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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 16

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Born, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Italian mathematician (first book discussing both differential and integral calculus)

Born, Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin, chemist (discovered chromium, beryllium)

Died, Sir William Congreve, English inventor and rocket pioneer,_2nd_Baronet

Died, Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, French mathematician, physicist (Fourier series and their application to problems of heat flow; Fourier transform)

Born, David Edward Hughes, inventor (microphone, teleprinter)

N.R. Pogson discovered asteroid #87 Sylvia, the eighth largest in the asteroid belt, which later became the first asteroid known to possess more than one moon.

The world's first electric tram went into service in Lichterfelder, Germany (near Berlin).

J Palisa discovered asteroid #278 Paulina.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #310 Margarita.

Born, Herbert Bergeler, German guided missile expert in World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, worked the remainder of his life with the rocket team, at Fort Bliss (1947), White Stands, and Huntsville

Herbert Bergeler (16 May 1907 - 9 October 1996) was a member of the German Rocket Team in the United States after World War II. Bergeler was a German expert in guided missiles during World War II. After the War, he was relocated to the US, and as of January 1947, was working at Fort Bliss, Texas. He worked his entire life with the rocket team, at Fort Bliss, White Stands, New Mexico, and then at Huntsville, Alabama.

Born, Albert E. Schuler, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missiles during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war

The US Navy Naval Curtiss aircraft NC-4, commanded by Albert Cushing Read, left Trepassey, Newfoundland, for Lisbon, Spain, via the Azores, on the first transatlantic flight.

Born, Forrest Silas Petersen, American test pilot (X-15), Vice Admiral USN

C Jackson discovered asteroid #1427 Ruvuma.

Born, Brewster Hopkinson Shaw Jr. (at Cass City, Michigan, USA), Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 9, STS 61B, STS 28)

Astronaut Brewster Shaw, NASA photo

Born, Johannes Georg Bednorz, German physicist (high temperature (35K) superconductors, Nobel 1987 with Muller "for their important break-through in the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials")

The Special Committee for the International Polar Year (later designated the International Geophysical Year) was established.

Born, Dr Dafydd Rhys "Dave" Williams (at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), physician, NASA mission specialist astronaut (STS 90, STS 118)

USSR's first operational R-2A launch carried dogs to an altitude of 212 km from Kapustin Yar.

Captain Eli L. Beeding, Jr. survived the experience of a gravity load of 82.6G for 0.04 second during the deceleration of a water-braked rocket sled at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

US Air Force Capt. Walter W. Irwin established a new world speed record of 1,404.18 mph (2,259.8 kph) over the precision speed measuring course at Edwards AFB, California, in a Lockheed F-104A Starfighter.

The first DRG Rocket Mail launch from Cuxhaven was made.

The first launch from Arensch to Berensch of DRG (German Rocket Society) 'postcard rockets' was made on 16 May 1959. 100 would be launched in the next two years. Ten launches were made carrying 5000 postcards. The subsonic 5 kg rockets were 2 meters long, produced 50 kgf thrust, were recovered under three or four parachutes, and had an average accuracy of 130 meters over a 3 km range.

1963 23:24:02 GMT
NASA's MA-9 (Faith 7) landed after a successful 22 orbit flight with Gordon Cooper aboard.

Mercury Atlas 9 (MA-9, designated also Faith 7) was the fourth and final manned orbital flight of the Mercury program, launched 15 May 1963, and piloted by L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. The objectives of MA-9 were to: (1) evaluate the effects on the astronaut of approximately one day in orbital flight; (2) verify that man can function for an extended period in space as a primary operating system of the spacecraft; and, (3) evaluate in a manned one-day mission the combined performance of the astronaut and a Mercury spacecraft specifically modified for the mission.

Because MA-9 would orbit over nearly every part of the world from 32.5 degrees north to 32.5 degrees south, a total of 28 ships, 171 aircraft, and 18,000 servicemen were assigned to support the mission.

