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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 9

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M Wolf discovered asteroid #565 Marbachia; and P Gotz discovered asteroid #564 Dudu.

R Schorr discovered asteroid #869 Mellena.

The first flight over the North Pole was purportedly made by Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett. (Later analysis of Byrd's diary seems to indicate the event may not have actually happened.)

Born, Vance DeVoe Brand (at Longmont, Colorado, USA), NASA astronaut (Apollo "18" (ASTP), STS 5, STS 41B, STS 35)

Astronaut Vance Brand, NASA photo

Died, Albert A. Michelson, established the speed of light as a universal constant (Nobel 1907 "for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid")

Born, Oleg Yuriyevich Atkov (at Khvorostyanka, Kuybyshev Oblast, Russian SFSR), Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz T-10/Salyut 7/Soyuz T-11, 236.95 days in space)

NASA conducted an off-the-pad abort test ("beach abort") during the Mercury program as a qualification of the structure and launch escape system for a simulated pad abort. The test was successful.

MIT scientists successfully bounced a ruby LASER beam off the Moon for the first time.

1965 07:55:00 GMT
USSR launched Luna 5 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It attempted a soft landing on the Moon but instead crashed into the Lunar surface at the Sea of Clouds when its retrorockets failed to fire.

1971 01:11:00 GMT
NASA launched Mariner-H (also called Mariner 8) toward Mars, but the booster failed approximately 6 minutes after lift-off and the probe failed to reach orbit.

Mariner-H, also commonly known as Mariner 8, was part of the Mariner Mars 71 project. It was intended to go into Mars orbit and return images and data. Mariner 8 was launched 9 May 1971 on an Atlas-Centaur SLV-3C booster (AC-24). The main Centaur engine was ignited 265 seconds after launch, but the upper stage began to oscillate in pitch and tumbled out of control. The Centaur stage shut down 365 seconds after launch due to starvation caused by the tumbling. The Centaur and spacecraft payload separated and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere approximately 1500 km (930 miles) downrange and fell into the Atlantic Ocean about 560 km (350 miles) north of Puerto Rico.

T Smirnova discovered asteroids #1903 Adzhimushkaj and #1904 Massevitch.

2003 04:29:25 GMT
Japan launched Hayabusa (Muses-C), a sample return mission sent to asteroid 1998 SF36.

The primary scientific objective of the Hayabusa (formerly Muses-C) mission was to collect a surface sample of material from the small (550 x 180 meter) asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36) and return the sample to Earth for analysis. It was also a technology demonstration mission. Other scientific objectives of the mission included detailed studies of the asteroid's shape, spin state, topography, color, composition, density, photometric and polarimetric properties, interior and history.

The spacecraft was launched on 9 May 2003 on an M-5 solid fuel booster from the Kagoshima launch center. Following launch, the name Muses-C was changed to Hayabusa (Japanese for falcon), and the spacecraft was put into a transfer orbit to bring it to asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36), a 0.3 x 0.7 km near-Earth object. The ion engines were successfully test-fired from 27 May to the middle of June 2003. A large solar flare in late 2003 degraded the solar panels. The loss of power available to Hayabusa's ion engines forced the originally planned early summer 2005 rendezvous with Itokawa to be moved back to September. Hayabusa flew by Earth on 19 May 2004 at an altitude of 3725 km at 6:23 UT. On 31 July 2004 the X-axis reaction wheel failed. Rendezvous with the asteroid occured in September 2005 with the spacecraft coming to rest relative to the asteroid at a distance of 20 km at 1:17 UT on 12 September. The spacecraft did not go into orbit around the asteroid, but remained in a station-keeping heliocentric orbit close by. On 3 October 2005 Hayabusa lost the use of the Y-axis reaction wheel and was using one reaction wheel and two chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control.

Hayabusa initially surveyed the asteroid's surface from a distance of about 20 km in the "home position", a region roughly on a line connecting the Earth with the asteroid on the sunward side. This is global mapping phase 1, the phase angle during this phase was small, no greater than 20 - 25 degrees. Global mapping phase 2, which lasted about a week, began on 4 October when the spacecraft reached a position near the terminator at a distance of 7 km, affording high phase angle views of the asteroid. Following this the spacecraft moved back to the home position and then moved close to the surface in November for a "rehearsal" touchdown. This touchdown was attempted on 4 November but was aborted due to an anomalous signal at 700 meters above the asteroid's surface.

On 12 November a second rehearsal touchdown was attempted. The spacecraft began its descent from 1.4 km altitude at 3 cm/sec to an altitude of 55 meters. The small lander/hopper, Minerva, was deployed at 6:34 UT (3:34 p.m. JST) but unfortunately Hayabusa had already reached the 55 meter level and had begun an automatic ascent so the release was at a higher altitude than planned. Contact with the lander was lost and it is believed Minerva moved off into space without landing.

