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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 October 3

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J Palisa discovered asteroid #260 Huberta.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #300 Geraldina.

P Gotz discovered asteroid #545 Messalina.

"SOS" was adopted as distress signal at the Second International Conference on Wireless Telegraphy in Berlin. The U.S. did not officially adopt "SOS" until 1912.

J Palisa discovered asteroid #703 Noemi.

J Palisa discovered asteroid #719 Albert.

G Neujmin discovered asteroid #1135 Colchis.

S Arend discovered asteroid #1171 Rusthawelia.

Died, Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf, German astronomer, astrophotography pioneer, discovered over 200 asteroids

E Delporte discovered asteroid #1350 Rosselia; G Neujmin discovered asteroid #1671 Chaika.

Born, Charles Moss "Charlie" Duke Jr (at Charlotte, North Carolina, USA), Brig General USAF, NASA astronaut (Apollo 16), tenth person to walk on the Moon

Apollo astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., NASA photo

Shajn discovered asteroids #1390 Abastumani, #2445 Blazhko and #3080 Moisseiev.

L Oterma discovered asteroid #2774 Tenojoki.

1942 14:58:00 GMT
Germany first successfully launched a full-range A-4 (V-2) rocket from Test Stand VII at Peenemunde to an 85 km altitude (53 miles), described by Dornberger as starting a "new era in transportation, that of space travel..." in a speech at the launch site.

The first successful launch and flight of the 5 ton German A-4 rocket (V-2) by Wernher Von Braun's team from Test Stand VII at Peenemunde, Germany took place on 3 October 1942, which traveled 190 km downrange with an apogee of 85 km (53 miles). The engine burned for 58 seconds, and the total flight time was 296 seconds. The missile impacted 6 degrees left of the intended course. It was the first man-made object to reach space.

Born, Kathryn Dwyer "Kathy" Sullivan PhD (at Paterson, New Jersey, USA), NASA astronaut (STS 41-G, STS 31, STS 45), first American woman to walk in space

Astronaut Kathy Sullivan PhD, NASA photo

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #1721 Wells.

The first commercially available atomic clock, the Atomichron manufactured by the National Company, Inc. of Malden, Massachusetts, was unveiled in a paneled room of the Overseas Press Club in New York City.

1962 12:15:11 GMT
With the launch of NASA's Mercury Atlas 8 (MA-8, named "Sigma 7"), Wally Schirra became the third American to orbit Earth.

Mercury Atlas 8 (MA-8, also called Sigma 7) was the third manned orbital flight of the Mercury program, piloted by Walter M. Schirra, Jr., launched into orbit on 3 October 1962 by a Atlas rocket from the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, Florida. In the most successful American manned space flight to date, Schirra traveled nearly six orbits, returning to Earth at a predetermined point in the Pacific Ocean 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff. Within 40 minutes after landing, he and his spacecraft were safely aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. In spite of a partially blocked ECS coolant valve that delayed stabilizing his suit temperature until the second orbital pass, Schirra attempted and achieved a nearly perfect mission by sticking rigorously to the mission plan.

The objectives of MA-8 were to: (1) evaluate the performance of the man-spacecraft system in a six pass orbital mission; (2) evaluate the effects of an extended orbital space flight on the astronaut and to compare this analysis with those of previous missions and astronaut-simulator programs; (3) obtain additional astronaut evaluation of the operational suitability of the spacecraft and support systems for manned orbital flights; (4) evaluate the performance of spacecraft systems replaced or modified as a result of previous three pass orbital missions; and, (5) evaluate the performance of and exercise further the Mercury Worldwide Network and mission support forces, and establish their suitability for extended manned flight.

Originally scheduled for launch in early September, the mission was postponed twice to provide additional time for flight preparation. The launch was the first to be relayed live (via the Telstar satellite) to television audiences in Western Europe.

Two major modifications were made to the spacecraft to eliminate difficulties encountered during the previous two flights: The first was an alteration of the reaction control system to disarm the high-thrust jets and to permit use of the low-thrust jets only in manual operation (to conserve fuel). The second was the addition of two high-frequency antennas (mounted on the retro package) to assist and maintain spacecraft and ground communications throughout the flight.

Astronaut Schirra called his mission a "textbook flight," the only difficulty having been attaining the correct temperature adjustment on his pressure suit.

