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

Long-distance communication was sped up with demonstration of a semaphore relay system between Brulon and Parce, France.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers, German astronomer (discovered comets, asteroids Pallas and Vesta, Olbers' paradox: "In a static infinite universe the night sky should be bright")
ref: en.wikipedia.org

M. Laugier discovered asteroids #1884 Skip and #2384 Schulhof.

1949 10:31:00 CST (GMT -6:00:00)
Captain James Gallagher landed his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight in 94 hours and one minute.
ref: www.flyingmag.com

1968 18:29:23 GMT
USSR launched the Zond 4 flight test to a distance of 300,000 km from Earth.

Zond 4 was launched 2 March 1968 to a distance of 300,000 km from Earth to explore circumterrestrial space and to flight test the new systems and equipment. The launch was made away from the Moon to avoid complications from Lunar gravity. Zond 4 was a cylindrical capsule approximately 4.5 meters in length and 2.2 to 2.72 meters in diameter, with two solar panels attached on opposite sides of the body spanning a total of about 9 meters. The spacecraft carried proton detectors and radio test relays among its instrumentation. This spacecraft was an unmanned test of the capsule, and a precursor to a manned spacecraft: The Zond series was specified by the Soviets as fully capable of carrying a human crew around the Moon.

Zond 4's return to Earth was supposed to be made by a skip re-entry, but apparently an attitude control error led to the angle of attack being too steep. The spacecraft entered the atmosphere at an excessively high speed over West Africa, and ground controllers set off the self-destruct mechanism over the Gulf of Guinea at an altitude of 10 km.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

In Toulouse, France, the first test flight of the Concorde was conducted.
ref: news.bbc.co.uk

C.-I. Lagerkvist discovered asteroid #2274 Ehrsson.

1978 15:28:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz 28 with Czech Vladimir Remek aboard, the first non-Russian and non-American traveler to go into space.

Soyuz 28, launched 2 March 1978, carried cosmonauts A.A. Gubarev (USSR) and V. Remek (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) to the Soviet space station Salyut 6. It was the first international "Intercosmos" team to carry out scientific research and experiments jointly developed by Soviet and Czech specialists. Soyuz 28 returned to Earth 10 March 1978.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

H. Debehogne discovered asteroid #3121; and S. J. Bus discovered asteroids #2884 Reddish, #2919 Dali, #2980, #2981 Chagall, #2990, #3000 Leonardo, #3122, #3207, #3252, #3304, #3524, #3528, #3529, #3530, #3536, #3593, #3619, #3741 and #3742.

Died, Philip K. Dick, science fiction writer
ref: en.wikipedia.org

H. Debehogne discovered asteroid #3390.

Died, Theo Anton Poppel, German/American rocket ground support engineer, played a key role in conceiving and designing LC 34 for the Saturn I and the VAB and Transporter-Crawler at LC 39 for the Saturn V
ref: www.astronautix.com

1995 01:38:13 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 67 (Endeavour 8, 68th Shuttle mission) with the ASTRO-2 ultraviolet telescope package aboard.

After a smooth countdown, STS 67's liftoff on 2 March 1995 was delayed for about a minute due to concerns about a heater system on the flash evaporator system. A backup heater was used, and the countdown proceeded.

Endeavour's long flight allowed sustained examination of the "hidden universe" of ultraviolet light. Astro-2 was the second flight of the three ultraviolet telescopes flown on Astro-1, mounted on an Instrument Pointing System on the Spacelab pallet in the cargo bay. The Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT), developed at The Johns Hopkins University, performed spectroscopy in the far ultraviolet region of the spectrum to identify physical processes and chemical composition of a celestial object. Improvements made to the HUT after Astro-1 made it three times more sensitive. The Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE), built at the University of Wisconsin, measured photometry and polarization of ultraviolet radiation from astronomical objects. The Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT), sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, took wide-field photographs of objects in ultraviolet light.

The STS 67 crew began activating Astro-2 only hours after liftoff for around-the-clock observations. Observational sequences were planned on a daily basis in two orbit (three hour) blocks, with one telescope assigned priority in each block. Astro-2 demonstrated the benefits of human interaction in on-orbit astronomy: Besides being able to position the orbiter most advantageously for observations, the crew members could also manually acquire the observation target if desired.

The Astro-2 experiment set aimed at exploring 23 different science programs, and all were achieved. HUT, considered a complement to the Hubble Space Telescope, completed more than 200 separate observations of more than 100 celestial objects. Investigators believed the telescope collected enough data to meet its primary mission objective: detecting the presence of intergalactic helium, a telltale remnant of the theoretical Big Bang explosion that is believed to have begun the universe. HUT, in conjunction with the Hubble telescope, took ultraviolet measurements of Jupiter's aurora; it also studied Jupiter's moon Io, and the Venusian and Martian atmospheres.

