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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 8

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Died, Christiaan Huygens, mathematician, physicist, astronomer (discovered Saturn's moon Titan, among other things)

Born, Guenther Hintze, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missles during World War II, member of the Rocket Team in the United States after the war

G. Neujmin discovered asteroid #1255 Schilowa.

Born, Vitali Ivanovich Sevastyanov (at Krasnouralsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russian SFSR), Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 9, Soyuz 18) (deceased)

C. Jackson discovered asteroid #1949 Messina.

The first test run was performed on the Supersonic Military Air Research Track (SMART), a 12,000 foot track for rocket propelled sleds at Hurricane, Utah.

The first spherical rocket motor, a 10 inch diameter motor with spin stabilization, was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia.

The second experimental reactor (Kiwi-A Prime) in the Project Rover nuclear rocket program was successfully tested at full power and duration at Jackass Flats, Nevada.

Kiwi-A Prime nuclear rocket test reactor, NASA photo

1964 21:02:00 GMT
NASA and the US Air Force launched X-15A Horizon Scan/MH-96 test mission # 111 in which Joe Engle reached a maximum speed of 5665 kph (Mach 5.05) and a maximum altitude of 51.938 km. The flight was the first test of an infrared (IR) horizon scanner.

1965 17:16:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A-2 ST,Landing,Alt test # 139 in which John McKay attained a maximum speed of 5889 kph (Mach 5.19), and a maximum altitude of 64.800 km in a star tracker mission to photograph Gamma Cassiopeia.

1971 21:58:00 GMT
NASA launched Explorer 44 (SOLRAD 10, Solar Explorer C) to collect solar radiation data.

SOLRAD 10 (also known as SOLRAD 10 or Solar Explorer C), launched 8 July 1971, was a spin stabilized satellite, one of the SOLRAD series designed to provide continuous coverage of wavelength and intensity changes in solar radiation in the UV, soft, and hard X-ray regions. SOLRAD 10 also mapped the celestial sphere using a high-sensitivity X-ray detector. The spacecraft was a 12-sided cylinder 76 cm in diameter and 58 cm in height. Four symmetrically placed 17.8 by 53.3 cm solar cell panels, hinged at the central section of the structure, served as the elements of a turnstile antenna system. Eighteen solar sensors were mounted pointing parallel to the spin axis of the satellite, which pointed directly at the solar disk. The plane of rotation shifted about 1 deg/day so that a stellar detector mounted to point radially outward from the axis scanned the celestial sphere. Data from all detectors were stored in a 54 KB core memory and telemetered on command to the NRL tracking station at Blossom Point, Maryland. Data were also transmitted in real time at 137.710 MHz.

The SOLRAD 10 core memory failed 11 June 1973, and SOLRAD 9 was heavily used until 25 February 1974, when the gas supply of the attitude control system was exhausted. Lacking attitude control, SOLRAD 9 was operationally useless and was turned off.

1975 05:02:00 GMT
USSR launched the Molniya 2-13 communications satellite from Plesetsk for operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio communications system in the USSR, and transmission of television programs to stations in the Orbita network.

1976 23:31:00 GMT
The Indonesian Palapa 1 communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean at 83 deg E in 1976-1986.

1979 00:00:00 GMT
Voyager 2 took the first photograph of Jupiter's satellite Adrastea (J15).

The Voyager 2 spacecraft, originally planned as Mariner 12 of the Mariner program, was launched on 20 August 1977 on a mission to explore the outer planets of the solar system. It is identical to its sister Voyager program craft, Voyager 1. Voyager 2 followed a somewhat different trajectory during its Saturn encounter, however, bypassing a close encounter with Titan in favor of taking advantage of a gravitational slingshot to travel on to Uranus and Neptune. It became the first probe to visit those two planets.

Voyager 2 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. The closest approach to Jupiter occurred on 9 July 1979. On 25 August 1981, Voyager 2 flew past Saturn at a distance of 63,000 miles (100,000 km), and it took pictures of Saturn's moon Titan the following day, 26 August. Its closest approach to Uranus was on 24 January 1986, and its closest approach to Neptune occurred on 25 August 1989, after a 12 year, 4 billion mile journey, when it flew over the planet's cloud tops and those of its moon Triton, sending back photographs of 'swamps' from a distance of 5000 km. Voyager 2 imagery returned on 22 August 1989 confirmed the rings around Neptune are complete, although they are much more faint than those of Saturn.

