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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 27

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Died, Hubert Gautier, French engineer (published the first book on building bridges)

R Luther discovered asteroid #134 Sophrosyne.

Albert Einstein published a paper entitled "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?" in Annalen der Physik which revealed his conceptual relationship between energy and mass.

Born, Martin Ryle, English radio astronomer, Nobel 1974 with Hewish "for ... pioneering research in radio astrophysics: ... observations and inventions, in particular of the aperture synthesis technique" (accurate location, imaging of weak radio sources)

Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory technicians at Anacostia, near Washington, DC, demonstrated RADAR signatures for the first time.

L Oterma discovered asteroid #2195 Tengstrom.

L Boyer discovered asteroid #1713 Bancilhon.

Born, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu (at Brasov, Romania), cosmonaut (Soyuz 40/Salyut 6), first Romanian cosmonaut

S Arend discovered asteroid #3346.

Died (age 32, X-2 in-flight failure), Milburn G. Apt, Captain US Air Force, test pilot

The US Air Force flew X-2 Flight 13 during which destruction of the aircraft and the death of the pilot occurred.

After having been launched from a B-50 bomber over the Mojave Desert in California, US Air Force Captain Milburn G. Apt, flying an X-2 rocket powered plane on its 13th powered flight, set a record speed of 3377 kph (Mach 3.196) at 19.977 km altitude. Subsequent loss of control from inertial coupling led to the destruction of the aircraft and the death of the pilot.

Born, Stephanie Diana Wilson (at Boston, Massachusetts, USA), mission specialist astronaut (STS 121, STS 120, STS 131)

1967 22:11:54 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 7K-L1 s/n 4L (initially identified as "Zond 1967A" by NASA) from Baikonur as the first attempted circumlunar flight. The UR-500K failed, crashing 50 to 60 km from the launch pad.

USSR launched Soyuz 7K-L1 s/n 4L (initially identified as "Zond 1967A" by NASA) on 27 September 1967 as an unmanned test flight of the Soviet Lunar capsule planned for manned flights. The exact intended mission is not known, since the liftoff was not completed, but may have a flight out to Lunar distance (but in the opposite direction from the Moon, as was done later for Zond 4) and return. The capsule was similar to the Zond 4 and presumably carried instruments as well, such as the proton detectors carried by Zond 4.

The SL-12/D-1-e Proton launcher (UR-500K) first stage had six RD-253 engines. The fuel line to one of the engines was blocked after liftoff by a rubber plug which had come loose. This caused the rocket to fall off its intended course 67 seconds after launch. The Zond capsule was lifted away by the escape tower and landed safely 65 km downrange. The rocket crashed 50 to 60 km from the launch pad. The L1 radio beacon was detected 65 km north of the Baikonur aerodrome by an Il-14 search aircraft. An Mi-6 helicopter recovered the capsule and had it back to the cosmodrome by 13:30 on 28 September.

Mishin's record was that of seven launches of the Soyuz and L1, only one had been successful. Mishin still wanted to launch the next L1 by 28 October. The other chief designers opposed the move. Barmin said at least five months would be needed to diagnose the cause of the failures and makes fixes to ensure they don't happen again. Nevertheless, the leadership sided with Mishin, and Barmin was ordered to prepare the left Proton pad for a launch within 30 to 40 days.

See also

P Wild discovered asteroid #2129 Cosicosi; L Chernykh discovered asteroids #2008 Konstitutsiya, #2186 Keldysh, #2205 Glinkan and #3127 Bagration.

1973 12:18:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 12 from Baikonur with cosmonauts Lazarev and Makarov aboard, a successful "test of improved flight conditions," for acquisition of spectrographic data of separate sections of the Earth, and evaluation of a new space suit design.

Soyuz 12 was launched 27 September 1973 as an experimental flight for the purpose of further development of the manned space craft Soyuz 7K-T modifications. After the Soyuz 11 disaster, in which the crew died during re-entry when a breather valve opened prematurely and allowed the cabin air to leak away into space, the Soyuz underwent a redesign for increased reliability. Two solo test flights of the new design were planned. Crews for the first flight were those already planned for the deferred follow-on missions to the failed DOS 2 and DOS 3 space stations.

