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Space History for November 19

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Race To Space
Someone will win the prize...
               ... but at what cost?
Visit to find out more!

A. Borrelly discovered asteroid #394 Arduina.

G. Van Biesbroeck discovered asteroid #1045 Michela.

Born, Eleanor F. "Glo" Helin, principal investigator of the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Eleanor F. "Glo" Helin (19 November 1932 - 25 January 2009) was an American astronomer and the principal investigator of the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She retired in 2002.

Helin discovered or co-discovered 872 asteroids and several comets. Asteroid 3267 Glo is named for her ("Glo" was Helin's nickname).

The 200 inch mirror for the Hale telescope arrived at Mt. Palomar, California.

Born, Eileen Marie Collins (at Elmira, New York, USA), Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 63, STS 84, STS 93 (first Shuttle commanded by a woman), STS 114; over 36d 8h total time in spaceflight)

Astronaut Eileen M. Collins, STS-114 commander, NASA photo (30 Oct 1998)
Source: Wikipedia ( killed 25 Feb 2021)

Born, Jean-Francois Clervoy (at Longeville, France), French astronaut (STS 66, STS 84, STS 103; over 28d 3h total time in spaceflight)

ESA astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia ( unavailable November 2019)

1969 06:54:35 GMT
NASA's Apollo 12 Lunar lander, Intrepid, landed on the Moon during the second manned Lunar landing mission in history.

Apollo 12, launched on 14 November 1969 under cloudy, rain-swept skies, was the second mission in which humans walked on the Lunar surface and returned to Earth. On 19 November 1969, two astronauts (Apollo 12 Commander Charles P. "Pete" Conrad and LM Pilot Alan L. Bean) landed on the Moon in the Lunar Module (LM) within walking distance (182.88 meters) of Surveyor 3, in Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms). Meanwhile, the Command and Service Module (CSM) continued in Lunar orbit with CM pilot Richard F. Gordon aboard. During their stay on the Moon, the astronauts examined Surveyor 3 (which had landed on the Moon 2.5 years earlier, on 20 April 1967) and removed pieces for later examination on Earth, set up scientific experiments, took photographs, and collected Lunar samples on two moonwalk EVA's. The LM took off from the Moon on 20 November, and the astronauts returned to Earth on 24 November.

Apollo 12 was launched on Saturn V SA-507 on 14 November 1969 at 16:22:00 UT (11:22:00 AM EST) from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft was struck by lightning 36 seconds after launch and again 52 seconds after launch, which momentarily shut off electrical power and cut out telemetry contact. The first strike was visible to spectators at the launch site. Power was automatically switched to battery backup while the crew restored the primary power system. There were no further problems with the power system and the spacecraft entered planned Earth parking orbit at 11 minutes 44 seconds after liftoff.

After 1.5 orbits, the S-IVB stage was re-ignited at 19:15:14 UT for a translunar injection burn of 5 minutes 45 seconds, putting the spacecraft on course for the Moon. The CSM separated from the S-IVB stage containing the LM 25 minutes later, turned around and docked with the LM at 19:48:53 UT. After achieving trajectory towards the Moon, the LM and CSM decoupled from the S-IVB at 20:35 UT on 14 November 1969 and made a course correction to head for Lunar orbit. Propellants were fired to target the SIVB stage past the Moon and into solar orbit, but the stage did not go close enough to the Moon to permit escape, and it ended in a highly elliptical Earth orbit due to an error in the instrument unit.

During Lunar coast, the LM was checked out to ensure no electrical damage had been caused by the lightning. Astronauts Conrad and Bean transferred to the LM one-half hour earlier than planned in order to obtain full TV coverage through the Goldstone tracking station. The 56-minute TV transmission showed excellent color pictures of the CSM, the intravehicular transfer, the LM interior, the Earth, and the Moon. A midcourse correction was made on 16 November at 02:15 UT.

