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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 November 21

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Died, Georg Agricola, German scientist ("the father of mineralogy")

Died (Gregorian calendar date), Otto von Guericke, German scientist, inventor, politician (physics of vacuums)

Otto von Guericke (originally spelled Gericke) (born 30 November 1602 (Gregorian calendar) in Magdeburg, Germany, died 21 November 1686 (Gregorian calendar) in Hamburg, Germany; 20 November 1602 - 11 November 1686 on the Julian calendar) was a German scientist, inventor, and politician (mayor of Magdeburg from 1646 to 1676).

His major scientific achievement was the establishment of the physics of vacuums. He invented the piston air pump to produce a vacuum and investigated the properties of the vacuum in many experiments.

He demonstrated the force of air pressure with dramatic experiments, e.g. in 1663 at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg, Guericke had joined two copper hemispheres of 51 cm diameter (Magdeburg hemispheres) and pumped the air out of the enclosure. Then he harnessed a team of eight horses to each hemisphere and showed that they were not able to separate the hemispheres. When air was again let into the enclosure, they were easily separated. He repeated this demonstration in Berlin in 1663 with 24 horses.

With his experiments Guericke disproved the hypothesis of "horror vacui", that nature abhors a vacuum, that for centuries was a problem for philosophers and scientists. Guericke proved that substances were not pulled by a vacuum, but were pushed by the pressure of the surrounding fluids.

Guericke applied the barometer to weather prediction and thus prepared the way for meteorology.

His later works focussed on electricity, but little is preserved of his results. He invented the first electrostatic generator, the "Elektrisiermaschine."

Born, Francois-Marie Arouet (later know as Voltaire), French philosopher

In Paris, Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent, the marquis d'Arlandes, made the first manned untethered hot air balloon flight, which lasted 25 minutes, reached a maximum height of 100 meters, and travelled a distance of 9 km.

J Rheden discovered asteroid #771 Libera.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #798 Ruth.

G H Peters discovered asteroid #980 Anacostia.

Y Vaisala discovered asteroid #1407 Lindelof.

1960 14:00:00 GMT
The unmanned Mercury-Redstone 1 test launch failed at 10 cm (four inches) altitude. The undamaged rocket remained on the pad overnight, untethered, to allow the batteries to run down and oxidizer to boil off so it could be approached safely.

Mercury Redstone 1 (MR-1) was the first scheduled flight of the Mercury capsule mated to the Redstone booster. The objectives of MR-1 were to: (1) qualify the spacecraft-booster combination for the Mercury-Redstone mission which included attaining a Mach number of approximately 6.0 during powered flight, a period of weightlessness of about five minutes, and a deceleration of approximately 11 g on reentry; (2) qualify the posigrade rockets; (3) qualify the recovery system; (4) qualify the launch, tracking, and recovery phases of operations; and, (5) qualify the Automatic Stabilization and Control System (ASCS), including the Reaction Control System (RCS).

Launch of MR-1 was attempted on 21 November 1960, but after rising a few inches from the pad, the engines cut off and the rocket settled vertically back on the launcher without further mishap. The termination of thrust resulted in the escape tower being jettisoned, but the spacecraft did not separate from the booster due to g-load sensing requirements not being met. However, because the barostats properly sensed the altitude as being less than 10,000 feet, the drogue, main, and reserve parachutes were released in the proper sequence.

The failure of MR-1 was determined to be due to the power and control connectors not disconnecting simultaneously. The power plug disconnected 29 ms prior to the control plug, permitting part of a 3 amp current (which normally would have returned to ground via the power plug) to pass through the relay for "normal cut-off" and its ground diode. This proved the need for all electrical connections to be grounded prior to launch. A ground strap was added for subsequent launches.

The Mercury capsule was refurbished and mated to a new launch vehicle to be launched as Mercury Redstone 1A (MR-1A).

A 16 second clip of the event can be found on YouTube.

See also

Mercury-Redstone 1 launch attempt, NASA photo

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroid #2743.

1969 20:49:16 GMT
NASA's Apollo 12 left Lunar orbit for its return to Earth.

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.

Died, Chandrasekhara Raman (at Bangalore, India), physicist (Nobel 1930 "for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him")

A Mrkos discovered asteroid #3629.

L Kohoutek discovered asteroid #3635.

K Suzuki and T Urata discovered asteroid #3178.

Died, Konstantin Feoktistov, Soviet cosmonaut (Voskhod 1), space engineer

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