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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 29

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Born, Edmund Halley, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist (Julian calendar date)

Edmond (or Edmund) Halley (29 October 1656 (Julian calendar) (8 November Gregorian) - 14 January 1742) had an extensive career which included charting stars in the southern hemisphere; identifying solar heating as the cause of atmospheric motion and correlating barometric pressure with altitude; publishing an article on life annuities which strongly influenced the development of actuarial science; charting compass variations across the Atlantic ocean; and succeeding John Flamsteed as Astronomer Royal. He is perhaps best known for his suggestion that the comet sightings of 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 related to the same comet, which became generally known as Halley's Comet when it returned in 1758 as he predicted it would.

J Palisa discovered asteroid #280 Philia.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #904 Rockefellia.

B Jekhovsky discovered asteroid #1037 Davidweilla.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #3722.

G Reiss discovered asteroid #1376 Michelle.

E Delporte discovered asteroid #1433 Geramtina.

A Patry discovered asteroid #1539 Borrelly.

At Gimbels Department Store in New York City, the first ballpoint pens went on sale for $12.50 each, 57 years after being patented on 30 October 1888 by John J Loud. The story that NASA later spent $12 million developing a space pen is just that: a story.

Died (age 86), Robert G. Aitken, US astronomer (New General Catalogue of Double Stars), Bruce Medal 1926

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #1953 Rupertwildt.

Born, Valeri I Tokarev (at Kapustin Yar, Astrakhan Oblast, Russian SFSR), Colonel Russian AF, cosmonaut (STS 96, ISS 12, 199 2/3 total days in space)

Cosmonaut Valery I. Tokarev representing Rosaviakosmos, NASA photo (1999)

E Roemer discovered asteroid #1930 Lucifer.

NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1 impacted the Lunar surface, on command, at 7 degrees N latitude, 161 degrees E longitude (selenographic coordinates) on the Moon's far side on its 577th orbit.

NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft, launched 10 August 1966, was designed primarily to photograph smooth areas of the Lunar surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions. It was also equipped to collect selenodetic, radiation intensity, and micrometeoroid impact data. The spacecraft was placed in an Earth parking orbit on 10 August 1966 at 19:31 UT and injected into a cislunar trajectory at 20:04 UT. The spacecraft experienced a temporary failure of the Canopus star tracker (probably due to stray sunlight) and overheating during its cruise to the Moon. The star tracker problem was resolved by navigating using the Moon as a reference, and the overheating was abated by orienting the spacecraft 36 degrees off-Sun to lower the temperature.

Lunar Orbiter 1 was injected into an elliptical near-equatorial Lunar orbit on 14 August, 92.1 hours after launch. The initial orbit was 189.1 km x 1866.8 km, had a period of 3 hours 37 minutes and an inclination of 12.2 degrees. On 21 August, perilune was dropped to 58 km, and on 25 August to 40.5 km. The spacecraft acquired photographic data from 18-29 August 1966, and readout occurred through 14 September 1966. A total of 42 high resolution and 187 medium resolution frames were taken and transmitted to Earth, covering over 5 million square km of the Moon's surface, accomplishing about 75% of the intended mission, although a number of the earlier high-res photos showed severe smearing. It also took the first two pictures of the Earth ever from the distance of the Moon, the first being taken on 23 August 1966. Accurate data were acquired from all other experiments throughout the mission. Orbit tracking showed a slight "pear-shape" to the Moon based on the gravity field, and no micrometeorite impacts were detected. The spacecraft was tracked until it impacted the Lunar surface on command at 7 degrees N latitude, 161 degrees E longitude (selenographic coordinates) on the Moon's far side on 29 October 1966 on its 577th orbit. The early end to the nominal one year mission was due to the small amount of remaining attitude control gas and other deteriorating conditions, and was executed to avoid transmission interference with Lunar Orbiter 2.

The Lunar Orbiter program consisted of 5 Lunar Orbiters which returned photographs 99% of the surface of the Moon (both the near and far side) with resolution down to 1 meter. Altogether, the Orbiters returned 2180 high resolution and 882 medium resolution frames. The micrometeoroid experiments recorded 22 impacts showing the average micrometeoroid flux near the Moon was about two orders of magnitude greater than in interplanetary space but slightly less than the near Earth environment. The radiation experiments confirmed that the design of Apollo hardware would protect the astronauts from average and greater-than-average short term exposure to solar particle events. The use of Lunar Orbiters for tracking to evaluate the Manned Space Flight Network tracking stations and Apollo Orbit Determination Program was successful, with three Lunar Orbiters (2, 3, and 5) being tracked simultaneously from August to October 1967. The Lunar Orbiters were all eventually commanded to crash on the Moon before their attitude control gas ran out so they would not present navigational or communications hazards to later Apollo flights.

The Lunar Orbiter program was managed by NASA Langley Research Center and involved building and launching 5 spacecraft to the Moon at a total cost of $163 million. That amount is coincidentally nearly the same as the initial budget ($160 million) for the Hyper-X (X-43) program later conducted jointly by the Langley and Dryden Research Centers, whose original plan was to fly 5 hypersonic aircraft in the Earth's atmosphere. Hyper-X ended up costing $230 million, and only 3 flights were made during its seven year development program.

The first computer-to-computer link between computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute was established on ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet, developed by the US Department of Defense.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroids #2230 Yunnan, #3239 and #3643.

E Bowell discovered asteroids #3698 Manning and #3699 Milbourn.

NASA's Galileo spacecraft made its closest approach to 951 Gaspra, becoming the first probe to visit an asteroid.