A considerable amount of attitude drift time was built into the MA-8 timeline to study fuel conservation methods. (Much of the mission Schirra spent in what he called "chimp configuration," a free drift that tested the Mercury's autopilot system.) The result was that 78% of the fuel supply remaining in both the automatic and manual tanks at the start of reentry. The pilot was therefore able to use the automatic mode for reentry.

Four experiments were conducted during the MA-8 flight. One was a light visibility experiment, similar to those conducted on the two previous missions. The second was a nuclear radiation experiment, using radiation-sensitive emulsions to study the flux and composition of galactice cosmic rays. A third was an investigation in which the ablation of various materials due to heating during reentry was measured. The final experiment used a 70 mm Hasselblad camera with various filters to gather imagery for assembling a catalog of Earth photography for comparison with similar images obtained by other satellite programs.

Schirra's was the first of two longer-duration Mercury missions. After Carpenter's flawed reentry, the emphasis returned to engineering rather than science (Schirra named his spacecraft "Sigma" for the engineering symbol meaning "summation.") Schirra tried "steering" by the stars, which he found difficult, took photographs with a Hasselblad camera, exercised using a bungee cord device, saw lightning in the atmosphere, broadcast the first live message from an American spacecraft to radio and TV listeners below, and made the first splashdown in the Pacific.

During the flight, the spacecraft attained a maximum velocity slightly higher than previous flights (28,092 km/hour). MA-8 was the highest flight of the Mercury program, with an apogee of 283 kilometers (178 miles), but Schirra later claimed to be unimpressed with space scenery as compared to the view from high-flying aircraft: "Same old deal, nothing new," he told debriefers after the flight.

Three days after his flight, on 5 October 1962, A US Air Force spokesman, Lt. Colonel Albert C. Trakowski, announced that special instruments on unidentified military test satellites had confirmed the danger that Schirra could have been killed if his MA-8 space flight had taken him above a 400 mile altitude. The artificial radiation belt, created by the US high altitude nuclear test in July, sharply increased in density above 400 miles altitude at the geomagnetic equator and reached peak intensities of 100 to 1,000 times normal levels at altitudes above 1,000 miles.

Sigma 7 landed near the international date line in the Pacific Ocean, 275 miles (440 km) northeast of Midway Island, near 32 deg 7' 30" N, 174 deg 45' W, about 8.2 km from the prime recovery ship, USS Kearsarge. The duration of the flight was 9 hours 13 minutes and 11 seconds, during which Schirra travelled over 230,000 km.

Mercury spacecraft #16 (Sigma 7) is currently displayed at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida.

Mercury spacecraft #16 (Sigma 7) display page on A Field Guide to American Spacecraft

NASA photo, Wally Schirra climbing into the Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7) capsule

1967 05:02:00 GMT
USSR launched the Molniya 1-6 communications satellite from Baikonur for operation of the long range telephone and telegraph radio communication system, and transmission of USSR Central Television programs to the stations of the Orbita network.

1967 21:31:00 GMT
NASA/USAF launched X-15A-2 TPS/Ramjet/Mach 6.7 Test mission # 188 with a full ablative coating, dummy ramjet, and a mechanical eyelid in which Pete Knight set an unofficial world speed record (7274 kph, 4519 mph, Mach 6.70) and reached 31.120 km altitude.

The Soviet vessel Vasiliy Golovnin docked at Bombay with the Zond 5 L1 capsule aboard, enroute back to the USSR on its return from the first circumlunar Earth return mission.

Zond 5 was launched 14 September 1968 from a Tyazheliy Sputnik (68-076B) in Earth parking orbit to make scientific studies during a Lunar flyby and to return to Earth, an unmanned test flight of the Soviet manned spacecraft equipment. En route to the Moon, the main stellar attitude control optical surface became contaminated and was rendered unusable. Backup sensors were used to guide the spacecraft. On 18 September 1968, the spacecraft flew around the Moon, the closest approach being 1,950 km. High quality photographs of the Earth were taken from a distance of 90,000 km.

A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences, the pilot's seat was occupied by a 175 cm tall, 70 kg mannequin containing radiation detectors.

