Site Features

Space History


  • Log In
  • Sign Up

Useful Articles

Support Department

  • FAQ System
  • Contact List
  • Suggestion Box

Site Keywords

 . 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 November 15

If you are not already a subscriber, you are welcome to enter your email address here to sign up to receive the Space History newsletter on a daily basis. Under no circumstances will we release your legitimate email address entered here to outside persons or organizations, and it will only be used for mailing the specific information you have requested.

Enter your email address here:

Unsubscribe instructions are included in every newsletter issue in case you decide you no longer wish to receive it.

Note: We record the IP address from which subscriptions are entered to help prevent SPAM abuses.

Died, Johannes Kepler, astrologer, astronomer, mathematician

Johannes Kepler (27 December 1571 - 15 November 1630), a key figure in the Scientific Revolution, was a German astronomer, mathematician and astrologer. He is best known for his laws of planetary motion. He is sometimes referred to as "the first theoretical astrophysicist," although Carl Sagan also refers to him as the last scientific astrologer.

Born, Sir William Herschel, astronomer

Sir William Herschel (15 November 1738 - 25 August 1822) was a German-born British astronomer and composer who became famous for discovering the planet Uranus, and made many other astronomical discoveries.

After starting as a musician, his interest in astronomy grew stronger after 1773, and he built some telescopes and made the acquaintance of Nevil Maskelyne. He observed the Moon, measuring the heights of Lunar mountains, and also worked on a catalog of double stars.

The turning point in his life was 13 March 1781, while residing at 19 New King Street, Bath, when he discovered Uranus. This made him famous and enabled him to turn to astronomy full-time. Naming the new planet Georgium Sidus in honour of King George III also brought him favour (although the name didn't stick). That same year, Herschel was awarded the Copley Medal and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1782, he was appointed "The King's Astronomer" and he and his sister Caroline subsequently moved to Datchet (then in Buckinghamshire but now in Berkshire) on 1 August 1782. He continued his work as a telescope maker as well, selling a number of them to other astronomers.

He also discovered infrared radiation (c.1800) by passing sunlight through a prism and holding a thermometer just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. The thermometer indicated a temperature increase and this led to Herschel's conclusion that there must be an invisible form of energy.

In his later career, Herschel discovered two satellites of Saturn, Mimas and Enceladus; and two satellites of Uranus, Titania and Oberon. He did not give the latter satellites their names; rather, they were named by his son John in 1847 and 1852, respectively, well after his death.

In addition to working on creating an extensive catalog of nebulae, he also continued to study double stars. He was the first to discover that most double stars are not mere optical doubles as had been supposed previously, but are true binary stars.

From studying the proper motion of stars, he was the first to realize that the solar system is moving through space, and he determined the approximate direction of that movement. He also studied the structure of the Milky Way and concluded that it was in the shape of a disk.

Herschel coined the word "asteroid".

Herschel was also known for an eccentric theory that the Sun was inhabited.

H Goldschmidt discovered asteroid #21 Lutetia.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #344 Desiderata; M Wolf discovered asteroids #343 Ostara and #549 Jessonda.

E Delporte discovered asteroid #1052 Belgica.

E Delporte discovered asteroids #1176 Lucidor and #3567.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1207 Ostenia.

A Patry discovered asteroid #1515 Perrotin and #1797 Schaumasse.

Al Capp, Lil' Abner cartoonist, created Sadie Hawkins Day when "ladies are supposed to take the initiative," which is observed annually on the first Saturday after November 9.

The first telecast of an unscheduled event, a fire in New York City, was made by W2XBT (NBC's portable transmitter).

Born, Yuri Viktorovich Prikhodko (at Dushanbe, Kurgan-Tyube Oblast, Tadzhik SSR), Soviet cosmonaut (Buran test pilot), took part in an exchange-pilot program with the American government

Born, Timothy John "TJ" Creamer (at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, USA), Colonel US Army, NASA mission specialist astronaut (ISS 22/23, 163 days in space)

Astronaut T.J. Creamer, ISS Expedition 22/23 flight engineer, NASA photo (February 2009)

Died, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Scottish physicist (Wilson cloud chamber, Nobel 1927 "for his method of making the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour")

1960 17:59:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A XLR-99 Checkout Test mission # 26, the first flight with XLR-99 engine, in which Scott Crossfield reached a maximum speed of 3154 kph (Mach 2.97), and attained a maximum altitude of 24.750 km.

Comet C/1961 T1 (Seki) approached within 0.1019 AUs of Earth (9.5 million miles, 15 million kilometers).

