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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 8

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German amateur astronomer K.L. Hencke discovered Astraea, the fifth asteroid found, named for the goddess of justice. The King of Prussia awarded him an annual pension of 1,200 marks for the discovery.

Died, George Boole, mathematician (Boolean algebra, credited with laying the foundations for the information age)

A Charlois discovered asteroid #441 Bathilde.

Died, Arthur Matthew Weld Downing, British astronomer, collaborated in establishing an international standard for astronomical constants

Born, John B "Jack" McKay, X-15 pilot (deceased)

X-15 pilot John B. McKay, NASA photo

Born, Vladimir Shatalov (at Petropavlovsk, North-Kazakhstan Oblast, Kazakh SSR), USSR cosmonaut (Soyuz 4, Soyuz 8, Soyuz 10)

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Shatalov (8 December 1927 - ) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew three space missions of the Soyuz program: Soyuz 4, Soyuz 8, and Soyuz 10. From 1971 to 1987 he was Commander of Cosmonaut Training, and Director of the Cosmonaut Training Center from then until 1991.

Quote: "When we look into the sky it seems to us to be endless. We breath without thinking about it, as is natural... and then you sit aboard a spacecraft, you tear away from Earth, and within ten minutes you have been carried straight through the layer of air and beyond there is nothing! The 'boundless' blue sky, the ocean which gives us breath and protects us from endless black and death, is but an infinitesimally thin film. How dangerous it is to threaten even the smallest part of this gossamer covering, this conserver of life." (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Coaxial cable was patented by Lloyd Espenschied and Herman A. Affel. The patent was assigned to the American Telephone & Telegraph Company.

Died, Hermann Weyl, German mathematician and physicist

Hermann Weyl (9 November 1885 - 8 December 1955) was a German mathematician and physicist, one of the first people to combine general relativity with the laws of electromagnetism. From 1913 to 1930 he held the chair of mathematics at the Technische Hochschule of Zurich.

Weyl published works on space, time, matter, philosophy, logic, and the history of mathematics. Weyl researched mainly topological space and geometry (of the Bernhard Riemann derivation); he also researched quantum mechanics and number theory. His research is the framework for nonconservation of parity, a characteristic of weak interactions between subatomic lepton particles.

1956 01:05:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
The US performed the first test firing of the Vanguard satellite program, TV-0. The vehicle achieved an altitude of 126.5 miles and a range of 97.6 miles, and successfully tested a small telemetry probe.

NASA launched A-002 on a Little Joe II booster, an unmanned Apollo test of launch vehicle performance and verification of abort capability in the maximum dynamic pressure region. The flight was successful; the Command Module was recovered.

R Burnham & N G Thomas discovered asteroid #3397.

1974 08:04:00 GMT
USSR's Soyuz 16 landed 30 km NE of Arkalyk with cosmonauts Filipchenko and Rukavishnikov aboard to who had checked systems updated for the 1975 joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Program mission during their six day flight.

Osservatorio San Vittore discovered asteroid #2601 Bologna.

1983 15:47:24 PST (GMT -8:00:00)
NASA's STS 9 (Columbia 6) landed at Edwards AFB after 10 days in space.

The STS 9 launch set for 30 September 1983 was delayed 28 days due to a suspect exhaust nozzle on the right solid rocket booster. The problem was discovered while the Shuttle was on the launch pad. In the program's first rollback, the Shuttle was returned to the VAB and demated, where the suspect nozzle was replaced before the vehicle was restacked. The countdown on 28 November proceeded as scheduled.

STS 9 carried the first Spacelab mission, and first astronaut to represent the European Space Agency (ESA), Ulf Merbold of Germany. ESA and NASA jointly sponsored Spacelab-1 and conducted investigations which demonstrated a capability for advanced research in space. Spacelab is an orbital laboratory and observations platform composed of cylindrical pressurized modules and U-shaped unpressurized pallets which remain in orbiter's cargo bay during flight.

Altogether 73 separate investigations were carried out in astronomy and physics, atmospheric physics, Earth observations, life sciences, materials sciences, space plasma physics and technology. This flight was also the first time six persons were carried into space on a single vehicle.

The mission ended on 8 December 1983 when Columbia landed on revolution 167 on Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 8,456 feet. Rollout time: 53 seconds. Launch weight: 247,619 pounds. Landing weight: 220,027 pounds. Orbit altitude: 155 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: 10 days, seven hours, 47 minutes, 24 seconds. Miles traveled: 4.3 million. The landing was delayed approximately eight hours to analyze problems when general purpose computers one and two failed and inertial measurement unit one failed. During landing, two of the three auxiliary power units caught fire. The orbiter was returned to KSC 15 December 1983.