During their two days in space, Commander Vasiliy Lazarev and Flight Engineer Oleg Makarov acquired spectrographic data of separate sections of the Earth, and evaluated a new space suit design, in addition to checking out the improvements made to the Soyuz craft.

Soyuz 12 was recovered 29 September 1973 after it landed 400 km SW of Karaganda.

1975 08:37:00 GMT
A Diamant rocket launched from Kourou carried France's Aura solar physics satellite (Astronomy Satellite D2B) into orbit.

France's Aura solar physics satellite (called Astronomy Satellite D2B in NASA'S National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) records) was launched 27 September 1975 carrying solar UV radiation experiments to study solar and stellar ultraviolet radiation: 1) spectral analysis of small and large sources located close to the plane of the ecliptic; 2) study of solar ultraviolet radiation and its absorption by the Earth's atmosphere.

This spacecraft carried an EUV (extreme ultraviolet) experiment for solar and atmospheric investigations, and a set of UV experiments for making stellar, zodiacal light, and integrated sky background and stellar observations. The spacecraft was spun at about 0.25 rpm about an axis directed toward the Sun. The data transmission rate was 256 b/s for real-time data and 11 kb/s for stored data, using a telemetry frequency of 136.740 MHz. The memory capacity was 1.6 Mb. The cylindrical satellite was 0.8 meter diameter with a height of 0.7 meter, and weighed 106.6 kg. Four solar panels situated perpendicular to the cylindrical axis provided power for the mission. The stabilization system failed on 28 December 1976, thereby terminating operation of the spacecraft.

L Chernykh discovered asteroids #2212 Hephaistos, #2894 Kakhovka, #3010 Ushakov and #3608.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroid #2344 Xizang.

L G Karachkina discovered asteroid #3453 Dostoevsky.

A Grossman discovered asteroid #3694; Z Vavrova discovered asteroid #3732.

1985 08:41:42 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 1686 from Baikonur, a modified version of the cancelled TKS manned ferry, which docked with the Salyut 7 space station.

USSR launched Cosmos 1686 on 27 September 1985, a modified version of the cancelled TKS manned ferry, which docked with the Salyut 7 space station. Officially, the flight was for testing the equipment, assemblies and design components of a satellite in various modes of flight, including joint flight with the Salyut-7 station. All landing systems were removed from the VA re-entry capsule and replaced with military optical sensor experiments (infrared telescope and Ozon spectrometer). The spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere together with the Salyut 7 station over Argentina on 7 February 1991. It re-entered with an unused 3 meter diameter recoverable capsule of 2-3,000 kg mass, solid rocket motors, and cesium sensors.

1989 14:38:00 GMT
USSR launched Molniya 1-76 from Plesetsk for operation of the long range telephone and telegraph radio communications system in the USSR, and transmission of USSR Central Television programs to stations in the Orbita network.

1990 10:37:42 GMT
USSR launched the Progress M-5 unmanned resupply vessel from Baikonur to Mir, which included the first Progress recoverable capsule (VBK Raduga) for return of 150 kg of payload to Earth.

USSR launched the Progress M-5 unmanned resupply vessel to the Mir space station on 27 September 1990, which included the first Progress recoverable capsule (VBK Raduga) for return of 150 kg of payload to Earth. Progress M-5 docked with Mir on 29 Sep 1990 12:26:50 GMT, and undocked on 28 Nov 1990 06:15:46 GMT. After its deorbit burn, the capsule separated for reentry with an expected landing in Kazakhstan at 28 Nov 1990 11:04:05 GMT. However, the recoverable capsule's beacon signal was never received after reentry. All experimental data and materials in the capsule were lost. Total free-flight time 2.28 days. Total docked time 59.74 days.

NASA lost communications with the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft after nearly three months of operations on the Martian surface.

