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

Born, James Wimshurst, British designer, inventor (electricstatic generator)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Lord Rosse successfully cast a 72" (183-cm) mirror for a telescope which was later assembled into the "Leviathan of Parsonstown" telescope now in place at Birr Castle, Ireland.
ref: books.google.com

Born, Arthur Matthew Weld Downing, British astronomer, collaborated in establishing an international standard for astronomical constants
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, John Hays Hammond, Jr., known as "the father of radio control"
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, Britsh inventor of RADAR
ref: en.wikipedia.org

The Swiss brothers Henri and Armand Dufaux began publically demonstrating a functional helicopter model.
ref: www.heli-archive.ch

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #598 Octavia.

German pilot Hermann Kohl, Irish copilot James Fitzmaurice and sponsor Baron Ehrenfried Gunther von Hunefeld completed the first east-to-west transatlantic flight from Europe to North America.
ref: www.historynet.com

P. Djurkovic discovered asteroid #1605 Milankovitch.

Died, Annie Jump Cannon, astronomer, instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification

Annie Jump Cannon (11 December 1863 - 13 April 1941) was a US astronomer. Working on what would be published as the Henry Draper Catalogue, Cannon catalogued about 400,000 stars and ordered them into stellar spectra of types O, B, A, F, G, K, M. Cannon had noticed that stellar temperature was the main distinguishing feature among the different spectra, so she combined the previous classification systems used at the observatory into a simplified system. She reordered the previous types by temperature and eliminated most of the spectral class types because they became redundant. Unlike previous classification systems, Cannon's system related the amount of hydrogen observed to a physical property of the stars. This classification inspired the mnemonic phrase "Oh, Be A Fine Girl - Kiss Me!" still taught to astronomy students today to remember that particular order.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Jean-Jacques Favier PhD (at Kehl, Germany), French payload specialist astronaut (STS 78; over 16d 21.75h in spaceflight)
Astronaut Jean-Jacques Favier PhD NASA STS-65 photo S93-45081 (30 September 1993)Source: NASA Image and Video Library S93-45081~small.jpg
Astronaut Jean-Jacques Favier PhD
NASA STS-65 photo S93-45081 (30 September 1993)
Source: NASA Image and Video Library
ref: www.nasa.gov

Born, Ron Dittemore, NASA shuttle program manager
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1959 21:21:00 GMT
The US Air Force launched Discoverer 2 into polar orbit.

Discoverer 2, launched 13 April 1959 by the US Air Force, was a cylindrical satellite designed to gather spacecraft engineering data and to attempt ejection of an instrument package from orbit for recovery on Earth. The spacecraft was launched into a 239 km x 346 km polar orbit by a Thor-Agena A booster. The spacecraft was three-axis stabilized and was commanded from Earth. After 17 orbits, on 14 April 1959, a reentry vehicle was ejected. The reentry vehicle separated into two sections, one consisting of the protection equipment, retrorocket and main structure and the other the reentry capsule. It was planned that the capsule would reenter over the vicinity of Hawaii for recovery, but a timer malfunction caused premature capsule ejection and reentry over the north polar region. The capsule was never recovered. The main instrumentation payload remained in orbit and carried out vehicular performance and communications tests.

The Discoverer 2 mission successfully gathered data on propulsion, communications, orbital performance, and stabilization. All equipment functioned as programmed except the timing device. Electrical power for all instruments was provided by NiCd batteries. Telemetry functioned until 14 April 1959, and the main tracking beacon functioned until 21 April 1959. Discoverer 2 was the first satellite to be stabilized in orbit in all three axes, to be maneuvered on command from the Earth, to separate a reentry vehicle on command, and to send its reentry vehicle back to Earth.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1959 21:49:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
The US Navy launched Vanguard SLV 5 which failed to reach orbit.

Vanguard SLV 5 was launched on the evening of 13 April 1959 (02:49 UTC 14 April 1959) with a payload consisting of two independent spheres: Sphere A contained a precise magnetometer to map the earth's magnetic field, and Sphere B was a 30-inch inflatable sphere for optical tracking. The second stage failed because of damage at stage separation and the spacecraft did not achieve orbit.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1960 12:00:00 GMT
The US Navy launched Transit 1B, the first navigational satellite; the first engine restart in space also took place on this mission.
Transit 1B, NASA photo Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog transit_1b.jpg
Transit 1B, NASA photo
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Navy Transit 1B was launched into orbit by Thor-Able-Star with a navigation payload experiment from Cape Canaveral on 13 April 1960. It demonstrated the first engine restart in space, and the feasiblity of using satellites as navigational aids: Transit spacecraft were developed for updating the inertial navigation systems on board US Navy Polaris submarines, and later for civilian use. Receivers used the known characteristics of the satellite's orbit, measured the Doppler shift of the satellite's radio signal, and thereby calculated the receiver's position on the Earth.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

USSR Cosmos 638 returned to Earth following the successful ASTP flight.

Cosmos 638, launched 3 April 1974, was a Soviet manned mission launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz rocket. It was part of the ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Program). The basic mission objectives were test of the docking systems and rendezvous for the ASTP. The mission was successful, and returned to Earth on 13 April 1973.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

Perth Observatory discovered asteroid #2382 Nonie.

