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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 5

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Race To Space
Someone will win the prize...
               ... but at what cost?
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Born, Clyde Cessna, founder of the Cessna Aircraft Company

Born, Werner Karl Heisenberg (at Wurzburg, Bavaria, German Empire), physicist (Nobel 1932 "for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen")

Werner Karl Heisenberg (5 December 1901 - 1 February 1976) was a celebrated physicist and Nobel laureate, one of the founders of quantum mechanics. He invented matrix mechanics, the first formalization of quantum mechanics in 1925. His uncertainty principle, discovered in 1927, states that the determination of both the position and momentum of a particle necessarily contains errors, the product of these being not less than a known constant. Together with Niels Bohr, he went on to formulate the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.

He received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932 "for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen."

See also Wikipedia

Born, Cecil Frank Powell (at Tonbridge, Kent, Great Britain), physicist, discovered the pion (Nobel 1950 "for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method")

Cecil Frank Powell (5 December 1903 - 9 August 1969) was an English physicist who studied steam condensation phenomenon, ions in gases, and atomic structure. His discovery of the pion led to a Nobel prize awarded in 1950.

G. Reiss discovered asteroid #1213 Algeria.

The first commercial hydroponics operation was established at Montebello, California. Hydroponics is expected to be the major method of food production in space colonies.

Born, Jugderdemidiyn "Gurr" Gurragcha (at Gurvan-Bulak, Mongolia), the first Mongolian space traveler (Soyuz 39; nearly 7d 20.75h in spaceflight)

Cosmonaut Jugderdemidiin Gurragchaa, photo courtesy of (20 June 2011)
Source: Wikipedia

Born, Bruce E. Melnick (at New York, New York, USA), Cmdr USCG, NASA astronaut (STS 41, STS 49; nearly 12d 23.5h total time in spaceflight)

Astronaut Bruce Melnick, NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia

P. Wild discovered asteroid #1866 Sisyphus.

Died, Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, British inventor of RADAR

1975 15:35:00 GMT
NASA attempted to launch the Dual Air Density Explorer-A (DADE-A) and DADE-B satellites on a Scout launch vehicle from Vandenburg AFB, California, but the mission suffered a launch failure.

NASA's Pioneer Venus Orbiter spacecraft began sending back data and images as the first US Venus orbiter.

The Pioneer Venus Orbiter (Pioneer 12), launched 20 May 1978, was the first of a two-spacecraft orbiter-probe combination designed to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the atmosphere of Venus. Its instruments were mounted on a shelf within the spacecraft except for a magnetometer mounted at the end of a boom to reduce magnetic interference from the spacecraft. Pioneer Venus Orbiter measured the detailed structure of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere of Venus, investigated the interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere and the magnetic field in the vicinity of Venus, determined the characteristics of the atmosphere and surface of Venus on a planetary scale, determined the planet's gravitational field harmonics from perturbations of the spacecraft orbit, and detected gamma-ray bursts. UV observations of comets were also made. From Venus orbit insertion on 4 December 1978 to July 1980, periapsis was held between 142 and 253 km to facilitate radar and ionospheric measurements. Thereafter, the periapsis was allowed to rise (to 2290 km at maximum) and then fall, to conserve fuel. In 1991 the Radar Mapper was reactivated to investigate previously inaccessible southern portions of the planet. In May 1992 Pioneer Venus began the final phase of its mission, in which the periapsis was held between 150 and 250 km until the fuel ran out and atmospheric entry destroyed the spacecraft. Although it had a planned primary mission duration of only eight months, Pioneer Venus Orbiter remained in operation from orbit insertion on 4 December 1978 until it burned up in the Venusian atmosphere on 8 October 1992.

See also Pioneer Venus Orbiter in the NSSDCA Master Catalog.

1986 02:30:00 GMT
The US Department of Defense launched Fltsatcom-7 (USA 20) on an Atlas-Centaur booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA's Shuttle Atlantis reportedly launched "the world's first nuclear-war-fighting satellite" from the Shuttle's orbit.

STS 27 was launched 2 December 1988 during a classified window lying within a launch period between 6:32 AM EST and 9:32 AM EST, after it was postponed due to unacceptable cloud cover and wind conditions in the same launch period on 1 December. This was the third mission dedicated to Department of Defense. The flight ended on 6 December 1988 when Atlantis landed on revolution 68 on Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 7,123 feet. Rollout time: 43 seconds. Launch weight: Classified. Landing weight: 190,956 pounds. Orbit altitude: Classified. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: four days, nine hours, five minutes, 37 seconds. Miles traveled: 1.8 million. Atlantis was returned to the Kennedy Space Center on 13 December 1988.

The STS 27 crew was: Robert L. Gibson, Commander; Guy S. Gardner, Pilot; Richard M. Mullane, Mission Specialist 1; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist 2; William M. Shepherd, Mission Specialist 3.

The 10 m object 1991-VG, discovered by American astronomer James Scotti on 6 November 1991 using the Spacewatch Telescope on Kitt Peak, passed 465,000 km from Earth. There has been speculation the object may be artficial.

NASA Shuttle Endeavor STS 61 astronauts began repair of the Hubble telescope in space.

The STS 61 Endeavor launch was originally scheduled to occur from Launch Pad 39A, but after rollout, contamination was found in the Pad 39A Payload Changeout Room and a decision was made to move the Shuttle and payloads to Pad 39B. Rollaround occurred on 15 November. The first launch attempt on 1 December was scrubbed due to out-of-limit weather conditions at the Shuttle Landing Facility (required in event of the return-to-launch-site contingency plan). The 2 December 1993 launch finally occurred on schedule.

