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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 27

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4977 B.C.
Johannes Kepler calculated this date as when the universe was created. Subsequent data indicates the universe is at least 2.5 million times as old, with an age currently estimated at approximately 15 billion years.

Born, Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of Morse code

Cornell University was chartered, in Ithaca, New York.

A Schwassmann discovered asteroid #912 Maritima.

Karl Jansky's discovery of cosmic radio noise in Washington, DC was published in the New York Times.

Born, Valeri Vladimirovich Polyakov (at Tula, Tula Oblast, Russian SFSR), Russian cosmonaut (Mir 4, Mir 16, 678 days total in space), longest single space flight (437 days) to date (2016)

Born, Ellen L. Shulman Baker MD (at Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA), NASA astronaut (STS 34, STS 50, STS 71)

Astronaut Dr. Ellen Shulman Baker, NASA photo

NASA's seven Project Mercury astronauts reported for duty and began training.

1961 14:10:00 GMT
NASA launched Explorer 11 to study gamma rays.

Explorer 11, also known as S 15, was launched 27 April 1961 for the purpose of detecting the sources of high energy gamma rays. The spacecraft achieved an orbit with an apogee of 1786 km, a perigee of 486 km, a period of 108.1 minutes, and an inclination of 28.9 deg. In addition to detecting gamma rays, Explorer 11 was designed to map their direction with emphasis on the plane of the galaxy, the galactic center, the Sun, and other known radio noise sources; to relate the measurements to the cosmic ray flux density and the density of interstellar matter; and to measure the high energy gamma ray albedo of the Earth's atmosphere. The satellite was a spin stabilized octagonal aluminum box (30.5 by 30.5 by 58.5 cm) on a cylinder (15.2 cm in diameter and 52.2 cm long). Explorer 11 was constructed so that its stable motion was an end-over-end tumble about the transverse principal axis that had the largest moment of inertia. The gamma ray telescope assembly was mounted so that its axis of sensitivity, which was parallel to the long axis of the satellite, would rotate in the plane of tumble. The orientation of this axis in space was determined to approximately 5 deg by means of optical aspect detectors and the use of the known radiation pattern of the vehicle antenna. Telemetry was provided only in real time by two pulse modulated transmitters, since the onboard tape recorder failed at launch.

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroids #2334 Cuffey and #3474.

T Smirnova discovered asteroid #2469 Tadjikistan.

1972 19:45:05 GMT
NASA's Apollo 16 astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at the close of the fifth manned Lunar landing mission.

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

Died, John B. "Jack" McKay, X-15 pilot

H-E Schuster discovered asteroid #2234 Schmadel.

Asteroid #3625 was discovered.

Captain Midnight (John R. MacDougall) hijacked control of HBO's satellite and transmitted his own message to HBO viewers.

The last successful data acquisition from Pioneer 10 through NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred.

Pioneer 10 was launched 3 March 1972. This mission was the first to be sent to the outer solar system and the first to investigate the planet Jupiter, after which it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on 3 December 1973, when it flew over the cloud tops at a distance of approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km - 130,000 miles). After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Neptune on 13 June 1983 and became the first human-built space vehicle to leave the Solar system. As of 1 January 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. This solar system escape direction is unique because the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (and the Pioneer 11 spacecraft) are heading in the opposite direction towards the nose of the heliosphere in the upstream direction relative to the inflowing interstellar gas. Pioneer 10 is heading generally towards the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull). The journey over a distance of 68 light years to Aldebaran will require about two million years to complete. Routine tracking and project data processing operatations were terminated on 31 March 1997 for budget reasons. Occasional tracking continued later under support of the Lunar Prospector project at NASA Ames Research Center with retrieval of energetic particle and radio science data. The last successful data acquisitions through NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on 3 March 2002, the thirtieth anniversary of Pioneer 10's launch date, and on 27 April 2002. The spacecraft signal was last detected, from a distance of 82 AU from the Sun, on 23 January 2003 after an uplink was transmitted to turn off the last operational experiment, the Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT), but lock-on to the sub-carrier signal for data downlink was not achieved. No signal at all was detected during a final attempt on 6-7 February 2003. Pioneer Project staff at NASA Ames then concluded that the spacecraft power level had fallen below that needed to power the onboard transmitter, so no further attempts would be made.

See also
See also

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