A six minute SPS burn on 18 November at 03:47:23 UT put the Apollo 12 into Lunar orbit of 312.6 x 115.9 kilometers. Two orbits later, a second burn circularized the orbit with a 122.5 kilometer apolune and a 100.6 kilometer perilune. Conrad and Bean again entered the LM, where they perfomed housekeeping chores, a voice and telemetry test, and an oxygen purge system check. They then returned to the CM.

Conrad and Bean entered the LM, checked out all systems, and separated from the CSM at 04:16:03 UT on 19 November with a reaction control system thruster burn. The LM descent engine fired for 29 seconds at 05:47 UT, and the LM landed at 06:54:35 UT (1:54:35 a.m. EST) in the Oceanus Procellarum area at 3.0124 S latitude, 23.4216 W longitude (IAU Mean Earth Polar Axis coordinate system) within about 180 meters of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft.

Conrad and Bean took two moonwalks with a total duration of 7 hours 45 minutes, covering a total traverse distance of 1.35 km. The first was from 11:32:35 to 15:28:38 UT and involved deployment of the ALSEP. Conrad, shorter than Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, 20 July 1969), had a little difficulty negotiating the last step from the LM ladder to the Lunar surface. When he touched the surface at 6:44 AM EST on 19 November, he exclaimed, "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but that's a long one for me." Bean joined Conrad on the surface at 7:14 AM EST. They immediately collected a 1.9 kilogram contingency sample of Lunar material, and later a 14.8 kilogram selected sample. They also deployed an S-band antenna, solar wind composition experiment, and the American flag. An Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package with a SNAP-27 atomic generator was deployed about 182 meters from the LM. After 3 hours 56 minutes on the Lunar surface, the two astronauts entered the Intrepid to rest and check plans for the next EVA.

To improve the television pictures from the Moon, a color camera was taken on Apollo 12, unlike the monochrome camera used on Apollo 11. Unfortunately, when Bean carried the camera to the place near the Lunar Module where it was to be set up, he inadvertently pointed it directly into the Sun, destroying the vidicon tube. Television coverage of this mission was thus terminated almost immediately.

The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) consisted of a set of scientific instruments emplaced at the landing site by the astronauts. The instruments were arrayed around a central station which supplied power to run the instruments and relayed data collected by the experiments to Earth. The central station was a 25 kg box with a stowed volume of 34,800 cubic cm. Thermal control was achieved by passive elements (insulation, reflectors, thermal coatings) as well as power dissipation resistors and heaters. Communications with Earth were achieved through a 58 cm long, 3.8 cm diameter modified axial-helical antenna mounted on top of the central station, pointed towards Earth by the astronauts. Transmitters, receivers, data processors and multiplexers were housed within the central station. Data collected from the instruments were converted into a telemetry format and transmitted to Earth. The ALSEP system and instruments were controlled by commands from Earth. The uplink frequency for all Apollo mission ALSEP's was 2119 MHz, the downlink frequency for the Apollo 12 ALSEP was 2278.5 MHz.

All ALSEP instruments were deployed on the surface by the astronauts and attached to the central station by cables. The Apollo 12 ALSEP instruments consisted of: (1) a passive seismometer, designed to measure seismic activity and physical properties of the Lunar crust and interior; (2) a suprathermal ion detector, designed to measure the flux, composition, energy, and velocity of low-energy positive ions; (3) a cold cathode ion gauge, designed to measure the atmosphere and any variations with time or solar activity such atmosphere may have; (4) a Lunar dust detector, to measure dust accumulation, radiation damage to solar cells, and reflected infrared energy and temperatures; (5) a Lunar surface magnetometer (LSM), designed to measure the magnetic field at the Lunar surface; and (6) a solar wind spectrometer, which measured the fluxes and spectra of the electrons and protons that emanate from the Sun and reach the Lunar surface. The central station, located at 3.0094 S latitude, 23.4246 W longitude, was turned on at 14:21 UT on 19 November 1969 and shut down along with the other ALSEP stations on 30 September 1977.

