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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 September 1

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5509 B.C.
The origin of the Byzantine calendar: the world was created, according to the Byzantine Empire.

German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding discovered Juno, the third asteroid found, the eleventh largest of the main belt asteroids.

J. Ferguson discovered asteroid #31 Euphrosyne.

R. C. Carrington and R. Hodgson made the first observation of a solar flare. The associated solar coronal mass ejection hit Earth's magnetosphere 17.6 hours later and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record.

Born, Edgar Rice Burroughs, US science fiction author (Tarzan of the Apes, Mars Saga)

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #314 Rosalia.

A. Staus discovered asteroid #335 Roberta.

The Boston subway opened, becoming the first underground transit system in North America.

The first science fiction film was released, "A Trip To The Moon."

The first aerobatic maneuver, sustained inverted flight, was performed in France.

The last known passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #920 Rogeria.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1066 Lobelia and #1070 Tunica.

C. Jackson discovered asteroid #1248 Jugurtha.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1317 Silvretta.

F. Rigaux discovered asteroid #1458 Mineura.

The scientific journal Physical Review published the first paper dealing with the subject of "black holes."

M. Itzigsohn discovered asteroid #1608 Munoz.

S. Arend discovered asteroids #1625 NORC and #1916 Boreas.

Born, Christopher John Ferguson (at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), Captain USN, NASA astronaut (STS 115, STS 126, STS 135, 40d 10h total time in space)

Astronaut Chris Ferguson, STS-135 commander, NASA photo (11 Feb. 2011)

1962 02:24:00 GMT
USSR launched Sputnik 20 (also called 1962 Alpha Tau 1, originally called Sputnik 24 in the U.S. Naval Space Command Satellite Situation Summary) which failed to leave Earth orbit for Venus.

Sputnik 20, launched 1 September 1962, was intended to be a Venus landing mission. The Venera-type spacecraft was successfully inserted into geocentric orbit by the SL-6/A-2-e launcher. However, at T+ 61 min 30 sec the fuel valve did not open. The ignition command was blocked from going to the main engine of Stage 4, the escape stage failed and the spacecraft was stranded in Earth orbit until it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere 5 days later.

An Apollo LEM ascent engine exploded during altitude firings at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). Bell Aerosystems researchers concluded raw propellants were accidentally forced into the engine at the second run's end, damaging the injector.

1976 03:23:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 853 from Plesetsk, a Molniya-2 communications spacecraft which did not reach Earth orbit because of a fourth stage failure.

1976 21:14:00 GMT
The US Navy launched TIP 3 from Vandenburg, California, a prototype of an improved Transit navigation satellite, which also tested a pulsed plasma engine.

N. Chernykh discovered asteroids #2297 Daghestan, #2450 Ioannisiani, #2701 Cherson, #2758 Cordelia, #3113, #3196, #3204 and #3358.

NASA's Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn; it came within 21,000 km of the cloud tops.

Pioneer 11, launched 6 April 1973, was the second mission to investigate Jupiter and the outer Solar system, and the first to explore the planet Saturn and its main rings. Pioneer 11, like Pioneer 10, used Jupiter's gravitational field to alter its trajectory radically. It passed close to Saturn and then it followed an escape trajectory from the Solar system.

Pioneer 11 was 2.9 m long and carried a 2.74 m diameter high gain antenna. The spacecraft contained two RTG nuclear electric generators, which generated 144 W at Jupiter, but had decreased to 100 W by the time it got to Saturn. There were three reference sensors: a star (Canopus) sensor, and two Sun sensors. Attitude position could be calculated from the reference direction to the Earth and the Sun, with the known direction to Canopus as a backup. Pioneer 11's star sensor gain and threshold settings were modified, based on experience gained from the settings used on Pioneer 10. Three pairs of rocket thrusters provided spin axis control (maintained at 4.8 rpm) and change of the spacecraft velocity. The thrusters could be either fired steadily or pulsed, by command.

