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Died, Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer (heliocentric solar system)

Born, William Gilbert (at Colchester, England), astronomer, physicist (researched magnetism)

Born (Gregorian calendar date, 14 May Julian calendar), Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, Prussia, inventor (first to use mercury in a thermometer, Farenheit temperature scale)

Samuel F. B. Morse sent a telegram saying "What hath God wrought?" as he formally opened America's first telegraph line, between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC.

C H F Peters discovered asteroid #131 Vala.

Born, Hans F. Gruene, German/American rocket engineer, NASA launch vehicles director

J Comas Sola discovered asteroid #1117 Reginita.

C Jackson discovered asteroid #1195 Orangia.

H Van Gent discovered asteroid #1385 Gelria.

Igor Sikorsky accomplished the first successful helicopter free flight, in Stratford, Connecticut.

Born, Ronald "Ron" Anthony Parise, PhD (at Warren, Ohio, USA), NASA payload specialist astronaut (STS 35, STS 67) (deceased)

Astronaut Ron Parise, NASA photo

1954 17:00:00 UTC
The US Navy launched the Viking 11 re-entry vehicle test flight, the first rocket to attain 150 mi (241 km) altitude from White Sands, New Mexico, as a re-entry nose-cone heat transfer experiment, and for photography research.

The DRG (German Rocket Society) launched twelve of their small mail rockets from Vienna (Wien-Aspern) with 5000 postcards aboard.

1961 19:48:00 UTC
NASA launched Explorer S45A which was unable to achieve orbit because the Juno II second stage failed to ignite.

1962 12:45:16 UTC
With the launch of Mercury Atlas 7 ("Aurora 7"), Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit Earth.

Mercury Atlas 7 (Aurora 7) lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA photo

Mercury Atlas 7 (MA-7, popularly known as "Aurora 7"), launched 24 May 1962, was the second orbital flight of an American rocket with a human on board. M. Scott Carpenter was assigned to fly the mission after a medical examination of Donald K. ("Deke") Slayton, the originally scheduled pilot, revealed an irregularity in his heartbeat. The objectives of MA-7, similar to those of MA-6, were to: (1) evaluate the performance of a man-spacecraft system in a three-orbit mission; (2) evaluate the effects of space flight on the astronaut; (3) obtain the astronaut's opinions on the operational suitability of the spacecraft systems; (4) evaluate the performance of spacecraft systems replaced or modified as a result of previous missions; and, (5) exercise and further evaluate the performance of the Mercury Worldwide Network.

Originally scheduled for launch in early May, the mission was postponed three times, once (7 May) due to check Atlas launch vehicle problems, once (17 May) for modifications to the altitude sensing instruments in the parachute deployment system, and finally (19 May) due to detected irregularities in the temperature control device on a heater in the Atlas flight control system.

During the flight, only one critical component malfunction was encountered: A random failure occurred in the circuitry associated with the pitch horizon scanner, which provided a reference point to the attitude gyros. There was also concern about excessive fuel usage resulting from extensive use of the high thrust controls and the inadvertant use of two control systems simultaneously. To compensate for this, the spacecraft was allowed to drift in attitude for 77 minutes beyond the time already built into the flight plan.

Two experiments were on-board MA-7. One was a balloon, deployed and inflated to measure drag and provide visibility data. The other was a device to study the behavior of liquid in a weightless state. The balloon experiment failed when it did not properly inflate on deployment, but the liquid experiment behaved as anticipated.

A curious event during Glenn's (MA-6) flight was his report of "fire flies" when he entered the sunrise portion of an orbit. Although this phenomenon was a mystery at the time, it was resolved during Mercury Atlas 7 when Carpenter accidentally tapped the wall of the spacecraft with his hand, releasing many of the so-called "fire flies". The source was determined to be frost from the reaction control jets.

During the flight, the spacecraft attained a maximum velocity in excess of 28,000 km/hour (17,400 mph) and an altitude of about 267 km (166 miles). The capsule reentered after completing three orbits, coming down in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Puerto Rico at 19 degrees 29 minutes N, 64 degrees 05 minutes W, about 400 km (250 miles) beyond the planned impact point. The overshoot was traced to a 25 degree yaw error at the time the retrograde rockets were fired. Retrofire was also about 3 seconds late, which accounted for about 32 km (20 miles) of the overshoot. The duration of the flight was 4 hours 56 minutes and 5 seconds during which Carpenter travelled over 121,600 km (75,560 miles).