On the second moonwalk, on 20 November from 03:54:45 to 07:44:00 UT, Conrad and Bean retrieved the Lunar module TV camera for return to Earth for a failure analysis, obtained photographic panoramas, core and trench samples, a Lunar environment sample, and assorted rock, dirt, bedrock, and molten samples. The crew then examined and retrieved about 10 kg of parts of Surveyor 3, including the TV camera and soil scoop. After 3 hours 49 minutes on the Lunar surface during the second EVA, the two crewmen entered the LM at 2:44 AM EST on 20 November. Meanwhile, astronaut Gordon, orbiting the moon in the Yankee Clipper, had completed a Lunar multispectral photography experiment and photographed proposed future landing sites.

The LM lifted off from the Moon on 20 November at 14:25:47 UT after 31 hours 31 minutes on the Lunar surface with 34.4 kilograms of Lunar samples. Rendezvous maneuvers went as planned. The last 24 minutes of the rendezvous sequence was televised. After docking with the CSM at 17:58:22 UT, the crew transferred the samples, equipment, and film to the Yankee Clipper. The LM was jettisoned at 20:21:30 and intentionally crashed into the Moon at 22:17 UT (5:17 PM EST), striking at 3.94 S, 338.80 E, about 72.2 kilometers southeast of the seismic station at the Apollo 12 landing site, creating the first recorded artificial moonquake. The seismometers the astronauts had left on the Lunar surface registered the vibrations for more than an hour.

Transearth injection began at 20:49:16 UT on 21 November with a firing of the CSM main engine after 89 hours 2 minutes in Lunar orbit. During the transearth coast, views of the receding Moon and the interior of the spacecraft were televised, and a question and answer session with scientists and the press was conducted. A mid-course correction was made on 22 November. The CM separated from the SM on 24 November at 20:29:21. Apollo 12 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 24 November 1969 at 20:58:24 UT (3:58:24 PM EST) after a mission elapsed time of 244 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds. The splashdown point was 15 deg 47 min S, 165 deg 9 min W, near American Samoa and 6.9 km (4.3 mi) from the recovery ship USS Hornet.

Performance of the spacecraft, the first of the Apollo H-series missions, was very good for all aspects of the mission. The primary mission goals of an extensive series of Lunar exploration tasks, deployment of the ALSEP, and demonstration of the ability to remain and work on the surface of the Moon for an extended period were achieved. Conrad was a Navy Commander on his third spaceflight (previously on Gemini 5 and 11, later to fly on Skylab 2), Bean was a Navy Lt. Commander on his first flight (he later flew on Skylab 3), and Gordon was a Navy Commander on his second flight (Gemini 11). The backup crew for this mission was David Scott, Alfred Worden, and James Irwin.

The Apollo 12 Command Module "Yankee Clipper" is on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia. The returned Surveyor 3 camera is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Apollo 12 Lunar Module Intrepid preparing to descend to the Lunar surface, NASA photo
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

1969 11:32:35 GMT
Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean started their first EVA and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
see above

P. Wild discovered asteroid #1961 Dufour.

H.-E. Schuster discovered asteroid #2329 Orthos.

P. Wild discovered asteroid #2152 Hannibal.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroid #3171.

1996 14:55:47 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 80 (Columbia 21) into space on a partially successful flight that included deployment, operation and retrieval of two free-flying research spacecraft.

Originally scheduled for a 31 October 1996 launch date, STS 80 was delayed by Hurricane Fran and concerns about nozzle erosion on the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). At a follow up Flight Readiness Review (FRR) on 11 November, 15 November was set as the official launch date, pending a commercial Atlas launch 13 November, and the launch countdown began. Just two days later, the launch was postponed to 19 November because the Atlas launch was scrubbed and because of predicted bad weather in the KSC vicinity for period of several days, and the count remained in an extended hold. The launch on 19 November 1996 occurred about three minutes after the scheduled opening of the launch window due to a hold at T-31 seconds to assess hydrogen concentrations in the aft engine compartment.