1961 22:19:00 GMT
The US Navy launched a Thor Ablestar from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying to orbit the Transit 4B navigation satellite with its SNAP 3 nuclear power source, and the TRAAC (Transit Research and Attitude Control) technology satellite.

1966 19:21:04 GMT
NASA's Gemini 12 returned to Earth after a successful 4 day mission in space, landing less than 5 km from the planned target point.

Gemini 12 was the tenth and final flight of the Gemini series, which bridged the Mercury and Apollo programs. This mission, carrying astronauts Jim Lovell and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, was scheduled to perform rendezvous and docking with the Agena target vehicle, to conduct three ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) operations, to conduct a tethered stationkeeping exercise, to perform docked maneuvers using the Agena propulsion system to change orbit, and to demonstrate an automatic reentry. There were also 14 scientific, medical, and technological experiments on board.

Gemini 12 was launched from Complex 19 on 11 November 1966 at 3:46:33 PM EST (20:46:33.419 UT) and inserted into a 160.8 x 270.6 km Earth orbit at 3:52:40 PM EST. At 7:32 PM EST, rendezvous was achieved with the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV), which had been launched an hour and a half before Gemini 12. Docking with the GATV was accomplished 28 minutes later, at 4:14 Ground Elapsed Time (GET) on the third orbit, relying heavily on visual sightings due to problems with the onboard radar. During insertion of the GATV into orbit, an anomaly was noted in the primary propulsion system, so the plan to use the GATV to lift the docked spacecraft into a higher orbit was abandoned. Instead, two phasing maneuvers using the GATV secondary propulsion system were accomplished to allow the spacecraft to rendezvous with the 12 November total eclipse visible over South America at about 9:20 AM EST, with the crew taking pictures through the spacecraft windows.

The first standup EVA took place with the hatch opening at 11:15 AM EST (19:29 GET) on 12 November and Aldrin standing on his seat with his upper body out of the hatch. The EVA lasted 2 hours 29 minutes during which Aldrin mounted a camera to the side of the spacecraft and collected a micrometeorite experiment, with the hatch closing at 1:44 PM.

At 7:16 AM on 13 November, the crew reported little or no thrust was available from two of the maneuvering thrusters.

At 10:34 AM on 13 November (42:48 GET), the hatch was opened for the second EVA. Aldrin was outside the spacecraft at 10:38, attached to a 9 meter umbilical cord. He first worked in the hatch and nose area, and then moved along a handrail he had installed to the adapter section where he used foot restraints and tethers to position himself in front of a work panel mounted on the rear of the adaptor where he performed 17 relatively simple manual tasks. He then moved to the target vehicle adapter area and carried out another series of tasks, including use of a torque wrench while tethered. He attached a 30 meter long tether stowed in the GATV adapter to the Gemini adapter bar. About a dozen two-minute rest periods were scheduled during the EVA to prevent Aldrin from becoming overtaxed as happened to previous spacewalkers. Aldrin reentered the capsule at 12:33 PM and closed the hatch at 12:40 PM. All tasks were accomplished, and total EVA time was 2 hours 6 minutes.

At 3:09 PM Gemini 12 undocked from the GATV, moved to the end of the tether connecting the two vehicles, and began the tether experiment by moving in a circular orbit about the GATV. The tether tended to remain slack, but the crew believed the two craft slowly attained gravity-gradient stabilization. The tether was released at 7:37 PM. On 14 November the hatch was opened at 9:52 AM (66:06 GET) and Aldrin began the second standup EVA which included photography, additional experiments and jettison of unused equipment. The EVA ended after 55 minutes when the hatch was closed at 10:47 AM. Minor fuel cell and thruster problems were reported, but did not affect the remainder of the mission.

The automatically controlled reentry sequence began with retrofire at the end of revolution 59 on 15 November at 1:46:31 PM EST, 94 hours after liftoff. Splashdown occurred at 2:21:04 PM EST in the western Atlantic at 24.58 N, 69.95 W, 4.8 km from target point. The crew was picked up by helicopter and brought aboard the USS Wasp at 2:49 PM, and the spacecraft was picked up at 3:28 PM. Total mission elapsed time was 94:34:31. All primary mission goals were successfully accomplished except performance of maneuvers using the Agena propulsion system due to fluctuations in the system noticed by ground controllers. There were minor fuel cell and attitude control thruster problems during the mission. The successfully performed scientific experiments were (1) frog egg growth under zero-g, (2) synoptic terrain photography, (3) synoptic weather photography, (4) nuclear emulsions, (5) airglow horizon photography, (6) UV astronomical photography, and (7) dim sky photography. Two micrometeorite collection experiments, as well as three space phenomena photography experiments, were not fully completed.

