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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 24

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Jeremiah Horrocks and William Crabtree made the first planned observation of a transit of Venus across the Sun, based on Horrock's calculations and prediction of the event.

The first successful field test of a tractor with a caterpillar track was made, the innovation later revolutionized construction vehicles and land warfare.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #968 Petunia.

G Van Biesbroeck discovered asteroid #3641.

M Wolf discovered asteroids #1038 Tuckia and #1039 Sonneberga.

L Boyer discovered asteroid #1177 Gonnessia.

The first woman pilot of a US transcontinental air flight, Miss Ruth Nichols, departed Mineola, New York, for California in a Lockheed-Vega. The flight took 7 days.

Ruth Rowland Nichols (23 February 1901 - 25 September 1960) was born in New York City. Her father, who claimed descent from Leif Ericson, had been one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and her mother was a strict Quaker - a combination which led to a confusing and complicated childhood.

For her high school graduation, her father presented her with an opportunity to ride in a airplane with Eddie Stinson, ace pilot of World War I. She began secretly studying to fly even as she studied at Wellesley College, planning for a career as a physician. Shortly after her graduation from Wellesley, Ruth Nichols became the first woman in the world to earn an international hydroplane license. In 1927, she was one of the first two women to receive a Department of Commerce transport license. She went on from there to fly every type of aircraft developed: She was rated in the dirigible, glider, autogyro, landplane, seaplane, amphibian, monoplanes, biplanes, tri-planes, twin and four engine transports and supersonic jets. Nichols was the first of three women to earn an Air Transport Pilot rating in 1929 and the only woman to hold three different world records simultaneously: women's altitude (28,748 feet), speed (210.5 mph), and non-stop, Oakland to Louisville (19 hrs. 16 min.) between 1931 and 1932.

Y Vaisala discovered asteroid #1460 Haltia.

Died (age 60), James J Kilroy, tank inspector (Kilroy was here)

NASA's Lunar Orbiter 2 took an oblique picture of the Copernicus crater, dubbed by NASA Scientist Martin Swetnick and subsequently quoted by Time magazine as "one of the great pictures of the century."

Lunar Orbiter 2 photo looking northward, oblique view of Copernicus crater on the Moon, NASA photo

1969 20:58:54 GMT
NASA's Apollo 12 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after returning from the Moon.

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.

L Kohoutek discovered asteroid #1861 Komensky.

P Wild discovered asteroids #1936 Lugano, #1962 Dunant and #2038 Bistro.

E Bowell discovered asteroids #2633 Bishop, #2708 Burns, #2813 Zappala, #3172 Hirst, #3173 McNaught and #3454 Lieske.

With first light occurring for the Keck I telescope, it became the biggest telescope in use, at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, with a primary mirror 10 meters (32.8 ft, 394 in) in diameter.

1991 18:44:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 44 (Atlantis 10, Shuttle 44, 75th US manned space flight).

STS 44 was launched 24 November 1991. The launch, originally set for 19 November, was delayed due to a malfunctioning redundant inertial measurement unit on the Inertial Upper Stage booster attached to a Defense Support Program satellite. The unit was replaced and tested. The launch, reset to 24 November, was delayed 13 minutes to allow an orbiting spacecraft to pass and to allow external tank liquid oxygen replenishment after minor repairs to a valve in the liquid oxygen replenishment system in the mobile launcher platform.

This was a dedicated Department of Defense mission. The unclassified payload included a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite and attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), deployed on flight day one. Cargo bay and middeck payloads were: Interim Operational Contamination Monitor (IOCM); Terra Scout; Military Man in Space (M88-1); Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS); Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM); Shuttle Activation Monitor (SAM); Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III); Visual Function Tester-1 (VFT-1); Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI); Bioreactor Flow and Particle Trajectory experiment; and the Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project, a series of investigations in support of Extended Duration Orbiter flights.

The mission ended with Atlantis landing on Runway 5 at Edwards Air Force Base, California on revolution 110 on 1 December 1991. Rollout distance: 11,191 feet. Rollout time: 107 seconds. Launch pad: 39A. Launch weight: 259,629 pounds. Landing weight: 193,825 pounds. Orbit altitude: 197 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Mission duration: six days, 22 hours, 50 minutes, 44 seconds. Miles traveled: 2.9 million. The landing was originally scheduled for KSC on 4 December, but the ten-day mission was shortened and landing rescheduled following the 30 November on-orbit failure of one of three orbiter inertial measurement units. The lengthy rollout was due to minimal braking for a test. The orbiter returned to KSC on 8 December 1991.

The STS 44 flight crew was: Frederick D. Gregory, Commander; Terence T. Henricks, Pilot; Mario Runco, Jr., Mission Specialist; James S. Voss, Mission Specialist; F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist; Thomas J. Hennen, Mission Specialist.

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