STS 80, the final Shuttle flight of 1996, was highlighted by successful deployment, operation and retrieval of two free-flying research spacecraft. Two planned extravehicular activities (EVAs) were canceled when the crew was unable to open the hatch due to a loose screw in an internal actuator.

The Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer-Shuttle Pallet Satellite II (ORFEUS-SPAS II) free-flyer was deployed on flight day one to begin approximately two weeks of data gathering. Its mission was dedicated to astronomical observations at very short wavelengths to: investigate the nature of hot stellar atmospheres; investigate cooling mechanisms of white dwarf stars; determine the nature of accretion disks around collapsed stars; investigate supernova remnants; and investigate the interstellar medium and potential star-forming regions. All ORFEUS-SPAS II mission goals were achieved, and more than twice the data was obtained than on the first ORFEUS-SPAS flight.

Wake Shield Facility-3 (WSF-3) was deployed on flight day 4. WSF is a 12 foot diameter, free flying stainless steel disk designed to generate an ultravacuum environment in its wake in which to grow semiconductor thin films for use in advanced electronics. Its third flight was highly successful, with a maximum seven thin film growths of semiconductor materials achieved and the satellite hardware performing nearly flawlessly. WSF-3 was retrieved after three days of free-flight.

Other experiments conducted on STS 80 were: Space Experiment Module (SEM) to provide increased educational access to space; NIH-R4, fourth in series of collaborative experiments developed by NASA and National Institutes of Health, to investigate role of calcium in blood pressure regulation; NASA/CCM-A, one of a series of Shuttle bone cell experiments; Biological Research in Canister (BRIC)-09 experiment to study influence of microgravity on genetically-altered tomato and tobacco seedlings; Commercial MDA ITA experiment (CMIX-5), the last in its series of Shuttle experiments; and Visualization in an Experimental Water Capillary Pumped Loop (VIEW-CPL), a middeck experiment, to investigate a method for spacecraft thermal management. The crew also worked with the Space Vision System, designed to monitor the position and alignment of structures in space.

The STS 80 mission ended when Columbia landed 7 December 1996 on revolution 279 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 8,721 feet (2,658 meters). Rollout time: one minute, two seconds. Orbit altitude: 218 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes, 18 seconds. Miles traveled: 7 million. The landing was originally scheduled for 5 December, but Columbia was waved off two days in a row due to weather conditions in Florida. This was the third time in the Shuttle program history that a landing was waved off twice consecutively due to weather followed by landing at the prime site on the third day (the other times were STS-57, 1993, and STS 61-C, 1986).

The STS 80 flight crew was: Kenneth D. Cockrell, Mission Commander; Kent V. Rominger, Pilot; Tamara E. Jernigan, Mission Specialist; Thomas D. Jones, Mission Specialist; F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist. At age 61, Musgrave became the oldest human being to fly in space to that date. He also set a new record for the most Shuttle flights (six) and tied fellow astronaut John Young's record for the most spaceflights total.

1997 14:26:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 87 (Columbia 24, Shuttle 88) into orbit on a partially successful flight in which the USMP-4 performed well.

STS 87 was launched 19 November 1997, the first use of Pad 39B since January following completion of extensive modifications to pad structures. It was the eighth Shuttle flight of 1997, the first time since 1992 eight flights were conducted in one year, the sixth on-time liftoff in 1997, and all eight flights launched on the day set in the Flight Readiness Review. The primary payload of the flight, the U.S. Microgravity Payload-4, performed well. Research using the other major payload, the SPARTAN-201-04 free-flyer, was not completed. Orbiter performance was nominal throughout the mission.

