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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 18

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Born, Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, mathematician, astronomer

Died, Stanisław Lubieniecki, Polish astronomer, historian, writer (Theatrum Cometicum - Theater of Comets (1666-68) is an illustrated anthology of 415 comets from the biblical epoch until 1665)

Born, Ruggiero Boscovich, physicist, astronomer, philosopher

Rudjer Joseph Boscovich (18 May 1711 - 13 February 1787), was a Jesuit, physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat and poet. He is famous for his atomic theory, given as a clear, precisely-formulated system utilizing principles of Newtonian mechanics. This work inspired Michael Faraday to develop field theory for electromagnetic interaction. Boscovich also gave many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position.

Born, Oliver Heaviside, self-taught British engineer, mathematician, physicist. Although at odds with the scientific establishment for most of his life, Heaviside changed the face of mathematics and science.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #403 Cyane.

Born, Nikolay Alekseyevich Pilyugin, Russian Chief Designer of Nll-885 and NII AP (1948-1982), specialized in missile and spaceship guidance

The Earth passed through the tail of Comet Halley, causing a near panic where French astronomer Camille Flammarion reportedly said in February that cyanogen gas in the comet's tail would "snuff out" all life. (The catastrophe didn't happen.)

J Helffrich discovered asteroid #714 Ulula.

H E Wood discovered asteroid #758 Mancunia.

S Belyavskij discovered asteroid #978 Aidamina.

H E Wood discovered asteroid #2193 Jackson.

Born, Don (not "Donald") Leslie Lind PhD (at Midvale, Utah, USA), NASA mission specialist astronaut (STS 51B)

Astronaut Don Lind, NASA photo

L Boyer discovered asteroid #1601 Patry.

Jackie Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, flying in a F-86 Sabrejet at an average speed of 652.337 miles per hour (1049.835 km/h) at Rogers Dry Lake, California.

1958 05:05:00 GMT
The US Air Force launched the Jupiter Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle Test mission which reached a apogee of 500 km during its 1,275 nm, 960 second flight. It was the first flight test of first and second stage separation.

1965 17:56:00 GMT
NASA launched the X-15A-2 Stab, landing, ST Test mission # 132 in which John McKay reached a maximum speed of 5699 kph (Mach 5.17) and a maximum altitude of 31.120 km.

1967 09:07:00 GMT
The US Navy launched Transit 16, part of Transit navigation satellite system. Some reports indicate it was actually a different spacecraft for auroral and ionospheric research, and not part of the navigation system.

1968 08:23:00 GMT
NASA launched a Thor Agena D carrying the Nimbus B and Secor 10 satellites. The spacecraft never achieved orbit because of a malfunction in the booster guidance system forced the destruction of the rocket and its payload during launch.

The Nimbus-B meteorological research and development satellite, launched 18 May 1968, was designed to serve as a stabilized, Earth-oriented platform for the testing of advanced systems for sensing and collecting meteorological data. The spacecraft consisted of three major structures: (1) a sensor mount, (2) solar paddles, and (3) the control housing unit, which was connected to the sensor mount by a truss structure. Shaped somewhat like an ocean buoy, Nimbus-B was nearly 3.7 m tall, 1.5 m in diameter at the base, and about 3 m across with solar paddles extended. The torus-shaped sensor mount, which formed the satellite base, housed the electronics equipment and battery modules. The lower surface of the torus provided a mounting space for sensors and telemetry antennas. An H-frame structure mounted within the center of the torus provided support for the larger experiments and tape recorders. Mounted on the control housing unit, which was located on top of the spacecraft, were Sun sensors, horizon scanners, gas nozzles for attitude control, and a command antenna. Use of the attitude control subsystem (ACS) permitted the spacecraft's orientation to be controlled to within plus or minus 1 degree for all three axes (pitch, roll, and yaw). Primary experiment subsystems on Nimbus-B consisted of (1) a satellite infrared spectrometer (SIRS) for determining the verticle temperature profiles of the atmosphere, (2) an infrared interferometer spectrometer (IRIS) for measuring the emission spectra of the Earth-atmosphere system, (3) both high- and medium-resolution infrared radiometers (HRIR and MRIR) for yielding information on the distribution and intensity of infrared radiation emitted and reflected by the Earth and its atmosphere, (4) a monitor of ultraviolet solar energy (MUSE) for detecting solar UV radiation, (5) an image dissector camera system (IDCS) for providing daytime cloudcover pictures in both real-time mode, using the real-time transmission system (RTTS), and tape recorder mode, using the high data rate storage system (DHRSS), (6) a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), SNAP-19, to assess the operational capability of radioisotope power for space applications, and (7) an interrogation, recording, and location system (IRLS) designed to locate, interrogate, record, and retransmit meteorological data from remote collection stations.