After the retrorockets were fired, computers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center successfully predicted the splashdown area, and naval ships and aircraft were deployed to the new location. An Air Rescue Service SA-16 amphibian aircraft was the first to establish visual contact with the spacecraft some 39 minutes after splashdown, with the USS Farragut being the first ship to reach the area. Carpenter was picked up after 2 hours and 59 minutes in the water and returned by helicopter to the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. He experienced no adverse physical or biomedical effects due to the flight. The Mercury capsule was not retrieved until about 6 hours later when special equipment on the USS John R. Pierce arrived to retrieve it.

Died, Louis Alan Hazeltine, inventor (neutrodyne circuit, made radio practical)

1966 05:31:00 UTC
USSR launched Cosmos 119 into orbit for investigation of the upper atmosphere and outer space.

1967 14:06:00 UTC
NASA launched IMP-F (Explorer 34) into orbit from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, to obtain radiation and magnetic field data.

1967 22:48:00 UTC
USSR launched the Molniya 1-5 communication satellite into orbit from Baikonur for further development and experimental operation of long-range two-way television and telephone-telegraph radio communication.

NASA's Echo 1, the first successful communications satellite, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Following the failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on 13 May 1960, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was successfully put in a 1519 x 1687 km orbit on 12 August 1960. The spacecraft was a 30.48 meter (100 foot) diameter balloon of mylar polyester film 0.5 mil (0.0127 mm) thick, designed and successfully used as a passive communications reflector for transcontinental and intercontinental telephone (voice), radio, and television signals. The first two-way voice communications was bounced off Echo I on 13 August 1960 between Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Richardson, Texas. The first reported picture transmission took place on 19 August, from Cedar Rapids to Richardson.

Since its shiny surface was also reflective of visible light, Echo 1A was visible to the unaided eye over most of the Earth. Brighter than most stars, it was probably seen by more people than any other man-made object in space. It had 107.9-MHz beacon transmitters for telemetry purposes, powered by five nickel-cadmium batteries charged by 70 solar cells mounted on the balloon. Because of the large area-to-mass ratio of the spacecraft, data for calculation of atmospheric density and solar pressure could be, and was, acquired. The spacecraft was also used to evaluate the technical feasibility of satellite triangulation during the latter portion of its life. Echo 1A re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on 24 May 1968.

To communicate via Echo 1, Bell Labs created a 50-foot (15-meter) horn-shaped antenna. Later, while calibrating the antenna, radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected cosmic microwave background radiation, commonly interpreted as the first solid evidence of the Big Bang, for which they won the Nobel Prize. (See for a different interpretation of the CMB radiation.)

See also

1969 10:25:29 UTC
After 31 Lunar orbits, the Apollo 10 CSM rockets were fired for the trans-Earth injection to bring astronauts Stafford, Young, and Cernan home from the final "dry run" mission prior to the first manned Lunar landing.

Apollo 10, launched 18 May 1969, was the second Apollo mission to orbit the Moon, and the first to travel to the Moon with the full Apollo spacecraft, consisting of the Command and Service Module (CSM-106, "Charlie Brown") and the Lunar Module (LM-4, "Snoopy"). The CSM mass of 28,834 kg included propellants and expendables; the LM mass including propellants was 13,941 kg. The primary objectives of the mission were to demonstrate crew, space vehicle, and mission support facilities during a manned Lunar mission and to evaluate LM performance in cislunar and Lunar environment. The mission was a full "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, in which all operations except the actual Lunar landing were performed. The flight carried a three man crew: Commander Thomas P. Stafford, Command Module (CM) Pilot John W. Young, and Lunar Module (LM) Pilot Eugene A. Cernan.

