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Race To Space
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Born, D. Francois J. Arago, French physicist, astronomer (electromagnet, chromosphere)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #184 Dejopeja.

J. Coggia discovered asteroid #193 Ambrosia.

Died, J. Thomas Romney Robinson, Irish astronomer, physicist, inventor (cup anemometer)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #710 Gertrud.

A. Schwassmann discovered asteroid #1310 Villigera; and E. Delporte discovered asteroid #1724 Vladimir.

L. Boyer discovered asteroids #1629 Pecker and #1630 Milet.

1959 21:50:00 GMT
Discoverer 1 was launched, the first satellite put into polar orbit, and the first launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Discoverer 1 was a test of the performance capabilities of the propulsion and guidance system of the booster and satellite. Launch took place from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Thor-Agena A. After first stage burnout at 28529 km/hr the rocket coasted to orbital altitude where the second stage guidance system oriented the spacecraft by means of pneumatic nitrogen jets. Official reports indicate the second stage engine ignited when the correct attitude was achieved, putting the spacecraft into a polar orbit where it remained until re-entry on either 5 March or 17 March 1959. However, the Agena soon passed out of RADAR range after launch and ground controllers lost contact with it since there was no reliable way to track a launch vehicle deep in the Southern Hemisphere at that early stage of the program. While Discoverer 1 was initially assumed to have reached orbit, no signals were detected. (The official report states "Difficulty was encountered receiving signals after launch, but the satellite broadcast intermittently later in the flight.") It is generally believed that the Agena or satellite or both suffered an unknown malfunction after passing out of tracking range and that Discoverer 1 most likely impacted in the South Pacific or Antarctica.

Discoverer 1 was the first man-made object ever put into a polar orbit.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

Died (T-38 crash), Charles A. Bassett II, Gemini 9A astronaut candidate

Astronauts Elliot M. See, Jr., and Charles A. Bassett II, the prime crew for Gemini 9, were killed 28 February 1966 when their NASA T-38 training jet crashed in rain and fog short of the St. Louis Municipal Airport. The plane, which had been cleared for an instrument landing, was left of center in its approach to the runway when it turned toward the McDonnell manufacturing complex 1000 feet from the landing strip. See misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway, hit Building 101 where spacecraft numbers 9 and 10 were in assembly. The jet bounced into an adjacent courtyard and exploded. Both astronauts were killed, and 14 McDonnell employees on the ground were slightly injured. Minutes later, the Gemini 9 backup crew, Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan, landed safely. The four astronauts were en route to McDonnell for two weeks of training in the simulator. Alan B. Shepard Jr. was appointed to head a seven-man investigating team. NASA Headquarters announced Stafford and Cernan would fly the Gemini 9 mission on schedule (the Gemini 9 backup crew became the prime crew), all subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled, and the crash ended up determining who would be the first man on the Moon.
ref: en.wikipedia.org
ref: www.nasa.gov

Died (T-38 jet crash), Elliot M. See Jr., Gemini 9A astronaut candidate
see above
ref: en.wikipedia.org

T. Smirnova discovered asteroid #1793 Zoya.

L. Kohoutek discovered asteroids #3407 and #3627.

Died, Eric Frank Russell, science fiction author (Hugo, Deep Space)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

N. G. Thomas discovered asteroid #2612 Kathryn; and P. Wild discovered asteroid #2521.

H. Debehogne discovered asteroid #2958; and S. J. Bus discovered asteroids #2780 Monnig, #3287, #3307 and #3602.

1990 02:50:22 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 36 (Atlantis 6, 34th Shuttle mission, 65th US manned space mission) for a secret Department of Defense flight.

STS 36 was launched 28 February 1990 in a classified window extending from 12 midnight to 4 a.m. EST after being postponed from 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 February due to illness of the crew commander, a malfunction of a range safety computer, and weather conditions. It was the first time since Apollo 13 in 1970 that a manned space mission was affected by the illness of a crew member, and the sixth Shuttle mission dedicated to the Department of Defense.

STS 36 ended 4 March 1990 when Atlantis landed on revolution 72 on Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 7,900 feet. Rollout time: 53 seconds. Launch weight: classified. Landing weight: 87,200 pounds (according to NASA - but this number sounds off by about 200,000 pounds). Orbit altitude: 132 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 62 degrees. Mission duration: four days, ten hours, 18 minutes, 22 seconds. Miles Traveled: 1.9 million. The orbiter was returned to KSC on 13 March 1990.

The flight crew for STS 36 was: John O. Creighton, Commander; John H. Casper, Pilot; Richard M. Mullane, Mission Specialist 1; David C. Hilmers, Mission Specialist 2; Pierre J. Thuot, Mission Specialist 3.
ref: www.nasa.gov

The last contact was made with the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft on the surface of Eros.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

Died, Owen Chamberlain, UC Berkeley particle physicist (Nobel 1959 with Segre "for their discovery of the antiproton")
ref: www.nobelprize.org

Died, Donald A. Glaser, American physicist (Nobel 1960 "for the invention of the bubble chamber")
ref: www.nobelprize.org

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