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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 July 6

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Died, Regiomontanus (Johannes Muller von Konigsberg), "arguably the most important astronomer of the fifteenth century," prepared astronomical tables

Died, Thomas Davenport, American inventor (first DC electrical motor, 1834; small model electrical railway, 1835)

Died, Georg Simon Ohm, German physicist, discovered Ohm's law (V=I/R)

Born, Eduard Martin Fischel, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missiles during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war

Died, Lawrence Hargrave, Australian inventor (box kite)

The British dirigible R-34 landed in Mineola, New York, completing the first east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic by an airship.

A radio compass was used for the first time for aircraft navigation when US Navy seaplane pilots used one to locate and navigate their way to a ship 100 miles offshore.

Born, Robert Michael White (at New York, New York, USA), Major General USAF, test pilot, first person to reach space in a rocket plane (17 July 1962 X-15) (deceased)

Maj. Robert M. White in an X-15 cockpit at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Lysithea (known as Jupiter X until 1975), the eleventh of Jupiter's known moons, was discovered by Seth Barnes Nicholson at Mount Wilson Observatory. Lysithea is named after a mythological daughter of Oceanus and one of Zeus' lovers.

J. Churms discovered asteroid #1701 Okavango.

1966 12:57:00 GMT
USSR launched the Proton 3 astronomy satellite from Baikonur for investigation of ultra high energy cosmic particles.

1976 12:09:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 21 to the Salyut 5 space station from Baikonur.

Soyuz 21 was launched 6 July 1976 to Salyut 5 with Volynov and Zholobov aboard, and hard-docked with the station the same day after failure of the Igla system at the last stage of rendezvous. Toward the end of the two month mission, an early return to Earth was requested due to the poor condition of flight engineer Zholobov (who was suffering from space sickness and psychological problems). Soyuz 21 landed 200 km SW of Kokchetav on 24 August 1976. After landing, it was determined the crew had become emotional, had not followed their physical training, and had developed an unreasonable desire to return to Earth. The possibility also existed that there were toxic gases in the station.

1997 05:40:00 GMT
NASA's Mars Pathfinder rover, "Sojourner", rolled off its lander to start collecting data.

Mars Pathfinder was launched 4 December 1996, the second of NASA's low-cost planetary Discovery missions. The mission consists of a stationary lander and a surface rover, with the primary objective of demonstrating the feasibility of low-cost landings on and exploration of the Martian surface. This objective was met by tests of communications between the rover and lander, and the lander and Earth, tests of the imaging devices and sensors, and tests of the maneuverability and systems of the rover on the surface. The scientific objectives include atmospheric entry science, long-range and close-up surface imaging, rock and soil composition and material properties experiments, and meteorology, with the general objective being to characterize the Martian environment for further exploration. (Mars Pathfinder was formerly known as the Mars Environmental Survey (MESUR) Pathfinder.)

The spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere on 4 July 1997 directly from its approach hyperbola at about 7300 m/s without going into orbit around the planet. The cruise stage was jettisoned 30 minutes before atmospheric entry. The lander took atmospheric measurements as it descended. The entry vehicle's heat shield slowed the craft to 400 m/s in about 160 seconds. A 12.5 meter parachute was deployed at this time, slowing the craft to about 70 m/s. The heat shield was released 20 seconds after parachute deployment, and the bridle, a 20 meter long braided Kevlar tether, deployed below the spacecraft. The lander separated from the backshell and slid down to the bottom of the bridle over about 25 seconds. At an altitude of about 1.6 km, the radar altimeter acquired the ground, and about 10 seconds before landing four air bags inflated in about 0.3 seconds forming a 5.2 meter diameter protective 'ball' around the lander. Four seconds later at an altitude of 98 m the three solid rockets, mounted in the backshell, fired to slow the descent, and about 2 seconds later the bridle was cut 21.5 m above the ground, releasing the airbag-encased lander. The lander dropped to the ground in 3.8 seconds and impacted at 16:56:55 UT (12:56:55 p.m. EDT) on 4 July 1997 at a velocity of 18 m/s - approximately 14 m/s vertical and 12 m/s horizontal - and bounced about 12 meters (40 feet) into the air, bouncing at least another 15 times and rolling before coming to rest approximately 2.5 minutes after impact and about 1 km from the initial impact site.

After landing, the airbags deflated and were retracted. Pathfinder opened its three metallic triangular solar panels (petals) 87 minutes after landing. The lander first transmitted the engineering and atmospheric science data collected during entry and landing, the first signal being received at Earth at 18:34 UT (2:34 p.m. EDT). The imaging system obtained views of the rover and immediate surroundings and a panoramic view of the landing area and transmitted it to Earth at 23:30 UT. After some maneuvers to clear an airbag out of the way, ramps were deployed and the rover, stowed against one of the petals, rolled onto the surface on 6 July at about 05:40 UT (1:40 a.m. EDT).

The bulk of the lander's task was to support the rover by imaging rover operations and relaying data from the rover to Earth. The lander was also equipped with a meteorology station. Over 2.5 meters of solar cells on the lander petals, in combination with rechargeable batteries, powered the lander. The lander on-board computer is based on 32-bit architecture with 4 million bytes of static random access memory and 64 million bytes of mass memory for storing images. The main lander components are held in a tetrahedral shaped unit in the center of the three petals, with three low-gain antennas extending from three corners of the box and a camera extending up from the center on a 0.8 meter high pop-up mast. Images were taken and experiments performed by the lander and rover until 27 September 1997 when communications were lost for unknown reasons.

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