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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 December 3

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Galileo announced he had perfected the telescope.

Died, James Challis, most famous for failing to discover Neptune in 1846

Born, John Backus, American computer scientist (invented FORTRAN, the first widely used high-level programming language, Backus-Naur form (BNF) notation used to define formal language syntax)

In Rio de Janeiro, a seaplane with a dozen members of the Brazilian scientific community aboard, intending to greet their colleague, sank near the Cap Arcona on which aviation poineer Alberto Santos-Dumont was returning from Europe.

Alberto Santos-Dumont (20 July 1873 - 23 July 1932) was a Brazilian aviation pioneer. He built and flew many balloons and the first practical dirigible. Among his extensive other accomplishments, his powered heavier-than-air aircraft 14 Bis was demonstrated in Paris, with a public record-breaking flight, on 23 October 1906. This well-documented event, a flight of 60 metres (197 ft) at a height of 2-3m before a large crowd of witnesses, was the first flight verified by the Aero-Club De France of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe, and the first public demonstration in the world of an aircraft taking off from an ordinary airstrip with a non-detachable landing gear and on its own power (self-propelled) and in calm weather, officially resolving the problem of getting a machine that is "heavier than air" to take off the ground by its own means.

L Boyer discovered asteroid #1212 Francette.

Born, Viktor Gorbatko (at Ventsy-Zarya, Kray Krasnodar, Russian SFSR), Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 7, Soyuz 24, Soyuz 37)

Viktor Vasilyevich Gorbatko (3 December 1934 - ) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7, Soyuz 24, and Soyuz 37 missions. After leaving the space program in 1982, he taught at the Air Force Engineering Academy in Moscow.

E Delporte discovered asteroid #1560 Strattonia.

1965 10:48:00 GMT
USSR launched Luna 8 (also called Lunik 8) toward the Moon, which crashed in the Sea of Storms instead of making a soft landing.

Luna 8 was launched on 3 December 1965 with the probable mission of achieving a soft landing on the Moon. However, the retrofire was late, and the spacecraft impacted the Lunar surface in the Sea of Storms. The mission did complete the experimental development of the star-orientation system and ground control of radio equipment, flight trajectory, and other instrumentation.

At Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, 53-year-old retired grocer Lewis Washkansky received the first successful human heart transplant. He died 18 days later from double pneumonia. The transplant team was headed by Christiaan Barnard.

L Zhuravleva discovered asteroid #2233 Kuznetsov.

NASA's Pioneer 10 sent back the first close-up images of Jupiter when it passed the planet at about 130,000 miles (200,000 km) above the cloud tops.

Pioneer 10 was launched 3 March 1972. This mission was the first to be sent to the outer solar system and the first to investigate the planet Jupiter, after which it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on 3 December 1973, when it flew over the cloud tops at a distance of approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km - 130,000 miles). After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Neptune on 13 June 1983 and became the first human-built space vehicle to leave the Solar system. As of 1 January 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. This solar system escape direction is unique because the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (and the Pioneer 11 spacecraft) are heading in the opposite direction towards the nose of the heliosphere in the upstream direction relative to the inflowing interstellar gas. Pioneer 10 is heading generally towards the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull). The journey over a distance of 68 light years to Aldebaran will require about two million years to complete. Routine tracking and project data processing operatations were terminated on 31 March 1997 for budget reasons. Occasional tracking continued later under support of the Lunar Prospector project at NASA Ames Research Center with retrieval of energetic particle and radio science data. The last successful data acquisitions through NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on 3 March 2002, the thirtieth anniversary of Pioneer 10's launch date, and on 27 April 2002. The spacecraft signal was last detected, from a distance of 82 AU from the Sun, on 23 January 2003 after an uplink was transmitted to turn off the last operational experiment, the Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT), but lock-on to the sub-carrier signal for data downlink was not achieved. No signal at all was detected during a final attempt on 6-7 February 2003. Pioneer Project staff at NASA Ames then concluded that the spacecraft power level had fallen below that needed to power the onboard transmitter, so no further attempts would be made.

See also
See also

Pioneer 10 images of Jupiter taken between 44-1/2 and 40-1/2 hours before periapsis, NASA illustration

T Smirnova discovered asteroid #2583.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroids #3089 & #3463.

1985 13:33:49 PST (GMT -8:00:00)
NASA's STS 61-B (Atlantis 2, 23rd shuttle mission) landed at Edwards AFB after nearly 7 days in space

The STS 61-B launch on 26 November 1985 proceeded as scheduled with no delays.

