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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 May 3

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The third transit of Mercury ever seen and recorded by humans occurred on the day Charles II was crowned King of England, observed by Christiaan Huygens in London.

Born, Alexis Claude Clairault, French mathematician ("Clairault's theorem" connects the gravity at points on the surface of a rotating ellipsoid with the compression and the centrifugal force at the equator)

Edmund Halley made the first known observation a total solar eclipse phenomenon which later became known as "Baily's Beads."

A Charlois discovered asteroid #277 Elvira.

The first nonstop airplane flight across the US, from New York City to San Diego, California, was completed in a Fokker T-2 flown by two US Army aviators. The total flight time was almost 27 hours.

C Jackson discovered asteroids #1356 Nyanza and #1638 Ruanda.

In the first launch of an American-made high-altitude sounding rocket, Viking 1 flew to an altitude of 50 miles (80 km).

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #1952 Hesburgh.

US Lieutenant Colonels Joseph O. Fletcher and William P. Benedict landed a plane at the geographic North Pole, the first ever to do so.

Liberty Bell Express, a Boeing 747SP-21 owned by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) named Clipper Liberty Bell, landed at JFK Airport, New York City, after a record flight around world in 46 hours, 26 minutes, having traveled 23,137 miles in the flight.

To celebrate "Sun Day," solar energy events were held across the US and around the world.

E Bowell discovered asteroids #2411 Zellner, #2685 Masursky, #2844 Hess, #2920 Automedon, #3208 Lunn and #3748.

The New York Times reported that the US military would get 25% of NASA's 1983 budget (and taxpayers wonder why popular programs such as the Hubble Space Telescope are endangered by budget cuts...)

B A Skiff discovered asteroid #3325; and L Zhuravleva discovered asteroid #3616.

The first crystal grown in space from a crystal seed was grown in liquid aboard the STS 51B Shuttle mission.

NASA launched the GOES-G weather satellite. The spacecraft was lost when its Delta 3914 booster failed after being struck by lightning shortly after liftoff.

GOES G ends in a fiery explosion as Range Safety destroys the Delta launch vehicle 91 seconds after launch,
NASA photo

1998 12:08:59 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 90 (Columbia 25, 90th Shuttle mission) landed after carrying the Spacelab experiment platform on its final flight.

The 16 April 1998 launch of STS 90 was postponed for 24 hours due to a difficulty with one of Columbia's two network signal processors, which format data and voice communications between the ground and the Space Shuttle. Network signal processor 2 was replaced, and the liftoff on 17 April occurred on time.

STS 90 carried 26 Neurolab experiments which targeted one of the most complex and least understood parts of the human body - the nervous system. The primary goals were to conduct basic research in neurosciences, and to expand our understanding of how the nervous system develops and functions in space. Test subjects were crew members and rats, mice, crickets, snails and two kinds of fish. Neurolab was a cooperative effort of NASA, several domestic partners and the space agencies of Canada (CSA), France (CNES) and Germany (DARA), as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). Most of the experiments were conducted in the pressurized Spacelab long module located in Columbia's payload bay. It was sixteenth (and last) scheduled flight of the ESA-developed Spacelab module, although Spacelab pallets will continue to be used on the International Space Station.

The research was conducted as planned, with the exception of the Mammalian Development Team, which had to reprioritize science activities because of the unexpected high mortality rate of neonatal rats on board.

Other payloads included the Shuttle Vibration Forces experiment, the Bioreactor Demonstration System-04, and three Get Away Special (GAS) canister investigations.

Working with engineers on the ground a week into the flight, the on-orbit crew used aluminum tape to bypass a suspect valve in the Regenerative Carbon Dioxide Removal System that had threatened to cut short the mission.

Mission Management Team considered, but decided against, extending the mission one day because the science community indicated an extended flight was not necessary, and weather conditions were expected to deteriorate after the planned landing on Sunday, 3 May 1998.

STS 90 Mission Specialist Kay Hire was Kennedy Space Center's first employee to be chosen as an astronaut candidate.

STS 90 ended 3 May 1998 when Columbia landed on orbit 256 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the first KSC opportunity for the day. Rollout distance: 9,998 feet (3,047 meters). Rollout time: 58 seconds. Orbit altitude: 150 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 39 degrees. Mission duration: 15 days, 21 hours, 49 minutes, 59 seconds. Miles traveled: 6.375 million statute miles. This flight marked the 14th consecutive Shuttle landing at KSC, and the 21st in the last 22 missions.

The flight crew for STS 90 was: Richard A. Searfoss (3), Commander; Scott D. Altman, Pilot; Richard M. Linnehan DVM, Mission Specialist; Dafydd Rhys Williams MD (CSA), Mission Specialist; Kathryn P. Hire, Mission Specialist; Dr. Jay C. Buckey, Payload Specialist; Dr. James A. Pawelczyk, Payload Specialist.

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