After launch, the spacecraft was inserted into a 189.9 km x 184.4 km Earth parking orbit at 17:00:54 UT, followed by translunar injection after 1 1/2 orbits at 19:28:21 UT. The CSM separated from the Saturn V 3rd stage (S-IVB) at 19:51:42 UT, transposed, and docked with the LM at 20:06:37. TV coverage of the docking procedures was transmitted to the Goldstone, California tracking station for worldwide commercial viewing. Having achieved a trajectory towards the Moon, the Apollo 10 LM and CSM decoupled from the SIVB at 20:45 UT on 18 May and made a course correction to head for Lunar orbit. The SIVB stage was put on a ballistic trajectory by venting residual propellants where it flew by the Moon on 21 May and entered solar orbit.

On 19 May, the crew elected not to make the first of a series of midcourse maneuvers. A second preplanned midcourse correction that adjusted the trajectory to coincide with a July Lunar landing trajectory was executed at 3:19 pm EDT. The maneuver was so accurate that the preplanned third and fourth midcourse corrections were canceled. During the translunar coast, five color TV transmissions, totaling 72 minutes, were made of the spacecraft and the Earth.

After a three day cruise, Apollo 10 entered an initial 315.5 km x 110.4 km Lunar orbit on 21 May 1969 at 20:44:54 UT, using a 356 sec. SPS burn. A second SPS burn lasting 19.3 seconds circularized the orbit to 113.9 km x 109.1 km.

On 22 May, Stafford and Cernan entered the LM and fired the SM reaction control thrusters to separate the LM from the CSM at 19:36:17 UT. The LM was put into an orbit to allow low altitude passes over the Lunar surface, the closest approach bringing it to within 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km) of the Moon. All systems on the LM were tested during the separation including communications, propulsion, attitude control, and radar. The tests included a test of the landing radar, visual observation of Lunar lighting, stereo photography of the Moon, and execution of a phasing maneuver using the descent engine. The LM made a low-level pass over the planned site for the first Lunar landing. Numerous close-up photographs of the Moon's surface, in particular the planned Apollo landing sites, were taken. The LM descent stage was jettisoned into Lunar orbit. An error in switch positions brought a heart-stopping moment when the LM ascent stage went into wild gyrations after separation from the descent stage, possibly a fatal error if it had occurred during take off from the surface on a landing mission. The LM and CSM rendezvous and redocking occurred 8 hours after separation at 03:22 UT on 23 May.

Later on 23 May, the LM ascent stage was jettisoned into solar orbit after its batteries were burned to depletion. On 24 May, at 10:25:29 UT, after 61.5 hours in 31 Lunar orbits, the CSM rockets were fired for transearth injection. During the return trip, the astronauts made star-Lunar landmark sightings, star-Earth horizon navigation sightings, and live television transmissions. CM-SM separation took place on 26 May at 16:22:26 UT, and Apollo 10 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 26 May 1969 at 16:52:23 UT (12:52:23 p.m. EDT) after a mission elapsed time of 192 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds. The splashdown point was 15 deg 2 min S, 164 deg 39 min W, 400 miles east of American Samoa and 5.5 km (3.4 mi) from the recovery ship USS Princeton.

All systems on both spacecraft functioned nominally, the only exception being an anomaly in the automatic abort guidance system aboard the LM. In addition to extensive photography of the Lunar surface from both the LM and CSM, television images were taken and transmitted to Earth.

The Apollo 10 Command Module "Charlie Brown" is on display at the Science Museum, London, England.

The Apollo program included a large number of uncrewed test missions and 12 crewed missions: three Earth orbiting missions (Apollo 7, 9 and Apollo-Soyuz), two Lunar orbiting missions (Apollo 8 and 10), a Lunar swingby (Apollo 13), and six Moon landing missions (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). Two astronauts from each of these six missions walked on the Moon (Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Charles Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt), the only humans to have set foot on another solar system body (as of 2015).

Born, Maksim Viktorovich Surayev (at Chelyabinsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russian SFSR), Russian cosmonaut (ISS 21/22, ISS 40/41, 334.5 total days in space)

1975 14:58:00 UTC
USSR launched Soyuz 18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, with cosmonauts Kilmuk and Sevastyanov aboard, to the Salyut 4 space station.

Soyuz 18 was a manned Soviet mission launched 24 May 1975 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The flight crew consisted of Cosmonauts Kilmuk and Sevastyanov. Soyuz 18 docked with the Salyut 4 space station for joint experiments with the Salyut scientific orbital station. The crew remained aloft aboard the station during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project joint flight, and set Soviet record for time in space. Soyuz 18 was recovered on 26 July 1975 after 63 days in space when it landed 56 km east of Arkalyk.

