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Race To Space
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Heinrich Olbers discovered asteroid Vesta, the fourth asteroid discovered.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Aleksei A. Gubarev (at Gvardeytsy, Kuybyshev Oblast, Russian SFSR), Major General Soviet Navy, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 17, Soyuz 28; over 37d 11.5h total time in spaceflight) (deceased)
Cosmonaut Aleksei Gubarev, photo from Mil.ru Source: Wikipedia Cosmonaut_Aleksei_Gubarev_%28cropped%29.jpg
Cosmonaut Aleksei Gubarev, photo from Mil.ru
Source: Wikipedia
ref: www.spacefacts.de

E. Delporte discovered asteroid #1754 Cunningham; and L. Boyer discovered asteroid #1343 Nicole.

10,000 people watched the 200" mirror blank for the Hale telescope at the Mount Palomar (California) Observatory passing through Indianapolis, Indiana.
ref: www.cmog.org

Born, Aleksandr Stepanovich Viktorenko (at Olginka, North-Kazakhstan Oblast, Kazakh SSR), Colonel Russian AF Reserve, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz TM-3/TM-2 (Mir visit), Mir 5, Mir 11, Mir 17; over 489d 1.5h total time in spaceflight)
ref: www.spacefacts.de

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #2069 Hubble.

1974 20:47:00 GMT
NASA's Mariner 10 passed Mercury at a range of 436.5 miles (703 kilometers) on its first encounter, and became the first spacecraft to visit the planet closest to the Sun.

Mariner 10 was the seventh successful launch in the Mariner series, the first spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another (Mercury), and the first spacecraft mission to visit two planets. Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to visit Mercury. The spacecraft flew by Mercury three times in a retrograde heliocentric orbit and returned images and data on the planet. Mariner 10 returned the first-ever close-up images of Venus and Mercury. The primary scientific objectives of the mission were to measure Mercury's environment, atmosphere, surface, and body characteristics and to make similar investigations of Venus. Secondary objectives were to perform experiments in the interplanetary medium and to obtain experience with a dual-planet gravity-assist mission.

Mariner 10 was launched 3 November 1973 on a mission to explore Mercury and Venus. The television and ultraviolet experiments were trained on the comet Kohoutek while the spacecraft was en route to its destination. Using a near-ultraviolet filter, it produced photographs of the Venusian chevron clouds, and performed other atmospheric studies. Mariner 10 took 4,000 photos of Venus, which revealed a nearly round planet enveloped in smooth cloud layers. On 29 March and 21 September 1974, and 16 March 1975, Mariner 10 passed Mercury, and was able to map 40-45% of the planet. Its radiometer readings suggested Mercury has a nighttime temperatures of -297 degrees F (-183 degrees C) and maximum daytime temperatures of 368 F (187 C). The closest encounter with Mercury on the first pass was at 2047 UT on 29 March 1974 at a range of 436.5 miles (703 kilometers). Having looped around the Sun, Mariner 10 flew by Mercury again on 21 September 1974 at a range of 29,850 miles (48,069 kilometers), and photographed the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region. The spacecraft used solar pressure on its solar panels and high-gain antenna for attitude control. A third and final encounter, the closest to Mercury, took place on 16 March 1975 at a range of 203 miles (327 kilometers). Contact with the spacecraft was terminated on 24 March 1975.

Mariner 10 (also known as Mariner Venus Mercury 1973) was placed in a parking orbit after launch for approximately 25 minutes, then placed in orbit around the Sun en route to Venus. The protective cover of the sunward-facing electrostatic analyzers did not open fully after launch, and these intruments, part of the Scanning Electrostatic Analyzer and Electron Spectrometer experiment, could not be used. It was also discovered that the heaters for the television cameras had failed, so the cameras were left on to prevent low temperatures from damaging the optics.