1967 18:30:00 GMT
Michael Adams reached an altitude of 81 km flying X-15 Flight 191, and died when the vehicle went out of control during reentry.

NASA and the USA Air Force launched the X-15A UVPL/Solar/MM/SA TPS Technology/Meteor/Solar mission, X-15 Flight 191, from above Edwards Air Force Base, California, which ended with a fatal accident, and the aircraft was destroyed: After reaching its peak altitude, the X-15 entered a spin at Mach 5 when erroneous computer data and failure of dampers caused the X-15 to re-enter the atmosphere 180 degrees out of phase. Major Adams chose to remain with the aircraft in an attempt to recover it. The X-15 entered a dive at 30 km, began high frequency pitch oscillations, and disintegrated when these reached 15 Gs. Prior to the mishap, test pilot Michael Adams had achieved a maximum speed of 5821 kph (Mach 5.20), and a maximum altitude of 81.077 km (266,000 ft) during the flight.

USSR's Luna 17, with the Lunokhod 1 rover aboard, entered Lunar orbit.

Luna 17 was launched 10 November 1970 to the Moon via an Earth parking orbit, and entered Lunar orbit on 15 November 1970. It soft landed on the Moon on 17 November 1970, in the Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) region. The spacecraft had dual ramps by which the payload, Lunokhod 1 (an exploratory rover with eight independently powered wheels), descended to the Lunar surface.

Lunokhod was powered by a solar cell array, and equipped with four television cameras and special extendable devices to impact the Lunar soil for soil density and mechanical property tests. An x-ray spectrometer, an x-ray telescope, cosmic-ray detectors, and a laser device were also included in the instrumentation package. The rover was intended to operate through three Lunar days but actually operated for eleven Lunar days (Earth months). The operations of Lunokhod officially ceased on 4 October 1971, the anniversary of Sputnik 1. By that time, Lunokhod had traveled 10.54 km, had transmitted more than 20,000 TV pictures, sent more than 200 TV panoramas, and had conducted more than 500 Lunar soil tests.

USSR's Lunokhod rover, photo courtesy of NASA

Intel published the first advertisement for the world's first commercial single-chip microprocessor, the 4004. The advertisement in Electronic News magazine announced "a new era in integrated electronics."

1971 05:52:00 GMT
NASA launched S-Cubed A (Explorer 45) from San Marco, Kenya, for studies of the magnetosphere and energetic particles.

Explorer 45, launched 15 November 1971, was designed to perform a wide variety of investigations within the magnetosphere with regards to particle fluxes, electric fields, and magnetic fields. Its primary scientific objectives were (1) to study the characteristics and origin of the Earth's ring current and development of the main-phase magnetic storms, and (2) to study the relation between magnetic storms, substorms, and the acceleration of charged particles within the inner magnetosphere. To determine the major wave-particle interaction mechanisms, directional measurements of protons, electrons, and alpha particles were made over a wide energy range, and dc and ac electric and magnetic fields were measured. Explorer 45 had the capability for complete inflight control of the data format through the use of an onboard set of stored program instructions. These instructions governed the collection of data and were reprogrammable via ground command. The command system handled 80 commands for controlling the spacecraft and experiment functions, as well as for flight program loads for the data processing system. The antenna system consisted of four dipole antennas spaced 90 degrees apart on the surface of the spacecraft cover. The satellite contained two transmitters, one for digital (PCM) data at 446 bps, and the other for either the digital data or wideband analog data from 30 Hz to 10 kHz from the ac electric field probes and from one search coil sensor. The satellite power system consisted of a rechargeable battery and an array of solar cells. The spin rate was about 7 rpm, and the spin axis lay in the spacecraft orbital plane which was approximately the same as the Earth's equatorial plane. The initial local time of apogee was about 21.8 hours, and the line of apsides moved around toward the Sun at an initial rate of 12 degrees per month. The satellite was operationally turned off on 30 September 1974, after approximately 3 years of successful and productive operation. A coordinated series of papers describing the satellite and the experiments was contained in J. Geophys. Res., v. 78, n. 22, August 1973.

1972 22:13:00 GMT
NASA launched Small Astronomy Satellite-B (Explorer 48) from San Marco, Kenya, to study gamma rays.