1986 01:42:00 UTC
USSR launched the Ekran 15 communication satellite for transmission of Central Television programs to a network of receivers for collective use. It was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 99 deg E in 1986-1988.

1989 10:33:00 UTC
The 20,000th manmade object to orbit the Earth was launched, the Soviet Cosmos 2021 variation of the Yantar-class spacecraft used to conduct high-precision topographic surveys.

An aerobraking maneuver was started to circularize the orbit of NASA's Magellan spacecraft, revolving around Venus on a mapping mission.

Magellan, launched 4 May 1989 aboard NASA's shuttle Atlantis, was a unique mission, being the first dedicated US mission to study the surface of Venus in detail, using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Because Magellan was intended to be a low cost mission, major components of the spacecraft were obtained from flight spares from other programs including Galileo, Viking, Voyager, Mariner, Skylab, Ulysses, and even the shuttle. Designed as a follow-up to the mapping portion of the Pioneer Venus mission, Magellan's purpose was to: (1) obtain near-global radar images of Venus' surface with a resolution equivalent to optical imaging of 1 km per line pair; (2) obtain a near-global topographic map with 50 km spatial and 100 m vertical resolution; (3) obtain near-global gravity field data with 700 km resolution and 2-3 milligals (1 gal = 1 cm/s**2) accuracy; and, (4) develop an understanding of the geological structure of the planet, including its density distribution and dynamics.

Magellan reached Venus and went into orbit on 10 August 1990. The initial phase of the mission (Cycle 1) began shortly after orbital insertion about Venus and lasted for eight months (15 September 1990 through 15 May 1991). During this cycle, Magellan collected radar images of about 84% of the planet's surface. Cycle 2 lasted from the end of cycle 1 until 15 January 1992, during which the spacecraft obtained images of the southern polar region and filled numerous gaps left in the cycle 1 information. Cycle 3 began on 24 January 1992 and lasted until 15 September 1992, during which the remaining gaps from cycle 1 were filled in as well as providing data which, in combination with earlier data, could be used to produce stereo images of the surface. Cycle 4 lasted from 15 September 1992 to May 1993 and consisted of gravity data acquisition from the elliptical orbit. An aerobraking maneuver, in which Magellan was dipped into the Venus atmosphere to shed orbital energy and bring the spacecraft into a more circular orbit, was performed from 24 May until 2 August 1993. At the end of aerobraking, the orbit had a periapsis of 180 km, an apoapsis of 540 km, and a period of 94 minutes. Cycle 5 was used to acquire gravity data from this orbit from 3 August 1993 until 29 August 1994, giving high-resolution gravity data for about 95% of the planet. In September 1994, the Windmill experiment took place, in which the solar panels were tilted at an angle so that atmospheric drag put a torque on the craft, which could be measured to give information about the atmospheric density at different altitudes.

Magellan began its final descent into the atmosphere of Venus on 11 October 1994. On 12 October 1994, radio contact with Magellan was lost, and the spacecraft presumably burned up in the atmosphere on 13 or 14 October 1994.

By the end of the mission, over 99% of the planet's surface had been mapped by RADAR with a resolution ten times better than that obtained by the earlier Soviet Venera 15 and 16 missions.

The final Magellan Status Reports can be accessed through

During the 5h 20m Mir EO-21-2 extravehicular activity (EVA), cosmonauts deployed the MCSA solar array on the Mir space station.

1996 01:09:00 UTC
The Galaxy 9 communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. It was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 123 deg W in 1996-2000; and at 127 deg W starting in 2000.

1997 09:27:44 EDT (UTC -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 84 (Atlantis 19, 84th Shuttle mission) landed after the sixth Shuttle-Mir docking mission.

NASA's launch of STS 84 on 15 May 1997 occurred on time following a smooth countdown. The sixth Shuttle-Mir docking was highlighted by the transfer of the fourth successive US crew member to the Russian Space Station when astronaut Mike Foale exchanged places with Jerry Linenger, who arrived at Mir on 15 January with the crew of STS 81. Linenger spent 123 days on Mir and just over 132 days in space from launch to landing, placing him second behind US astronaut Shannon Lucid for most the time spent on-orbit by an American. Another milestone reached during his stay was the one year anniversary of a continuous US presence in space that began with Lucid's arrival at Mir on 22 March 1996.