Communications were maintained via the omnidirectional and medium gain antennas, which operated together, connected to one receiver, while the high gain antenna was connected to the other receiver. The receivers could be interchanged by command. Two radio transmitters, coupled to two traveling wave tube (TWT) amplifiers, produced 8 W power each in the S band. Communication uplink (Earth to spacecraft) operated at 2110 MHz, and downlink (spacecraft to Earth) at 2292 MHz. At Jupiter's distance, the round trip communication time was 92 minutes. Data were received at the Deep Space Network (DSN). The spacecraft was temperature controlled to between -23 and +38 deg C (-10 to +100 deg F). An additional experiment, a low sensitivity fluxgate magnetometer, was added to the Pioneer 11 payload.

Instruments studied the interplanetary and planetary magnetic fields; Solar wind properties; cosmic rays; the transition region of the heliosphere; neutral hydrogen abundance; distribution, size, mass, flux, and velocity of dust particles; Jovian aurorae; Jovian radio waves; the atmospheres of the planets and satellites; and the surfaces of Jupiter, Saturn, and some of their satellites. Instruments carried for these experiments were a magnetometer, a plasma analyzer (for the Solar wind), a charged-particle detector, an ionizing detector, non-imaging telescopes with overlapping fields of view to detect sunlight reflected from passing meteoroids, sealed pressurized cells of argon and nitrogen gas for measuring penetration of meteoroids, a UV photometer, an IR radiometer, and an imaging photopolarimeter, which produced photographs and measured the polarization. Further scientific information was obtained from celestial mechanics and occultation phenomena.

Pioneer 11, like Pioneer 10, contains a plaque that has a drawing depicting a man, a woman, and the location of the Sun and Earth in the galaxy.

During its closest approach on 4 December 1974, Pioneer 11 passed within 34,000 km of Jupiter's cloud tops. It passed Saturn on 1 September 1979, at a distance of 21,000 km from Saturn's cloud tops, the first probe launched from Earth to do so. The spacecraft has operated on a backup transmitter since launch. Instrument power sharing began in February 1985 due to declining RTG power output. Science operations and daily telemetry ceased on 30 September 1995 when the RTG power level was insufficient to operate any experiments. As of the end of 1995 the spacecraft was located at 44.7 AU from the Sun at a nearly asymptotic latitude of 17.4 degrees above the Solar equatorial plane and was heading outward at 2.5 AU/year.

Routine tracking and project data processing operations were terminated on 31 March 1997 for budget reasons.

Obtain Pioneer 10/11 position data (heliographic coordinates)

See also the Pioneer Project page at NASA/ARC.

1982 15:04:00 GMT
USSR Soyuz-T 5 returned Svetlana Savitskaya, Leonid Popov, and Alexander Serebrov to Earth, the crew launched on Soyuz-T 7 to the Salyut 7 space station eight days earlier.

1982 19:03:00 GMT
USSR Soyuz-T 7 returned Anatoli Berezovoi and Valentin Lebedev to Earth 118 km E of Dzhezkazgan, the crew of Soyuz T-5 launched 211 days earler to the Salyut 7 space station.

During the 4h 26m STS-51-I-2 EVA, Discovery astronauts van Hoften and Fisher completed the Syncom F3 (LEASAT-3) repairs, and redeployed the satellite.

STS 51-I was scrubbed on 24 August 1985 at T-5 minutes because of thunderstorms in the vicinity. The flight was again scrubbed at T-9 minutes on 25 August 1985 when the orbiter's number five on-board general purpose computer failed. The launch on 27 August at 6:58:01 AM EDT was delayed three minutes, one second due to combination of weather and an unauthorized ship entering the restricted solid rocket booster recovery area.