Three communications satellites were deployed during the STS 61-B flight: MORELOS-B (Mexico), AUSSAT-2 (Australia) and SATCOM KU-2 (RCA Americom). MORELOS-B and AUSSAT-2 were attached to Payload Assist Module-D motors, SATCOM KU-2 was attached to a PAM-D2, designed for heavier payloads.

Two experiments were conducted to test assembling erectable structures in space: Experimental Assembly of Structures in Extravehicular Activity (EASE) and Assembly Concept for Construction of Erectable Space Structure (ACCESS). The experiments required two space walks by Spring and Ross lasting five hours, 32 minutes, and six hours, 38 minutes, respectively. The middeck payloads were: Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES); Diffusive Mixing of Organic Solutions (DMOS); Morelos Payload Specialist Experiments (MPSE); and Orbiter Experiments (OEX). Payloads carried in the payload bay were: Get Away Special and IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC).

The STS 61-B mission ended when Atlantis landed 3 December 1985 on revolution 109 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 10,759 feet. Rollout time: 78 seconds. Launch weight: 261,455 pounds. Landing weight: 205,732 pounds. Orbit altitude: 225 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: six days, 21 hours, four minutes, 49 seconds. Miles traveled: 2.8 million. The mission was shortened one revolution due to lightning conditions at Edwards, and the shuttle landed on a concrete runway because the lake bed was wet. Atlantis returned to KSC 7 December 1985.

The STS 61-B flight crew was: Brewster H. Shaw, Jr., Commander; Bryan D. O'Connor, Pilot; Mary L. Cleave, Mission Specialist 1; Sherwood C. Spring, Mission Specialist 2; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist 3; Rodolfo Neri Vela, Payload Specialist 1; Charles D. Walker, Payload Specialist 2.

NASA's Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 probes ceased to communicate with Earth just as they were expected to make atmospheric entry at Mars.

The Mars Polar Lander spacecraft was launched 3 January 1999, one of two separately launched vehicles that were to comprise the Mars Surveyor '98 program: the Mars Climate Orbiter (formerly the Mars Surveyor '98 Orbiter) and the Mars Polar Lander (formerly the Mars Surveyor '98 Lander). The two missions were designed to study the Martian weather, climate, and water and carbon dioxide budget, in order to understand the reservoirs, behavior, and atmospheric role of volatiles and to search for evidence of long-term and episodic climate changes. The Mars Polar Lander also carried the Deep Space 2 (DS2) probes, a New Millenium mission consisting of two probes which were to penetrate the surface of Mars near the south polar layered terrain and send back data on the sub-surface properties. The last telemetry from Mars Polar Lander was sent just prior to atmospheric entry on 3 December 1999. No further signals have been received from the lander, the cause of this loss of communication "is not known."

NASA photo, planned Mars Polar Lander landing site

The Integrated Truss Structure P6, Photovoltaic Module and Radiators were installed on the International Space Station.

The ISS P6 Integrated Truss Structure was installed on the station 3 December 2000 by the STS 97 crew. With a wingspan of 73 meters (240 feet) x 11.6 meters (38 feet), the structure was the longest human-made object ever to fly in space. it weighed approximately 7,700 kilograms (17,000 pounds). Functions performed by the P6 Truss include conversion or generation of electrical power, storage of electrical power in batteries, regulation of electrical power, and distribution of electrical power to station elements. The station derives its power from the conversion of solar energy into electrical power. The Photovoltaic Power Module performs this energy conversion.

NASA illustration, ISS P6 Truss assembly sequence

NASA's ill-fated Genesis spacecraft deployed its collection arrays and began gathering solar wind particles.

The primary objective of the Genesis mission was to collect samples of solar wind particles and return them to Earth for detailed analysis. The science objectives were to obtain precise measurements of solar isotopic and elemental abundances and provide a reservoir of solar matter for future scientific analysis. Specifically, the primary scientific objectives were to obtain precise measurements of isotope ratios of oxygen, nitrogen, and solar wind isotopic fractionation. Study of these samples would allow testing of theories of solar system formation and evolution and early nebular composition. A total sample mass of roughly 10 to 20 micrograms was expected.

