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Space History for September 15


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1749
According to mathematical calculations, Pluto moved outside Neptune's orbit, where it remained the outermost planet until 1979.
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pluto#Heliocentric_distance

1857
R. Luther discovered asteroid #47 Aglaja.

1893
A. Charlois discovered asteroid #373 Melusina.

1900
M. Wolf and A. Schwassmann discovered asteroid #457 Alleghenia.

1931
K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #2896.

1931
The "Group for the Study of Reaction Propulsion" (GIRD) was founded in Leningrad in the Soviet Union.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_for_the_Study_of_Reactive_Motion

1933
E. Delporte discovered asteroid #1291 Phryne.

1941
Born, Miroslaw Hermaszewski (at Lipniki, Poland), Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 30/Salyut 6 EP3, 7d 22h in space), first Polish cosmonaut
http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/international/english/hermaszewski_miroslaw.htm

1941
F. Rigaux discovered asteroid #1555 Dejan.

1954
Werner von Braun's report "A Minimum Satellite Vehicle Based on Components Available from Developments of the Army Ordnance Corps" proposed spending (only) $100,000 to launch a satellite on a Redstone booster.
https://history.msfc.nasa.gov/vonbraun/vbbiblo.html

1959 21:45:00 GMT
Jupiter Bioflight 3 was launched carrying NASA biological specimens, including 14 mice; the flight was erratic at lift-off, the missile destroyed itself at T+13 seconds, just before command destruct, caused by a failed pressure sphere solder connection.
https://www.spacelaunchreport.com/jupiter6.html

1966 08:59:35 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA's Gemini 11 mission ended when the capsule splashed down in the western Atlantic Ocean, returning astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad and Richard Gordon safely to Earth after a largely successful mission.

Gemini 11 was the ninth crewed Earth orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series, carrying astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad and Richard Gordon. The 3-day mission was designed to achieve a first orbit rendezvous and docking with the Agena target vehicle, to accomplish two ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) tests, to perform docking practice, docked configuration maneuvers, tethered operations, parking of the Agena target vehicle and demonstrate an automatic reentry. There were also eight scientific and four technological experiments on board. The scientific experiments were (1) synergistic effect of zero-g and radiation on white blood cells, (2) synoptic terrain photography, (3) synoptic weather photography, (4) nuclear emulsions, (5) airglow horizon photography, (6) UV astronomical photography, (7) Gemini ion wake measurement, and (8) dim sky photography.

Gemini 11 was launched on 12 September 1966 at 9:42:26 AM EST (14:42:26.546 UT) from Complex 19, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and inserted into a 160.5 x 279.1 km Earth orbit at 9:48:28. Five spacecraft maneuvers were made to rendezvous with the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle 11 (GATV-11) at 11:07 AM EST (1:25 Ground Elapsed Time, GET). The GATV-11 had been launched an hour and a half before Gemini 11. Docking was completed at 11:16 AM EST on the first orbit, consuming less fuel than expected. Each astronaut then conducted two docking exercises with the GATV, and then a maneuver at 2:14:14 PM EST brought the docked spacecraft into a 287 x 304 km orbit. The astronaut's first sleep period was spent in docked configuration.

On 13 September at 9:44 AM EST (24:02 GET), the Gemini cabin atmosphere was evacuated and the hatch opened to begin Richard Gordon's scheduled 107 minute EVA. He was out of the hatch at 9:51 AM EST, attached by an umbilical cord. He set up a movie camera and retrieved the micrometeorite experiment. The next task, detaching one end of the 30 meter tether from the Agena and attaching it to the Gemini spacecraft docking bar, proved to be exhausting and overstressed Gordon's life support system. After attaching the tether, Gordon stopped to rest astride the GATV, but the heavy perspiration inside the suit obscured his vision, and finally blinded his right eye. Conrad ordered him to cancel the power tool evaluation and return to the cabin. Gordon returned to the cabin at about 10:12 AM EST, and closed the hatch at 10:17 AM EST so the cabin could be repressurized. At 11:19 AM EST, the hatch was opened again to jettison some excess equipment.

Following the second sleep period, the Agena primary propulsion system was fired for 25 seconds at 2:12:41 AM EST on 14 September, raising the docked spacecraft apogee to 1374.1 km. (This was a record altitude for an astronaut mission that would stand until Apollo 8 went to the Moon in December 1968.) From the elevated orbit, the astronauts were got the first manned views of the Earth as a sphere. After two orbits, the Agena was fired again for 22.5 seconds to lower the Gemini-Agena back down to a 287 x 304 km orbit. At 7:49 AM EST, Gordon opened his hatch to begin a 2 hour 8 minute standup EVA during which he conducted photographic experiments. The hatch was closed at 9:57 AM EST, and shortly afterwards, the spacecraft were undocked and Gemini 11 moved to the end of the 30 meter tether attaching the two spacecraft. At 11:55 AM EST, Conrad initiated a slow rotation of the Gemini capsule about the GATV which kept the tether taut and the spacecraft a constant distance apart at the ends of the tether. Oscillations occurred initially, but damped out after about 20 minutes. The rotation rate was then increased, oscillations again occurred but damped out and the combination stabilized. The circular motion at the end of the tether imparted a slight artificial "gravitational acceleration" within Gemini 11, the first time such artificial gravity was demonstrated in space. After about three hours, the tether was released and the spacecraft moved apart. A fuel cell stack failed at 4:13 PM EST, but the remaining stacks took over the load satisfactorally. At 4:22 AM EST on 15 September, a final re-rendezvous maneuver, without use of the rendezvous radar (which had malfunctioned) was accomplished.