Mars Pathfinder was launched 4 December 1996, the second of NASA's low-cost planetary Discovery missions. The mission consists of a stationary lander and a surface rover, with the primary objective of demonstrating the feasibility of low-cost landings on and exploration of the Martian surface. This objective was met by tests of communications between the rover and lander, and the lander and Earth, tests of the imaging devices and sensors, and tests of the maneuverability and systems of the rover on the surface. The scientific objectives include atmospheric entry science, long-range and close-up surface imaging, rock and soil composition and material properties experiments, and meteorology, with the general objective being to characterize the Martian environment for further exploration. (Mars Pathfinder was formerly known as the Mars Environmental Survey (MESUR) Pathfinder.)

The spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere on 4 July 1997 directly from its approach hyperbola at about 7300 m/s without going into orbit around the planet. The cruise stage was jettisoned 30 minutes before atmospheric entry. The lander took atmospheric measurements as it descended. The entry vehicle's heat shield slowed the craft to 400 m/s in about 160 seconds. A 12.5 meter parachute was deployed at this time, slowing the craft to about 70 m/s. The heat shield was released 20 seconds after parachute deployment, and the bridle, a 20 meter long braided Kevlar tether, deployed below the spacecraft. The lander separated from the backshell and slid down to the bottom of the bridle over about 25 seconds. At an altitude of about 1.6 km, the radar altimeter acquired the ground, and about 10 seconds before landing four air bags inflated in about 0.3 seconds forming a 5.2 meter diameter protective 'ball' around the lander. Four seconds later at an altitude of 98 m the three solid rockets, mounted in the backshell, fired to slow the descent, and about 2 seconds later the bridle was cut 21.5 m above the ground, releasing the airbag-encased lander. The lander dropped to the ground in 3.8 seconds and impacted at 16:56:55 UT (12:56:55 p.m. EDT) on 4 July 1997 at a velocity of 18 m/s - approximately 14 m/s vertical and 12 m/s horizontal - and bounced about 12 meters (40 feet) into the air, bouncing at least another 15 times and rolling before coming to rest approximately 2.5 minutes after impact and about 1 km from the initial impact site.

After landing, the airbags deflated and were retracted. Pathfinder opened its three metallic triangular solar panels (petals) 87 minutes after landing. The lander first transmitted the engineering and atmospheric science data collected during entry and landing, the first signal being received at Earth at 18:34 UT (2:34 p.m. EDT). The imaging system obtained views of the rover and immediate surroundings and a panoramic view of the landing area and transmitted it to Earth at 23:30 UT. After some maneuvers to clear an airbag out of the way, ramps were deployed and the rover, stowed against one of the petals, rolled onto the surface on 6 July at about 05:40 UT (1:40 a.m. EDT).

The bulk of the lander's task was to support the rover by imaging rover operations and relaying data from the rover to Earth. The lander was also equipped with a meteorology station. Over 2.5 meters of solar cells on the lander petals, in combination with rechargeable batteries, powered the lander. The lander on-board computer is based on 32-bit architecture with 4 million bytes of static random access memory and 64 million bytes of mass memory for storing images. The main lander components are held in a tetrahedral shaped unit in the center of the three petals, with three low-gain antennas extending from three corners of the box and a camera extending up from the center on a 0.8 meter high pop-up mast. Images were taken and experiments performed by the lander and rover until 27 September 1997 when communications were lost for unknown reasons.

1997 01:23:36 GMT
A Delta booster launched from Vandenburg, California, carried 5 Iridium satellites (Iridium 19, 34, 35, 36, 37) into orbit, which were placed in the Plane 4 Ascending node at 262.5 degrees, +/- .1 degree.

1997 15:58:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 86 (Atlantis 20, 87th Shuttle mission) docked at the Russian Mir space station during the seventh Shuttle-Mir docking mission.

