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Space History for May 6


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1851
Dr. John Gorrie patented a "refrigeration machine," receiving the first US patent for a mechanical refrigeration system. Cryogenic rocket propellants would not be possible without the technology.
http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~ihas/gorrie/fridge.htm

1896
M Wolf discovered asteroid #417 Suevia.

1937 19:25:00 GMT
The German zeppelin Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 on board, 13 passengers and 22 crew members were killed, one ground crew member died, making the death toll 36.

A photograph of the Hindenburg explosion
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hindenburg_burning.jpg
http://www.archive.org/details/hindenberg_explodes

1949
Born, David C. Leestma (at Muskegon, Michigan, USA), Captain USN, NASA astronaut (STS 41-G, STS 28, STS 45)

Astronaut David Leestma, NASA photo
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/leestma.html

1955
Born, Donald A. Thomas PhD (at Cleveland, Ohio, USA), NASA astronaut (STS 65, STS 70, STS 83, STS 94)

Astronaut Donald Thomas, NASA photo
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/thomas-d.html

1962
The first nuclear warhead fired from a Polaris-carrying submarine was launched from the USS Ethan Allen and detonated over the South Pacific in the only complete operational test of an American strategic missile.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Ethan_Allen_%28SSBN-608%29

1964
D McLeish discovered asteroid #2854.

1965
Born, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Skvortsov Jr. (at Shcholkovo, Oblast Moscow, Russian SFSR), Russian cosmonaut (ISS 23/24, ISS 39/40), son of cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov
http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/cosmonauts/english/skvortsov_aleksandr_jr.htm

1967
C U Cesco and A R Klemol discovered asteroids #1829 Dawson, #1991 Darwin, #2308 Schilt and #2504 Gaviola.

1975
The first "Moon Tree" was planted, in Washington Square, Philadelphia. Moon Trees were grown from seeds carried to Lunar orbit by Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, on Apollo 14.
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html

1981
C Shoemaker discovered asteroids #2742 Gibson, #2773 and #2982 Muriel.

1983
Died, Sergei Petrovich Izotov, Russian and General Designer 1960-1983 of OKB- 117, developed engines for Chelomei's UR-100 missile and LK-700 manned Lunar lander
http://www.astronautix.com/i/izotov.html

1985 09:11:04 PDT (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 51B (Challenger 7, 17th Shuttle mission) landed after carrying the Spacelab experiment platform for its third flight.

The STS 51-B flight was first manifested as 51E, then rolled back from pad due to a timing problem with the TDRS-B payload. Mission 51-E was cancelled, and the orbiter remanifested with the 51-B payloads. The launch on 29 April 1985 was delayed two minutes, 18 seconds due to a launch processing system failure, but then continued otherwise normally.

The primary payload for STS 51-B was Spacelab-3. It was the first operational flight for the Spacelab orbital laboratory series developed by the European Space Agency. The experiments covered five basic discipline areas: materials sciences, life sciences, fluid mechanics, atmospheric physics, and astronomy. The main mission objective with Spacelab-3 was to provide a high quality microgravity environment for delicate materials processing and fluid experiments. Two monkeys and 24 rodents were observed for effects of weightlessness. Of the fifteen Spacelab primary experiments conducted, fourteen were considered successful. Two Get Away Special (GAS) cannisters were also on board the flight.

STS 51-B ended on 6 May 1985 when Challenger landed on revolution 111 on Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 8,317 feet. Rollout time: 59 seconds. Launch weight: 246,880 pounds. Landing weight: 212,465 pounds. Orbit altitude: 222 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: seven days, zero hours, eight minutes, 46 seconds. Miles traveled: 2.9 million. The orbiter was returned to Kennedy Space Center on 11 May 1985.

The flight crew for STS 51-B was: Robert F. Overmyer, Commander; Frederick D. Gregory, Pilot; Don L. Lind, Mission Specialist; Norman E. Thagard, Mission Specialist; William E. Thornton, Mission Specialist; Lodewijk van den Berg, Payload Specialist; Taylor G. Wang, Payload Specialist.


http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-51B.html

1991 14:55:37 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 39 (Discovery 12, 40th Shuttle mission, 70th US manned space mission) landed after a dedicated Department of Defense mission.

The STS 39 launch was originally scheduled for 9 March 1991, but during processing work at Pad A, significant cracks found on all four lug hinges on the two external tank umbilical door drive mechanisms. NASA managers opted to roll back the vehicle to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on 7 March, and then to the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) for repair. The hinges were replaced with units taken from the orbiter Columbia, and reinforced. Discovery was returned to the pad on 1 April, and the launch was re-set for 23 April. The mission was again postponed when, during the prelaunch external tank loading, a transducer on the high pressure oxidizer turbopump for main engine number three showed readings out of specification. The transducer and its cable harness were replaced and tested. The launch was rescheduled for 28 April 1991 when it was then completed.

STS 39 was a dedicated Department of Defense mission. The unclassified payload included Air Force Program-675 (AFP-675); Infrared Background Signature Survey (IBSS) with Critical Ionization Velocity (CIV), Chemical Release Observation (CRO) and Shuttle Pallet Satellite-II (SPAS-II) experiments; and Space Test Payload-1 (STP-1). The classified payload consisted of a Multi-Purpose Release Canister (MPEC). Also on board was Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III) and Cloud Logic to Optimize Use of Defense Systems-1A (CLOUDS-1).

STS 39 ended on 6 May 1991 when Discovery landed on revolution 134 on Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The landing was diverted to the Kennedy Space Center because of unacceptably high winds at the planned landing site, Edwards Air Force Base. Rollout distance: 9,235 feet. Rollout time: 56 seconds. Launch weight: 247,373 pounds. Landing weight: 211,512 pounds. Orbit altitude: 190 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: eight days, seven hours, 22 minutes, 23 seconds. Miles Traveled: 3.5 million.