Retrofire occurred at the end of the 44th revolution at 8:24:03 AM EST on 15 September. This was the first closed-loop, automatic reentry (guided by computer commands directly to the thrusters) in the US space program. Splashdown in the western Atlantic at 24.25 N, 70.00 W, 4.9 km from the target point, occurred at 8:59:35 AM EST. The crew was picked up by helicopter and brought to the USS Guam at 9:23 AM EST, and the spacecraft was recovered at 9:58 AM EST. Total mission elapsed time was 71:17:08. All primary objectives were accomplished, with the last re-rendezvous added to the mission plan due to the favorable fuel supply. The power tool evaluation was not performed due to early EVA termination, and the airglow horizon photography was only partially done due to a fault in the camera. All other experiments were successfully completed.


https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1966-081A

1969
B. Burnasheva discovered asteroid #2232 Altaj.

1976 09:48:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 22 from Baikonur, a surplus ASTP spacecraft with a multi-spectral camera made by Carl Zeiss-Jena in place of the universal docking apparatus, manned by cosmonauts Aksyonov and Bykovsky, who photographed the Earth for eight days.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1976-093A

1982
A. Mrkos discovered asteroid #3276; E. Bowell discovered asteroids #2815 Soma and #3693.

1987 10:30:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 1882 from Plesetsk, a Resurs landsat used for investigation of the natural resources of the Earth, in the interests of various branches of the national economy of the USSR and international cooperation.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1987-077A

1989 06:30:00 GMT
USSR launched Bion 9 (Cosmos 2044) from Plesetsk, the last LC41 launch. The 7th Soviet Biosatellite carrying joint US/USSR experiments conducted 29 experiments on 2 monkeys, rats, fish, amphibians, insects, worms, protozoans, cell cultures and plants.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1989-075A

1990
Died, Hans Walter Milde, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missiles during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war
http://astronautix.com/m/milde.html

1990
NASA's Magellan satellite began mapping Venus from its orbit around the planet.

Magellan, launched 4 May 1989 aboard NASA's shuttle Atlantis, was a unique mission, being the first dedicated US mission to study the surface of Venus in detail, using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Because Magellan was intended to be a low cost mission, major components of the spacecraft were obtained from flight spares from other programs including Galileo, Viking, Voyager, Mariner, Skylab, Ulysses, and even the shuttle. Designed as a follow-up to the mapping portion of the Pioneer Venus mission, Magellan's purpose was to: (1) obtain near-global radar images of Venus' surface with a resolution equivalent to optical imaging of 1 km per line pair; (2) obtain a near-global topographic map with 50 km spatial and 100 m vertical resolution; (3) obtain near-global gravity field data with 700 km resolution and 2-3 milligals (1 gal = 1 cm/s**2) accuracy; and, (4) develop an understanding of the geological structure of the planet, including its density distribution and dynamics.

Magellan reached Venus and went into orbit on 10 August 1990. The initial phase of the mission (Cycle 1) began shortly after orbital insertion about Venus and lasted for eight months (15 September 1990 through 15 May 1991). During this cycle, Magellan collected radar images of about 84% of the planet's surface. Cycle 2 lasted from the end of cycle 1 until 15 January 1992, during which the spacecraft obtained images of the southern polar region and filled numerous gaps left in the cycle 1 information. Cycle 3 began on 24 January 1992 and lasted until 15 September 1992, during which the remaining gaps from cycle 1 were filled in as well as providing data which, in combination with earlier data, could be used to produce stereo images of the surface. Cycle 4 lasted from 15 September 1992 to May 1993 and consisted of gravity data acquisition from the elliptical orbit. An aerobraking maneuver, in which Magellan was dipped into the Venus atmosphere to shed orbital energy and bring the spacecraft into a more circular orbit, was performed from 24 May until 2 August 1993. At the end of aerobraking, the orbit had a periapsis of 180 km, an apoapsis of 540 km, and a period of 94 minutes. Cycle 5 was used to acquire gravity data from this orbit from 3 August 1993 until 29 August 1994, giving high-resolution gravity data for about 95% of the planet. In September 1994, the Windmill experiment took place, in which the solar panels were tilted at an angle so that atmospheric drag put a torque on the craft, which could be measured to give information about the atmospheric density at different altitudes.