UIT cameras imaged about two dozen large spiral galaxies for inclusion in an atlas of such galaxies, and made the first ultraviolet images of the entire Moon. It also studied rare, hot stars that are 100 times as hot as the sun; elliptical galaxies and some of the faintest galaxies in the universe. Investigators were disappointed upon developing UIT film to learn that one of its two cameras had malfunctioned, undetected, on orbit, but an initial assessment showed that 80 percent of the science objectives would still be met.

WUPPE yielded a "treasure chest of data," according to its principal investigator, greatly expanding the database on ultraviolet spectropolarimetry. Targets for study of the interstellar medium included dust clouds in the Milky Way and a nearby galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. WUPPE also studied several types of stars, including Wolf-Rayet and Be stars. It also was able to capitalize on an opportunity to study three recently exploding novae.

STS-67 became the first advertised Shuttle mission connected to the Internet. Users of more than 200,000 computers from 59 countries logged on to the Astro-2 home page at Marshall Space Flight Center; more than 2.4 million requests were recorded during the mission, many answered by the crew on-orbit.

Other payloads carried by STS 67 were: Two Get Away Special canisters located in the payload bay held the Australian-built Endeavour telescope; also built to study the ultraviolet realm, it achieved one hundred percent of its pre-mission objectives. In-cabin payloads were Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiments-03 (CMIX-03), which featured an array of biomedical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, cell biology, crystal growth and fluids science investigations, including one with potential for anti-colon cancer treatment. Protein Crystal Growth experiments included two setups in middeck lockers. Also flown was the Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE) to study how disturbances caused by a payload impacts another payload attached to same support structure.

STS 67 ended on 18 March 1995 when Endeavor landed on revolution 262 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California, after logging 6.9 million miles (11 million kilometers) in completing the longest Shuttle flight to date. Rollout distance: 9,975 feet (3,040 meters). Rollout time: 59 seconds. Orbit altitude: 187 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: 16 days, 15 hours, eight minutes, 48 seconds. The orbiter was diverted to Edwards after landing opportunities in Florida were waved off on 17 March and earlier in the day on 18 March. The orbiter was returned to Florida on 27 March and taken to the Orbiter Processing Facility on 28 March 1995.

The flight crew for STS 67 was: Stephen S. Oswald, Commander; William G. Gregory, Pilot; Tamara E. Jernigan, Payload Commander; John M. Grunsfeld, Mission Specialist; Wendy B. Lawrence, Mission Specialist; Ronald A. Parise, Payload Specialist; Samuel T. Durrance, Payload Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

1997 06:44:16 GMT
Soyuz TM-24 returned to Earth, landing in Kazakhstan with Russian cosmonauts Valery Korzun, Aleksandr Kaleri and German research cosmonaut Reinhold Ewald aboard.

Russia launched Soyuz TM-24 on 17 August 1996 for Mir Expedition EO-22, carrying Valeriy Korzun and Aleksandr Kaleri of the Russian Space Agency (RKA), abd Claudie Andre-Deshays of the French space agency CNES. This launch was the first of the Soyuz-U booster with a crew aboard following two launch failures of on unmanned flights. Soyuz docked with Mir's front port 19 Augst at 14:50:21 GMT; Mir was in a 375 x 390 km x 51.6 deg orbit.

On 7 February 1997 at 16:28:01 GMT, the EO-22 crew and American astronaut Linenger undocked the Soyuz TM-24 ferry from the front docking port, flew it around to the far side of the complex and redocked at the rear Kvant port at 16:51:27 GMT. This cleared the forward port for the arrival of the EO-23 crew, who brought with them German astronaut Reinhold Ewald on 12 February.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov
ref: www.spacefacts.de

2004 07:17:00 GMT
ESA launched the Rosetta mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Artist's rendering of the ESA Rosetta spacecraft in its in-flight configuration, NASA illustration Source: Wikipedia 320px-Rosetta_spacecraft_model.png
Artist's rendering of the ESA Rosetta spacecraft in its in-flight configuration, NASA illustration
Source: Wikipedia

Rosetta was the European Space Agency (ESA) Horizon 2000 cornerstone mission number 3. It was designed to rendezvous with a comet, drop a probe on the surface, study the comet from orbit, and fly by at least one asteroid en route. The principal goals of the mission are to study the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary and interstellar material, and its implications with regard to the origin of the solar system. Its scientific objectives to achieve these goals are: global characterization of the nucleus, determination of dynamic properties, surface morphology and composition; determination of the chemical, mineralogical and isotopic compositions of volatiles and refractories in a cometary nucleus; determination of the physical properties and interrelation of volatiles and refractories in a cometary nucleus; study of the development of cometary activity and the processes in the surface layer of the nucleus and the inner coma (dust/gas interaction); global characterisation of asteroids, including determination of dynamic properties, surface morphology and composition.

