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Space History for December 26

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Race To Space
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               ... but at what cost?
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Born, Charles Babbage, mathematician and inventor of computing machines

Charles Babbage (26 December 1791 - 18 October 1871) was an English mathematician, analytical philosopher and (proto-)computer scientist who is commonly identified as the first person to come up with the idea of a programmable computer. Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, working from Babbage's original plans, a Difference Engine was completed, and functioned perfectly. It was built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, indicating that Babbage's machine would have worked as expected if he had been able to complete it at the time.

John Wanamaker's store in Philadelphia became the first department store to install electric lights.

Robert Goddard launched his third liquid fuel rocket, four times larger than previous models, which reached a speed of 60 mph: The Hoopskirt rocket cleared the tower and flew for 3.2 seconds, covering a distance of 204.5 feet (62 m).

Died, Melvil Dewey, librarian, creator of the Dewey Decimal Classification system

Edwin H. Armstrong received five US patents covering the basic features of FM radio.

1973 08:50:35 GMT
USSR Soyuz 13 landed after 8 days in orbit.

USSR launched Soyuz 13 on 18 December 1973, the flight lasted 188 hours 32 minutes, landing on 26 December 1973. Its basic flight objectives were: Observation of stars in the ultraviolet range using a special system of telescopes; survey of separate sections of Earth's surface and acquisition of data; continuation of comprehensive verification of onboard systems; test of manual and automatic control and methods of autonomous navigation in various flight conditions. The flight was successful.

Soyuz 13 was a second test flight of the redesigned Soyuz capsule that first flew as Soyuz 12. This particular spacecraft was further specially modified to carry a large camera for astrophysical observations. Using the instrument, cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk carried out ultraviolet photography of stars and spectroscopic photography of the Earth.

See also NSSDCA Master Catalog

1974 04:15:00 GMT
USSR launched the Salyut 4 orbiting workshop. It was unmanned at launch.

Salyut 4 basic flight objectives: Unmanned orbiting space workshop to further test design, onboard systems, and equipment; scientific-technical studies conducted by visiting Soyuz crews. Summary of results: Successful; manned by Soyuz 17 (11 January 1975 - 10 February 1975, 30 days) and Soyuz 18 (May 1975 - July 1975, 63 days).

Salyut 4 (DOS 4) was a Salyut space station launched on 26 December 1974 into an orbit with an apogee of 355 km, a perigee of 343 km and an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees. It was essentially a copy of the DOS 3, and unlike its ill-fated sibling it was a complete success. Three crews attempted to make stays aboard Salyut 4 (Soyuz 17 and Soyuz 18 docked; Soyuz 18a suffered a launch abort). The second stay was for 63 days duration, and an unmanned Soyuz capsule remained docked to the station for three months, proving the systems' long-term durability. Salyut 4 was deorbited on 2 February 1977, re-entering the atmosphere and destroyed on 3 February.

See also Salyut 4 on Wikipedia

Died, John G. Kemeny, US computer pioneer (wrote BASIC, with Kurtz)

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