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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 June 20

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A. Charlois discovered asteroid #404 Arsinoe.

Roger Burham and Eleanor Waring took the first balloon honeymoon.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #876 Scott.

A first flight of a rocket plane solely powered by liquid propellants, the Heinkel He 176, was made with Erich Warsitz at the controls.

C. Jackson discovered asteroid #1817 Katanga.

Born, Dr. Ulf Dietrich Merbold (at Greiz, Germany), German physicist, ESA astronaut (STS 9, STS 42, Soyuz TM-19/Euromir 94)

Born, James Frederick "Jim" Buchli (at New Rockford, North Dakota, USA), Colonel USMC, NASA astronaut (STS 51C, STS 61A, STS 29, STS 48)

Astronaut Jim Buchli, NASA photo

US Secretary of State Cordell Hull approved the transfer of Wernher von Braun's German rocket specialist team to the United States, a transfer known as "Operation Paperclip."

Born, Gary Eugene Payton (at Rock Island, Illinois, USA), manned spaceflight engineer, NASA astronaut (STS 51C)

Astronaut Gary Payton, NASA photo

Born, Brian J. Duffy (at Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 45, STS 57, STS 72, STS 92)

Astronaut Brian Duffy, NASA photo

Born, Ilan Ramon (at Tel Aviv, Israel), first Israeli astronaut (deceased, STS 107 - Columbia re-entry disaster)

Astronaut Ilan Ramon, NASA photo

The first "Cajun" research rocket was successfully launched, at NACA Wallops Island, Virginia.

The first dynamic dual-ejection Gemini escape system test, sled test No. 2, was run at China Lake. Both seats ejected and all systems functioned properly, but the test was scheduled to be rerun, since the sled failed to attain a high enough velocity.

Died, Georges LeMaitre, originator of the "big bang" theory

NASA Explorer 49 (RAE-B) began operations of its radio astronomy mission in Lunar orbit.

The Radio Astronomy Explorer B (RAE-B) mission was the second of a pair of RAE satellites. It was placed into Lunar orbit to provide radio astronomical measurements of the planets, the Sun, and the galaxy over the frequency range of 25 kHz to 13.1 MHz. The experiment complement consisted of two Ryle-Vonberg radiometers (nine channels each), three swept-frequency burst receivers (32 channels each), and an impedance probe for calibration. The experiment antennas consisted of travelling wave antennas forming an X configuration: a 229 meter upper V-antenna pointed away from the Moon; a 229 meter lower V-antenna pointed toward the Moon; and a 37 meter dipole antenna parallel to the Lunar surface. There was also a 129 meter boron libration damper boom system used to damp out any spacecraft oscillations about the equilibrium position. The spacecraft body had a mass of 328 kg at launch and 200 kg in Lunar orbit, a truncated cylinder 92 cm in diameter and approximately 79 cm high, with four fixed solar paddles. The maneuvering system consisted of a hydrazine velocity correction package, a cold gas attitude control system, and a solid fuel Lunar insertion motor. Data were returned to Earth via either a low power UHF (400 MHz) transmitter in real time, or stored in an onboard tape recorder and transmitted via a high power UHF transmitter (also 400 MHz). Two tape recorders provided backup storage. A VHF transmitter served primarily for range and range-rate measurements and as a backup. Commands were received on a VHF (148 MHz) receiver, which also was a part of the range and range-rate system. Spacecraft attitude was determined by (1) a solar aspect system, (2) a horizon sensor system, and (3) a panoramic attitude sensor system, and was accurate to 1 degree. The spacecraft was gravity gradient oriented (Z axis parallel to local vertical).

RAE-B was launched 10 June 1973, placed into Lunar orbit on 15 June after a 20 second firing of the orbit insertion motor, and began operations on 20 June. Initially only the 37 meter dipole antenna was deployed, during which the spacecraft was operated in a 4 rpm spin stabilized mode with the spin axis in the ecliptic plane normal to the spacecraft-Sun line. After three weeks the dipole booms were retracted, the spacecraft reoriented, the long-V antennas and libration damper were extended, and the dipole was redeployed. The lower V-antenna was initially extended to 183 meters during the first 16 months of flight, and was extended to its full 229 meters length in November 1974. The Lunar orbit and position of the Earth as a radio source imposed periodicities on the observations of 29.5 days (the Lunar synodic month) and 24.8 hours (the interval between consecutive sweeps of a given Earth geographic position past the Moon.

Felix Aguilar Observatory discovered asteroid #2124 Nissen.

David H. Levy discovered asteroid #5261 Eureka at Mt Palomar, California, the first known Mars Trojan asteroid (at the L5 point in Mars' orbit around the Sun).

1990 23:36:00 GMT
USSR launched the Gorizont 20 communications satellite from Baikonur, which was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 90 deg E in 1990; 14 deg W in 1990-1995; 26 deg E in 1995-1998; 96 deg E in 1998-1999.

