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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 August 3

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Born, Elisha Graves Otis, inventor (safe elevator)

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #285 Regina; J. Palisa discovered asteroid #286 Iclea.

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #540 Rosamunde.

Born, Ernst Geissler, German guided missile expert during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, at Fort Bliss, White Stands, and Huntsville, Director, Aeroballistics Division, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (1960)

M. Wolf discovered asteroids #897 Lysistrata, #898 Hildegard and #899 Jokaste.

Died, Emil Berliner, telephone and recording pioneer (microphone, flat phonograph record)

E. Skvortsov discovered asteroid #1167 Dubiago.

Born, Georgi Stepanovich Shonin (at Rovenki, Lugansk, Ukraine), cosmonaut (Soyuz 6) (deceased)

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1437 Diomedes and #1457 Ankara.

K, Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1881 Shao.

M. Itzigsohn discovered asteroid #1569 Evita.

Born, Hans Wilhelm Schlegel (at Uberlingen, Germany), mission specialist astronaut (STS 55, STS 122)

Born, Joan Elizabeth Higginbotham (at Chicago, Illinois, USA), NASA mission specialist astronaut (STS 116)

Astronaut Joan E. Higginbotham, mission specialist, NASA photo

1965 20:40:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A-2 RAS,ST,Landing Test mission # 141 in which Robert Rushworth reached a maximum speed of 5797 kph (Mach 5.16), and attained a maximum altitude of 63.612 km.

1966 16:45:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A-2 ST, Base drag Test mission # 164 in which Pete Knight reached a maximum speed of 5536 kph (Mach 5.03), attained a maximum altitude of 75.895 km, and took UV photos of stars in Auriga.

L. Chernykh discovered asteroid #2140 Kemerovo.

Died, Georgi Nikolayevich Babakin, Russian Chief Designer of Lavochkin design bureau (1965-1971), supervised development of unmanned spacecraft that returned Lunar soil, placed the Lunokhod rover on the Lunar surface, and landed probes on Mars and Venus

Died, Karel Jan 'Charlie' Bossart, Belgian-born American "Chief Designer" of the Atlas ICBM and launch vehicle family

1977 14:01:00 GMT
USSR launched Bion 4 (Cosmos 936) from Plesetsk for biological research with an international array of experiments aboard.

USSR launched Bion 4 (Cosmos 936) on 3 August 1977 for biological research. Scientists from the USSR, the US, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the German Democratic Republic conducted experiments in physics and biology on the mission. The biosatellite was recovered 22 August 1977 at 51 deg 53 min N, 61 deg 30 min E, near Kustanay in Central Asia after remaining in orbit for 18.5 days.

E. Bowell discovered asteroids #3115 Baily and #3690.

1981 09:56:00 GMT
NASA GSF launched the Dynamics Explorer 1 and Dynamics Explorer 2 satellites from Vandenberg, California to study the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere.

The Dynamics Explorer (DE) mission's general objective was to investigate the strong interactive processes coupling the hot, tenuous, convecting plasmas of the magnetosphere and the cooler, denser plasmas and gases corotating in the Earth's ionosphere, upper atmosphere, and plasmasphere. Two satellites, DE 1 and DE 2, were launched together and were placed in polar coplanar orbits, permitting simultaneous measurements at high and low altitudes in the same field-line region.

The DE 1 spacecraft (high-altitude mission) used an elliptical orbit selected to allow (1) measurements extending from the hot magnetospheric plasma through the plasmasphere to the cool ionosphere; (2) global auroral imaging, wave measurements in the heart of the magnetosphere, and crossing of auroral field lines at several Earth radii; and (3) measurements for significant periods along a magnetic field flux tube. The spacecraft approximated a short polygon 137 cm in diameter and 115 cm high. The antennas in the X-Y plane measured 200 meters tip-to-tip, and on the Z-axis, 9 meters tip-to-tip. Two six meter booms were provided for remote measurements. Power was supplied by a solar cell array, mounted on the side and end panels. The spacecraft was spin stabilized, with the spin axis normal to the orbital plane, and the spin rate at ten plus or minus 0.1 rpm. A pulse code modulation (PCM) telemetry data system was used that operated in real time or in a tape-recorder mode. Data were acquired on a science-problem-oriented basis, with closely coordinated operations of the various instruments, both satellites, and supportive experiments. Data acquired from the instruments were temporarily stored on tape recorders before transmission at an 8:1 playback-to-record ratio. Additional operational flexibility allowed a playback-to-record ratio of 4:1. The primary data rate was 16,384 bits per second. Since commands were stored in a command memory unit, spacecraft operations were not real time, except for the transmission of the wideband analog data from the Plasma Wave Instrument (81-070A-02). On 22 October 1990, science operations were terminated. On 28 February 1991, Dynamics Explorer 1 operations were offically terminated.