Originally scheduled for launch in April, the mission was delayed twice. The first delay (February) was due to a decision to rewire the Mercury-Atlas flight control system. The second (14 May) occurred on the scheduled day of launch when a problem developed with the fuel pump in the diesel engine used to retract the gantry from the launch vehicle. This resulted in a delay of roughly 129 minutes after countdown had already reached T-60 minutes. Subsequent to the repairs on the gantry engine, however, a separate problem, the failure of a computer converter at the Bermuda tracking station, forced the cancellation of the launch at T-13 minutes. The launch was rescheduled for the following day (15 May). The countdown then proceeded without a hitch until T-11 minutes and 30 seconds when a problem developed in the guidance equipment and a brief hold was called until it was resolved. Another hold was called at the T-19 second mark to ascertain whether the systems had gone into automatic sequencing as planned. The liftoff ended up being excellent, with flight sequencing (booster engine cut-off, escape tower jettison, sustainer engine cut-off) operating perfectly and the spacecraft being inserted into orbit at a velocity described as being "almost unbelievably correct."

A number of alterations were made to the MA-9 spacecraft, most of them due to the extended duration of the flight. Among these were the increased capacity of several life support system components (additional oxygen and water, increased urine and condensate capacity, etc.), a larger capacity fuel tank, and larger capacity batteries (two 3,000 W-hour vs. two 1,500 W-hour). Deleted from the flight, due to weight considerations, were several backup or other components deemed unnecessary. These included the periscope, the backup UHF voice transmitter, the rate control system, and the backup telemetry transmitter. Also installed was a slow-scan television unit for in-flight evaluation in monitoring the astronaut and instruments.

A number of improvements were also made to the pressure suit worn by Cooper. These included a mechanical seal for the helmet, new gloves with an improved inner liner and link netting between the inner and outer fabrics at the wrist, and a torso section redesigned for increased mobility. The boots were also now integrated with the suit to provide increased comfort for the longer mission, to reduce weight, and to decrease the time required to don the suit. Another change moved the life vest from the center of the chest to a pocket on the lower left leg, thus reducing the bulkiness from the suit and, again, providing more comfort during the flight.

A number of in-flight experiments were planned for and carried out during the MA-9 flight. They included two visual acquisition and perception studies, several photographic studies, two radiation packages, a tethered balloon experiment, a study of the behavior of fluids in zero gravity, and a micrometeorite study.

A flashing beacon, a six inch (152 mm) diameter sphere equipped with xenon strobe lights, was deployed on the third orbit and Cooper first reported that he was able to see it on the night side of the fourth orbit.

on the sixth orbit, Cooper set up cameras, adjusted the spacecraft attitude and set switches to deploy a tethered balloon from the nose of the spacecraft. It was a 30 inch (762 mm) Mylar balloon painted fluorescent orange, to be inflated with nitrogen and attached to a 100 ft (30 m) nylon line from the antenna canister. A strain gauge in the antenna canister would measure differences in atmospheric drag between the 100 mile (160 km) perigee and the 160 mile (260 km) apogee of MA-9's orbit. Cooper tried several times to release the balloon, but it failed to eject from its cannister.

Cooper passed Schirra's orbital record on the seventh orbit while he was engaged in radiation experiments. At T+10 hours, Zanzibar told Cooper the flight was go for (at least) 17 orbits. Cooper was orbiting the Earth every 88 minutes 45 seconds at an inclination of 32.55 degrees to the equator.

When he entered night on the sixteenth orbit, Cooper pitched the spacecraft to slowly follow the plane of the ecliptic. Through the spacecraft window he viewed the zodiacal light and night airglow layer. He took pictures of these two "dim light" phenomena from Zanzibar, across the Earth's nightside, to Canton Island. The pictures were later found to have been overexposed, but they still contained valuable data.

At the start of the 17th orbit while crossing Cape Canaveral, Florida, Cooper broadcast slow scan black and white television pictures to the ground. The picture showed a ghostly image of the astronaut. In the murky picture, a helmet and hoses could be seen; it was the first time an American astronaut had sent back television from space.

Cooper also became the first to sleep in orbit. In addition to a planned rest period beginning the tenth orbit, he also drifted off to sleep during the second orbit for a short period. (In fact, Cooper had also reported taking a short nap during the countdown phase.) Cooper slept intermittently during the six hours of orbits 10 through 13. He woke from time to time and took more pictures, taped status reports, and repeatedky adjusted his spacesuit temperature control which kept getting too hot or too cold.