The flight crew for STS 39 was: Michael L. Coats, Commander; L. Blaine Hammond, Jr., Pilot; Guion S. Bluford Jr., Mission Specialist 1; Gregory J. Harbaugh, Mission Specialist 2; Richard J. Hieb, Mission Specialist 3; Donald R. McMonagle, Mission Specialist 4; Charles L. Veach, Mission Specialist 5.


http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-39.html

1993 07:29:59 PDT (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 55 (Columbia 14, 55th Shuttle mission) landed after carrying the D-2 Spacelab Mission (the second German-dedicated Spacelab) in orbit. At the end of the flight, the Shuttle fleet had accumulated over one year of mission flight time.

The launch of STS 55 was first set for late February 1993, but was slipped to early March after questions arose about turbine blade tip seal retainers in the high pressure oxidizer turbopumps on the orbiter main engines. When engineers could not verify whether old or new retainers were installed on Columbia, NASA opted to replace all three turbopumps at the pad as a precautionary measure.

The new launch date of 14 March slipped again after a hydraulic flex hose burst in the aft compartment during the Flight Readiness Test. All 12 hydraulic lines in the aft compartment were removed and inspected; nine lines were re-installed, and three new lines were put in.

The launch set for 21 March was pushed back 24 hours due to range conflicts caused by a Delta II one day launch delay. The liftoff attempt on 22 March was aborted at T-3 seconds by the orbiter computers due to incomplete ignition of the number three main engine. A liquid oxygen preburner check valve leaked internally, causing an overpressurized purge system, which in turn precluded full engine ignition. This was the first on-the-pad main engine abort since the return to flight following the Challenger disaster, and third in the program history (STS 51-F (July 1985) and STS 41-D (August 1984) were the other two). The valve leak was later traced to contamination during manufacturing. NASA decided to replace all three main engines on Columbia with spares.

The launch was then reset for 24 April, but scrubbed early on the launch morning when one of the three Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) on the orbiter gave a possible faulty reading. Liftoff was postponed 48 hours to allow removal and replacement of the IMU. The final launch countdown on 26 April 1993 proceeded smoothly.

Spacelab D-2 was the second Spacelab flight under German mission management; around the clock operations were performed by the crew, divided into two teams. 88 experiments were conducted, covering materials and life sciences, technology applications, Earth observations, astronomy and atmospheric physics. Material science investigations were: Material Science Experiment Double Rack for Experiment Modules and Apparatus (MEDEA); Werkstofflabor (WL); Holographic Optics Laboratory (HOLOP); and on the Unique Support Structure (USS) located aft of D-2 in the cargo bay, Material Science Autonomous Payload (MAUS), and Atomic Oxygen Exposure Tray (AOET). Also located on the USS were Radiation Detectors (RD) experiments. One crystal growth experiment yielded 0.78-inch (20-mm) crystal of gallium arsenide, the largest produced in space to date.

Life science research performed with Anthrorack (AR); Biolabor (BB); and Baroreflex (BA). Anthrorack, an advanced mini-diagnostic laboratory, allowed the most comprehensive medical screening to date of human adaptation to weightlessness. Harris, a medical doctor, set up the first IV (intravenous) line in space, injecting Schlegel with saline as part of the study to replace body fluids lost during adaptation to weightlessness. Other payload crew members also participated.

Tests with Robotics Experiment (ROTEX), an advanced robotic assembly provided by Germany, were highly successful. The ROTEX robotic arm performed first by capturing a free-floating object in space via remote control from Earth. The crew achieved two-way communications with the Crew Telesupport Experiment, which featured an onboard Macintosh computer to establish a data link with ground control. Five crew members communicated with school children worldwide through the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX); Nagel also made contact with Russian cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station.

Problems encountered were an overheating orbiter refrigerator/freezer unit in the middeck which forced reliance on a backup to store experiment samples, and a leaking nitrogen line in the wastewater tank which required an on-orbit fix. Communications with Columbia were lost for about hour and a half on 4 May due to an errant command from Mission Control in Houston. On 2 May, mission managers determined enough electrical power remained to extend the flight by one day.

STS 55 ended 6 May 1993 when Columbia landed on revolution 160 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. The landing originally set for Kennedy Space Center was moved to Edwards because of cloud cover. Rollout distance: 10,125 feet (3,086 meters). Rollout time: 61 seconds. Landing weight: 244,400 pounds. Orbit altitude: 163 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: nine days, 23 hours, 39 minutes, 59 seconds. Miles traveled: 4.2 million.

With Columbia's return, the Shuttle fleet had accumulated a flight time totaling 365 days, 23 hours and 48 minutes: The Shuttle fleet had achieved total flight time of over one year.

The flight crew for STS 55 was: Steven R. Nagel, Commander; Terence T. Henricks, Pilot; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist 1; Charles J. Precourt, Mission Specialist 2; Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., Mission Specialist 3; Dr. Ulrich Walter, Payload Specialist 1; Hans Schlegel, Payload Specialist 2.


http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-55.html

1994
The Chunnel, linking England and France under the English Channel, was officially opened by English Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand in a ceremony held in Calais, France.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/6/newsid_2511000/2511653.stm

2001 05:41:28 GMT
Millionaire Dennis Tito landed in Soyuz TM-31 after spending nearly 8 days in space as the world's first space tourist, having paid $20 million for the trip.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Tito

2012
A transit of Venus (across the Sun) as seen from Earth occurred. Transits occur in eight-year pairs more than a century apart, the next pair will occur on 10-11 December 2117 and in December 2125.

Image of Venus transit taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus,_2012


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