Atlantis was launched 25 September 1997 on the seventh mission to the Russian Mir space station. The on-time liftoff occurred after final approval for the flight was given earlier in the day by NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, following his review of independent and internal safety assessments regarding the safety of Mir and Shuttle-Mir missions. The reviews included assessments conducted routinely prior to the first Shuttle-Mir dockings, and two independent studies prompted by a spate of problems on the station, including the fire on 23 February and the collision on 25 June between a Progress resupply vehicle and the station's Spektr module.

The STS 86 TI rendevous terminal initiation burn was carried out at 1:32 PM EDT on 27 September, and Atlantis docked with the SO (Docking Module) on the Mir complex at 3:58 PM EDT. At 4:06 PM EDT, the Shuttle took attitude control of the entire Mir complex. At 5:30 PM EDT Commander Solovyev opened the Mir hatch, and after pressure equalization, Commander Wetherbee opened the Shuttle hatch at 5:45 PM EDT, presenting the most welcome gift of Mir's new Motion Control Computer.

The seventh Mir docking mission continued the presence of a US astronaut on the Russian space station with the transfer of physician David A. Wolf to Mir. Wolf became the sixth US astronaut in succession to live on Mir, to continue Phase 1B of the NASA/Russian Space agency cooperative effort. Wolf officially joined the Mir 24 team at noon EDT on 28 September. At the same time, Foale became a member of the STS 86 crew, and began moving his personal belongings to Atlantis.

Foale returned to Earth after spending 145 days in space, 134 of them aboard Mir. His estimated mileage logged was 58 million miles (93 million kilometers), making his the second longest US space flight, behind Shannon Lucid's record of 188 days. His stay was marred by a collision on 25 June between a Progress resupply vehicle and the station's Spektr module, damaging a radiator and one of the four solar arrays on Spektr. The mishap occurred while Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev was guiding the Progress capsule to a manual docking, and depressurized the station. The crew sealed the hatch to the leaking Spektr module, leaving Foale's personal effects and several NASA science experiments inside, and repressurized the remaining modules.

An internal space walk by Tsibliev and Mir 23 Flight Engineer Alexander Lazutkin was planned to reconnect power cables to the three undamaged solar arrays, but during a routine medical exam on 13 July, Tsibliev was found to have an irregular heartbeat. Foale then began training for the space walk, but during one of the training exercises, a power cable was inadvertently disconnected, leaving the station without power. On 21 July, it was announced the internal space walk would not be conducted by the Mir 23 crew, but their successors on Mir 24. On 30 July, NASA announced that Wendy Lawrence, originally assigned to succeed Foale on Mir, was being replaced by Wolf. The change was deemed necessary to allow Wolf to act as a backup crew member for the space walks planned over the next several months to repair Spektr. Unlike Wolf, the diminutive Lawrence could not fit the Orlan suit used for Russian space walks, and she did not undergo space walk training. (Wolf had originally been scheduled to fly on the STS 89 mission to MIR and join the Mir 24 crew.)

Following their arrival at the station 7 August, Mir 24 Commander Antaoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov conducted the internal space walk inside the depressurized Spektr module on 22 August, reconnecting 11 power cables from Spektr's solar arrays through a new custom made hatch for the module. During that space walk, Foale remained inside the Soyuz capsule attached to Mir, in constant communication with the cosmonauts and ground controllers.

On 5 September, Foale and Solovyev conducted a six hour external extravehicular activity to survey damage outside Spektr and to try and pinpoint where the breach of the module's hull occurred. Two undamaged arrays were manually repositioned to better gather solar energy, and a radiation device previously left by Jerry Linenger was retrieved.

The first joint US-Russian extravehicular activity during a Shuttle mission, which was also the 39th EVA in the Space Shuttle program, was conducted by cosmonaut Titov and astronaut Parazynski. On 1 October, they entered the Shuttle payload bay while Atlantis was docked to Mir. The airlock was depressurized at around 1:29 PM EDT and the astronauts emerged from the hatch on the tunnel adapter at around 1:35 PM EDT. They affixed a 121 pound Solar Array Cap to the docking module for future use by Mir crew members to seal off the suspected leak in Spektr's hull, and retrieved the four MEEP (Mir Environmental Effects Payload) exposure packages from Mir's SO module. The experiments were attached to the Docking Module by astronauts Linda Godwin and Rich Clifford during Shuttle mission STS 76 in March 1996. The MEEP packages investigate effects of exposure to the space environment on a variety of materials. The solar array cap was too large to be transferred through Mir, and would be needed to seal off the base of the damaged array on Spektr if and when the array was jettisoned by cosmonauts. In addition to retrieving the MEEP, Parazynski and Titov tested several components of the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) jet pack, a small jet-backpack designed for use as a type of life jacket during station assembly. The airlock was repressurized at 6:30 PM EDT.

