Communications continued normally, with the temporary blackout as the spacecraft passed through the upper atmosphere where the external antennas were burned off. Based on monitored conversations, Komarov was fully functioning throughout the flight and rode the ship down alive and conscious. However, because of a failure in the parachure system, the main parachure did not deploy on schedule. The high descent velocity resulted the destruction of the ship and the death of cosmonaut Komarov.

See also

USSR launched Zond 1968A but the mission failed to achieve Earth orbit.

Zond 1968A, launched 23 April 1968, was tentatively identified as an attempted test of the Zond Lunar cabin, possibly planned as a Lunar flyby and Earth return as was done later with the Zond 5 probe. It was probably equipped with instrumentation such as automatic cameras and proton detectors. A short circuit in the control system caused the SL-12/D-1-e stage 2 engine to shut down 260 seconds after launch; the mission failed to achieve Earth orbit.

1971 23:54:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 10 on an unsuccessful mission to dock with the Salyut 1 space station.

Soyuz 10, launched 23 April 1971, was piloted by Commander Shatalov, Flight Engineer Yeliseyev, and Systems Engineer Rukavishnikov. Soyuz 10 was launched into an orbit in the same plane as the unmanned Salyut 1. Orbit corrections to reduce the apogee and perigee of Soyuz 10 to prepare for rendezvous with Salyut took 24 hours. Salyut was maneuvered four times, Soyuz 10 made three principal maneuvers and more orbital adjustments on the basis of instructions from the tracking ship Akademik Sergey Korolov located in the Atlantic. Automatic devices maneuvered Soyuz 10 until the two craft were 180 meters apart. The crew reportedly found the docking manenver extremely nerve-wracking. They were able to see the brightly colored Salyut only with the aid of optical devices when the ships were 15 km apart, and the problems of docking with a large unmanned, non-maneuvering mass were quite different from the joining of two Soyuz, each able to adjust its position. Also, new telemetry systems, new rendezvous systems, and new docking equipment were used.

Although the Soyuz physically locked onto the station, the connection was not secure enough to allow the hatches to be opened to allow the cosmonauts to enter. In addition, it appeared the hatch inside the Soyuz was jammed. This led to further complications when the mission was abandoned, as the Soyuz had difficulty detaching from the station. The two ships remained docked for 5.5 hours, in total.

After undocking, Soyuz 10 flew around Salyut, and the crew took many photographs. Salyut was described as the first of its kind, with no precursors. Externally mounted TV cameras covered the approach, docking, and separation.

The Soyuz retrorockets were fired at the first opportunity after undocking to permit the cosmonauts' return to Earth. Upon re-entry, the capsule became filled with toxic fumes, causing Rukavishnikov to pass out. Fortunately, all three crew members recovered from the ordeal unscathed, and the landing in Karaganda on 25 April 1971, the first pre-dawn landing of a manned spacecraft, was deemed a success.

Felix Aguilar Observatory discovered asteroid #2808.

C & E Shoemaker discovered asteroid #3581 Alvarez; and P Jensen discovered asteroid #3318 Blixen.

Olympic cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos, a Greek aeronaut, pedaled the self-powered Daedalus 88 aircraft on a record setting flight of 74 miles from Crete to just off the beach on Santorini.

Died (cancer), David Mathieson "Dave" Walker, Captain US Navy, NASA astronaut (STS 51-A, STS 30, STS 53, STS 69)

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