SAS-B, launched 15 November 1972, was the second in the series of small spacecraft designed to extend the astronomical studies in the X-ray, gamma-ray, ultraviolet, visible, and infrared regions. The primary objective of the SAS-B was to measure the spatial and energy distribution of primary galactic and extragalactic gamma radiation with energies between 20 and 300 MeV. The instrumentation consisted principally of a guard scintillation detector, an upper and a lower spark chamber, and a charged particle telescope.

SAS-B was launched from the San Marco platform off the coast of Kenya, Africa, into a nearly equatorial orbit. The orbiting spacecraft was in the shape of a cylinder approximately 59 cm in diameter and 135 cm in length. Four solar paddles were used to recharge the 6 amp-hour nickel-cadmium battery and provide power to the spacecraft and telescope experiment. The spacecraft was spin stabilized, and a magnetically torqued commandable control system was used to point the spin axis of the spacecraft to any position in space within approximately 1 degree. The experiment axis lay along the spin axis, allowing the telescope to look at any selected region of the sky with its +/- 30 degree acceptance aperture. The nominal spin rate was 1/12 rpm. Data were taken at 1000 bps and could be recorded on an onboard tape recorder and simultaneously transmitted in real time. The recorded data were transmitted once per orbit, which required approximately 5 minutes.

The telescope experiment was initially turned on 20 November 1972, and by 27 November 1972, the spacecraft became fully operational. The low-voltage power supply for the experiment failed on 8 June 1973. No useful scientific data were obtained after that date. With the exception of a slightly degraded star sensor, the spacecraft control section performed in an excellent manner.

Small Astronomy Satellite-B (Explorer 48), NASA illustration

NASA and the US Air Force launched X-24 Flight 34 (X-24B flight 6), the first powered flight of the X-24B, in which John Manke reached a maximum speed of 961 kph and a maximum altitude of 16.080 km in a flight lasting 404 seconds.

During X-24 Flight 45 (X-24B flight 17), Jonh Manke reached a maximum speed of 1722 kph and a maximum altitude of 21.960 km in a flight which lasted 481 seconds.

1974 17:11:00 GMT
A Delta 2000 launched from Vandenberg, California, carried the NOAA 4 weather satellite, the Oscar 7 amateur radio satellite, and Spain's Intasat 1 technology satellite into orbit.

1980 22:49:00 GMT
The SBS 1 (Satellite Business Systems) commsat was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, which was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 100 deg W 1981-1984; 99 deg W 1984-1990.

E Bowell discovered asteroid #3537.

1985 14:29:00 GMT
USSR launched Raduga 17 from Baikonur to provide telephone and telegraph communications and television broadcasting, which was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 35 deg E 1985-1988; 69 deg E 1988-1990; 85 deg E 1990-1991; 49 deg E 1991-1992.

1986 21:36:00 GMT
USSR launched Molniya 1-69 from Plesetsk, which replaced Molniya 1-60 in operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph communications system in the USSR and transmission of USSR Central Television programs to stations in the Orbita network.

1988 03:00:02 GMT
USSR launched the Buran spaceplane from Baikonur in a two-orbit unmanned test of the Soviet space plane.

Buran was first moved to the launch pad for the launch of its maiden flight on 23 October 1988. The launch commission met on 26 October 1988 and set 29 October 06:23 Moscow time for the first flight of the first Buran orbiter (Flight 1K1). When control of the countdown switched to the automated systems at T-51 seconds, the computer program detected a problem and aborted the lift-off. The difficulty turned out to be due to late separation of a gyro update umbilical. The error was rectified, and the next attempt was set for 15 November at 06:00 Moscow time (03:00 GMT). When launch morning arrived, the site had weather of snow flurries and 20 m/s (45 mph) winds. Although the launch abort criteria was 15 m/s (34 mph) winds, the launch director decided to press ahead anyway. After 12 years of development, everything went perfectly. Buran, with a mass of 79.4 tons, separated from the Block Ts core and entered an initial orbit with a perigee of -11.2 km and apogee of 154.2 km. At apogee, Buran executed a 66.6 m/s maneuver, and entered a 251 km x 263 km orbit, carrying the 7150 kg module 37KB s/n 37071 in the payload bay. 140 minutes into the flight, after two orbits, the retrofire burn took place, with a total delta-v of 175 m/s. 3 hours, 26 minutes after launch, Buran touched down at 260 km/hr in a 17 m/s crosswind at the Jubilee runway, accompanied by Igor Volk in a MiG-25 chase plane, with a 1620 meter landing rollout. The completely automatic launch, orbital maneuvering, deorbit, and precision landing of a spaceplane the size of an airliner on its very first flight was a significant accomplishment of which the Soviets were justifiably proud. Akin to the "all up" testing of the United States' Saturn V development program, it completely vindicated the years of exhaustive ground and flight test debugging of the systems before they flew.

