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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 31

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Died, Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (at Naples, Italy), mathematician and astronomer

Died, John Flamsteed, astronomer (first Astronomer Royal of England)

John Flamsteed (19 August 1646 - 31 December 1719) was the first Astronomer Royal of England. Among other things, he accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He also observed Uranus on 23 December 1690, without realizing it was an undiscovered planet, mistaking it for a star which he classified as 34 Tauri.

Born, Robert G. Aitken, US astronomer (New General Catalogue of Double Stars), Bruce Medal 1926

J. D. Schneiter applied for a patent for rocket mail in France, which has yet to be implemented on a regular basis. (2017)

Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #424 Gratia.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #583 Klotilde.

Born, Robert "Bob" Shaw, UK science fiction author (Orbitsville, Ragged Astronauts, Vertigo)

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1208 Troilus.

Born, Viktor Mikhailovich Afanasyev (at Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast, Russian SFSR), Russian cosmonaut (MIR 8, MIR 15, MIR 27, Soyuz TM-33/Soyuz TM-32, 555.75 total days in space)

The first battery to convert radioactivity to electrical energy was announced.

Died, Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer, founder and director of KLM

The International Geophysical Year (IGY), the impetus behind the launch of Sputnik, ended after 18 months.

Died, Josef Maria Boehm, German guided missile expert in World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, Head of Electromechanical Engineering Branch, Guidance and Control Division, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (1960)

Died (alcohol poisoning, at Moscow, Russia), Vasili Lazarev, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 12, Soyuz 18A (aborted), 1d 23h time in spaceflight)

Vasili Grigoryevich Lazarev (23 February 1928 - 31 December 1990) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on Soyuz 12 as well as the abortive Soyuz 18a launch. He was injured by the high acceleration of the abort and landing and was initially denied his spaceflight bonus pay, having to appeal directly to Brezhnev to receive it. Lazarev held a PhD in medicine and was a colonel in the Soviet Air Force. He remained in the space program until failing a physical in 1981.

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