USMP-4 research deemed highly successful. The fourth flight of the U.S. Microgravity Payload focused on materials science, combustion science and fundamental physics. Experiments included the Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace (AADSF); Confined Helium Experiment (CHeX); Isothermal Dendritic Growth Experiment (IDGE); Materials for the Study of Interesting Phenomena of Solidification on Earth and in Orbit (MEPHISTO); Microgravity Glovebox Facility (MGBX), featuring several experiments: the Enclosed Laminar Flames (ELF), Wetting Characteristics of Immiscibles (WCI) and Particle Engulfment and Pushing by a Solid/Liquid Interface (PEP); Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS); and Orbital Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE). Highlights included the fastest dedritic growth rate ever measured and highest level of supercooling ever obtained for pivalic acid, a transparent material used by researchers to model metals, in IDGE. With CHeX, the most precise temperature measurement ever made in space was achieved.

Both AADSF and MEPHISTO featured use of a furnace in the experiments. With MEPHISTO, researchers were able to separate for first time two separate processes of solidification. They were also able to measure the speed of smooth crystal growth. AADSF allowed growth of large, near-perfect crystals of various types of semiconductor materials, as well as an exceptionally uniform crystal of mercury-cadmium-telluride.

The PEP experiment, conducted with the Glovebox facility, examined the solidification of liquid metal alloys. For first time, researchers observed large clusters of particles being pushed, forcing them to reassess theories for how alloys solidify. ELF, another Glovebox experiment, established the first probability chart for flame stabilization in microgravity. This was the mission's only combustion experiment. It focused on laminar gas flows, a key phenomenon in the combustion process. Data gathered on-orbit should help refine computer simulations studying aircraft engine safety and furnace efficiency.

SPARTAN's deployment was delayed one day to 21 November to allow time for its companion spacecraft, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), already on-orbit, to come back on-line. Chawla used the orbiter's mechanical arm to release SPARTAN at 4:04 p.m. The spacecraft failed to execute a pirouette maneuver several minutes later, suggesting a problem with the attitude control system for fine pointing toward solar targets. Chawla then regrappled the SPARTAN, but did not receive a firm capture indication. When she backed the arm away, a rotational spin of about two degrees per second was imparted to the satellite. Kregel tried to match the satellite's rotation by firing Columbia's thrusters for a second grapple attempt, but this was called off by the flight director.

After a new plan was formulated to retrieve the free-flyer, Scott and Doi began a seven-hour, 43-minute space walk 24 November and captured the SPARTAN by hand at 9:09 p.m. EST. The two astronauts then completed a series of activities to continue preparations for on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station. With this EVA, Doi became the first Japanese citizen to walk in space.

Other payloads flown on STS 87 were a Get Away Special canister containing four experiments; the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment (CUE), featuring a collection of 10 plant space biology experiments in the middeck; and several Hitchhiker payloads in the payload bay.

The STS 87 mission ended when Columbia landed 5 December 1997 on revolution 252 on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 8,004 feet (2,440 meters). Rollout time: 57 seconds. Orbit altitude: 150 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: 15 days, 16 hours, 34 minutes, four seconds. Miles traveled: 6.5 million.

The STS 87 flight crew was: Steven W. Lindsey, Pilot; Kevin R. Kregel, Commander; Winston E. Scott, Mission Specialist; Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist; Takao Doi, (NASDA) Mission Specialist; Leonid K. Kadenyuk, (NSAU) Payload Specialist.

1999 22:30:00 GMT
The People's Republic of China launched its first Shenzhou spacecraft in an unmanned test flight.

Shenzhou (variously translated as "Vessel of the Gods," "Divine Craft," "Divine Mechanism" but also a pun on a literary name for China) is the name of a spacecraft from the People's Republic of China which first carried a Chinese astronaut into orbit on 15 October 2003. Development began in 1992, with the first four unmanned test flights on 20 November 1999 (19 November UTC), 9 January 2001, 25 March and 29 December in 2002. It was launched on a Long March 2F from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The basic shape and division into modules resembles that of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and there has been tight cooperation with Russian space agencies and companies beginning in 1994, which also provided blueprints and transfers of full-scale Soyuz spaceships to China. Russian help was also important in the area of astronaut training.