A trajectory correction maneuver was made 10 days after launch. Immediately following this manuever the star-tracker locked onto a bright flake of paint which had come off the spacecraft and lost lock on the guide star Canopus. An automated safety protocol recovered Canopus, but the problem of flaking paint recurred throughout the mission. The on-board computer also experienced unscheduled resets occasionally, which would neccesitate reconfiguring the clock sequence and subsystems. Periodic problems with the high-gain antenna also occurred during the cruise. In January 1974, Mariner 10 made ultraviolet observations of Comet Kohoutek and another mid-course correction was made on 21 January. The spacecraft passed Venus at 1701 UT on 5 February 1974 at a closest range of 5768 km, and returned the first close-up images of Venus. This also marked the first time a spacecraft used a gravity assist from one planet to help it reach another.

Enroute to Mercury an attitude control anomaly occurred for the second time, using up much of the attitude control gas. Some new procedures were used from that point on to orient the spacecraft, including Sun-line maneuvers and the use of solar wind on the solar panels to orient the spacecraft. Mariner 10 crossed the orbit of Mercury at 2046 UT on 29 March 1974, at a distance of about 704 km from the surface. A second encounter with Mercury, when more photographs were taken, occurred on 21 September 1974, at an altitude of 48,069 km. Unfortunately, the lighted hemisphere was almost the same as the first encounter, so a large portion of the planet remained unimaged. A third and last Mercury encounter at an altitude of 327 km, with additional photography of about 300 frames and magnetic field measurements occurred on 16 March 1975. Engineering tests were continued until 24 March 1975, when the supply of attitude-control gas was depleted and the mission was terminated.

Mariner 10 results showed a Hadley-type circulation existed in Venus' atmosphere and showed that Venus had at best a weak magnetic field, and the ionosphere interacted with the solar wind to form a bow shock. At Mercury, it was confirmed the planet had only a faint atmosphere of mostly helium, and an intensely cratered, dormant Moon-like surface was shown in the images. Mercury was shown to have a small magnetic field and a relatively large iron-rich core.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

N. S. Chernykh discovered asteroids #2553 Viljev, #2566 Kirghizia and #2703 Rodari.

L. E. Gonzalez discovered asteroid #3691.

1989 08:40:00 MST (GMT -7:00:00)
The first US "licensed commercial rocket," Starfire 1, owned by Space Services Inc. of America, made a suborbital test flight in New Mexico.
ref: www.nytimes.com

NASA's STS 76 (Atlantis) undocked from the Russian Mir space station, leaving astronaut Shannon Lucid aboard for a four and a half month stay.

STS 76 was originally set for a 21 March 1996 launch, pending resolution of an issue concerning wiper O-rings on the nozzle-to-case joints on both Redesigned Solid Rocket Motors (RSRMs) flown on the previous mission, STS-75. The first launch attempt set for 21 March was scrubbed prior to commencement of tanking operations on 20 March due to concerns about high winds. The launch reset for 22 March proceeded smoothly to an on-time liftoff. During ascent, a leak occurred in a hydraulic system powered by Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) number 3. The leak stopped after hydraulic system shutdown on-orbit. Mission managers concluded the system would remain stable, and proceeded with plans for a full-duration mission.

The third linkup between the US Space Shuttle and the Russian Space Station Mir was highlighted by the transfer of veteran astronaut Shannon Lucid to Mir to become the first American woman to live on the station. Her approximately four and a half month stay also eclipsed the long duration US spaceflight record set by the first American to live on Mir, Norm Thagard. Lucid was succeeded by astronaut John Blaha during STS-79 in August. Her stay give her the distinction of membership in four different flight crews in one mission -- two US, and two Russian -- and her stay on Mir kicked off a continuous US presence in space for the next two years.

The STS 76 payload bay configuration included the Orbiter Docking System in the forward area, and the SPACEHAB single module toward the aft. STS-76 marked the first flight of the SPACEHAB pressurized module to support Shuttle-Mir dockings; the single module primarily served as a stowage area for the large supply of equipment slated for transfer to the space station, but also carried the European Space Agency's Biorack experiment rack for on-orbit research.

Atlantis docked with Mir on 24 March 1996. Hatches opened a little less than two hours later. Awaiting Atlantis' arrival were Mir 21 Commander Yuri Onufrienko and Flight Engineer Yuri Usachev, launched to Mir on 21 February. In July, they were joined by Mir 22 Commander Gennady Manakov, Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov and French Space Agency cosmonaut researcher Claudie Andre-Deshays. After a two week stay, Andre-Deshays returned to Earth with Onufrienko and Usachev while Manakov and Vinogradov remained on board with Lucid.