Magellan began its final descent into the atmosphere of Venus on 11 October 1994. On 12 October 1994, radio contact with Magellan was lost, and the spacecraft presumably burned up in the atmosphere on 13 or 14 October 1994.

By the end of the mission, over 99% of the planet's surface had been mapped by RADAR with a resolution ten times better than that obtained by the earlier Soviet Venera 15 and 16 missions.

The final Magellan Status Reports can be accessed through http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/magellan/status.html


https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1989-033B

1992
During the 3h 33m Mir EO-12-4 EVA, cosmonauts Solovyov and Avdeyev installed the Kurs docking system antenna on the Kristall module of the Mir space station.
http://www.spacefacts.de/mir/english/mir-12.htm

1998 20:00:00 GMT
During the 30m Mir EO-26-1 "IVA", Padalka and Avdeyev donned spacesuits, depressurized Mir's PKhO compartment in the core module, entered the dead Spektr module, reconnected solar panel steering cables, then closed the hatch and repressurized the PKhO.
http://www.spacefacts.de/mir/english/mir-26.htm

2002 10:30:00 GMT
China launched HTSTL-1 from Taiyuan, the first attempted launch of the solid propellant KT-1 launch vehicle, which suffered a second stage failure. The 50 kg test satellite, built by university students, was to have been placed in a 300 km polar orbit.
https://www.globalsecurity.org/space/world/china/kt-1.htm

2017
NASA's Cassini spacecraft took its final picture of Saturn before entering the planet's atmosphere at the end of its mission.

NASA's Cassini Orbiter's mission consists of delivering an ESA probe, Huygens, to Titan, then remaining in orbit around Saturn for detailed studies of the planet and its rings and satellites. The principal objectives are to: (1) determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamical behavior of the rings; (2) determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object; (3) determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus' leading hemisphere; (4) measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamical behavior of the magnetosphere; (5) study the dynamical behavior of Saturn's atmosphere at cloud level; (6) study the time variability of Titan's clouds and hazes; and, (7) characterize Titan's surface on a regional scale.

The Cassini/Huygens probe was launched on 15 October 1997. Unable to be launched directly to Saturn with propulsion systems available at the time, Cassini took a roundabout route to reach the ringed planet, referred to as a VVEJGA (Venus-Venus-Earth-Jupiter Gravity Assist) trajectory. Cassini made two flybys of Venus (April 1998 and June 1999), one of the Earth (August 1999), and one of Jupiter (December 2000). Various observations were made at each of these encounters in order to verify instrument and spacecraft systems as well as to perform calibration observations. At Jupiter, numerous simultaneous observations were made using Cassini, Galileo, and the Hubble Space Telescope, among other missions.

On 1 July 2004 UTC, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft fired its main engine to reduce its speed, allowing the spacecraft to be captured by Saturn's gravity and enter orbit. The spacecraft then started a four-year mission to explore the ringed planet, its mysterious moons, the stunning rings and its complex magnetic environment.

The first two orbits around Saturn set up the necessary trajectory for deployment of the Huygens probe on the third orbit. The maneuver placed the paired spacecraft on an intersect course with Titan and the probe was released on 25 December 2004. The two spacecraft separated with a relative velocity of 0.3-0.4 m/s but remained in the same orbit for about three weeks. Cassini then executed a deflection maneuver to enable it to fly by Titan at an altitude of 60,000 km, positioning it to receive transmissions from Huygens as it entered Titan's atmosphere, some 2.1 hours prior to Cassini's closest approach. Huygens landed on Titan on 14 January 2005.

During the Saturn Tour, Cassini was initially planned to complete 74 orbits of the ringed planet, 44 close flybys of the hazy moon Titan, and numerous flybys of Saturn's other icy moons. Cassini completed its initial four-year mission to explore the Saturn system in June 2008 and the first extended mission, called the Cassini Equinox Mission, in September 2010. The healthy spacecraft is continuing to make exciting new discoveries in a second extended mission called the Cassini Solstice Mission. This extension, which goes through September 2017, is named for the Saturnian summer solstice occurring in May 2017. The northern summer solstice marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. Since Cassini arrived at Saturn just after the planet's northern winter solstice, the extension will allow for the first study of a complete seasonal period.

See also NASA's Cassini Orbiter page and NASA's Huygens page in the NSSDC Master Catalog.



The last image taken by the imaging cameras on NASA's Cassini spacecraft
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/3120/cassinis-final-images/
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

2017 10:32:00 GMT
(Estimated time) NASA's Cassini spacecraft burned up as it entered Saturn's atmosphere at 69,368 mph (111,637 kph), ending its 294th orbit since insertion on 1 July 2004.
see above
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/cassini-quick-facts/

2017 11:55:46 GMT
NASA lost Cassini's signal as it was entering Saturn's atmosphere, burning up at the end of its nearly twenty year mission over 83 minutes before the LoS event was detected at Earth due to signal travel time.
see above
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/3122/cassinis-family-takes-the-plunge/


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