The Genesis spacecraft had a launch mass of 636 kg, including 142 kg of fuel, and consisted of a 2.3 meter long, 2 meter wide spacecraft deck with two fixed solar panel wings with a total span of 7.9 meters, and a sample return capsule mounted on top of the deck. The spacecraft was spin stabilized at one revolution every 37.5 seconds. Propulsion was provided by a hydrazine monopropellant thruster using a helium pressurant. Communication was in the S-band via a fixed antenna. The solar panels provided a maximum of 254 Watts of power to a nickle-hydrogen storage battery. Temperatures were maintained by heaters and passive thermal control. The spacecraft was also equipped with ion and electron electrostatic monitors to determine which solar wind regime was being encountered, and to help set the appropriate collector voltage. Spacecraft subsystems and monitors were mounted beneath the sample return capsule.

The sample return capsule was disc shaped with a blunt conical top and bottom, 1.5 meters in diameter and 1.31 meters high, with a total mass of about 225 kg. It contained a 97.3 cm diameter science cannister which held a concentrator and three collector arrays. The collector arrays were flat discs made of ultra-pure silicon, silicon carbide, germanium, sapphire, chemically deposited diamond, gold, aluminum, and metallic glass wafers which were exposed to the solar wind. Isotopes of helium, oxygen, nitrogen, neon, radon, and other elements were implanted in the top 100 nm of these materials. The concentrator was an electrostatic mirror which concentrated elements up to neon by a factor of approximately 20. Each collector array was to be deployed for a different solar wind regime.

Genesis was launched successfully at 16:13:40.324 UT on 8 August 2001 on a Delta 7326 (a Delta II Lite launch vehicle with three strap-on solid rocket boosters and a Star 37FM third stage). The first burn of the Delta second stage put Genesis in a 185 x 197 km x 28.5 deg parking orbit at 1624 GMT. At 1712 GMT a second burn raised the orbit to 182 x 3811 km, and at 1713 GMT the third stage fired to put Genesis on its trajectory towards the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian libration point, 0.01 AU from Earth, with a nominal apogee of around 1.2 million km, a three month journey. The L1 point is beyond the influences of the geomagnetic field and its trapped particles. Genesis reached the L1 point on 16 November 2001 and fired its hydrazine thrusters for 268 seconds to insert itself into a halo orbit at 19:03 UT (2:03 PM EST). A malfunctioning thermal radiator caused some concern for the health of the sample return capsule's critical battery, which was overheating, but Genesis began collecting solar wind samples on schedule. On 3 December 2001 it opened its collector arrays and began gathering samples of solar wind particles. It completed 5 halo orbits over 30 months collecting samples. In April 2004, it ended sample collection and shut the door to the sample collection cannister.

The samples were stowed and sealed in the contamination-tight canister within the Sample Return Capsule and returned to Earth over a five month period, flying past the Earth and returning in order to be positioned for daylight entry. On 8 September 2004, the Genesis space probe became the first spacecraft to return from beyond Lunar orbit to the Earth's surface. The sample return capsule was released from the main spacecraft bus at about 12:00 UT, 66,000 km above the Earth, and successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 15:52:47 UT (11:53 AM EDT, 9:53 AM local MDT) over Oregon at 11 km/s, and should have deployed a drogue parachute 2 minutes 7 seconds after entry at 33 km altitude, but a wiring error resulted in the drogue parachute release mortar failing to fire. The parachute never deployed, and the capsule crashed in the desert in the Dugway Proving Ground at 40 07 40 N 113 30 29 W at a speed of 86 m/s (311 km/hr, 193 mph), severely damaging the capsule. The science cannister was removed to a clean room and the sample collection fragments were shipped to Johnson Space Center. The cause of the parachute failure was believed to be incorrectly installed accelerometers which were to deploy the parachutes. The science team was confident that most of the planned science could be recovered from the salvaged sample collectors.

The spacecraft bus looped around Earth after the capsule was released and headed back out towards the L1 point.

The original plan for re-entry was as follows: Six minutes after drogue chute deployment, the main parafoil was to deploy at an altitude of 6 km over the USAF Utah Test and Training Range, where it would be aerocaptured by one of two specially equipped helicopters at an altitude of about 2.5 km. The spacecraft had the capability of going into a parking orbit if the weather at the capture site was unsuitable. The capsule was taken to a clean room at the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, transported to Johnson Space Center for contamination control and curation, and distributed to selected Advanced Analytical Instrument Facilities for analysis.

There was some concern that the sample return capsule battery would fail, jeopardizing the re-entry. The battery was overheating in space, but ground tests showed that the battery should have been unaffected by the amount of heating it had endured, and should have operated to deploy the parachute on reentry.

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