The spacecraft never achieved orbit because of a malfunction in the booster guidance system forced the destruction of the spacecraft and its payload during launch. Less than a year later, an identical payload was successfully flown as Nimbus 3.

Died, Yevgeni Yakovlevich Boguslavskiy, Russian engineer, Deputy Chief Designer 1950-1969 of Ryazanskiy design bureau, specialized in spacecraft guidance systems

1969 16:49:00 GMT
NASA launched Apollo 10 (AS 505) to Lunar orbit, the final full-up test mission before the Moon landing of Apollo 11. The astronauts named their Command Module "Charlie Brown" and the Lunar lander "Snoopy."

Apollo 10, launched 18 May 1969, was the second Apollo mission to orbit the Moon, and the first to travel to the Moon with the full Apollo spacecraft, consisting of the Command and Service Module (CSM-106, "Charlie Brown") and the Lunar Module (LM-4, "Snoopy"). The CSM mass of 28,834 kg included propellants and expendables; the LM mass including propellants was 13,941 kg. The primary objectives of the mission were to demonstrate crew, space vehicle, and mission support facilities during a manned Lunar mission and to evaluate LM performance in cislunar and Lunar environment. The mission was a full "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, in which all operations except the actual Lunar landing were performed. The flight carried a three man crew: Commander Thomas P. Stafford, Command Module (CM) Pilot John W. Young, and Lunar Module (LM) Pilot Eugene A. Cernan.

After launch, the spacecraft was inserted into a 189.9 km x 184.4 km Earth parking orbit at 17:00:54 UT, followed by translunar injection after 1 1/2 orbits at 19:28:21 UT. The CSM separated from the Saturn V 3rd stage (S-IVB) at 19:51:42 UT, transposed, and docked with the LM at 20:06:37. TV coverage of the docking procedures was transmitted to the Goldstone, California tracking station for worldwide commercial viewing. Having achieved a trajectory towards the Moon, the Apollo 10 LM and CSM decoupled from the SIVB at 20:45 UT on 18 May and made a course correction to head for Lunar orbit. The SIVB stage was put on a ballistic trajectory by venting residual propellants where it flew by the Moon on 21 May and entered solar orbit.

On 19 May, the crew elected not to make the first of a series of midcourse maneuvers. A second preplanned midcourse correction that adjusted the trajectory to coincide with a July Lunar landing trajectory was executed at 3:19 pm EDT. The maneuver was so accurate that the preplanned third and fourth midcourse corrections were canceled. During the translunar coast, five color TV transmissions, totaling 72 minutes, were made of the spacecraft and the Earth.

After a three day cruise, Apollo 10 entered an initial 315.5 km x 110.4 km Lunar orbit on 21 May 1969 at 20:44:54 UT, using a 356 sec. SPS burn. A second SPS burn lasting 19.3 seconds circularized the orbit to 113.9 km x 109.1 km.

On 22 May, Stafford and Cernan entered the LM and fired the SM reaction control thrusters to separate the LM from the CSM at 19:36:17 UT. The LM was put into an orbit to allow low altitude passes over the Lunar surface, the closest approach bringing it to within 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km) of the Moon. All systems on the LM were tested during the separation including communications, propulsion, attitude control, and radar. The tests included a test of the landing radar, visual observation of Lunar lighting, stereo photography of the Moon, and execution of a phasing maneuver using the descent engine. The LM made a low-level pass over the planned site for the first Lunar landing. Numerous close-up photographs of the Moon's surface, in particular the planned Apollo landing sites, were taken. The LM descent stage was jettisoned into Lunar orbit. An error in switch positions brought a heart-stopping moment when the LM ascent stage went into wild gyrations after separation from the descent stage, possibly a fatal error if it had occurred during take off from the surface on a landing mission. The LM and CSM rendezvous and redocking occurred 8 hours after separation at 03:22 UT on 23 May.

Later on 23 May, the LM ascent stage was jettisoned into solar orbit after its batteries were burned to depletion. On 24 May, at 10:25:29 UT, after 61.5 hours in 31 Lunar orbits, the CSM rockets were fired for transearth injection. During the return trip, the astronauts made star-Lunar landmark sightings, star-Earth horizon navigation sightings, and live television transmissions. CM-SM separation took place on 26 May at 16:22:26 UT, and Apollo 10 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 26 May 1969 at 16:52:23 UT (12:52:23 p.m. EDT) after a mission elapsed time of 192 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds. The splashdown point was 15 deg 2 min S, 164 deg 39 min W, 400 miles east of American Samoa and 5.5 km (3.4 mi) from the recovery ship USS Princeton.