Space Shuttle Atlantis, with the Galileo spacecraft aboard, was launched from Kennedy Space Center on 18 October 1989. Galileo was deployed on the 6th orbit around the Earth, with the first stage IUS burn executed an hour later. The second stage IUS burn occurred 5 minutes later to place Galileo on an Earth escape velocity of 7.1 miles/sec. 7 hours 46 minutes after launch, the IUS went into a first stage spinoff to deploy the RTG and science booms. The second stage IUS spinoff at a rate of 2.9 revolutions/minute for the separation of the IUS from Galileo soon followed. At that point, telemetry data were transmitted and received by the DSN (Deep Space Network).

The Galileo mission consisted of two spacecraft: an orbiter and an atmospheric probe. The trajectory which the spacecraft followed was called a VEEGA (Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist), traveling first in toward the Sun for a gravity assist from Venus on 10 February 1990 before encountering the Earth two times on 8 December 1990 and two years later, on 8 December 1992. These encounters with Venus and the Earth allowed Galileo to gain enough velocity to get it out to Jupiter.

During the flybys of Venus and the Earth, Galileo scientists studied these two planets as well as the Moon, making some unprecedented observations. In addition, following each Earth flyby, Galileo made excursions as far out in the solar system as the asteroid belt, enabling scientists to make the first close-up studies of two asteroids, Gaspra (29 October 1991) and Ida (28 August 1993). Galileo scientists were also the only ones with a "direct view" of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment impacts on Jupiter in July 1994. All of this was prior to the primary missions of sending an atmospheric probe into Jupiter's atmosphere and studying Jupiter, its satellites, and its magnetosphere for two years with the orbiter.

Interplanetary studies were also made sporadically by some of the other Galileo instruments, including the dust detector, magnetometer, and various plasma and particles detectors, during its six year journey to Jupiter.

The probe was released from the orbiter on 12 July 1995, 147 days prior to its entry into the Jovian atmosphere on 7 December 1995, the same day the main spacecraft went into orbit around Jupiter.

The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an end on Sunday 21 September 2003 when the spacecraft passed into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere after 35 orbits around the planet. Its propellant was depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere at 18:57 GMT (11:57 AM PDT). Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, when it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safe mode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on 20 September, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on 21 September, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.

See also for more images and information about the asteroid Gaspra encounter.

Asteroid Gaspra - Highest Resolution Mosaic (False Color), NASA/JPL image

1998 01:19:00 CST (GMT +6:00:00)
NASA launched STS 95 (Discovery 25) with 77 year old John Glenn on board, making him the oldest person to go into space. He was also the first American to orbit the Earth, on 20 February 1962.

STS 95 was launched 29 October 1998 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The flight of STS 95 provoked more publicity for NASA than any other flight in years, due to the presence of ex-astronaut Senator John Glenn on the crew which also included the first Spanish astronaut, Pedro Duque.

During STS 95, the crew of Discovery spent nine days in orbit successfully completing a large variety of experiments, including investigations in the astronomical, human physiology and physical science fields. A SPACEHAB module in the shuttle's payload bay provided a complete pressurized laboratory and work space for the crew's science activities.

One highlight of the mission was the free-flight of SPARTAN 201, an experiment package that was carried to orbit in Discovery's cargo bay. Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson used the shuttle's robotic arm to lift the payload from its berth and gently release it to fly on its own on 1 November 1998. The spacecraft spent two days gathering data before being retrieved and stored on the shuttle on on 3 November 1998. Researchers used the SPARTAN data to better understand the solar wind, a phenomenon that sometimes can cause widespread disruptions of communications and power supplies on Earth.

A payload carried in Discovery's cargo bay verified the flight readiness of hardware destined for the Hubble Space Telescope maintenance mission to be carried out a year later.

STS 95 carried former US Senator John Glenn to space. In 1962, Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. At the age of 77, he added another milestone to NASA's history by becoming the oldest human to fly in space.

Glenn's first flight - aboard the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 - lasted less than five hours. Thirty-five years later, his second flight lasted almost nine days. During STS 95, Glenn conducted a series of investigations into the physiology of the human aging process: Scientists recognize several parallels between the effects of space flight on the human body and the natural changes that take place as a person ages. Glenn's experiments were designed to test how his body responded to the microgravity environment.

Cargo Bay payloads flown on STS 95 were: SPACEHAB, SPARTAN 201-5, HST Orbital Systems Test Platform (HOST), International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker (IEH-3), Cryogenic Thermal Storage Unit (CRYOTSU), Space Experiment Module-4 (SEM-4), four Getaway Special (GAS) cannisters: G-467 (Capillary Pumped Loop), G-779 (Hearts in Space), and two experiments, G-238 and G-764, that were part of the International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker (IEH)-03 payload. The In-Cabin payloads were: Biological Research In Canisters (BRIC) and Electronic Nose (E-NOSE).

STS 98 ended on 7 November 1998 when Discovery landed on Runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, completing its 8 day 21 hour 44 minute, 3.6 million mile mission flown with an orbit altitude of 300 nautical miles and an orbit inclination of 28.5 degrees. For Payload Specialist Glenn, the landing was a gentler return home than he experienced more than 36 years earlir when he splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean in his Friendship 7 capsule after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth: Glenn experienced only about 3 g's of acceleration during the shuttle reentry, half of what he experienced during his Mercury capsule mission in 1962.

The flight crew for STS 95 was: Curtis L. Brown, Commander; Steven W. Lindsey, Pilot; Stephen K. Robinson, Mission Specialist 1; Scott E. Parazynski, Mission Specialist 2; Pedro Duque (ESA, Spain), Mission Specialist 3; Chiaki Mukai (NASDA), Payload Specialist 1; John H. Glenn, Payload Specialist 2.

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