Both official Chinese sources as well as many Western analysts note that the Shenzhou is not merely a copy of the Soyuz and contains substantial amounts of indigenous design. In particular, the Shenzhou is substantually larger than the Soyuz and also contains a powered orbital module which is capable of autonomous flight.

2005 21:30:00 GMT
Japan's Hayabusa (MUSES-C) made first ever controlled landing on an asteroid, at 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36).

The primary scientific objective of the Hayabusa (formerly Muses-C) mission was to collect a surface sample of material from the small (550 x 180 meter) asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36) and return the sample to Earth for analysis. It was also a technology demonstration mission. Other scientific objectives of the mission included detailed studies of the asteroid's shape, spin state, topography, color, composition, density, photometric and polarimetric properties, interior and history.

The spacecraft was launched on 9 May 2003 on an M-5 solid fuel booster from the Kagoshima launch center. Following launch, the name Muses-C was changed to Hayabusa (Japanese for falcon), and the spacecraft was put into a transfer orbit to bring it to asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36), a 0.3 x 0.7 km near-Earth object. The ion engines were successfully test-fired from 27 May to the middle of June 2003. A large solar flare in late 2003 degraded the solar panels. The loss of power available to Hayabusa's ion engines forced the originally planned early summer 2005 rendezvous with Itokawa to be moved back to September. Hayabusa flew by Earth on 19 May 2004 at an altitude of 3725 km at 6:23 UT. On 31 July 2004 the X-axis reaction wheel failed. Rendezvous with the asteroid occured in September 2005 with the spacecraft coming to rest relative to the asteroid at a distance of 20 km at 1:17 UT on 12 September. The spacecraft did not go into orbit around the asteroid, but remained in a station-keeping heliocentric orbit close by. On 3 October 2005 Hayabusa lost the use of the Y-axis reaction wheel and was using one reaction wheel and two chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control.

Hayabusa initially surveyed the asteroid's surface from a distance of about 20 km in the "home position", a region roughly on a line connecting the Earth with the asteroid on the sunward side. This is global mapping phase 1, the phase angle during this phase was small, no greater than 20 - 25 degrees. Global mapping phase 2, which lasted about a week, began on 4 October when the spacecraft reached a position near the terminator at a distance of 7 km, affording high phase angle views of the asteroid. Following this the spacecraft moved back to the home position and then moved close to the surface in November for a "rehearsal" touchdown. This touchdown was attempted on 4 November but was aborted due to an anomalous signal at 700 meters above the asteroid's surface.

On 12 November a second rehearsal touchdown was attempted. The spacecraft began its descent from 1.4 km altitude at 3 cm/sec to an altitude of 55 meters. The small lander/hopper, Minerva, was deployed at 6:34 UT (3:34 p.m. JST) but unfortunately Hayabusa had already reached the 55 meter level and had begun an automatic ascent so the release was at a higher altitude than planned. Contact with the lander was lost and it is believed Minerva moved off into space without landing.

At 12:00 UT on 19 November 2005 (9:00 p.m. JST, 7:00 a.m. EST) Hayabusa began its descent towards the asteroid from an altitude of 1 km. At 19:33 UT (4:33 a.m. JST 20 November) the final approach was commanded and the descent began from an altitude of about 450 meters at 12 cm/sec. The target marker was released at 20:30 UT 19 November (5:30 a.m. JST 20 November) about 40 meters above the asteroid and Hayabusa's descent was slowed to 3 cm/sec to allow the marker to fall ahead of it. The spacecraft reduced its speed to zero and then began free-fall at an altitude of 17 meters at which point contact was lost. Later telemetry indicated that Hayabusa hit the surface at 20:40 UT 19 November (5:40 a.m. JST 20 November) at roughly 10 cm/sec and bounced. It bounced again at 21:10 and then landed at 21:30 within about 30 meters of the target marker. At 21:58 (6:58 a.m. JST 20 November) it was commanded to make an emergency ascent. The craft remained on the surface for about half an hour but did not fire the projectile to collect a sample. This was the first ever controlled landing on an asteroid and first ascent from any other solar sytem body except the Moon.