Returning to Earth, the gyroscopic platform went off line due to a ground operator error, making the planned guided entry impossible, forcing the spacecraft controllers to use a direct ballistic entry. Unlike the Zond 4 mission, which had re-entered over western Africa in April, the self destruct command was not given. On 21 September 1968, the reentry capsule entered Earth's atmosphere. Communications with Zond 5 were lost as it re-entered over the South Pole. It had to re-enter at an angle of 5 to 6 degrees to the horizontal: One degree too high, and it would skip off the atmosphere and be lost into space; one degree too low and the G-forces would increase from 10-16 to 30-40 - not only enough to kill the "crew," but to destroy the spacecraft. The safe entry corridor was only 13 km across, and had to be hit at 11 km/sec - "like hitting a kopek [Russian penny] with a rifle at a 600 meter range." After the ballistic 20G re-entry, the capsule braked aerodynamically, deployed parachutes at 7 km, and splashed down in the backup area in the Indian Ocean at 32.63 degrees S, 65.55 degrees E. Soviet naval vessels were 100 km from the landing location and successfully recovered the spacecraft the next day, shipping it via Bombay (3 October 1968 aboard the Vasiliy Golovnin) back to Soviet Union, safely returning the biological payload to Moscow on 4 October 1968.

It was announced that the turtles (actually steppe tortoises) had lost about 10% of their body weight, but remained active and showed no loss of appetite.

The mission was planned as a precursor to manned Soviet Lunar spacecraft flights.

1968 20:50:00 GMT
ESA's Aurorae (ESRO 1A) technology satellite was launched into orbit from Vandenberg, California, on a Scout booster, for aurora and polar ionosphere investigations.

N Chernykh discovered asteroid #2420 Ciurlionis; L Chernykh discovered asteroids #2132 Zhukov, #2457, #2907 Nekrasov, #2998 Berendeya, #3273 Drukar, #3321 and #3523.

1978 11:00:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 1033 from Plesetsk, a Resurs surveillance satellite described as being for investigation of the natural resources of the Earth in the interests of various branches of the USSR's national economy and international cooperation.

1979 17:12:00 GMT
USSR launched Ekran 4 from Baikonur, to transmit USSR central television programs to the collective use receiver network, positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 99 deg E.

Z Vavrova discovered asteroids #2442 Corbett, #2620 and #3479 Malaparte.

1985 07:33:00 GMT
USSR launched Molniya 3-26 from Plestesk to operate the long range telephone and telegraph radio communications system in the USSR, and transmit USSR Central Television programs to stations in the Orbita and cooperating international networks.

1985 11:15:30 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 51J (Atlantis 1, 21st Shuttle mission) on a classified Department of Defense (DOD) mission.

STS 51-J was launched 3 October 1985. The launch was delayed 22 minutes 30 seconds due to a main engine liquid hydrogen prevalve close remote power controller showing a faulty "on" indication.

STS 51-J was the second Shuttle mission dedicated to the Department of Defense. It deployed the USA 11 and USA 12 military communications satellites on 4 October, both boosted into geostationary transfer orbit on single IUS (Intertial Upper Stage) booster. USA 11 was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 12 deg W in 1986; 42 deg W in 1995. USA 12 was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 180 deg E in 1994.

STS 51-J achieved a Shuttle record altitude which was still standing in May 1993.

STS 51-J ended on 7 October 1985 when Atlantis landed on revolution 64 on Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Touchdown miss distance: 754.00 m. Rollout distance: 8,056 feet (2445 m). Rollout time: 65 seconds. Launch weight: Classified. Landing weight: 190,400 pounds. Orbit altitude: 319 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Mission duration: four days, one hour, 44 minutes, 38 seconds. Miles traveled: 1.7 million. The orbiter was returned to Kennedy Space Center on 11 October 1985.

The flight crew for STS 51-J was: Karol J. Bobko, Commander; Ronald J. Grabe, Pilot; David C. Hilmers, Mission Specialist 1; Robert L. Stewart, Mission Specialist 2; William A. Pailes, Payload Specialist 1.

1988 09:37:11 PDT (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 26 (Discovery 7, 26th Shuttle mission) returned to Earth after carrying the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-3 (TDRS-C) to orbit in the return-to-flight mission following the Challenger disaster.