During the five days of docked operations, about 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of water and two tons of scientific equipment, logistical material and resupply items were transferred to Mir; and experiment samples and miscellaneous equipment were brought over to the orbiter. In Biorack, 11 separate scientific investigations were conducted. Study topics included the effect of microgravity and cosmic radiation on plants, tissues, cells, bacteria and insects, and the effects of microgravity on bone loss. Also transferred to the station were the Mir Glovebox Stowage (MGBX) equipment to replenish the glovebox already on the station; Queen's University Experiment in Liquid Diffusion (QUELD) flown in an orbiter middeck locker; and the High Temperature Liquid Phase Sintering (LPS) experiment.

On flight day six, Godwin and Clifford conducted the first US extravehicular activity (EVA) around the two mated spacecraft. During the six hour, two minute, 28 second EVA, they attached four Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) experiments to the station's Docking Module. The experiments were designed to characterize the environment around Mir over an 18-month period. The two spacewalkers wore Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) propulsive devices first flight tested during STS-64.

Other payloads flown on STS 76 were: Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX); KidSat, a project that gives middle school students the opportunity to participate in space exploration; and Trapped Ions in Space (TRIS), a Naval Research Laboratory experiment flown in a Get Away Special (GAS) canister in the cargo bay.

STS 76 ended 31 March 1996 when Atlantis landed on revolution 145 on Runway 22, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 8,357 feet (2,547 meters). Rollout time: 55 seconds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 56.1 degrees. Mission duration: nine days, five hours, 15 minutes, 53 seconds. Miles Traveled: 3.8 million (estimate). Mission managers re-scheduled the landing from 31 March to 30 March in anticipation of rain and clouds at the KSC landing site, but landing attempts at KSC on 30 March and 31 March were waved off due to weather, before the orbiter was finally diverted to California. A more conservative weather criteria was employed for the landing due to the leak in the APU number 3 hydraulic system, and special measures were taken during re-entry to minimize use of that particular APU. Following waveoff on 30 March, a payload bay door reopening process was interrupted when the release indicators for payload bay door centerline latches 9 through 12 on both sides failed to indicate release, suggesting the latches had not operated properly. The astronauts ventured into the SPACEHAB module in the aft payload bay to visually inspect the latches, which appeared to have opened as intended. The crew used manual mode to complete opening of the doors without further incident, and the glitch was attributed to faulty microswitches. Also, during prelanding preparations, three of the 38 Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters failed, but backup thrusters were available to perform the same functions. This was not considered a night landing because it occurred only 11 minutes before sunrise; flight rules define night launch/landing as one occurring no earlier than 15 minutes after sunset and no later than 15 minutes before sunrise.

The flight crew for STS 76 was: Kevin P. Chilton, Commander; Richard A. Searfoss, Pilot; Shannon W. Lucid, Mission Specialist (remained on MIR); Linda M. Godwin, Mission Specialist; Michael R. Clifford, Mission Specialist; Ronald M. Sega, Mission Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

Died, Kerim Aliyevich Kerimov, Russian military rocket forces officer, chaired the State Commission for Soyuz (1966-1991), supervised the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program (ASTP) mission in 1975

Kerim Aliyevich Kerimov (14 November 1917 - 29 March 2003) was a Russian military officer involved in creating the earliest rocket units in the Soviet Union. Ascending positions in the rocket forces throughout the 1950's culminated in assignment as Commander of the Third Directorate of the Main Directorate of Missile Weapons (GURVO) in September 1960. Kerimov was First Commander of TsUKOS (1964-1965), Directorate Chief of Ministry of General Machine Building (1965-1974), and chaired the State Commission for Soyuz (1966-1991).
ref: en.wikipedia.org

A total solar eclipse occurred, visible from a narrow corridor which traversed half the Earth. It was the second solar eclipse visible in Africa in just 6 months.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

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