The first malfunction of concern on MA-9 occurred during the nineteenth orbit when the 0.05g light came on. The light, sensitive to changes in gravity, normally lit during reentry. The pilot proceeded to check out the necessary attitude information and all telemetry indicated the spacecraft was in the correct orbit. It was therefore concluded that the light was erroneous. However, because of this, it was determined that the potential existed that not all of the automatic system for reentry would function. Cooper was advised to use the manual mode for reentry, becoming the first astronaut to use this method exclusively. On the 20th orbit, Cooper lost all attitude readings. The 21st orbit saw a short-circuit occur in the bus bar serving the 250 volt main inverter. This left the automatic stabilization and control system without electric power. Throughout the problems, Cooper remained cool, calm and collected.

On the 21st orbit, John Glenn onboard the Coastal Sentry near Kyushu, Japan, helped Cooper prepare a revised checklist for retrofire. At the end of the 21st orbit, Cooper again contacted Glenn on the Coastal Sentry. He reported the spacecraft was in retro attitude and holding manually. The checklist was complete. Glenn gave a 10 second countdown to retrofire. Cooper kept the spacecraft aligned at a 34 degree pitchdown angle and manually fired the retrorockets on "Mark!"

Fifteen minutes later, Faith 7 landed just 6.4 km (four miles) from the prime recovery ship, the carrier USS Kearsarge. The spacecraft tipped over in the water momentarily, then righted itself. Helicopters dropped rescue swimmers and relayed Cooper's request of an Air Force officer for permission to be hoisted aboard the Navy's carrier. Permission was granted; 40 minutes later the explosive hatch was blown open on the deck of the Kearsarge, and Cooper climbed out of Faith 7 to a warm greeting.

During the flight, the spacecraft attained a maximum velocity of 28,078 km/hour (17,447 mph) and an altitude of 265 km (165 miles). The capsule reentered under the manual control of the pilot after completing 22 orbits, landing about 130 km (81 miles) southeast of Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean. The duration of the flight was 34 hours 19 minutes and 49 seconds during which Cooper travelled nearly 875,000 km (543,700 miles).

Mercury spacecraft # 20 - Faith 7, used in the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission, is currently displayed at the NASA Space Center Houston, Houston, Texas.

1965 14:03:00 GMT
The VHF beacon aboard Telstar 2 was turned off.

Telstar 2, launched 7 May 1963, was primarily a communications satellite, but also carried an experiment designed to measure the energetic proton and electron distribution in the Van Allen belts. The spacecraft spin axis shortly after launch was about 80 deg to the ecliptic plane. The initial spin rate was 180 rpm, and it varied slowly over the life of the spacecraft. Telstar 2 was essentially identical to Telstar 1. It employed two transmitters, and data were telemetered via a PCM/FM/AM encoder. The telemetry sequence required about 1 minute to complete. Telstar 2 differed from Telstar 1 by employing provisions for scientific information to be transmitted in real time via the microwave telemetry system so that telemetry could be obtained after the 2 year timer had turned off the VHF beacon, which occurred n 16 May 1965 during the satellite's 4736 orbit. All systems operated normally until that time.

N Chernykh discovered asteroid #1796 Riga.

1967 21:43:57 GMT
USSR launched an E-6LS satellite, which was a radio-equipped version of the E-6 used to test tracking and communications networks for the Soviet manned Lunar program. The payload entered the desired orbit as Cosmos 159.

The myth 'we were never in the moon race' began to be disseminated by the Soviet Union during a press conference about the Venera 5 mission.

USSR Venera 5 entered the atmosphere of Venus, descended by parachute, and returned data.

Venera 5 was launched 5 January 1969 towards Venus to obtain atmospheric data. The spacecraft was very similar to Venera 4 although it was of a stronger design. When the atmosphere of Venus was approached, a capsule weighing 405 kg and containing scientific instruments was jettisoned from the main spacecraft. During satellite descent towards the surface of Venus, a parachute opened to slow the entry rate. For 53 minutes on 16 May 1969, while the capsule was suspended from the parachute, data from the Venusian atmosphere were returned. The spacecraft also carried a medallion bearing the coat of arms of the USSR and a bas-relief of V.I. Lenin to the night side of Venus.

"Bobro 400," a barge carrying 3,200 tons of garbage, set sail from New York City, beginning an unsuccessful eight week search for a dumping site. (See for future plans.)