As of 24 August 2003, Voyager 2 was at a distance of 10.6 billion kilometers (71 AU) and was escaping the solar system, diving below the ecliptic plane at an angle of about 48 degrees and at a speed of about 3.3 AU per year (ca. 15 km/s, 470 million kilometers (about 290 million miles) a year). On 9 July 2014 it was more than 15.7 billion km (9.79 billion miles, 105 AU) from the Sun. (See Where Are The Voyagers Now? for a spreadsheet of distance, speed, and other interesting information.) It will be approximately 40,000 years before Voyager 2 approaches another planetary system.

Voyager 2 is expected to keep transmitting into the 2030s.

Voyager 2 carries with it a golden record (Voyager Golden Record) that contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record. The contents of this record were selected by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan.

See also

An "Aerobie" flying ring became the object a human has thrown the farthest distance in the Earth's atmosphere at ground level without any velocity aiding feature, traveling 383 m (1,257 feet).

1992 12:38:00 GMT
During the 2h 3m EVA Mir EO-11-1, Mir cosmonauts Aleksandr Viktorenko and Aleksandr Kaleri inspected the gyrodyne orientation flywheels.

1994 12:43:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 65 (Columbia 17, 63rd Shuttle mission) carrying the International Microgravity Laboratory to orbit on its second flight (IML-2).

The STS 65 launch on 8 July 1994 proceeded on time following a smooth countdown. With this mission, Payload Specialist Chiaki Mukai became the first Japanese woman to fly in space; she also set a record for longest flight to date by a female astronaut. The flight marked the first time liftoff and reentry, as experienced from crew cabin, were captured on videotape. The crew took time during mission to honor the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11, noting that mission featured a spacecraft named Columbia as well.

STS 65 marked the second flight of the International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2), carrying more than twice the number of experiments and facilities as did IML-1. The crew split into two teams to perform around-the-clock research. More than 80 experiments, representing more than 200 scientists from six space agencies, were located in the Spacelab module in the payload bay, and one piece of equipment was stowed in the middeck lockers. Fifty of the experiments delved into life sciences, including bioprocessing, space biology, human physiology and radiation biology. Some of the equipment used for these investigations had flown on previous Spacelab flights, such as the European Space Agency's Biorack, making its third flight. The IML-2 Biorack housed 19 experiments featuring chemicals and biological samples such as bacteria, mammalian and human cells, isolated tissues and eggs, sea urchin larvae, fruit flies and plant seedlings. Over the course of the single mission, the specimens could evolve through several stages of life cycles, allowing study of the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on living tissues.

The German Space Agency (DARA) provided the NIZEMI, a slowly rotating centrifuge that performed studies of how organisms react to different gravity levels. Samples studied included jellyfish and plants. For the first time, researchers were able to determine how such organisms react to forces of one-and-a-half times Earth's gravity.

Nearly 30 experiments in materials processing were conducted with nine different types of science facilities. DARA provided the TEMPUS, flying for the first time on IML-2, designed to allow the study of solidification of materials from a liquid state in a containerless environment. Solidification phenomena are of great interest to science, and are also used in many industrial processes. Science teams detected, for first time, a phase in a nickel-niobium sample that is masked by other forces on Earth.

Another facility, the Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility developed by the European Space Agency, was flying for second time. Housed in two middeck lockers, it operated autonomously after having been activated on the first flight day. Some 5,000 video images were made of crystals grown during the flight.

The mission further advanced the concept of telescience, where researchers on the ground can monitor and control, in real time, experiments on board the orbiter. The flight set a new record of more than 25,000 payload commands issued from Spacelab Mission Operations Control at Huntsville, Alabama.

In addition to the IML-2 investigations, the following payloads also were flown: Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE); Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG); Military Application of Ship Tracks (MAST); Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX); and Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS), which does not require onboard equipment.

STS 65 ended on 23 July 1994 when Columbia landed on revolution 235 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 10,211 feet (3,112 meters). Rollout time: 68 seconds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: 14 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes, zero seconds, the longest Shuttle flight to date. Miles traveled: 6.1 million. The landing opportunity on July 22 was waved off due to possibility of rain showers in area. STS-65 was Columbia's last mission before scheduled modification and refurbishment at Rockwell's Palmdale plant. OV-102 departed for California atop the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on 8 Oct 1994 for return to KSC in 1995 with STS-73 as the next scheduled flight.

