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Space History for August 21


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1560
Danish nobleman Tycho Brahe became interested in astronomy.

Tycho Brahe (14 December 1546 - 24 October 1601) was a Danish nobleman, well known as an astronomer/astrologer (the two were not yet distinct) and alchemist. He had Uraniborg built, which became an early "research institute." For purposes of publication, Tycho owned a printing press and paper mill.

Tycho realized that progress in the science of astronomy could be achieved not by occasional haphazard observations, but only by systematic and rigorous observation, night after night, and by using instruments of the highest accuracy obtainable. He is quoted as having asserted in 1563, at age 17, "I've studied all available charts of the planets and stars and none of them match the others. There are just as many measurements and methods as there are astronomers and all of them disagree. What's needed is a long term project with the aim of mapping the heavens conducted from a single location over a period of several years." He was able to improve and enlarge the existing instruments, and construct entirely new ones. Brahe's naked eye measurements of planetary parallax were accurate to the arcminute. (These measurements became the possessions of Johannes Kepler following Brahe's death.)

On 6 November 1572, Tycho had observed a very bright star which had unexpectedly appeared in the constellation Cassiopeia. Since it had been maintained since antiquity that the world of the fixed stars was eternal and unchangeable, other observers held that the phenomenon was something in the Earth's atmosphere. Tycho, however, observed that the parallax of the object did not change from night to night, suggesting that the object was far away. Tycho argued that a nearby object should appear to shift its position with respect to the background. He published a small book, De Stella Nova (1573), thereby coining the term nova for a "new" star. (We now know that Tycho's star was a supernova.)

King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway, impressed with Tycho's 1572 observations, financed the construction of two observatories for Tycho on the island of Hven in the Sont near Copenhagen, Uraniborg and Stjerneborg. Uraniborg also had a laboratory for Brahe's alchemical experiments. After a disagreement with Christian IV, the new king of Denmark, Brahe moved to Prague in 1599. Sponsored by Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor, he built a new observatory (in a castle in Benatky nad Jizerou 50 km away from Prague) and worked there until his death.


http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/brahe.html

1660
Born, Hubert Gautier, French engineer (published the first book on building bridges)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Gautier

1665
Born, Giacomo F. Maraldi, French-Italian astronomer and mathematician (ice caps on Mars are not exactly on the rotational poles)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_F._Maraldi

1814
Died, Benjamin Thompson, American-born British physicist and inventor (thermodynamics)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Thompson

1895
Born, Alexandr Pavlovich Vinogradov, Russian scientist, Director of Institute of Chemical and Analytical Chemistry, specialized in Lunar sample analysis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pavlovich_Vinogradov

1902
R. H. Frost discovered asteroid #505 Cava.

1905
Born, Count Helmut Zborowski PhD, Austrian rocket engineer

Helmut Zborowski (21 August 1905 - 16 November 1969) was an Austrian rocket engineer, designed liquid rocket motors and an expert in anti-tank missiles. Zborowski received over 300 patents in the air and rocket industry. After the Nazis took over, Zborowski joined the SS but continued his research. He contributed to development of the V-1 cruise missile and V-2 ballistic missile. Zborowski was Director of the camoflauged BMW facility at Muenchen-Allach where aircraft engines were mass produced using a total of 20,000 workers, including 3,000 POWs and 5,000 inmates from the Dachau concentration camp. Zborowski also supervised a rocket group at the facility which concentrated on new weapon research. In January 1947, he was detained at POW Camp 317, Goettingen. After being released, Zborowski was taken by the French to do research at a chateau near Paris, then brought back to Bonn.


https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_von_Zborowski

1912
Born, Aleksandr Emmanuelovich Nudelman, Russian Chief Designer of OKB8-16 (1965-1987), pre-eminent designer of aircraft guns in the Soviet Union, adapted his aircraft designs for space guns for Kozlov's Soyuz VI and Chelomei's Almaz spacecraft
http://kpi.ua/en/node/10256

1933
E. Delporte discovered asteroids #1285 Julietta and #1290 Albertine.

1946
E. L. Johnson discovered asteroid #1568 Aisleen.

1949
Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #3654.