Other significant events during Linenger's stay included the first US-Russian space walk: On 29 April, Linenger participated in a five hour extravehicular activity (EVA) with Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev to attach a monitor to the outside of the station. The Optical Properties Monitor (OPM) was to remain on Mir for nine months to allow study of the effect of the space environment on optical properties, such as mirrors used in telescopes.

On 23 February, a fire broke out on the 11 year old station. It caused minimal damage, but required station's inhabitants to wear protective masks for about 36 hours until the cabin air was cleaned. Besides Linenger, crew members aboard Mir at the time included two Mir 22 cosmonauts and a German cosmonaut, and two Mir 23 cosmonauts.

STS 84 docked with Mir on 16 May above the Adriatic Sea. Hatches between two spacecraft opened at 12:25 am EDT, 17 May. Greetings were exchanged between the STS 84 crew and Mir 23 Commander Vasily Tsibliev, Flight Engineer Alexander Lazutkin and Linenger, followed by a safety briefing. Linenger and Foale officially traded places at 10:15 am EDT on 17 May 1997.

Transfer of items to and from Mir proceeded smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule. One of first items transferred to the station was an Elektron oxygen generating unit. Altogether, 249 items were moved between the two spacecraft, and about 1,000 pounds of water moved to Mir, for a total of about 7,500 pounds of water, experiment samples, supplies and hardware.

The research program planned for Foale during his stay aboard Mir featured 35 investigations (33 on Mir, two on STS 84, with a preflight/postflight component) in six disciplines: advanced technology, Earth observations and remote sensing, fundamental biology, human life sciences, space station risk mitigation, and microgravity sciences. Twenty-eight of these were conducted during previous missions and were to be continued, repeated or completed during Foale's stay. Seven new experiments were planned in biological and crystal growth studies and materials processing.

Undocking occurred on 21 May. Unlike prior dockings, no flyaround of the station by the orbiter was conducted, but the orbiter was stopped three times while backing away to collect data from a European sensor device designed to assist future rendezvous of a proposed European Space Agency resupply vehicle with the International Space Station.

Other activities conducted during the mission included investigations using the Biorack facility, located in the SPACEHAB Double Module in Atlantis' payload bay, a photo survey of Mir during docked operations, environmental air samplings and radiation monitoring.

STS 84 ended 24 May 1997 when Atlantis landed on revolution 144 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the second KSC opportunity after being waved off from the first due to low clouds in the vicinity. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Rollout distance: 8,384 feet (2,555 meters). Rollout time: 51 seconds. Mission duration: nine days, five hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.6 million.

The flight crew for STS 84 was: Charles J. Precourt, Mission Commander; Eileen M. Collins, Pilot; Jean-Francois Clervoy, (ESA) Mission Specialist; Carlos I. Noriega, Mission Specialist; Edward T. Lu, Mission Specialist; Elena V. Kondakova, (RSA) Mission Specialist; C. Michael Foale, Mission Specialist (returned on STS 86); Jerry M. Linenger returned from Mir (launched on STS 81).

1997 17:00:00 UTC
The Telstar 5 communications satellite was launched from Baikonur on a Proton booster, and positioned in geostationary orbit at 97 degrees W longitude.

2000 23:10:00 UTC
The Eutelsat W4 communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral on the maiden flight of the Atlas IIIA booster.

Eutelsat W4 was launched 24 May 2000 on the maiden flight of the Atlas IIIA rocket, its flight had been scrubbed four times. It was a European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Eutelsat) satellite equipped with 32 Ku-band transponders, and antennae covering Russia and Africa, stationed at 36 deg E longitude. This was the third of the high power Eutelsat W series to be launched (W1 was destroyed in a ground accident). Eutelsat W4 was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 32 deg E in 2000. As of 4 September 2001, it was at 35.98 deg E, drifting at 0.003 deg E per day.

2003 16:34:00 UTC
China launched the Beidou 1C navigation technology satellite from Xichang on a Long March 3A.

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