The flight crew for STS 65 was: Robert D. Cabana, Commander; James D. Halsell, Pilot; Richard J. Hieb, Payload Commander; Carl E. Walz, Mission specialist 2; Leroy Chiao, Mission Specialist 3; Donald A. Thomas, Mission Specialist 4; Chiaki Naito-Mukai, Payload Specialist 1.

1994 23:05:00 GMT
An Ariane 44L launched from Kourou carried the US Panamsat 2 and Japan Yuri 3N communications satellites to orbit, which were positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 169 deg E, and 109 deg E, respectively.

Died (motorcycle accident), Charles Peter "Pete" Conrad Jr., Captain USN, NASA astronaut (Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12, Skylab 2), third person on the Moon, and the only astronaut to fly in all 3 of Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab

1999 08:46:00 GMT
Russia launched the Molniya 3-50 communications satellite from Plesetsk into a 12 hour operational orbit.

2003 03:18:15 GMT
NASA launched MER-B (Opportunity) toward Mars, which arrived successfully on 25 January 2004 and began exploring its new home.

"Opportunity" (Mars Exploration Rover B) is one of the two rovers NASA launched to Mars in mid-2003. The rovers arrived at Mars in January 2004 equipped with a battery of scientific instruments, able to traverse 100 meters a day. The nominal plan called for the missions to last for 90 days, until April 2004. Over a year of surface operations, involving driving the rover, imaging, and use of the science instruments had already been achieved in 2005, and the rovers had their missions extended to at least November 2006 if they could continue to operate. As of 2017 Opportunity was still operating, performing useful science experiments with a total accumulated driving distance surpassing that of a marathon in February 2015.

The scientific goals of the rover missions were to gather data to help determine if life ever arose on Mars, characterize the climate of Mars, characterize the geology of Mars, and prepare for human exploration of Mars. To achieve these goals, seven science objectives were called for: 1) search for and characterize a variety of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity, 2) determine the distribution and composition of minerals, rocks, and soils surrounding the landing sites, 3) determine what geologic processes have shaped the local terrain and influenced the chemistry 4) perform "ground truth" of surface observations made by Mars orbiter instruments, 5) search for iron-bearing minerals, identify and quantify relative amounts of specific mineral types that contain water or were formed in water, 6) characterize the mineralogy and textures of rocks and soils and determine the processes that created them, and 7) search for geological clues to the environmental conditions that existed when liquid water was present and assess whether those environments were conducive to life.

The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were named through a competition sponsored by The Planetary Society and the LEGO Company.

Opportunity was launched on a heavy Delta II 7925H on 8 July 2003. After insertion into a circular Earth parking orbit, the spacecraft third stage reignited and put the craft on a trajectory to Mars, after which the aeroshell, lander, and rover separated from the third stage. The cruise phase to Mars ended on 11 December 2003, 45 days before Mars entry. The approach phase then lasted until Martian atmospheric entry on 25 January 2004. On entry, the lander and components had a mass of 827 kg and were travelling at 19,300 km/hr. The aeroshell decelerated the lander in the upper Martian atmosphere for about four minutes to a velocity of 1600 km/hr, followed by deployment of a parachute. The parachute slowed the spacecraft to about 300 km/hr. A series of tones transmitted by the spacecraft during entry and after landing indicated the successful completion of each phase. Just prior to impact, at an altitude of about 100 m, retrorockets slowed the descent, and airbags inflated to cushion the impact. The craft hit at roughly 50 km/hr and bounced and rolled along the surface, stopping in a small crater. The airbags deflated and retracted, the petals opened, and the rover deployed its solar arrays. The landing took place at 5:05 UT (Earth received time), approximately 1:15 pm local time, about two and a half hours before Earth set at Terra Meridiani. On Mars, it was the latter half of southern summer. The landing ellipse is centered at 2.07 S, 6.08 W and is roughly 119 by 17 km oriented at 88 degrees. Terra Meridiani is also known as the "Hematite Site" because it displays evidence of coarse-grained hematite, an iron-rich mineral which typically forms in water. It also appears to be one of the smoothest and therefore safest areas for a landing. An egress phase took place over the first 4 days, involving deployment of the Pancam mast and high gain antenna, rover stand up, imaging and calibration, selection of the proper egress path, and finally driving the rover off the lander deck onto the Martian surface.