Three communications satellites were deployed during STS 51-I: ASC-1, for the American Satellite Company; AUSSAT-1, an Australian Communications Satellite; and SYNCOM IV-4, the Synchronous Communications Satellite. ASC-1 and AUSSAT-1 were both attached to Payload Assist Module-D (PAM-D) motors. SYNCOM IV-4 (also known as LEASAT-4) failed to function after reaching the correct geosynchronous orbit. Fisher and van Hoften performed two extravehicular activities (EVAs) totaling 11 hours, 51 minutes. Part of the time (on 31 August and 1 September) was spent retrieving, repairing and redeploying LEASAT-3, deployed on Mission 51-D. The Middeck Payload on the mission was the Physical Vapor Transport Organic Solid Experiment (PVTOS).

STS 51-I ended when Discovery landed 3 September 1985 at 6:15:43 AM PDT on revolution 112 on Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 6,100 feet. Rollout time: 47 seconds. Launch weight: 262,309 pounds. Landing weight: 196,674 pounds. Orbit altitude: 242 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: seven days, two hours, 17 minutes, 42 seconds. Miles traveled: 2.9 million. The mission was shortened one day when the AUSSAT sunshield hung up on the remote manipulator system camera and AUSSAT had to be deployed before it was scheduled. The orbiter was returned to the Kennedy Space Center on 8 September 1985.

The flight crew for STS 51-I was: Joseph H. Engle, Commander; Richard O. Covey, Pilot; James D. A. van Hoften, Mission Specialist 1; John M. Lounge, Mission Specialist 2; William F. Fisher, Mission Specialist 3.

Died, Luis Walter Alvarez, US physicist (hydrogen bubble chamber, Nobel 1968), proposed (with his geologist son Walter) the asteroid-impact theory to explain the iridium anomaly of the K-T extinction boundary (dinosaurs)

Luis Walter Alvarez (13 June 1911 - 1 September 1988) was awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis."

Luis Alvarez, with his geologist son Walter, proposed the asteroid-impact theory to explain the iridium anomaly of the K-T extinction boundary. The anomaly is generally accepted as conclusive evidence that a 10–15 km (6–9 mi) meteor fell on the Yucatán Peninsula, at Chicxulub, Mexico approximately 66 million years ago, causing extinction of the dinosaurs. See for more information.

1997 14:00:15 GMT
Two dummy Iridium communications satellites were launched from Taiyuan, China, on a Chang Zheng 2C-III/SD booster, and placed in Plane 5 ascending nodes of 271.9 and 272 degrees.

2000 03:25:00 GMT
China launched Zhangguo Ziyaun 2 (ZY-2) from Taiyuan on a Chang Zheng 4B booster, claiming it was an Earth resource satellite, but which was probably actually a high-resolution military imaging satellite.

China's ZY-2 (Ziyuan-2 ('Resource-2'), while disguised as a civilian Earth monitoring system, was actually code-named Jianbing-3 and was China's first high-resolution military imaging satellite, launched 1 September 2000. The cover story issued by the official Xinhua news agency was that the civilian remote sensing system would be used primarily in territorial surveying, city planning, crop yield assessment, disaster monitoring and space science experimentation. However, the satellite was placed in orbit at a much lower altitude than the ZY-1 satellite, and US intelligence sources indicated that it was a photo reconnaissance satellite for exclusively military purposes, such as targeting missiles at US and Taiwanese forces. The new satellite was believed to employ digital imaging technology, and to have a resolution of 2 meters or less. The satellite was designed and built by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, and was developed indigenously. It was said to be more advanced than earlier sensing satellites, with an expected orbital life of two years. The camera provided more than three times the resolution of the ZY-1 Earth resources satellite. The Zi Yuan 2 satellite may have used the CBERS Sino-Brazilian bus used in the earlier ZY-1. However, it was also said to be a new design, and demonstrated the capability to maneuver in orbit, adjusting its orbit after launch. In October 2000, Chinese scientists denied that the ZY-2 satellite had a military mission. It was said to be a remote-sensing satellite equipped with CCD cameras and an infrared multispectral scanner that could only identify objects on the ground with a resolution of several dozen meters to 1 km.

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