The STS 9 crew was: John W. Young, Commander; Brewster H. Shaw, Jr., Pilot; Owen K. Garriott, Mission Specialist; Dr. Robert A. Parker, Mission Specialist; Dr. Byron K. Lichtenberg, Payload Specialist; Dr. Ulf Merbold, Payload Specialist (ESA).

Died, Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey, Soviet engineer, Chief Designer and General Designer 1955-1984 of OKB-52, led work on cruise missiles, ICBMs, and spacecraft

Died, Forrest Silas Petersen, American test pilot (X-15), Vice Admiral USN

NASA's Galileo spacecraft made its first Earth flyby en route to Jupiter.

Space Shuttle Atlantis, with the Galileo spacecraft aboard, was launched from Kennedy Space Center on 18 October 1989. Galileo was deployed on the 6th orbit around the Earth, with the first stage IUS burn executed an hour later. The second stage IUS burn occurred 5 minutes later to place Galileo on an Earth escape velocity of 7.1 miles/sec. 7 hours 46 minutes after launch, the IUS went into a first stage spinoff to deploy the RTG and science booms. The second stage IUS spinoff at a rate of 2.9 revolutions/minute for the separation of the IUS from Galileo soon followed. At that point, telemetry data were transmitted and received by the DSN (Deep Space Network).

The Galileo mission consisted of two spacecraft: an orbiter and an atmospheric probe. The trajectory which the spacecraft followed was called a VEEGA (Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist), traveling first in toward the Sun for a gravity assist from Venus on 10 February 1990 before encountering the Earth two times on 8 December 1990 and two years later, on 8 December 1992. These encounters with Venus and the Earth allowed Galileo to gain enough velocity to get it out to Jupiter.

During the flybys of Venus and the Earth, Galileo scientists studied these two planets as well as the Moon, making some unprecedented observations. In addition, following each Earth flyby, Galileo made excursions as far out in the solar system as the asteroid belt, enabling scientists to make the first close-up studies of two asteroids, Gaspra (29 October 1991) and Ida (28 August 1993). Galileo scientists were also the only ones with a "direct view" of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment impacts on Jupiter in July 1994. All of this was prior to the primary missions of sending an atmospheric probe into Jupiter's atmosphere and studying Jupiter, its satellites, and its magnetosphere for two years with the orbiter.

Interplanetary studies were also made sporadically by some of the other Galileo instruments, including the dust detector, magnetometer, and various plasma and particles detectors, during its six year journey to Jupiter.

The probe was released from the orbiter on 12 July 1995, 147 days prior to its entry into the Jovian atmosphere on 7 December 1995, the same day the main spacecraft went into orbit around Jupiter.

The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an end on Sunday 21 September 2003 when the spacecraft passed into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere after 35 orbits around the planet. Its propellant was depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere at 18:57 GMT (11:57 AM PDT). Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, when it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safe mode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on 20 September, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on 21 September, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.

See also for more images and information about the asteroid Gaspra encounter.

Asteroid 4179 Toutatis (3.5 km, 2 miles in diameter) passed the Earth at a distance of 3.6 million km (2.2 million miles).

NASA's Galileo spacecraft made its second Earth flyby on its way to Jupiter.
see above

NASA made telemetry contact with Pioneer 6 to celebrate 35 years of continuous operation since the satellite was launched.

Pioneer 6, launched 16 December 1965, was the first in a series of solar orbiting satellites designed to obtain measurements on a continuing basis of interplanetary phenomena from widely separated points in space. Its experiments studied the positive ions and electrons in the solar wind, the interplanetary electron density (radio propagation experiment), solar and galactic cosmic rays, and the interplanetary magnetic field. The spacecraft was spin-stabilized at about 60 rpm, with the spin axis perpendicular to the ecliptic plane and pointed toward the south ecliptic pole. The time interval between the collection and storage of successive frames could be varied by ground command between 2 and 17 minutes to provide partial data coverage for periods up to 19 hours, as limited by the bit storage capacity. In memory readout mode, data were read out at whatever bit rate was appropriate to the satellite distance from Earth. Although the spacecraft has not been regularly tracked for science data return in recent years, a successful telemetry contact was made on 8 December 2000 to celebrate 35 years of continuous operation since launch.

Died, John H. Glenn Jr., Colonel USMC, NASA astronaut (Mercury 6 "Friendship 7", STS 95), Senator (D-Ohio), first American to orbit Earth, oldest human to go to space (as of 2017)

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