During the six days of docked operations, the joint Mir 24 and STS 86 crews transferred more than four tons of material from the SPACEHAB Double Module to Mir, including approximately 1700 pounds of water, experiment hardware for International Space Station Risk Mitigation, experiments to monitor Mir for crew health and safety, a gyrodyne, batteries, three air pressurization units with breathing air, an attitude control computer and many other logistics items. The new motion control computer replaced one that had experienced problems in recent months. The crew also moved experiment samples and hardware and an old Elektron oxygen generator to Atlantis for return to Earth.

During the flight, Wetherbee and Bloomfield fired small jet thrusters on Atlantis to provide data for the Mir Structural Dynamics Experiment (MISDE), which measured disturbances to the space station's components and its solar arrays. Other experiments conducted during the mission were the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth investigation; the Cell Culture Module Experiment (CCM-A), the Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) and the Radiation Monitoring Experiment-III (RME-III); the Shuttle Ionospheric Modification with Pulsed Local Exhaust (SIMPLE) experiment; and the Midcourse Space Experiment. Two NASA educational outreach programs were also conducted, Seeds in Space-II, and Kidsat.

Cargo Bay Payloads:
# Bay 1: Tunnel adapter / 2 Carriers for retrieved MEEP experiment
# Bay 2-4: External Airlock / Orbiter Docking System / European Proximity Sensor
# Bay 5-7: Long Tunnel / 2 Carriers for retrieved MEEP experiment
# Bay 8-9: Spacehab Double Module
# Bay 13S: GAS can (SEEDS-II)

In-Cabin Payloads: RME's; KidSat; CPCG; CREAM; CCM-A; MSX; SIMPLEX

Atlantis undocked from Mir at 1:28 PM EDT on 3 October. Just after undocking, the Shuttle continued to back away through a corridor similar to that used during approach with periodic stops to "stationkeep" in order to collect data for the European laser docking sensor. Atlantis backed away in this manner until it reached a distance of 190 meters below Mir. The shuttle then moved back to within 70 meters of the station and conducted a 46 minute flyaround focused on the damaged Spektr Module to determine the location of the puncture in its hull. Solovyev and Vinogradov opened a pressure regulation valve to allow air into the Spektr module while the STS 86 crew looked to see if they could detect seepage or debris particles that would indicate the location of the breach in the damaged module's hull. As expected, the Shuttle crew observed evidence that the leak seemed to be located at the base of the damaged solar panel. (The cap delivered by the Atlantis crew was designed to repair this puncture.) Final separation of Atlantis from Mir took place around 4:28 PM EDT.

STS 86 ended 6 October 1997 when the crew fired the engines to deorbit at 16:47 EDT on revolution 170, and Atlantis landed on Runway 15, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the first opportunity after two opportunities on 5 October were waved off due to heavy cloud cover. Rollout distance: 11,947 feet (3,641 meters). Rollout time: one minute, 22 seconds. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Mission duration: 10 days, 19 hours, 20 minutes, 50 seconds. This was the last flight of Atlantis prior to departure to California for its second Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP). The orbiter was scheduled to return to KSC in late August 1998 to begin preparations for STS 92, the third International Space Station assembly flight.

The flight crew for STS 86 was: James D. Wetherbee, Commander; Michael J. Bloomfield, Pilot; Vladimar G. Titov, (RSA) Mission Specialist; Scott E. Parazynski, Mission Specialist; Jean-Loup J.M. Chretien, (CNES) Mission Specialist; Wendy B. Lawrence, Mission Specialist; David A. Wolf, Mission Specialist (returned on STS 89); C. Michael Foale returned from Mir (launched on STS 84).

