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Race To Space
Someone will win the prize...
               ... but at what cost?
Visit RaceToSpaceProject.com to find out more!

Born, Warren De La Rue, astronomer, chemist (photoheliograph)
ref: micro.magnet.fsu.edu

A. Kopff discovered asteroid #584 Semiramis.

Born, Robert Silverberg, US science fiction author (Hugo, Hawksbill Station)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1969 07:04:57 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 5 with cosmonauts Volynov, Khrunov and Yeliseyev aboard for a manual rendezvous and docking with Soyuz 4 and crew transfer via EVA.

Soyuz 5 was launched 15 January 1969 piloted by Commander Boris Volynov and carrying flight engineers Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov. The flight conducted scientific, technical and medico-biological research, checking and testing of onboard systems and design elements of space craft, docking of piloted space craft and construction of an experimental space station, and transfer of cosmonauts from one craft to another in orbit. The mission rehearsed elements of the Soviet piloted Lunar mission plan.

The docking mission had EVA objectives similar to those planned for Apollo 9. Soyuz 4 launched first, and was the active vehicle in the docking with Soyuz 5. Automatic rendezvous began on 16 January at 13:37 GMT on the 34th revolution of Soyuz 4 and the 18th revolution of Soyuz 5. At 100 m distance Shatalov (in Soyuz 4) took over manual control and guided the spacecraft to an accurate docking on the first attempt, at 14:20 GMT. The TASS news agency stated "... there was a mutual mechanical coupling of the ships... and their electrical circuits were connected. Thus, the world's first experimental cosmic station with four compartments for the crew was assembled and began functioning..." Following docking, Khrunov and Yeliseyev immediately began preparing for their EVA as Volynov filmed them donning their Yastreb space suits. On the 35th revolution of the Earth, Khrunov and Yeliseyev left Soyuz 5 and spent 37 minutes spacewalking to Soyuz 4. The two spacecraft then separated after being docked 4 hours 35 minutes.

Yeliseyev and Khrunov transferred to Soyuz 4 for their return to Earth; Volynov remained behind for what was undoubtedly the most unbelievable re-entry ever survived: The Soyuz service module failed to separate after the retrorockets fired. While this had previously occurred on various Vostok and Voskhod flights, and on one Mercury flight, it was a much more serious problem for Volynov, where the Soyuz service module was much larger than the small retropack on the other vehicles. When the Soyuz started aerobraking, the spacecraft naturally sought the most aerodynamically stable position - nose forward, with the heavy descent module where Volynov was riding facing directly into the air stream with only its light metal entry hatch at the front to protect it. The gaskets sealing the hatch began to burn, filling the air with dangerous fumes. The acceleration, while normal for reentry, was pulling Volynov outward against his harness rather than against the padded seat. Fortunately, as the thermal and aerodynamic stresses on the increased, the struts between the descent and service modules broke off or burned through before the hatch failed. The descent module immediately righted itself once the service module was gone, heat shield forward to take the brunt of reentry. Because the stabilizing rocket fuel had run out and the spacecraft was spinning at a higher than normal rate, there was one final problem in store for Volynov during the flight: The parachute cables partially tangled and soft-landing rockets failed, resulting in a harder than usual impact which broke several of his teeth. To top it off, the capsule had come down in the Ural Mountains 2 km southwest of Kustani, near Orenburg, Russia, far short of its target landing site in Kazakhstan. The local temperature was -38 degrees C (-40 degrees F), and knowing that it would be many hours before rescue teams could reach him, Volynov abandoned the capsule and walked several kilometers to reach a local peasant's house to keep warm. It would be seven years until Volynov flew again, on Soyuz 21.

Volynov's brush with fiery death was a state secret so deep that it only came out recently: When he didn't die from the near disaster, the next order of business was to pretend it had never happened, and Volynov was ordered to NOT tell the story. No news was ever printed in the Soviet press at that time; this space-related accident was kept strictly secret. The post-Soviet Russian space program also kept the information under wraps until 1997, when an 'official' new history book briefly mentioned the incident; that cleared the way for a few newspaper accounts, and Volynov could at last finally be recognized as a hero.

See also Soyuz 5's Flaming Return by James Oberg
See also Soyuz 5 on astronautix.com
ref: www.spacefacts.de
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1973 23:35:00 GMT
USSR's Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 landed on the Moon's surface, the second robotic lunar rover.

The Luna 21 spacecraft, launched 8 January 1973, landed on the Moon on 15 January, and deployed the second Soviet Lunar rover (Lunokhod 2) on 16 January, which traversed 37 km across the Lunar surface over four months. The primary objectives of the mission were to collect images of the Lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study mechanical properties of the Lunar surface material.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

Space Mountain opened at Disneyland, Orlando, Florida.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1976 05:34:00 GMT
The US-German Helios B solar probe was launched into solar orbit.

Helios B was launched 15 January 1976 to make pioneering measurements of the interplanetary medium from the vicinity of Earth's orbit to 0.3 AU, one of a pair of deep-space probes developed by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in a cooperative program with NASA. Experiments were provided by scientists from both the FRG and the US, NASA supplied the Titan/Centaur launch vehicle.