A second touchdown and sampling run was made on 25 November, early telemetry indicated the spacecraft touched down at 10 cm/sec and that two sampling bullets were fired 0.2 seconds apart at 22:07 UT 24 November (7:07 a.m. JST 25 November) but later examination indicated the bullets did not fire. On 9 December contact was lost with the spacecraft, presumably because of torques caused by a thruster leak which altered the pointing of the antenna. Communication with the spacecraft was regained in early March 2006. It appeared the chemical fuel had been lost due to the leak. Also, two of three reaction wheels were also inoperable and 4 of the 11 lithium-ion battery cells were not functioning. Ground controllers used the solar batteries to run the ion engine in place of the chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control. The ion engine ran until November 2007 when it was turned off and the spacecraft went into hibernation mode and continued on a ballistic trajectory. There was still a large margin of xenon left to run the thrusters for propulsion and attitude control.

The re-entry capsule detached from the main spacecraft between 300,000 and 400,000 km from the Earth, coasting on a ballistic trajectory, and re-entering the Earth's atmosphere on 13 June 2010. The capsule experienced peak decellerations of about 25 G and heating rates approximately 30 times those experienced by the Apollo spacecraft. It landed via parachute near Woomera, Australia. Subsequent examination of the sample return capsule showed that there were roughly 1500 dust particles from asteroid Itokawa which were presumably kicked up into the collection area during the touchdowns due to the extremely low surface gravity.

Spacecraft Details

On-board optical navigation was planned to be employed extensively during the landings and sample collection operations because the long communication delay prohibited ground-based real-time commanding. The samples, with a total mass of approximately one gram, were to be held inside a separate re-entry capsule. (The lander was also to deploy a small rover supplied by NASA onto the surface of the asteroid, but the rover was cancelled by NASA due to budget constraints.) All operations at Itokawa had to take into account the extremely low gravity at the asteroid's surface.

Hayabusa was equipped with a universal sample collection device to gather roughly one gram of surface samples taken from the landings at 3 different locations. The device consisted of a funnel-shaped collection horn, 40 cm in diameter at the end, to be placed over the sampling area. A pyrotechnic device then fired a 10 gram metal projectile down the barrel of the horn at 200 - 300 m/sec. The projectile struck the surface, producing a small impact crater in the surface of the asteroid and propelling ejecta fragments back up the horn, where some were funnelled into a sample collection chamber. Prior to each sampling run, the spacecraft was drop a small target plate onto the surface from about 30 m altitude to use as a landmark to ensure the relative horizontal velocity between the spacecraft and asteroid surface was zero during the sampling. After collection, the samples were to be stored in the re-entry capsule for return to Earth.

The Minerva lander was a small (591 gram) cylinder about the size of a coffee can, designed to be released from the spacecraft on the first rehearsal touchdown run. It had the ability to "hop" on the surface of the asteroid and had full autonomy. It was equipped with an imaging system comprising three miniature cameras and temperature measuring devices. Data was to be relayed to Hayabusa and then to Earth.

The rover, or Small Science Vehicle (SSV), was to have been a NASA contribution to the mission but was cancelled due to budget contraints. The SSV would have been dropped onto the surface of the asteroid by the Hayabusa spacecraft. The rover goals were to make texture, composition and morphology measurements of the surface layer at scales smaller than 1 cm, investigations of lateral heterogeneity at small scales, investigation of vertical regolith structure by taking advantage of disturbances of the surface layer by microrover operations, and to measure constraints on the mechanical and thermal properties of the surface layer. The rover would have weighed about 1 kg and was to be capable of rolling, climbing, or hopping around on the surface of the asteroid. It would have run on solar power and carry a multi-band imaging camera, a near-infrared point spectrometer, and an alpha/X-ray spectrometer (AXS).

2005 21:58:00 GMT
Japan's Hayabusa (MUSES-C) made the first ascent from an extraterrestrial body other than the Moon, lifting off from asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36).
see above

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