1988 21:43:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
The 90.44 meter radio telescope dish at Green Bank, West Virginia, collapsed.

1990 23:48:13 GMT
NASA launched STS 38 (Atlantis 7, Shuttle 37, 68th US manned space mission) into orbit with a classified Department of Defense payload.

The launch of STS 38 was originally scheduled for July 1990. However, a liquid hydrogen leak found on the orbiter Columbia during the STS 35 countdown prompted three precautionary mini-tanking tests on Atlantis at the pad on 29 June, 13 July and 25 July. The tests confirmed the hydrogen fuel leak on the external tank side of the external tank/orbiter 17-inch quick disconnect umbilical. The problem could not be repaired at the pad, and Atlantis was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on 9 August, demated and transferred to the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF). During the rollback, the vehicle was parked outside the VAB about a day while the Columbia stack was transferred to the pad for the STS 35 launch. Outside, Atlantis suffered minor hail damage to tiles during a thunderstorm. After repairs were made in the OPF, Atlantis was transferred to the VAB for mating on 2 October. During hoisting operations, a platform beam that should have been removed from the aft compartment fell and caused minor damage which was repaired. The vehicle was rolled out to Pad A on 12 October. A fourth mini-tanking test was performed on 24 October, with no excessive hydrogen or oxygen leakage detected. At the Flight Readiness Review, the launch date set for 9 November. The launch was then reset for 15 November due to payload problems. Liftoff finally occurred during a classified launch window lying within a launch period extending from 6:30 to 10:30 PM EST on 15 November 1990.

STS 38 was the seventh Shuttle mission dedicated to the US Department of Defense. The astronauts deployed the NRO's USA 67 Magnum 3 signal intercept satellite on 15 November, which was boosted to geostationary orbit.

STS 38 ended on 20 November 1990 when Atlantis landed on revolution 79 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The rollout distance was 9,003 feet, the rollout time 56 seconds, with a mission duration of four days, 21 hours, 54 minutes, 31 seconds. The launch weight was classified, the landing weight 191,091 pounds. The mission was extended one day due to unacceptable crosswinds at original planned landing site, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Continued adverse conditions led to a decision to shift the landing to KSC. It was the first KSC landing for Atlantis, and the first end-of-mission landing at KSC since April 1985. Orbit altitude: 142 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Miles traveled: 2 million.

The flight crew for STS 38 was: Richard O. Covey, Commander; Frank L. Culbertson, Jr., Pilot; Robert C. Springer, Mission Specialist 1; Carl J. Meade, Mission Specialist 2; Charles D. Gemar, Mission Specialist 3.

1992 21:45:00 GMT
Russia launched Resurs-500 from Plesetsk which carried a descent module with greetings to American people in connection with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America.

On 16 November 1992, a Soyuz rocket launched the 8-foot-diameter (2.4 m), 5,152-pound spherical Resurs-500 capsule into orbit from Russia's once-secret Plesetsk Cosmodrome, similar to the one flown by Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the first human orbital space flight on 16 April 1961. The satellite orbited the Earth for seven days before parachuting into the Pacific Ocean about 120 miles off Grays Harbor on the Washington state coast on 22 November 1992. The space capsule was retrieved and brought to Seattle by the 680-foot Russian missile-tracking ship Marshal Krylov.

Space Flight Europe-America 500 was a goodwill mission conceived to increase trade between Russia and USA, and to promote peaceful use of technology once reserved only for military forces.

1995 04:02:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA STS 74 (Atlantis 15, Shuttle 73) docked at the Russian Mir space station during the second Shuttle-Mir docking mission.

STS 74 launched 12 November 1995 with a countdown that proceeded smoothly to an on-time liftoff. The planned rendezvous with the Russian Mir space station necessitated a brief launch window of about seven minutes. The liftoff originally set for 11 November was scrubbed due to unacceptable weather at the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites.