1953
Flying the Douglas D-558-II (No. 2) Skyrocket research aircraft which had been launched from a B-29 Superfortress at an altitude of 34,000 feet, USMC Lt. Col. Marion E. Carl attained an altitude of 83,235 feet above Edwards AFB, California.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_D-558-2_Skyrocket#Operational_history

1957
The first successful Soviet R-7 ICBM was launched, travelled 6,000 km (3,700 mi), and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

USSR launched the R-7 M1-8 (I-3) test mission 21 August 1957 which travelled 6,000 km (3,700 mi) and landed in the Pacific Ocean. It was the first launch from Baikonur and the first successful ICBM flight. Problems curing the nose cone material, known before launch, led the dummy warhead to disintegrate over Kamchatka.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-7_Semyorka#Development

1959
During the countdown of the first programmed Little Joe launch (LJ-1 beach abort test) at Wallops Island, the escape rocket fired 31 minutes early because of faulty circuitry. The spacecraft rose 2,000 feet and landed 2,000 feet from the launch site.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Joe_1

1965 13:59:59 GMT
NASA launched the Gemini 5 Earth orbiting mission carrying Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad, with which the US finally took the manned spaceflight endurance record from Russia, demonstrating the crew could survive zero gravity the length of a Lunar mission.

Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad was the third crewed Earth orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series. Mercury veteran Cooper was the first person to travel on orbital missions twice. The flight was designed to last eight days, the length of time that it would take to fly a mission to the Moon, and to test rendezvous procedures. The major objectives of this mission were to demonstrate a long-duration crewed flight, evaluate the effects of long periods of weightlessness on the crew, and test rendezvous capabilities and maneuvers using a rendezvous evaluation pod. Secondary objectives included demonstration of all phases of guidance and control systems to support rendezvous and controlled reentry guidance, to evaluate the fuel cell power system and rendezvous radar, to test the capability of either pilot to maneuver the spacecraft in orbit to close proximity with another object, and to conduct 17 experiments. Gemini 5 doubled the manned space flight duration record to nearly eight days, thanks to new fuel cells that generated enough electricity to power longer missions.

Gemini 5 was launched from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy, Florida, on 21 August 1965 at 8:59:59 AM EST (13:59:59.518 UT), and inserted into a 162.0 x 350.1 km Earth orbit at 9:05:55. The rendezvous evaluation pod (REP), a 34.5 kg optical and electronic duplicate of the Agena planned for use in later Gemini rendezvous missions was deployed two hours into the flight on the second revolution. About 36 minutes into the evaluation of the rendezvous system, the crew noticed the pressure in the oxygen supply tank of the fuel cell system was dropping. At some point earlier in the flight, the oxygen supply heater element had failed, and the pressure dropped from nominal pressure of 850 psia to a low of 65 psia 4 hours and 22 minutes into the flight. This was still above the 22.2 psia minimum but it was decided to cancel the REP exercise and power the spacecraft down. An analysis was carried out on the ground, and a powering up procedure was started on the seventh revolution. During the remainder of the mission, the flight plan was continuously scheduled in real time, pressure slowly rose in the fuel cells, and sufficient power was available at all times.

Four rendezvous radar tests were conducted during the mission, in the first in revolution 14, on the second day, the spacecraft rendezvous radar successfully tracked a transponder on the ground at Cape Kennedy. On the third day, a simulated rendezvous with a phantom Agena was conducted at full electrical load, in which the the Gemini maneuvered to a predetermined position in space. The simulation comprised four maneuvers: apogee adjust, phase adjust, plane change, and coelliptical maneuver, using the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS). On day five, thruster number 7 became inoperative and maneuvering system operation became sluggish. Thruster number 8 failed the next day, and the system became increasingly erratic. Limited experimental and operational activities continued throughout the remainder of the mission. On the last flight day, Cooper and Conrad spoke to astronaut Scott Carpenter, who was 205 feet underwater in Sealab II.

Retrofire occurred at 7:27:42 AM EST on 29 August on revolution 120, one revolution early due to a threatening tropical storm near the landing area. The crew had to use the re-entry thrusters to orient the spacecraft because of the OAMS system failures. The retrofire and re-entry were conducted in darkness by the spacecraft computer. Splashdown occurred at 7:55:13 AM EST in the western Atlantic at 29.73 N, 69.75 W after a total mission time of 190:55:14. Splashdown was 169 km short of the target due to incorrect navigation coordinates transmitted to the spacecraft computer from the ground network: Someone had entered the rate of the Earth's rotation as 360 degrees per 24 hours instead of 360.98 degrees (sidereal day correction). Cooper's efforts compensated for what he recognized as an erroneous reading and brought the capsule down closer to the ship than they would otherwise have been. The crew arrived onboard the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain at 9:26 AM EST and the spacecraft was recovered at 11:50 AM EST.