The Mars Exploration Rover consists of a box-like chassis mounted on six wheels, containing a warm electronics box (WEB). On top of the WEB is the triangular rover equipment deck, on which are mounted the Pancam mast assembly, high gain, low gain, and UHF antennas, and a camera calibration target. Attached to the two forward sides of the equipment deck are solar arrays, level with the deck and extending outward, with the appearance of a pair of swept-back wings. Attached to the lower front of the WEB is the instrument deployment device, a long hinged arm which protrudes from the front of the rover.

The wheels are attached to a rocker-bogie suspension system. Each wheel has its own motor and the two front and two rear wheels are independently steerable. The rover has a top speed of 5 cm per second, but the average speed over time on flat hard ground would be 1 cm/sec or less, due to the hazard avoidance protocols. The rover is designed to withstand a tilt of 45 degrees without falling over, but is programmed to avoid exceeding tilts of 30 degrees. The warm electronics box houses the computer, batteries, and other electronic components. The box is designed to protect these components and control their temperature. Thermal control is achieved through the use of gold paint, aerogel insulation, heaters, thermostats, and radiators.

Power is provided by the solar arrays, generating up to 140 W of power under full Sun conditions, stored in two rechargeable batteries. Communications with Earth are in X-band via the high gain directional dish antenna, and the low gain omni-directional antenna. Communications with orbiting spacecraft are through the UHF antenna. The onboard computer has 128 megabytes of random access memory (RAM), augmented by 256 megabytes of flash memory and smaller amounts of other non-volatile memory, which allows the system to retain data even without power. An inertial measurement unit provides 3-axis position information.

The rover carries a suite of instruments for science and navigation. The panoramic camera (Pancam) and navigation cameras are mounted on top of the Pancam mast assembly, about 1.4 meters from the base of the wheels. The mast, mounted at the front of the equipment deck, also acts as a periscope for the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES). Attached to the end of the instrument deployment device are the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), Mossbauer Spectrometer (MB), Microscopic Imager (MI), and Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT). A magnet array is attached to the front of the equipment deck. Two hazard avoidance cameras are mounted on the front of the rover and two on the rear. The group of science instruments (Pancam, Mini-TES, APXS, MB, MI, and RAT) is known as the Athena science package.

For more information, be sure to see the Mars Exploration Rover Mission home page.

Mars Exploration Rover with components labeled, NASA diagram

A longer sequence of thrusters firings by NASA's ISEE3/ICE probe failed, apparently due to a loss of the nitrogen gas used to pressurize the fuel tanks.

The Explorer-class heliocentric spacecraft, International Sun-Earth Explorer 3, was part of the mother/daughter/heliocentric mission (ISEE 1, 2, and 3). The purposes of the mission were: (1) to investigate solar-terrestrial relationships at the outermost boundaries of the Earth's magnetosphere; (2) to examine in detail the structure of the solar wind near the Earth and the shock wave that forms the interface between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere; (3) to investigate motions of and mechanisms operating in the plasma sheets; and, (4) to continue the investigation of cosmic rays and solar flare emissions in the interplanetary region near 1 AU.

The three spacecraft carried a number of complementary instruments for making measurements of plasmas, energetic particles, waves, and fields. The mission thus extended the investigations of previous IMP spacecraft. The launch of three coordinated spacecraft in this mission permitted the separation of spatial and temporal effects. ISEE 3, launched 12 August 1978, had a spin axis normal to the ecliptic plane and a spin rate of about 20 rpm. It was initially placed into an elliptical halo orbit about the Lagrangian libration point (L1) 235 Earth radii on the sunward side of the Earth, where it continuously monitored changes in the near-Earth interplanetary medium. In conjunction with the mother and daughter spacecraft, which had eccentric geocentric orbits, this mission explored the coupling and energy transfer processes between the incident solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere. In addition, the heliocentric ISEE 3 spacecraft also provided a near-Earth baseline for making cosmic-ray and other planetary measurements for comparison with corresponding measurements from deep-space probes. ISEE 3 was the first spacecraft to use the halo orbit.

In 1982, ISEE 3 began the magnetotail and comet encounter phases of its mission. A maneuver was conducted on 10 June 1982 to remove the spacecraft from the halo orbit around the L1 point and place it in a transfer orbit involving a series of passages between Earth and the L2 (magnetotail) Lagrangian libration point. After several passes through the Earth's magnetotail, with gravity assists from Lunar flybys in March, April, September and October of 1983, a final close Lunar flyby (119.4 km above the Moon's surface) on 22 December 1983 ejected the spacecraft out of the Earth-Moon system and into a heliocentric orbit ahead of the Earth, on a trajectory intercepting that of Comet Giacobini-Zinner. At this time, the spacecraft was renamed International Cometary Explorer (ICE). A total of fifteen propulsive maneuvers (four of which were planned in advance) and five Lunar flybys were needed to carry out the transfer from the halo orbit to an escape trajectory from the Earth-Moon system into a heliocentric orbit.