The DE 2 spacecraft (low-altitude mission) complemented the high-altitude mission DE 1 and was placed into an orbit with a perigee sufficiently low to permit measurements of neutral composition, temperature, and wind. The apogee was high enough to permit measurements above the interaction regions of suprathermal ions, and plasma flow measurements at the feet of the magnetospheric field lines. The general form of the spacecraft was a short polygon 137 cm in diameter and 115 cm high. The triaxial antennas were 23 meters tip-to-tip. One 6 meter boom was provided for remote measurements. The spacecraft weight was 403 kg. Power was supplied by a solar cell array, which charged two 6-ampere-hour nickel-cadmium batteries. The spacecraft was three-axis stabilized with the yaw axis aligned toward the center of the Earth to within 1 deg. The spin axis was normal to the orbit plane within 1 deg with a spin rate of one revolution per orbit. A single-axis scan platform was included in order to mount the low-altitude plasma instrument (81-070B-08). The platform rotated about the spin axis. A pulse code modulation telemetry data system was used that operated in real time or in a tape-recorder mode. Data were acquired on a science-problem-oriented basis, with closely coordinated operations of the various instruments, both satellites, and supportive experiments. Measurements were temporarily stored on tape recorders before transmission at an 8:1 playback-to-record ratio. Since commands were also stored in a command memory unit, spacecraft operations were not real time. DE-2 reentered the atmosphere on 19 February 1983.

Additional details may be found in R. A. Hoffman et al., Space Sci. Instrum., v. 5, n. 4, p. 349, 1981.

Starstruck, Inc. (formerly ARC Technology, a predecessor to AMROC), launched their Dolphin hybrid rocket from a floating platform off San Clemente, California.

Starstruck's Dolphin hybrid rocket, launched 3 August 1984, was supposed to reach an altitude of 2400 meters, but only made it to 700 meters due to a stuck thrust vector control valve that resulted in a 45 degree deviation from vertical flight. The errant vehicle was shut down by command from the support ship at T+14 sec. After this attempt, the project folded.

The Dolphin hybrid rocket (solid fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer) was built by Starstruck as a low cost test vehicle. It featured not only innovative propulsion technology, but was also launched from a floating launch cannister at sea, in which the booster floated in the ocean separately from the launch support ship. The Dolphin was designed to be a commercial sounding rocket and a stepping-stone to a much larger booster for commercial orbital launches called the "Constellation." The project was backed entirely with private funds.

1985 03:31:20 GMT
The US Navy launched the Transit-O 24 and Transit-O 31 navigation satellites from Vandenberg, California, on a Scount G-1 booster.

1987 20:44:11 GMT
USSR launched the unmanned resupply vessel Progress 31 from Baikonur to the Mir space station.

USSR launched the unmanned resupply vessel Progress 31 to the Mir space station on 3 August 1987. After completing rendezvous transfer orbits of 187 X 250 km, 51.64 deg, 266 X 314 km, and 309 X 360 km, it docked with Mir on 5 Aug 1987 at 22:27:35 GMT, refueled the Mir propellants tanks on 15 and 16 September, undocked on 21 Sep 1987 at 23:57:41 GMT, and was destroyed in reentry on 23 Sep 1987 at 01:02:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 3.12 days. Total docked time 47.06 days.

Three newly discovered moons of Neptune were announced by NASA's JPL Voyager 2 team, given temporary designations of 1989 N2, 1989 N3 and 1989 N4.

1994 14:38:00 GMT
The US Air Force launched P90-6 APEX (Advanced Photovoltaic and Electronic Experiments) on a Pegasus booster dropped from a B-52 on a flight originating from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to study radiation and plasma effects on solar power systems.

APEX (Advanced Photovoltaic and Electronic Experiments), a US test spacecraft, was launched 3 August 1994 by a Pegasus rocket carried by a B-52 bomber from Edwards Air Force Base, California. The 206 kg spacecraft carried 3 diagnostic instruments, including a cosmic ray monitor to check the impact of radiation in the Van Allen Belt on the other 2 target instruments, which were used to study radiation and plasma effects on solar power systems.

1994 23:57:00 GMT
The DirecTV 2 (DBS 2) commercial TV broadcast satellite was launched on an Atlas IIA booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 101 deg W.

1995 23:58:00 GMT
An Ariane 42L launched from Kourou carried Panamsat 4 into space with 16 C-Band and 24 Ku-Band transponders for 320 radio + 120 DirecTV channels, which was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 68 deg E 1995-1999.

2004 06:15:56 GMT
NASA launched the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission to Mercury from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a scheduled year-long orbital study of the planet.

The Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission was designed to study the characteristics and environment of Mercury from orbit. Specifically, the scientific objectives of the mission were to characterize the chemical composition of Mercury's surface, the geologic history, the nature of the magnetic field, the size and state of the core, the volatile inventory at the poles, and the nature of Mercury's exosphere and magnetosphere over a nominal orbital mission of one Earth year.

MESSENGER launched into a parking orbit on 3 August 2004 on a Delta 7925H (a Delta II Heavy launch vehicle with nine strap-on solid-rocket boosters). The Delta booster second stage's second burn raised the orbit, then the PAM-D solid motor burned to put the probe on an escape trajectory into a 0.92 x 1.08 AU x 6.4 deg heliocentric orbit. The spacecraft was injected into solar orbit 57 minutes after launch. The solar panels were then deployed and the spacecraft began sending data on its status.