1994 14:42:00 GMT
McDonnel-Douglas launched the first DC-X test flight of the second series, after additional SDIO funding was received. A full propellent load was used, with the radar altimeter in the control loop, reaching 870 meters altitude during a 136 second flight.

1996 10:49:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 78 (Columbia 20, 78th Shuttle mission) carrying the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS) experiment platform on the longest Shuttle flight to date at the time.

The STS 78 launch on 20 June 1996 proceeded on time. An in-cabin camera provided the first video images from the flight deck, beginning with crew ingress and continuing through main engine cutoff. Post-launch assessment of the spent solid rocket boosters revealed a hot gas path in the motor field joints to, but not past, the capture feature O-ring. This marked the first occurrence of combustion product penetration into the J-joint of the redesigned solid rocket motor (RSRM). Flight safety was not compromised, and motor performance met design specification requirements. The probable cause was attributed to a new, more environmentally friendly adhesive and cleaning fluid. No significant in-flight problems were experienced with the orbiter.

Five space agencies (NASA/USA; ESA/Europe; CNES/France; CSA/Canada; and ASI/Italy) and research scientists from 10 countries worked together on the primary payload of STS 78, the Life and Microgravity Spacelab (LMS). More than 40 experiments flown were grouped into two areas: life sciences, which included human physiology and space biology, and microgravity science, which included basic fluid physics investigations, advanced semiconductor and metal alloy materials processing, and medical research in protein crystal growth.

LMS investigations were conducted via the most extensive use of telescience to date. Investigators were located at four remote European and four remote US locations, similar to what is planned for the International Space Station. The mission also made extensive use of video imaging to help crew members perform inflight maintenance procedures on experiment hardware.

Previous life science investigations had delved into what physiological changes take place in the microgravity environment; integrated LMS experiments explored why these changes occur, including the most extensive studies ever conducted on bone and muscle loss in space. STS 78 marked the first time researchers collected muscle tissue biopsy samples both before and after the flight. Crew members also were scheduled to undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans almost immediately after landing. Findings from comparison of the biopsy samples, along with various musculoskeletal tests conducted during mission, could lead to effective countermeasures to reduce inflight muscle atrophy.

Other life science investigations were the first ever comprehensive study of sleep cycles, 24 hour circadian rhythms, and task performance in microgravity. A Shuttle orbiting Earth passes through sixteen sunrises and sunsets in a single 24 hour period, which could disrupt normal body rhythms. During two 72 hour time blocks, crew members completed questionnaires and measured such functions as eye movement and muscle activity during sleep. In the Performance Assessment Work Station, crew members performed a series of drills involving math problems and other mental tests to measure microgravity effects on cognitive, or thinking, skills.

Microgravity science investigations included the Advanced Gradient Heating Facility, in which samples of pure aluminum containing zirconia particles were solidified, which could lead to less expensive ways to make mixtures of metals and ceramics, particularly useful to the metal casting industry. The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility was first designed to use three methods for growing protein crystals. The Electrohydrodynamics of Liquid Bridges experiment focused on changes that occur in a fluid bridge suspended between two electrodes. The research could find applications in industrial processes where control of a liquid column or spray is used, including inkjet printing.

The crew performed in-flight fixes to problem hardware on the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit (BDPU), designed to study fluid physics.

The orbiter played a key part in a test leading to raising the Hubble Space Telescope to a higher orbit during the second servicing mission. Columbia's vernier Reaction Control System jets were gently pulsed to boost the orbiter's altitude without jarring payloads. The exercise was investigated for use by Discovery during STS 82, when it was used in February 1997 to raise the HST's orbit without impacting its solar arrays.

STS 78 ended on 7 July 1996 when Columbia landed on revolution 272 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, closing the longest Shuttle flight to date, on the first opportunity at KSC. Rollout distance: 9,339 feet (2,847 meters). Rollout time: 45 seconds. Orbit altitude: 173 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 39 degrees. Mission duration: 16 days, 21 hours, 47 minutes, 45 seconds. Miles traveled: 7 million. The flight also featured the first live downlink video during the orbiter's descent. After landing, Henricks and Kregel participated in an Olympic Torch ceremony at the KSC Visitor Center.

The flight crew for STS 78 was: Terence T. Henricks, Commander; Kevin R. Kregel, Pilot; Susan J. Helms, Flight Engineer; Richard M. Linnehan, DVM, Mission Specialist; Charles E. Brady, Jr., MD, Mission Specialist; Jean-Jacques Favier, PhD (CNES), Payload Specialist; Robert Brent Thirsk, MD (CSA), Payload Specialist.

1999 02:15:00 GMT
NASA launched QuikScat from Vandenburg, California, carrying the SeaWinds scatterometer for remote sensing of ocean winds.

2002 09:34:00 GMT
Russia launched a Rokot booster from Plesetsk carrying two Iridium replacement mobile telephone satellites (Iridium 97 and Iridium 98) owned by Iridium Satellite LLC, the successor to bankrupt Iridium LLC.

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