STS 74 marked the second docking of US Space Shuttle to the Russian space station Mir, continuing Phase I activities leading to construction of the International Space Station (ISS). The mission illustrated the international flavor of the space station effort: The shuttle crew included Hadfield, the fourth Canadian to fly on the shuttle but the first Canadian mission specialist. The hardware in the payload bay included the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, the US-built Orbiter Docking System (ODS), the Russian-built 316GK Shuttle-Mir docking module and solar array, and a joint US/Russian solar array. Awaiting Atlantis aboard Mir were two Russian cosmonauts and a German cosmonaut, along with Russian and European Space Agency research samples and equipment.

Unlike the first docking flight during which a crew exchange took place, the second docking focused on delivery of equipment to Mir. The primary payload of the mission was the Russian-built Docking Module (DM), designed to become a permanent extension on Mir to afford better clearances for Shuttle-Mir linkups. Two solar arrays were stowed on the DM for later transfer to Mir by spacewalking cosmonauts.

On flight day three, Hadfield operated the RMS robot arm to lift the DM from its stowed position in the aft section of the payload bay, rotated it to vertical, and moved it to within five inches above the ODS in the forward part of the bay. The ODS is being flown on all Shuttle-Mir docking flights, and serves as a passageway between the two spacecraft. Cameron then fired downward steering jets to push Atlantis against the DM. Once mating was confirmed, the robot arm ungrappled from the DM, hatches between the DM and the ODS were opened, and a centerline camera was mounted inside the top hatch of the DM.

On flight day four, Atlantis caught up with Mir. The Terminal Phase Initiation (TI) burn started with Atlantis eight nautical miles (9.2 statute miles/14.8 kilometers) behind Mir to begin the final phase of the rendezvous. Air-to-air communications between Atlantis and the Mir 20 crew also began about the same time. The approach to Mir was same as for STS-71, along the R-bar, with Atlantis closing in on the station from directly below. Handheld lasers were used by the Shuttle crew during the final approach to supplement distance and closing rate information made by orbiter's navigational equipment.

The manual phase of the rendezvous began when Atlantis was about a half-mile (804.7 meters) from Mir, with Cameron taking control of the orbiter using the aft flight deck controls. At 170 feet (51.8 meters) from Mir, Cameron halted approach while Mir was maneuvered into alignment for docking. After a "go" from flight directors in Moscow and Houston, Cameron moved Atlantis to 30 feet (9.1 meters) from Mir, and then halted momentarily again to make final adjustments. The key camera for the final approach was the elbow camera on the RMS arm.

Hatches between Mir and Atlantis were opened at 4:02 AM EST on 15 November 1995. Control of the DM was transferred to the Mir 20 crew. During mated operations, nearly 1,000 pounds (453.6 kilograms) of water was transferred to Mir. Numerous experiment samples, including blood, urine and saliva, were moved to the orbiter for return to Earth. Shuttle crew also brought up gifts, including Canadian maple sugar candies and a guitar (the second guitar on Mir). Lithium hydroxide canisters, a late addition, were transferred to Mir in case the faulty environmental control system failed again and station's air needed to be "scrubbed."

Two spacecraft separated at 4:15 AM EST on 18 November, after which a flyaround of the station was initiated when Atlantis was 400 feet (121.9 meters) away.

Also flown on STS 74 were: IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC); Glow Experiment (GLO-4)/Photogrammetric Appendage Structural Dynamics Experiment (PASDE) Payload (GPP); Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II.

No significant problems occurred with orbiter or any of cargo bay equipment.

STS 74 ended on 20 November 1995 when Atlantis landed on revolution 129 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Rollout distance: 8,607 feet (2,623 meters). Rollout time: 57 seconds. Orbit altitude: 213 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Mission duration: eight days, four hours, 30 minutes, 44 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.4 million.

The flight crew for STS 74 was: Kenneth D. Cameron, Commander; James D. Halsell, Pilot; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist; William S. McArthur Jr, Mission Specialist; Chris A. Hadfield, Mission Specialist.

A transit of Mercury occurred which was visible in North America and the southern Pacific.

1999 07:29:00 GMT
Japan launched MTSAT (Multifunctional Transportation Satellite) from Tanegashima, meant to provide communications and air traffic control for the transportation ministry and weather data for the meteorological agency, which had a first stage burn failure.

The ESA SMART-1 Moon orbiter made its first perilune pass at 5000 kilometers above the Lunar surface.

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

We are going to run out of oil!
Visit to help fix the problem. - For Human Survival

Please help support our efforts by shopping from our sponsors.

This newsletter and its contents are
Copyright © 2006-2017 by The L5 Development Group.  All rights reserved.
 - Publication, in part or in whole, requires previous written permission.
 - Academic or personal-use citations must refer to
   as their source.
Thank you for your cooperation.