One year after launch, on 2 August 2005, MESSENGER flew by Earth at an altitude of 2347 km. On 12 December 2005 at 11:30 UT, MESSENGER fired its large thruster for 524 seconds, changing the spacecraft velocity by 316 m/s and putting it on course for its 24 October 2006 Venus flyby at an altitude of 2990 km. The second Venus flyby took place on 5 June 2007 at 23:08 UT (7:08 p.m. EDT) at an altitude of approximately 337 km. The first of three Mercury flybys, all at roughly 200 km altitude, occurred on 14 January 2008 at 19:04 :39 UT, and the second on 6 October 2008 at 08:40:22 UT. The third took place on 29 September 2009 at 21:54:58 UT at a distance of 228 km. There were also five deep space manuevers. Data collected during the Mercury flybys was used to help plan the scientific campaign during the orbital phase.

Mercury orbit insertion took place with a 15 minute burn starting at 00:45 UT on 18 March 2011 (8:45 p.m. 17 March EDT) requiring a delta-V of 0.862 km/s from the Aerojet 660N engine. Science observations began on April 4 at 20:40 UT (4:40 p.m. EDT). The nominal orbit had a periapsis of 200 km at 60 degrees N latitude, an apoapsis of 15,193 km, a period of 12 hours and an inclination of 80 degrees. The periapsis slowly rose due to solar perturbations to over 400 km at the end of 88 days (one Mercury year) at which point it was readjusted to a 200 km, 12 hour orbit via a two burn sequence.

Data was collected from orbit for one Earth year, the end of the primary mission was in March 2012. Extensions to the mission allowed the spacecraft to operate for an additional 3 years until the propellant necessary to maintain its orbit was exhausted. The MESSENGER spacecraft impacted the surface of Mercury as planned on 30 April 2015 at 19:26 UT (3:26 p.m. EDT).

Global stereo image coverage at 250 m/pixel resolution was completed. The mission has also yielded global composition maps, a 3-D model of Mercury's magnetosphere, topographic profiles of the northern hemisphere, gravity field, altitude profiles of elemental species, and a characterization of the volatiles in permanently shadowed craters at the poles.

The MESSENGER spacecraft was a squat box (1.27 m x 1.42 m x 1.85 m) with a semi-cylindrical thermal shade (roughly 2.5 meters tall and 2 meters wide) for protection from the Sun and two solar panel wings extending radially about 6 meters from tip to tip. A 3.6 meter magnetometer boom also extended from the craft. The total mass of the spacecraft was 1093 kg, 607.8 kg of which was propellant and helium. The structure was primarily graphite-cyanate-ester (GrCE) composite and consisted of two vertical panels which supported two large fuel tanks, and two vertical panels which supported the oxidizer tank and plumbing panel. The four vertical panels made up the center column and were bolted at their aft ends to an aluminum adapter. A single top deck panel mounted the LVA (large velocity adjust) thruster, small thrusters, helium and auxiliary fuel tanks, star trackers and battery.

Main propulsion was via the 645-N, 317-s bipropellant LVA thruster, four 22-N monopropellant thrusters providing spacecraft steering during main thruster burns, and ten 4-N monopropellant thrusters used for attitude control. There was also a reaction-wheel attitude control system. Knowledge for attitude control was provided by star tracking cameras, an inertial measurement unit, and six solar sensors. Power was provided by the solar panels, which extended beyond the sunshade and were rotatable to balance panel temperature and power generation, and provided a nominal 450 W in Mercury orbit. The panels were 70% optical solar reflectors and 30% GaAs/Ge cells. The power was stored in a common-pressure-vessel nickel-hydrogen battery, with 11 vessels and 2 cells per vessel.

Communications were in the X-band, with downlink through two fixed phased-array antenna clusters, and uplink and downlink through medium- and low-gain antennas on the forward and aft sides of the spacecraft. Passive thermal control, primarily a fixed opaque ceramic cloth sunshade, was utilized to maintain operating temperatures near the Sun. Radiators were built into the structure and the orbit was optimized to minimize infrared and visible light heating of the spacecraft from the surface of Mercury. Multilayer insulation, low conductivity couplings, and heaters were also used to maintain temperatures within operating limits.

Five science instruments were mounted externally on the bottom deck of the main body: the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS), X-ray Spectrometer (XRS), Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS). The Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) was mounted on the side and top deck and the magnetometer (MAG) was at the end of the 3.6 m boom. Radio Science (RS) experiments used the existing communications system.

The highly successful orbital mission came to an end after more than four years in orbit around Mercury, as the spacecraft ran out of propellant and the force of solar gravity caused it to impact the surface of Mercury at 3:26 p.m. EDT on 30 April 2015.

More information about the spacecraft and its research results can be found on the MESSENGER Web site at John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory.

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