Rosetta's design is based on a box-shaped central frame, 2.8 m x 2.1 m x 2.0 m with an aluminum honeycomb main platform. The launch mass included the 100 kg lander and 165 kg of scientific instruments. Two solar panels, 32 square meters each, extend outward from opposite sides of the box, spanning 32 m tip-to-tip. The spacecraft consists of two primary modules, the Payload Support Module (PSM), which holds the scientific instrumentation and two payload boom deployment mechanisms in the top part of the frame, and the Bus Support Module (BSM), which holds the spacecraft subsystems in the lower part. A steerable 2.2 m diameter high-gain parabolic dish antenna is attached to one side, and the lander was mounted on the opposite side. The science instrument panel was mounted on the top and designed to be facing the comet continuously during orbit while the antenna and solar panels face the Earth and Sun. Radiators and louvers are mounted on the back and side panels which face away from the Sun and comet. In the center of the spacecraft protruding from the bottom is a vertical thrust tube made of corrugated aluminum with strengthening rings.

The thrust tube provides the propulsion for primary maneuvers and contains two 1106-liter propellant tanks, the upper one containing propellant and the lower one oxidizer. A total of 660 kg of propellant (bipropellant monomethyl hydrazine) and 1060 kg of oxidizer (nitrogen tetroxide) was necessary to provide 2200 m/s delta-V over the course of the mission. The launch mass of the craft including fuel was 2900 kg. There are also four 35-liter pressurant tanks. The spacecraft is three-axis stabilized with orientation controlled by 24 10-N thrusters. Attitude is maintained using two star trackers, a Sun sensor, navigation cameras, and three laser gyro packages. Power is supplied by solar arrays composed of low intensity, low temperature solar cells. They provided 395 W at 5.2 AU and 850 W at 3.4 AU, when comet operations began. Power is stored in four 10 Ahr NiCd batteries which supply the 28 V bus power. Communications is via the high-gain antenna, a fixed 0.8 meter medium-gain antenna, and two omnidirectional low gain antennas. Rosetta utilizes an S-band command uplink and S- and X-band telemetry and science-data downlinks, with data transmission rates from 5 to 20 kbits/s. Communication equipment includes a 28 W RF X-band TWTA and a dual 5 watt RF S/X band transponder. On-board heaters kept the instrumentation from freezing during the period the spacecraft was far from the Sun. Total scientific payload mass is roughly 150 kg.

The Rosetta lander, Philae, was attached to the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and is scheduled to be released in November 2014 for a landing on the comet nucleus. The scientific objectives are to determine the physical properties of the comet's surface and subsurface and their chemical, mineralogical and isotopic composition. This information will be used in tandem with the data returned by the Rosetta orbiter to characterize the comet.

The Philae spacecraft is a partial hexagonal cylinder, approximately 1 meter across and 80 cm high, open on one end, supported on a long squat tripod and consists of a baseplate, experiment platform and hood. The structure is made of high modulus carbonfiber with an aluminum coating in a polygonal sandwich construction. The landing gear consists of a central telescopic tube connecting lift and torque mechanism located in the cavity of the lander's body connected at the lower end by a kardanic joint to the center of the tripod. The three lander legs are equipped with shock absorbers to inhibit bouncing in the low gravity. Push-down and hold-down thrusters are used to accelerate descent and impede rebound after touchdown. A harpoon connected to a tether will be fired into the surface of the comet to anchor the lander. Power will be provided by low intensity, low temperature GaAs solar cells mounted on the top panel of the lander hood and a 970 Whr and 110 Whr battery. The lander will communicate with the Rosetta spacecraft via a 1 W S-band transmitter. A flywheel provides 1-axis stabilization during the descent.

The Philae surface science package, with a total mass of about 21 kg, includes an alpha-proton-X-ray spectrometer (APXS) to determine elemental composition; two gas chromatograph/mass spectrometers: the Cometary Sampling and Composition Experiment (COSAC) and Methods Of Determining and Understanding Light elements from Unequivocal Stable isotope compositions (MODULUS/Ptolemy) to study composition, isotopic abundances and to identify complex organic molecules in cometary material; Surface Electrical, Seismic, and Acoustic Monitoring Experiments (SESAME) to investigate surface material acoustically, measure dielectric properties of the environment, and monitor dust impacts; Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Subsurface Science (MUPUS) to study physical properties of the comet; Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment By Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) to investigate electrical characteristics of the nucleus bulk material and internal structure; Rosetta Lander Magnetic field investigation and Plasma monitor (ROMAP) to investigate the comet's magnetic field and interaction with the solar wind; in-situ imaging systems known as Comet Nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyser (CIVA) and the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS), and a drill and sample collector (SD2).