The primary scientific objective of ICE was to study the interaction between the solar wind and a cometary atmosphere. As planned, the spacecraft traversed the plasma tail of Comet Giacobini-Zinner on 11 September 1985, and made in situ measurements of particles, fields, and waves. It also transited between the Sun and Comet Halley in late March 1986, when other spacecraft (Giotto, Planet-A, MS-T5, VEGA) were also in the vicinity of Comet Halley on their early March comet rendezvous missions. ICE became the first spacecraft to directly investigate two comets. ICE data from both cometary encounters are included in the International Halley Watch archive at

Tracking and telemetry support were provided by the DSN (Deep Space Network) starting in January 1984. The ISEE-3/ICE bit rate was nominally 2048 bps during the early part of the mission, and 1024 bps during the Giacobini-Zinner comet encounter. The bit rate then successively dropped to 512 bps (on 9/12/85), 256 bps (on 5/1/87), 128 bps (on 1/24/89) and finally to 64 bps (on 12/27/91).

As of January 1990, ICE was in a 355 day heliocentric orbit with an aphelion of 1.03 AU, a perihelion of 0.93 AU and an inclination of 0.1 degree.

An update to the ICE mission was approved by NASA headquarters in 1991. It defined a Heliospheric mission for ICE consisting of investigations of coronal mass ejections in coordination with ground-based observations, continued cosmic ray studies, and special period observations such as when ICE and Ulysses were on the same solar radial line. By May 1995, ICE was being operated with only a low duty cycle, with some support being provided by the Ulysses project for data analysis. Termination of operations of ICE/ISEE3 was authorized 5 May 1997.

In 1999, NASA made brief contact with ICE to verify its carrier signal.

On 18 September 2008, NASA located ICE with the help of KinetX using the Deep Space Network after discovering it had not been powered off after the 1999 contact. A status check revealed that all but one of its 13 experiments were still functioning, and it still had enough propellant for 150 m/s (490 ft/s) of Δv (velocity change).

In early 2014, space enthusiasts started discussing reviving ICE when it approached the Earth in August. However, officials with the Goddard Space Flight Center said the Deep Space Network equipment required for transmitting signals to the spacecraft had been decommissioned in 1999, and was too expensive to replace.

On 15 May 2014, the ISEE-3 Reboot Project successfully raised $125,000 through crowdfunding to re-establish communications with the probe.

On 29 May 2014, the reboot team commanded the probe to switch into Engineering Mode to begin to broadcast telemetry. Project members, using the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex DSS-24 antenna, achieved synchronous communication on 26 June and obtained the four ranging points needed to refine the spacecraft's orbital parameters, data needed to calculate maneuvers required to bring the satellite out of heliocentric orbit. The reboot project successfully fired the thrusters on 2 July for the first time since 1987. They spun up the spacecraft to its nominal roll rate, in preparation for the upcoming trajectory correction maneuver in mid-July. However, a longer sequence of thrusters firings on 8 July failed, apparently due to a loss of the nitrogen gas used to pressurize the fuel tanks. The ISEE-3 Reboot Team announced that all attempts to change orbit using the ISEE-3 propulsion system had failed on 24 July. They began shutting down propulsion components to maximize the electrical power available for the science experiments.

In late July 2014, ISEE-3 Reboot Project announced the ISEE-3 Interplanetary Citizen Science Mission would gather data as the spacecraft flies by the Moon on August 10 and continues in heliocentric orbit. With five of the 13 instruments on the spacecraft still working, the science possibilities include listening for gamma ray bursts, where observations from additional locations in the solar system can be valuable. The team plans to acquire data from as much of ISEE-3's 300-day orbit as possible and the project is recruiting additional receiving sites around the globe to improve diurnal coverage. They may upload additional commands while the spacecraft is close to Earth, after which they will mostly be receiving data.

On 10 August 2014, ICE passed the Moon at a distance of approximately 15,600 km (9600 mi) from the surface and continued into heliocentric orbit. It will return to Earth's vicinity in about 17 years.

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