2003 06:12:00 GMT
A Kosmos launched from Plesetsk carried Russia's Mozhayets 4 and Larets to orbit, along with three disaster monitoring DMC satellites (Bilsat 1 [Turkey], NigeriaSat-1 and BNSCSat 1 [UK]), Germany's Rubin 4-DSI, and South Korea's STSat 1 techsats.

2003 23:14:00 GMT
The last Ariane 5G, launched from Kourou, carried India's Insat 3E, Eutelsat's E-bird, and ESA's SMART-1 Lunar probe into orbit. Insat 3E was placed in geosynchronous orbit at 55 deg E, E-bird at 33 deg E, SMART-1 entered Lunar orbit on 13 November 2004.

2003 23:14:46 GMT
The European Space Agency launched the SMART-1 mission to the Moon.

ESA's SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology 1), launched 27 September 2003, was a Lunar orbiter designed to test spacecraft technologies for future missions. It entered an initial Lunar orbit on 13 November 2004. The primary technology tested was a solar-powered ion drive. It also carried an experimental deep-space telecommunications system and an instrument payload to monitor the ion drive and study the Moon. The primary scientific objectives of the mission were to return data on the geology, morphology, topography, mineralogy, geochemistry, and exospheric environment of the Moon, in order to answer questions about planetary formation accretional processes, origin of the Earth-Moon system, the Lunar near/far side dichotomy, long-term volcanic and tectonic activity, thermal and dynamical processes involved in Lunar evolution, and water ice and external processes on the surface.

The primary objective of SMART-1 was to test the solar-powered ion thruster (Solar Electric Primary Propulsion, SEPP). It also tested miniaturized scientific instruments for use on future ESA missions. A secondary objective was to learn more information about the Moon, such as how it was created. SMART-1 was to map the Lunar surface using X-ray and infrared imaging, taking images from several different angles so the Moon's surface could be mapped in three dimensions. It was also to determine the Moon's chemical composition using X-ray spectroscopy. A specific goal was to use infrared light to search for frozen water at the Moon's south pole, where some areas of the surface are never exposed to direct sunlight, and to map the Moon's Peak of Eternal Light (PEL), an eerie mountaintop permanently bathed in sunlight and surrounded by craters shaded in eternal darkness.

SMART-1 was a box-shaped spacecraft roughly a meter on a side, with two large solar panel wings spanning 14 meters extending from opposite sides. The launch mass, including fuel, was 366.5 kg (815 pounds), the mass at the time it reached the Moon was expected to be about 305 kg. Its solar-electric propulsion system (a Stationary Plasma Hall-effect thruster, PPS-1350) used xenon gas as a propellant, ionizing the xenon and accelerating and discharging the plasma from the spacecraft at high speed. Electrons were also released into the flow to maintain a neutral charge on the spacecraft. A thrust of 70 milliNewtons and a specific impulse of 16.1 kN-s/kg (1640 seconds), more than three times the maximum for chemical rockets, was produced. 82 kg of supercritical xenon propellant (60 liters, about 16 gallons) was carried aboard SMART-1 in a tank mounted in the center of the structure above the thruster. The spacecraft was three-axis stabilized using four skewed reaction wheels and eight 1-N hydrazine thrusters mounted on the corners of the spacecraft bus. Attitude knowledge was provided by a star tracker, Sun sensor, and angular rate sensors.

1190 W was available for powering the thruster, giving a nominal thrust of 68 mN, and an acceleration of 0.2 mm/s/s (0.7 m/s per hour, 2/10,000 G). Consequently, orbital maneuvers are not carried out in short bursts, as with chemical rockets, but very gradually, with engine on-time typically once every orbit for about one third to one half of the orbit (when spiralling out, at the perigee side). Over an operating lifetime of 5,000 hours, a delta-v of 4 km/s results, corresponding to a total impulse of 1.5 MN-s.