Rosetta was launched at 07:17 UT on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 G+ from Kourou, French Guiana. The spacecraft entered heliocentric orbit and had an Earth flyby and gravity assist on 4 March 2005. A Mars flyby/gravity assist followed on 25 February 2007, and two more Earth gravity assists on 13 November 2007 and 12 November 2009. As it approached Earth for its 2007 fly-by, the spacecraft was briefly designated as minor planet 2007 VN84 due to being misidentified as an asteroid. In between the Earth flybys, on 5 September 2008 at 18:58 UTC, Rosetta flew within 800 km of asteroid 2867 Steins at a relative velocity of 8.6 km/s. Steins is a main belt E-type asteroid 4.6 km in diameter. After the second Earth flyby the spacecraft entered the main asteroid belt for the second time and flew by asteroid 21 Lutetia at a distance of 3000 km and a speed of 15 km/s on 10 July 2010. Lutetia is a large asteroid, about 100 km in diameter. The spacecraft entered a a spin stabilised hibernation mode on 8 June 2011 where all electronics except the on-board computer and the hibernation heaters were switched off. On 20 January 2014 Rosetta came out of the 31 month hibernation. Starting on 7 May, it began its rendezvous manuever for Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It arrived to "orbit" the comet on 6 August 2014 at 10:45-11:45 CEST.

The rendezvous maneuver begun in May lowered the spacecraft velocity relative to that of the comet to roughly 25 m/s and put it into a near comet drift phase. Observations of the comet and the far approach trajectory phase followed. At the end of the ~90 day phase, the relative velocity between Rosetta and the comet was reduced to 2 m/s, at a distance of about 300 comet nucleus radii. At that point landmarks and radiometric measurements were used to make a precise determination of spacecraft and comet relative positions and velocities and the rotation and gravity of the comet nucleus to fine-tune the approach. The information was used to start orbit insertion at about 60 comet radii distance at a few cm/s. At about 25 comet radii a capture maneuver closed the orbit.

Rosetta's initial path in the comet vicinity is a three-legged triangular "orbit" that requires a small thruster burn at each apex. The legs are about 100 km long and take between three and four days to complete each one. A video illustrating the maneuvers is available on YouTube.

Polar orbits at 5 to 25 comet nucleus radii will be used for mapping the nucleus beginning in August 2014. After global studies of the nucleus are completed, about five areas (500 x 500 m) will be selected for close observation at a distance down to 1 nucleus radius.

Using the information gathered from orbit, a landing site will be chosen for the Philae lander. Rosetta will go into an eccentric orbit with a pericenter as low as 1 km over the landing site and an ejection mechanism will separate Philae from the spacecraft with a maximum relative velocity up to 1.5 m/s in November 2014. The lander will touch down on the surface at a relative velocity of less than 1 m/s, and will transmit data from the surface to the spacecraft, which will relay it to Earth. Rosetta will remain in orbit about the comet past perihelion passage in August 2015 until the nominal end of mission in December 2015.

On 11 November 2014, on confirmation that the orbiter is aligned correctly, Philae will be commanded to self-eject, unfold its three legs, and descend towards the surface from an altitude of roughly 1 km. The lander will touch down at less than 1 meter/sec, and the legs and thrusters will prevent the lander from bouncing. The legs can rotate, lift or tilt to return Philae to an upright position. Immediately after touchdown, a harpoon will be fired to anchor Philae to the ground and prevent it escaping from the comet's extremely weak gravity. After touchdown the lander will deploy its instruments. The minimum mission target is one week of operation on the surface, but operations of many months are possible.

The Rosetta probe is named after the Rosetta Stone, a basalt slab of Egyptian origin featuring a decree in three scripts. Philae is named after an island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found that had a bilingual inscription including the names of Cleopatra and Ptolemy in Egyptian hieroglyphs. This provided the French historian Jean-Francois Champollion with the final clues that enabled him to decipher the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone and unlock the secrets of the civilisation of ancient Egypt. It is hoped that these spacecraft will result in better understanding of comets and the early Solar System.

Rosetta was funded by the European Space Agency. The total cost of the mission, including launch and operation was about $900 million before the launch delay: The mission was originally set to be launched on 12 January 2003 to rendezvous with Comet 46 P/Wirtanen. Flybys of two asteroids, 4979 Otawara and 140 Siwa, on the way to the comet were also planned. However, this plan was abandoned after a failure of the Ariane 5 carrier rocket during a communications satellite launch on 11 December 2002, grounding it until the cause of the failure could be determined. The delay has reportedly cost an extra $70 to $80 million.

See also ESA's Rosetta blog
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov
ref: en.wikipedia.org

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