The spacecraft was equipped with two booms and a 32-m electric dipole. The payload consisted of a fluxgate magnetometer; electric and magnetic wave experiments, which covered various bands in the frequency range 6 Hz to 3 MHz; charged particle experiments, which covered various energy ranges starting with solar wind thermal energies and extending to 1 GeV; a zodiacal light experiment; and a micrometeoroid experiment. The spacecraft was spin stabilized with the spin axis normal to the ecliptic, and a nominal spin rate of 1 rps.

The outer surface was coated with a conductive material, resulting in a plasma-sheath potential of typically 5 eV. Sheath-related coupling caused by the spacecraft antennae produced interference with the wave experiments, but the character of the interference was different from that observed on the Helios-A spacecraft.

The spacecraft was capable of being operated at bit rates of from 4096 to 8 bps, variable by factors of two. While the spacecraft was moving to perihelion, it was generally operated from 64 to 256 bps; near 0.3 AU, it was operated at higher bit rates. Because of difficulty encountered with the high-gain antenna, and scheduling conflicts with Viking, relatively fewer high-bit-rate data were obtained from Helios-B than were available from Helios-A.

Instrument descriptions written by the experiments are published (some in German, some in English) in the journal Raumfahrtforschung, v. 19, n. 5, 1975.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

The Coneheads made their debut on "Saturday Night Live."
ref: en.wikipedia.org

K. Suzuki and T. Urata discovered asteroid #3733.

1997 03:55:00 GMT
NASA's STS 81 (Atlantis) docked with the Russian space station Mir for the fifth Shuttle-Mir mission.

STS 81 was launched 12 January 1997 on time after a smooth countdown. The flight was highlighted by the return of U.S. astronaut John Blaha to Earth after a 118 day stay aboard the Russian Space Station Mir (his place was taken by U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger who remained on Mir when STS 81 returned to Earth), and the largest transfer to date of logistics between a Shuttle and Mir. Atlantis also returned carrying the first plants to complete a life cycle in space - a crop of wheat grown from seed to seed. This fifth of nine planned dockings continued Phase 1B of the NASA/Russian Space Agency cooperative effort, with Linenger becoming the third U.S. astronaut in succession to live on Mir. The same payload configuration flown on previous docking flight, featuring the SPACEHAB Double module, was flown again.

Blaha had joined the Mir 22 crew of Commander Valeri Korzun and Flight Engineer Aleksandr Kaleri on 19 September 1996 when he arrived there with the crew of STS 79. Linenger worked with the Mir 22 crew until the arrival in February of the Mir 23 crew of Commander Vasili Tsibliev, Flight Engineer Aleksandr Lazutkin and German researcher Reinhold Ewald (who returned to Earth with the Mir 22 crew). Linenger stayed on Mir until the STS 84 mission arrived in May 1997.

Docking occurred at 10:55 p.m. EST on 14 January, followed by hatch opening at 12:57 a.m. on 15 January. Linenger officially traded places at 4:45 a.m. with Blaha who had spent 118 days on the station and 128 days total on-orbit. During five days of mated operations, the crews transferred nearly 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms) of logistics to Mir, including around 1,600 pounds of water; around 1,138 pounds of U.S. science equipment; and 2,206 pounds of Russian logistical equipment. About 2,400 pounds of materials returned with Atlantis from Mir. Undocking occurred at 9:15 p.m. EST on 19 January, followed by a flyaround of Mir.

The STS 81 crew also tested the Treadmill Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System (TVIS) on the Shuttle, designed for use in the Russian Service Module of the International Space Station. Another activity related to the International Space Station involved firing the orbiter's small vernier jet thrusters during mated operations to gather engineering data.

The STS 81 mission ended on 22 January 1997 when Atlantis landed on revolution 160 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the second KSC opportunity for the day. Rollout distance: 9,350 feet (2,850 meters). Rollout time: one minute, nine seconds. Mission duration: 10 days, four hours, 55 minutes, 21 seconds. Orbit altitude: 184 statute miles. Orbit inclination: 51.60 degrees. Miles traveled: 4.1 million.

The flight crew for STS 81 was: Michael A. Baker, Mission Commander; Brent W. Jett, Jr, Pilot; John M. Grunsfeld, Mission Specialist; Marsha S. Ivins, Mission Specialist; Peter J.K. Wisoff, Mission Specialist; Jerry M. Linenger, Mission Specialist (returned on STS 84); John E. Blaha returned from Mir (launched on STS 79).
ref: www.nasa.gov

NASA announced John Glenn, who had been the first American into space, would return to space at the age of 77 when Discovery was launched in October 1998.
ref: www.nytimes.com

2006 10:10:00 GMT
NASA's Stardust Mission returned to Earth after passing within 236 km (147 miles) of comet Wild 2.

The Stardust Mission spacecraft was launched 7 February 1999. The probe flew past asteroid #5535 Anne Frank on 2 November 2002, passing within 3000 km. On 2 January 2004, Stardust flew within 236 kilometers (147 miles) of Comet Wild 2 and captured thousands of particles in its aerogel collector for return on Earth on 15 January 2006. Findings from the historic encounter revealed a much stranger world than previously believed. The comet's rigid surface, dotted with towering pinnacles, plunging craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of jets spewing violently, surprised scientists.
ref: stardust.jpl.nasa.gov
ref: en.wikipedia.org

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