STS 26 was launched 29 September 1988, and NASA's Space Shuttle returned to flight following the Challenger disaster. The launch was delayed one hour 38 minutes to replace fuses in the cooling system of two of the crew's new partial pressure launch/entry suits, and due to lighter than expected upper atmospheric winds. The suit repairs were successful, and the countdown continued after a waiver of the wind condition constraint.

The STS 26 mission marked the resumption of Shuttle flights after the 1986 STS 51-L (Challenger) accident. The primary payload, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-3 (TDRS-3) attached to an Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), became the second TDRS deployed. After deployment, the IUS propelled the satellite to geosynchronous orbit. Secondary payloads on STS 26 were: Physical Vapor Transport of Organic Solids (PVTOS); Protein Crystal Growth (PCG); Infrared Communications Flight Experiment (IRCFE); Aggregation of Red Blood Cells (ARC); Isoelectric Focusing Experiment (IFE); Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE); Phase Partitioning Experiment (PPE); Earth-Limb Radiance Experiment (ELRAD); Automated Directional Solidification Furnace (ADSF); and two Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiments. The Orbiter Experiments Autonomous Supporting Instrumentation System-1 (OASIS-1) recorded a variety of environmental measurements during various inflight phases of the orbiter.

A Ku-band antenna in the payload bay was deployed; however, the dish antenna command and actual telemetry did not correspond. Also, the orbiter cabin Flash Evaporator System iced up, raising the crew cabin temperature into the mid-80s (Farenheit).

STS 26 ended 3 October 1988 when Discovery landed on revolution 64 on Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 7,451 feet. Rollout time: 46 seconds. Launch weight: 254,606 pounds. Landing weight: 194,184 pounds. Orbit altitude: 203 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Mission duration: four days, one hour, zero minutes, 11 seconds. Miles traveled: 1.7 million. The orbiter was returned to the Kennedy Space Center on 8 October 1988.

The flight crew for STS 26 was: Frederick H. Hauck, Commander; Richard O. Covey, Pilot; John M. Lounge, Mission Specialist 1; George D. Nelson, Mission Specialist 2; David C. Hilmers, Mission Specialist 3.

1994 22:42:30 GMT
Russia launched Soyuz TM-20 from Baikonur to the Mir space station with cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko (Russia), Elena Kondakova (Russia) and Ulf Merbold (ESA-Germany) aboard.

Soyuz TM-20 was launched 3 October 1994 with the Mir Expedition EO-17 crew aboard. It carried 10 kg of equipment for use by Merbold in ESA's month-long Euromir 94 experiment program. During automatic approach to Mir's front port, the spacecraft yawed unexpectedly. Viktorenko completed a manual docking without additional incident. Soyuz TM-20 docked at the Mir forward port at 00:28 on 6 October 1994.

The Mir crew of Viktorenko, Kondakova and Polyakov boarded Soyuz TM-20 on 11 January 1995, and undocked from Mir's front port at 09:00 GMT. The spacecraft withdrew to about two hundred meters from Mir, and then redocked at 09:25 GMT in a test of the automatic Kurs system, which had failed in Progress M-24's docking attempt.

Soyuz TM-20 returned to Earth 54 km NE of Arkalyk (50.52 N, 67.35 E) on 22 March 1995 with cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko, Elena Kondakova and Valeri Polyakov aboard. Polyakov set a record of nearly 438 days in space on the Mir space station in his mission that ended with this landing.

Died (cancer), Charles Lacy Veach, NASA mission specialist astronaut (STS 39, STS 52, 18d 4h total time in space)

1997 16:28:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 86 (Atlantis 20, 87th Shuttle mission) pulled away from the Russian Mir space station, ending the joint operations of the seventh Shuttle-Mir 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).

1998 10:04:49 GMT
A Taurus booster launched from Vandenberg, California, carried the US NRL STEX and NRO ATeX satellites to orbit. STEX tested the TAL-D55 plasma engine. ATeX (Advanced Tether eXperiment) was released as a subsatellite, its tether deployed incorrectly.

US NRO STEX (Space Technology Experiments) satellite, NASA photo

Died (brain tumor), Fernando "Frank" Caldeiro (at Buenos Aires, Argentina), NASA mission specialist astronaut candidate (Group 16 - 1996), lead astronaut in several development programs

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