1850 W of power was produced from an array of gallium-indium-phosphide gallium arsenide germanium (GaInP/GaAs/Ge) solar cells covering an active surface on the wings of about 10 square meters. Solar array power was regulated to 50 V in the power control and distribution unit, distributed via solid-state power controllers, and stored in five 130 W/hr lithium ion battery cells. Roughly 75% of the power was used to run the propulsion system during flight. Thermal control was achieved through the use of radiators, heat pipes, multilayer insulation blankets, thermistor controlled heaters, and high emissivity optical properties. Communication took place via a medium gain and two low gain S-band antennas, as well as the antenna for the experimental Ka/X system. The medium gain antenna provided a telemetry rate of 65 kb/s. The two low gain antennas provided omin-directional ground coverage at 2 kb/s. The medium gain, Ka/X band, and one low gain antenna were mounted on one side panel of the spacecraft bus, and the other low gain antenna was mounted on the opposite panel.

The spacecraft carried a suite of science and technology instruments with a total mass of 19 kg. The science instruments included a pan-chromatic camera (AMIE) for Lunar imaging, Langmuir probes mounted on booms (SPEDE) to measure the plasma environment, and radio science experiments (RSIS). Science instruments being tested as part of the technology verification were a miniaturized visible/near-infrared spectrometer (SIR) for Lunar crustal studies, a miniature X-ray spectrometer for astronomy and Lunar chemistry (D-CIXS), and an X-ray spectrometer to calibrate D-CIXS and to study the Sun (XSM). The Electric Propulsion Diagnostic package (EPDP) was a multi-sensor suite designed specifically to monitor the ion propulsion system; it also worked in concert with the SPEDE to study the space plasma environment. The RSIS was also used to monitor the ion propulsion system. An experimental telecommunication and tracking system, the Ka/X-band TTC (Telemetry and Telecommand) Experiment (KaTE) was included in the payload for technology assessment. The AMIE camera was also to be used to support a test of an image-based On-Board Autonomous Navigation (OBAN) system. OBAN was designed to minimize the amount of ground intervention required for the mission.

The SMART-1 spacecraft was launched on 27 September 2003 from Kourou, French Guiana, as an auxiliary passenger on an Ariane 5 Cyclade, which launched two other large satellites (India's Insat 3E and Eutelsat E-bird) as its primary payload. SMART-1 was put into a geostationary transfer orbit, 742 x 36,016 km, inclined 7 degrees with respect to the equator. The spacecraft used its ion drive over a period of 14 months to elongate its Earth orbit, utilizing three Lunar resonance maneuvers in August, September, and October 2004 to minimize propellant use. Its final continuous thrust maneuver took place over 100 hours from 10 to 14 October 2004. Lunar orbit capture occurred on 13 November 2004 at a distance of 60,000 km from the Lunar surface. The ion engine began firing in orbit at 05:24 UT (12:24 AM EST) on 15 November to start a 4.5 day period of thrust to lower the orbit. The first perilune took place on 15 November at 17:48 UTC (12:48 PM EST) at an altitude of about 5000 km above the Lunar surface. The engine was then used to lower the initial 4962 x 51477 km altitude, 5 day, 9 hour period, 81 degree inclination orbit, putting SMART-1 into a 300 x 3000 km polar orbit. Lunar commissioning began in mid-January 2005, and Lunar science operations in February 2005. The mission was extended from its originally planned six month lifetime by a year. As a result, SMART-1 was able to conduct mapping of the Moon's surface and evaluating the new technologies onboard from Lunar orbit until it impacted the Moon's surface on 3 September 2006.

See also

Virgin Group announced a joint venture with Mojave Aerospace Ventures to build the VSS Enterprise for commercial space flights, and a new company called Virgin Galactic.

2004 08:00:00 GMT
China launched the FSW 3-3 recoverable military satellite from Jiuquan, which fell through the roof of a house in the village of Penglai, Sichuan province, when it returned to Earth on 15 October 2004.

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