1990 13:40:00 GMT
Space Services, Inc., a Houston, Texas commercial launch service, lofted a Starfire rocket from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, as Consort 3 for the Consortium for Materials Development in Space (CMDS) with 12 microgravity experiments.,462857

1991 21:36:00 GMT
A USSR Tsyklon 3 booster carried six military communication satellites, Cosmos 2143-2148, into orbit.

1992 13:57:38 PDT (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 49 (Endeavor 1, 47th Shuttle mission) landed after repairing the Intelsat VI satellite during Endeavour's maiden voyage.

STS 49 was the first flight of the shuttle Endeavour, which was built to replace the Challenger. Following the Flight Readiness Firing of Endeavour's three main engines 6 April 1992, Shuttle managers decided to replace all three due to irregularities detected in two of the high pressure oxidizer turbopumps, which had no impact on the launch date. The launch was originally set for 4 May at 8:34 p.m. EDT, but was moved to 7 May to utilize the earlier launch window opening at 7:06 p.m. EDT so there would be better lighting conditions for photographic documentation of vehicle behavior during the launch phase. Liftoff was delayed 34 minutes due to transoceanic abort landing site weather conditions, and a technical glitch with one of the orbiter master events controllers, but otherwise proceeded smoothly.

STS 49 was the first US orbital flight to feature four extravehicular activities (EVAs), two of which were the longest in US space flight history to date (eight hours, 29 minutes and seven hours, 45 minutes), and the longest to date by a female astronaut; it was the first space flight ever to involve three crew members simultaneously working outside the spacecraft; and the first time astronauts attached a live rocket motor to an orbiting satellite. The flight was also extended two days to complete the mission objectives.

The crew successfully captured and redeployed the INTELSAT VI (F-3) satellite which had been stranded in an unusable orbit since its launch aboard a Titan rocket in March 1990. The capture ultimately required three EVAs to complete. The first space walk was on flight day four by Thuot, who was unable to attach the capture bar to INTELSAT from his position on remote manipulator system arm. The second unscheduled but identical attempt by Thuot failed the following day. After a rest on flight day six, an unprecedented three-person EVA was performed on flight day seven (13 May 1992). During the longest EVA in US space history to date (eight hours, 29 minutes), Hieb, Thuot and Akers grasped the rotating INTELSAT by hand while Brandenstein maneuvered the orbiter. After the capture bar was attached to the satellite, the orbiter's remote manipulator system arm grappled the bar and placed the satellite atop the perigee kick motor (PKM) in the cargo bay. The satellite was deployed early on flight day eight, and INTELSAT controllers signaled the PKM to fire, finally sending INTELSAT VI into its operating orbit of 45,000 nautical miles (83,340 kilometers).

On flight day eight, Akers and Thornton performed an EVA as part of the Assembly of Station by EVA Methods (ASEM) experiment to demonstrate and verify maintenance and assembly capabilities for Space Station Freedom. (The station had not been renamed to "International Space Station" at the time of this flight.) The ASEM space walk, originally planned for two successive days, was cut to one day due to the lengthy INTELSAT retrieval operation.

Additional payloads which flew on STS 49 were: the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG) experiment; and two payloads of opportunity, the Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI) experiment and the Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.

STS 49 ended on 16 May 1992 when Endeavor landed on revolution 141 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. This flight marked the first use of the drag chute during landing; it was deployed after the nosegear touched down for data collection only. Rollout distance: 9,490 feet (2,893 meters). Rollout time: 58 seconds. Launch weight: 256,597 pounds. Landing weight: 201,649 pounds. Orbit altitude: 195 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.35 degrees. Mission duration: eight days, 21 hours, 17 minutes, and 38 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.7 million. The orbiter was returned to Kennedy Space Center on 30 May 1992.

The flight crew for STS 49 was: Daniel C. Brandenstein, Commander; Kevin P. Chilton, Pilot; Pierre J. Thuot, Mission Specialist 1; Kathryn C. Thornton, Mission Specialist 2; Richard J. Hieb, Mission Specialist 3; Thomas D. Akers, Mission Specialist 4; Bruce E. Melnick, Mission Specialist 5.