At 12:00 UT on 19 November 2005 (9:00 p.m. JST, 7:00 a.m. EST) Hayabusa began its descent towards the asteroid from an altitude of 1 km. At 19:33 UT (4:33 a.m. JST 20 November) the final approach was commanded and the descent began from an altitude of about 450 meters at 12 cm/sec. The target marker was released at 20:30 UT 19 November (5:30 a.m. JST 20 November) about 40 meters above the asteroid and Hayabusa's descent was slowed to 3 cm/sec to allow the marker to fall ahead of it. The spacecraft reduced its speed to zero and then began free-fall at an altitude of 17 meters at which point contact was lost. Later telemetry indicated that Hayabusa hit the surface at 20:40 UT 19 November (5:40 a.m. JST 20 November) at roughly 10 cm/sec and bounced. It bounced again at 21:10 and then landed at 21:30 within about 30 meters of the target marker. At 21:58 (6:58 a.m. JST 20 November) it was commanded to make an emergency ascent. The craft remained on the surface for about half an hour but did not fire the projectile to collect a sample. This was the first ever controlled landing on an asteroid and first ascent from any other solar sytem body except the Moon.

A second touchdown and sampling run was made on 25 November, early telemetry indicated the spacecraft touched down at 10 cm/sec and that two sampling bullets were fired 0.2 seconds apart at 22:07 UT 24 November (7:07 a.m. JST 25 November) but later examination indicated the bullets did not fire. On 9 December contact was lost with the spacecraft, presumably because of torques caused by a thruster leak which altered the pointing of the antenna. Communication with the spacecraft was regained in early March 2006. It appeared the chemical fuel had been lost due to the leak. Also, two of three reaction wheels were also inoperable and 4 of the 11 lithium-ion battery cells were not functioning. Ground controllers used the solar batteries to run the ion engine in place of the chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control. The ion engine ran until November 2007 when it was turned off and the spacecraft went into hibernation mode and continued on a ballistic trajectory. There was still a large margin of xenon left to run the thrusters for propulsion and attitude control.

The re-entry capsule detached from the main spacecraft between 300,000 and 400,000 km from the Earth, coasting on a ballistic trajectory, and re-entering the Earth's atmosphere on 13 June 2010. The capsule experienced peak decellerations of about 25 G and heating rates approximately 30 times those experienced by the Apollo spacecraft. It landed via parachute near Woomera, Australia. Subsequent examination of the sample return capsule showed that there were roughly 1500 dust particles from asteroid Itokawa which were presumably kicked up into the collection area during the touchdowns due to the extremely low surface gravity.

Spacecraft Details

On-board optical navigation was planned to be employed extensively during the landings and sample collection operations because the long communication delay prohibited ground-based real-time commanding. The samples, with a total mass of approximately one gram, were to be held inside a separate re-entry capsule. (The lander was also to deploy a small rover supplied by NASA onto the surface of the asteroid, but the rover was cancelled by NASA due to budget constraints.) All operations at Itokawa had to take into account the extremely low gravity at the asteroid's surface.

Hayabusa was equipped with a universal sample collection device to gather roughly one gram of surface samples taken from the landings at 3 different locations. The device consisted of a funnel-shaped collection horn, 40 cm in diameter at the end, to be placed over the sampling area. A pyrotechnic device then fired a 10 gram metal projectile down the barrel of the horn at 200 - 300 m/sec. The projectile struck the surface, producing a small impact crater in the surface of the asteroid and propelling ejecta fragments back up the horn, where some were funnelled into a sample collection chamber. Prior to each sampling run, the spacecraft was drop a small target plate onto the surface from about 30 m altitude to use as a landmark to ensure the relative horizontal velocity between the spacecraft and asteroid surface was zero during the sampling. After collection, the samples were to be stored in the re-entry capsule for return to Earth.

The Minerva lander was a small (591 gram) cylinder about the size of a coffee can, designed to be released from the spacecraft on the first rehearsal touchdown run. It had the ability to "hop" on the surface of the asteroid and had full autonomy. It was equipped with an imaging system comprising three miniature cameras and temperature measuring devices. Data was to be relayed to Hayabusa and then to Earth.

The rover, or Small Science Vehicle (SSV), was to have been a NASA contribution to the mission but was cancelled due to budget contraints. The SSV would have been dropped onto the surface of the asteroid by the Hayabusa spacecraft. The rover goals were to make texture, composition and morphology measurements of the surface layer at scales smaller than 1 cm, investigations of lateral heterogeneity at small scales, investigation of vertical regolith structure by taking advantage of disturbances of the surface layer by microrover operations, and to measure constraints on the mechanical and thermal properties of the surface layer. The rover would have weighed about 1 kg and was to be capable of rolling, climbing, or hopping around on the surface of the asteroid. It would have run on solar power and carry a multi-band imaging camera, a near-infrared point spectrometer, and an alpha/X-ray spectrometer (AXS).

Japan's Hayabusa space probe near asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36)
Drawing courtesy of NASA

Died (brain cancer), Ronald "Ron" Anthony Parise, PhD, NASA payload specialist astronaut (STS 35, STS 67)

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