The final Shuttle flight of 1993 was one of the most challenging and complex manned missions ever attempted. During a record five back-to-back space walks totaling 35 hours and 28 minutes, two teams of astronauts completed the first servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). In many instances, the tasks were completed sooner than expected, and the few contingencies that did arise were handled smoothly.

The Hubble rendezvous, grapple and berthing occurred on flight day three, with Nicollier using the remote manipulator system arm to position the 43-foot (13-meter) long Hubble upright in payload bay. Throughout mission, commands to Hubble were issued from the Space Telescope Operations Control Center (STOCC) at Goddard Space Flight Center. After each servicing task completed, STOCC controllers verified the electrical interfaces between the replacement hardware and telescope.

On flight day four, the first EVA team of Musgrave and Hoffman performed EVA #1, replacing two Rate Sensing Units (RSUs), each housing a pair of gyroscopes; two Electronic Control Units which direct the RSUs; and eight electrical fuse plugs. The only unexpected problem occurred when Hoffman and Musgrave had difficulty closing the compartment doors after replacing the RSUs. The seven-hour, 54-minute space walk was the second longest in US history to date, topped only by an STS-49 EVA lasting eight hours, 29 minutes. During the EVAs, Nicollier operated the robot arm carrying one of the two EVA crew members.

One of the primary servicing goals - installation of new solar arrays - was accomplished during EVA #2, performed on flight day five by Thornton and Akers and lasting six hours, 35 minutes. The timeline was re-worked to accommodate jettison of one of the two original solar arrays, which could not be fully retracted due to a kink in its framework. The other solar array was stowed in the payload bay and the replacement pair - a set of modified spares - was installed without difficulty.

The expected four-hour replacement of one of Hubble's five scientific instruments, the Wide Field/Planetary Camera (WF/PC), was completed in about 40 minutes by Hoffman and Musgrave during EVA #3 on flight day six. WF/PC II is an upgraded spare modified to compensate for the flaw in the HST primary mirror. Also, two new magnetometers were installed at the top of the telescope during the six-hour, 48-minute EVA.

EVA #4 was performed on flight day seven by Thornton and Akers. The High-Speed Photometer, one of the original Hubble scientific instruments, was removed and replaced with the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) unit. This task also took less time to complete than was expected. COSTAR is designed to redirect light to three of the four remaining Hubble instruments to compensate for the flaw in primary mirror of the telescope. Thornton and Akers also installed a co-processor to enhance the memory and speed of Hubble's computer. During the six-hour, 50-minute EVA, Akers set a new US space-walking record of 29 hours, 39 minutes, topping Eugene Cernan's 20-year-old record of 24 hours, 14 minutes. Thornton is the leading US female space walker with a total of 21 hours, 10 minutes.

The final EVA was performed by Hoffman and Musgrave on flight day eight. During the seven-hour, 21-minute-long EVA #5, Hoffman and Musgrave replaced the Solar Array Drive Electronics (SADE) unit and installed the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph Redundancy (GHRS) kit; and also installed two protective covers over the original magnetometers. After space walk was completed, the new solar arrays and two high-gain antennas were deployed by STOCC. HST was also re-boosted to slightly higher orbit of 321 nautical miles (595 kilometers) on flight day eight prior to the last EVA.

Hubble was redeployed on flight day nine. Release was delayed several hours to allow troubleshooting of erratic data telemetry from the Hubble subsystems monitor; the problem had occurred before and was not related to the servicing operations. President Clinton and Vice President Gore congratulated the crew, and the Swiss minister of internal affairs called the following day to congratulate Nicollier.

The STS 61 mission ended 13 December 1993 when Endeavor landed on revolution 163 on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, the second night landing at KSC. Rollout distance: 7,922 feet (2,415 meters). Rollout time: 53 seconds. Launch weight: 250,314 pounds. Landing weight: 211,210 pounds. Orbit altitude: 321 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: 10 days, 19 hours, 58 minutes, 37 seconds. Miles traveled: 4.4 million. The orbiter returned one orbit earlier than originally planned to allow two landing opportunities at KSC.

The STS 61 crew was: Richard O. Covey, Commander; Kenneth D. Bowersox, Pilot; F. Story Musgrave, Payload Commander; Kathryn C. Thornton, Mission Specialist 1; Claude Nicollier, Mission Specialist 2; Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Mission Specialist 3; Thomas D. Akers, Mission Specialist 5.

1997 07:20:04 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA's STS 87 (Columbia 24, 88th shuttle mission) ended when the orbiter landed at the Kennedy Space Center.

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.

2001 16:19:00 CST (GMT -6:00:00)
NASA launched STS 108 (Endeavor) with a new crew for the International Space Station

STS 108 was launched 5 December 2001, and docked at the International Space Station on 7 December 2001, where it remained until 15 December 2001. The mission ended when Endeavor landed on 17 December 2001. Orbit altitude: 122 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Mission duration: 11 days, 19 hours, 36 minutes.

STS-108 was the 12th shuttle flight to visit the International Space Station, and the first since the installation of the Russian Pirs airlock. Endeavour delivered the Expedition Four crew -- Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch -- to the orbital outpost. The Expedition Three crew -- Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin -- returned to Earth on Endeavour.

While at the station, the crew conducted one spacewalk and attached the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the station so that about 2.7 metric tons (3 tons) of equipment and supplies could be unloaded. The crew later returned Raffaello to Endeavour's payload bay for the trip home.

The Student-Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite for Heuristic International Networking Experiment (STARSHINE 2) was deployed from Endeavour's payload bay 16 December 2001, one day before landing.

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