All objectives were achieved except rendezvous with the REP and pilot tests associated with the rendezvous and the demonstration of controlled reentry to a predetermined landing point. Scientific studies included zodiacal light, synoptic terrain, synoptic weather photography, and a cloudtop spectrometer experiment. In addition, five medical and seven technological experiments were performed during the mission. One photography experiment was cancelled because of cancellation of the rendezvous maneuver. The mission demonstrated human ability to adapt to weightlessness over an extended period and then readapt to normal gravity and was considered successful.

With this flight, the US finally took the manned spaceflight endurance record from Russia, while demonstrating that the crew could survive in zero gravity for the length of time required for a Lunar mission. However, the astronauts found the mission incredibly boring, with the spacecraft just drifting to conserve fuel most of the time, and was "just about the hardest thing I've ever done" according to a hyperactive Pete Conrad who later lamented that he had not brought along a book. An accident with freeze dried shrimp also resulted in the cabin being filled with little pink subsatellites.

The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of a Lunar landing mission; rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit; the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews; the conduct of experiments in space; extravehicular operations; active control of reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point; and onboard orbital navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles.

The Gemini 5 capsule is now on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.


https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1965-068A

1967 17:59:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A-2 Ramjet/Hycon/TPS Test/Imaging mission # 186, the first test with a full ablative coating and ramjet pod, in which Pete Knight reached a maximum speed of 5420 (Mach 4.94) kph and achieved a maximum altitude of 27.737 km.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_X-15_flights

1968 16:04:00 GMT
NASA/USAF launched X-15A WTR/HS/SB/FAB/FP Test/Technology/Aeronomy mission # 197, the last high altitude X-15 mission, where Wm. Dana reached a maximum speed of 5541 kph (Mach 4.79), and an altitude of 81.534 km, earning (USAF definition) astronaut wings.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_X-15_flights

1972 10:28:00 GMT
NASA launched the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-3 (Copernicus, OAO 3), the first ultraviolet telescope in space, for UV observations of stellar objects.

NASA launched the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-3, also known as Copernicus or OAO 3, into a nearly circular 7123 km radius orbit, inclined at 35 degrees, on 21 August 1972. The main experiment was an ultraviolet telescope supplied by Princeton University. However, it also contained a cosmic X-ray experiment provided by University College London/MSSL. The main body of Copernicus measured 3 x 2 meters. The solar pannels were fixed at an angle of 34 degrees to the observing axis, and were kept within 30 degrees of the Sun. This restriction resulted in certain parts of the sky being visible only at certain parts of the year. The astronomical instruments were co-aligned, with the UV telescope residing in the central cylinder of the satellite and the X-ray experiment in one of the bays surrounding it. While the UV telescope was observing, the X-ray detectors primarily took background measurements. Occasionally, the X-ray detector observed an X-ray source in the field of view of the UV target. Copernicus operated until February 1981.

See also http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1972-065A



Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-3 (Copernicus), NASA illustration
https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/copernicus/copernicus.html

1977
N. Chernykh discovered asteroid #2439 Ulugbek, #2529 Rockwell Kent, #2671 Abkhazia and #3471.

1981
L. Brozek discovered asteroid #3102.

1985
T. Schildknecht discovered asteroid #3328.

1991 10:50:00 GMT
USSR launched the Resurs F-13 landsat from Plesetsk for Earth natural resource investigation in the interests of various branches of the USSR national economy, for solution of environment problems, and for international cooperation.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1991-058A

1993
NASA lost contact with Mars Observer (MGCO, Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter) three days before the spacecraft reached Mars.

NASA's Mars Observer (MGCO, Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter), launched 25 September 1992, was the first of the Observer series of planetary missions, and designed to study the geoscience and climate of Mars. The primary science objectives for the mission were to:
   1. determine the global elemental and mineralogical character of the surface material;
   2. define globally the topography and gravitational field;
   3. establish the nature of the Martian magnetic field;
   4. determine the temporal and spatial distribution, abundance, sources, and sinks of volatiles and dust over a seasonal cycle;
   5. explore the structure and circulation of the atmosphere.