All systems on both spacecraft functioned nominally, the only exception being an anomaly in the automatic abort guidance system aboard the LM. In addition to extensive photography of the Lunar surface from both the LM and CSM, television images were taken and transmitted to Earth.

The Apollo 10 Command Module "Charlie Brown" is on display at the Science Museum, London, England.

The Apollo program included a large number of uncrewed test missions and 12 crewed missions: three Earth orbiting missions (Apollo 7, 9 and Apollo-Soyuz), two Lunar orbiting missions (Apollo 8 and 10), a Lunar swingby (Apollo 13), and six Moon landing missions (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). Two astronauts from each of these six missions walked on the Moon (Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Charles Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt), the only humans to have set foot on another solar system body (as of 2015).

Apollo 10 CSM "Charlie Brown" photographed from the LM "Snoopy" in Lunar orbit, NASA photo

US reconnaissance satellites detected the USSR N1 Moon rocket being installed on launch pad 110 west at Baikonur. It remained there, without a payload, at least through 4 June.

Felix Aguilar Observatory discovered asteroid #2691.

The Warsaw radio mast, the tallest construction ever built at the time, was completed. It remained the tallest construction in the world until its collapse on 8 August 1991.

1976 11:00:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 818 into orbit for investigation of the upper atmosphere and outer space.

E S Bus discovered asteroid #3598 Saucier.

A Mrkos discovered asteroid #2304 Slavia.

During the Salyut 7 EO-3-5 extravehicular activity (EVA), cosmonauts installed a solar array on Salyut 7.

1991 12:50:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz TM-12 which docked at the Mir space station, the second commercial flight with a paying British passenger.

Soyuz TM-12, launched 18 May 1991, docked with Mir for Mir Expedition EO-09. It carried Anatoli Artsebarski, Sergei Krikalev, and Helen Sharman to Mir, and returned Artsebarski and the crew of Soyuz TM-8 to Earth. It was the second commercial flight with a paying British passenger. The sponsoring British consortium was not quite able to come up with the money, however. The flight continued at Soviet expense with very limited UK experiments.

1996 14:20:00 GMT
The first flight of the DC-XA was launched. The aeroshell caught fire during the slow landing. The DC-X reached altitude of 244 meters during its 62 second flight.

1999 05:09:00 GMT
NASA launched a Pegasus XL carrying two satellites, TERRIERS and MUBLCOM, into orbit.

TERRIERS, launched 18 May 1999 on a Pegasus XL with MUBLCOM, was part of NASA's Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI), a precursor program to the UNEX (University Explorer) series. STEDI was managed by USRA (the Universities Space Research Association) for NASA, while UNEX was to be more directly managed by NASA-GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center). TERRIERS was to be operated by the space physics group at Boston University for ionosphere studies, and carried TESS, a set of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) spectrographs to get electron density and thermosphere emission profiles. The GISSMO instrument measured the solar EUV flux. The spacecraft was built by AeroAstro and based on HETE. TERRIERS was placed in the correct orbit, but it failed to orient its solar panel to the Sun and ran out of battery power by 20 May 1999. Controllers were optimistic that when its orbit processed to a better sun angle the satellite could be revived.

1999 05:09:00 GMT
NASA launched a Pegasus XL carrying two satellites, TERRIERS and MUBLCOM, into orbit. (launch record for second satellite)

MUBLCOM was launched 18 May 1999 on a Pegasus XL with TERRIERS. After deploying the TERRIERS satellite, the conical Payload Adapter Fitting (1998-26E) was jettisoned at 05:21 GMT, leaving the disk-shaped MUBLCOM satellite attached to the Pegasus XL PRIMEX HAPS-Lite stage. The second HAPS burn at 05:22 GMT raised apogee to 775 km, followed by a third, apogee burn at 06:10 GMT which circularised the orbit. MUBLCOM was deployed to a 769 km x 776 km x 97.7 degree orbit. The final HAPS burn then placed the depleted HAPS stage in a lower 388 km x 722 km x 97.1 degree disposal orbit. MUBLCOM (Multiple beam Beyond Line-of-sight Communications) was an experimental satellite funded by DARPA and managed by the US Army's Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) at Ft Monmouth, New Jersey. It was built by Orbital Sciences using the Microstar (Orbcomm type) bus and carried a payload testing hand-held radio satellite communications for the armed forces.

2001 17:45:00 GMT
The US National Reconnaissance Office launched USA 158, a military communications technology satellite, into geostationary orbit. The satellite carried an experimental laser communications payload, and an operational UHF data relay payload.

Died, Wubbo J. Ockels (at Amsterdam, Netherlands), ESA astronaut (STS 61-A)

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