1995 15:40:00 GMT
A DC-X test mission launched from White Sands, New Mexico, continued expansion of the flight envelope with a constant angle of attack. It reached an altitude of 1330 meters during the 124 second flight.

1996 01:56:29 GMT
An Ariane 44L launched from Kourou, Guiana carried the Indonesian Palapa C2 and Israeli Amos communications satellites to orbit.

1997 22:33:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 48 (Atlantis) docked at the Russian Mir space station during the sixth Shuttle-Mir joint mission flight.

NASA's launch of STS 84 on 15 May 1997 occurred on time following a smooth countdown. The sixth Shuttle-Mir docking was highlighted by the transfer of the fourth successive US crew member to the Russian Space Station when astronaut Mike Foale exchanged places with Jerry Linenger, who arrived at Mir on 15 January with the crew of STS 81. Linenger spent 123 days on Mir and just over 132 days in space from launch to landing, placing him second behind US astronaut Shannon Lucid for most the time spent on-orbit by an American. Another milestone reached during his stay was the one year anniversary of a continuous US presence in space that began with Lucid's arrival at Mir on 22 March 1996.

Other significant events during Linenger's stay included the first US-Russian space walk: On 29 April, Linenger participated in a five hour extravehicular activity (EVA) with Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev to attach a monitor to the outside of the station. The Optical Properties Monitor (OPM) was to remain on Mir for nine months to allow study of the effect of the space environment on optical properties, such as mirrors used in telescopes.

On 23 February, a fire broke out on the 11 year old station. It caused minimal damage, but required station's inhabitants to wear protective masks for about 36 hours until the cabin air was cleaned. Besides Linenger, crew members aboard Mir at the time included two Mir 22 cosmonauts and a German cosmonaut, and two Mir 23 cosmonauts.

STS 84 docked with Mir on 16 May above the Adriatic Sea. Hatches between two spacecraft opened at 12:25 am EDT, 17 May. Greetings were exchanged between the STS 84 crew and Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev, Flight Engineer Alexander Lazutkin and Linenger, followed by a safety briefing. Linenger and Foale officially traded places at 10:15 am EDT on 17 May 1997.

Transfer of items to and from Mir proceeded smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule. One of first items transferred to the station was an Elektron oxygen generating unit. Altogether, 249 items were moved between the two spacecraft, and about 1,000 pounds of water moved to Mir, for a total of about 7,500 pounds of water, experiment samples, supplies and hardware.

The research program planned for Foale during his stay aboard Mir featured 35 investigations (33 on Mir, two on STS 84, with a preflight/postflight component) in six disciplines: advanced technology, Earth observations and remote sensing, fundamental biology, human life sciences, space station risk mitigation, and microgravity sciences. Twenty-eight of these were conducted during previous missions and were to be continued, repeated or completed during Foale's stay. Seven new experiments were planned in biological and crystal growth studies and materials processing.

Undocking occurred on 21 May. Unlike prior dockings, no flyaround of the station by the orbiter was conducted, but the orbiter was stopped three times while backing away to collect data from a European sensor device designed to assist future rendezvous of a proposed European Space Agency resupply vehicle with the International Space Station.

Other activities conducted during the mission included investigations using the Biorack facility, located in the SPACEHAB Double Module in Atlantis' payload bay, a photo survey of Mir during docked operations, environmental air samplings and radiation monitoring.

STS 84 ended 24 May 1997 when Atlantis landed on revolution 144 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the second KSC opportunity after being waved off from the first due to low clouds in the vicinity. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Rollout distance: 8,384 feet (2,555 meters). Rollout time: 51 seconds. Mission duration: nine days, five hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.6 million.

The flight crew for STS 84 was: Charles J. Precourt, Mission Commander; Eileen M. Collins, Pilot; Jean-Francois Clervoy, (ESA) Mission Specialist; Carlos I. Noriega, Mission Specialist; Edward T. Lu, Mission Specialist; Elena V. Kondakova, (RSA) Mission Specialist; C. Michael Foale, Mission Specialist (returned on STS 86); Jerry M. Linenger returned from Mir (launched on STS 81).

2000 08:27:00 GMT
Russia's first Rokot flight from Plesetsk placed two 660 kg dummy satellites (Simsat-1 and Simsat-2) in orbits similar to the parking orbit that was used for the defunct Iridium program.

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