Contact with Mars Observer was lost on 21 August 1993, three days before the scheduled orbit insertion, and was not re-established. It is unknown whether the spacecraft was able to follow its automatic programming and go into Mars orbit, or if it flew by Mars and is now in a heliocentric orbit. Subsequent analysis concluded the most probable cause of the mishap was a fuel line rupture during fuel tank pressurization, caused by fuel and oxidizer vapors leaking during the cruise phase through an improperly designed PTFE check valve to the common pressurization system. That leak resulted in an explosion that caused the rupture after the engine was restarted for a routine course correction. The rupture would have caused the spacecraft to spin uncontrollably, and would have made orbit insertion extremely unlikely. Although none of the primary objectives of the mission were achieved, cruise mode data were collected up to the time of the loss of contact.

See also https://science.nasa.gov/missions/mars-observer/
      and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Observer


https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1992-063A

1995
Died, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Indian-American physicist, astrophysicist and mathematician (Nobel 1983 "for his theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars", prize shared with Wm. Fowler)
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1983/chandrasekhar-bio.html

1996 09:47:26 GMT
A Pegasus XL launched from an L-1011 carrier aircraft lofted NASA's Fast Auroral SnapshoT Explorer (FAST) satellite into orbit.

The Fast Auroral SnapshoT Explorer (FAST) satellite was successfully launched on 21 August 1996 into its intended orbit. FAST investigated the plasma physics of auroral phenomena at extremely high time and spatial resolution using the full complement of particle and fields instruments. FAST was the second spacecraft (SAMPEX was first) in the Small Explorer (SMEX) program at NASA-GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center). SMEX was established to provide rapid (3 year development) low cost ($35 million development) mission opportunities (1 per year) to the space science community using a single designated Principal Investigator (PI).

In order to capture the auroral phenomena over small time (microseconds) and spatial scales, FAST utilized high speed data sampling, a large, fast-loading ("burst") memory, and a smart, on-board software to trigger on the appearance of various key phenomena. Using a 1 Gb solid-state memory and a data acquisition rate of 8 Mbs (almost two orders of magnitude faster than previous satellites), FAST produced high-resolution "snapshots" of auroral arcs and other interesting auroral events. FAST flew in a highly eccentric, near-polar orbit precessing nominally one degree per day. Scientific investigations operated in a campaign mode (about 60 days long) as apogee transitions through the northern auroral zone and in less intense survey mode during the rest of the orbit.

The FAST mission used a unique lightweight, orbit-normal spinner spacecraft developed by the SMEX project. The spacecraft had body-mounted solar arrays, and was spin-stabilized, rotating at 12 rpm with the spin axis normal to the orbit plane ("cartwheel"). The four FAST experiments were: (1) the Electrostatic Analyzers (ESA) for measuring the electron and ion distribution function, (2) the Time-of-flight Energy Angle Mass Spectrograph (TEAMS) for measuring the full 3-dimensional distribution function of the major ion species, (3) the Tri-Axial Fluxgate and Search-coil Magnetometers for measuring magnetic field data, and (4) the Electric Field/Langmuir Probe Instrument for obtaining electric field data and plasma density and temperature. The FAST electric field instrument stopped providing meaningful data around 2002, all other instruments and systems were continue to function nominally as of 20 October 2005.

FAST operations ended on 4 May 2009.


https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1996-049A

1997 00:38:40 GMT
A Delta booster launched from Vandenburg, California carried five Iridium commercial communication satellites (Iridium 22 through 26) to orbit, which were place in the ascending node of Plane 2.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1997-043E

2001 09:32:00 GMT
Russia launched the Progress M-45 International Space Station servicing mission from Baikonur, which docked with the ISS at 0951 GMT on 23 August at the aft Zvezda port and delivered 2.5 tons of fuel, water, oxygen, equipment and spare parts.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=2001-036A

2002 22:05:00 GMT
The maiden flight of the Atlas 5 EELV carried the 4.9 ton EUTELSAT Hot Bird 6 geostationary communications spacecraft to orbit to provide digital radio and television coverage to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=2002-038A

2013
Died (stroke complications), C. Gordon Fullerton, Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 3, STS 51-F, nearly 15d 23h total time in spaceflight)
https://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/fullerton-cg.html

2014
Died (melanoma), Steven R. Nagel (at Columbia, Missouri, USA), Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 51-G, STS 61-AA, STS 37, STS 55, 30d 1.5h total time in spaceflight)
https://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/nagel.html

2017
A total solar eclipse will be visible following a path across the entire continental United States.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017


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