Z. Vavrova discovered asteroid #2568 Maksutov.

1984 05:38:07 PST (GMT -8:00:00)
NASA's STS 41-C (Challenger 5, 11th Shuttle mission) landed after deploying the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) satellite in a flight which also included the first on-orbit spacecraft repair (Solar Maximum satellite).

STS 41-C was launched into the first direct ascent trajectory for the Space Shuttle on 6 April 1984 after a countdown that proceeded without delays. Using manned maneuvering units, the astronauts replaced the altitude control system and coronagraph/polarimeter electronics box in the Solar Maximum satellite while it remained in orbit on 10 April 1984. The Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was deployed, carrying 57 experiments and left on orbit with intention of retrieving it during a later mission. Other payloads carried on STS 41-C were: the IMAX camera; Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME); Cinema 360; and the Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment.

STS 41-C ended 13 April 1984 when Challenger landed on revolution 108 on Runway 17, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Rollout distance: 8,716 feet. Rollout time: 49 seconds. Launch weight: 254,254 pounds. Landing weight: 196,975 pounds. Orbit altitude: 313 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.5 degrees. Mission duration: six days, 23 hours, 40 minutes, seven seconds. Miles traveled: 2.9 million. The mission was extended one day when astronauts were initially unable to grapple the Solar Maximum Mission spacecraft. The originally planned landing at KSC was scrubbed, and the mission was extended one revolution to facilitate landing at Edwards. The orbiter was returned to Kennedy Space Center 18 April 1984.

The flight crew for STS 41-C was: Robert L. Crippen, Commander; Francis R. Scobee, Pilot; George D. Nelson, Mission Specialist; James D. A. van Hoften, Mission Specialist; Terry J. Hart, Mission Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

STS 56 astronauts retrieved the SPARTAN-201 experiment platform from orbit after two days of independent operation, for return to Earth.

The first launch attempt of STS 56 on 6 April 1993 was halted at T-11 seconds by orbiter computers when instrumentation on the liquid hydrogen high point bleed valve in the main propulsion system indicated off instead of on. Later analysis indicated the valve was properly configured; 48 hour scrub turnaround procedures were then implemented. The final countdown on 8 April 1993 proceeded smoothly.

The primary payload for STS 56 was the second flight of the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS-2), designed to collect data on the relationship between the Sun's energy output and the Earth's middle atmosphere, and how these factors affect the ozone layer. It included six instruments mounted on a Spacelab pallet in the cargo bay, with the seventh mounted on the wall of the bay in two Get Away Special (GAS) canisters. Atmospheric instruments included the Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy (ATMOS) experiment, the Millimeter Wave Atmospheric Sounder (MAS), and the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet/A (SSBUV/A) spectrometer (on the cargo bay wall). Solar science instruments were the Solar Spectrum Measurement (SOLSPEC) instrument, the Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM), and the Active Cavity Radiometer (ACR) and Solar Constant (SOLCON) experiments.

ATLAS-2 is one element of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program. All seven ATLAS-2 instruments first flew on ATLAS-I during STS-45, and were scheduled to fly a third time in late 1994.

On 11 April, the crew used the remote manipulator arm to deploy the Shuttle Point Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201), a free-flying science instrument platform designed to study velocity and acceleration of the Solar wind and observe the Sun's corona. Collected data was stored on tape for playback after return to Earth. SPARTAN-201 was retrieved on 13 April.

The crew also made numerous radio contacts to schools around the world using the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment II (SAREX II), including brief radio contact with the Russian Mir space station, the first such contact between Shuttle and Mir using amateur radio equipment.

The other cargo bay payload was the Solar Ultraviolet Experiment (SUVE), sponsored by Colorado Space Grant Consortium and located in a Get Away Special (GAS) canister on the cargo bay wall.

The middeck payloads were the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiment (CMIX), the Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE), Space Tissue Loss (STL-1) experiment, the Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM) experiment, the Hand-held, Earth-oriented, Real-time, Cooperative, User-friendly, Location-targeting and Environmental System (HERCULES), Radiation Monitoring Equipment III (RME III), and an Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) calibration test.

STS 56 ended on 17 April 1993 when Discovery landed on revolution 148 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Rollout distance: 9,530 feet (2,905 meters). Rollout time: 63 seconds. Launch weight: 236,659 pounds. Landing weight: 206,855 pounds. Orbit altitude: 160 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 57 degrees. Mission duration: nine days, six hours, eight minutes, 24 seconds. Miles Traveled: 3.9 million. The landing originally set for 16 April at Kennedy Space Center was waved off due to weather.

The flight crew for STS 56 was: Kenneth D. Cameron, Commander; Stephen S. Oswald, Pilot; C. Michael Foale Ph.D., Mission Specialist 1; Kenneth D. Cockrell, Mission Specialist 2; Ellen Ochoa, Mission Specialist 3.
ref: www.nasa.gov

Asteroid 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4) will pass within 19,400 miles (31,300 kilometers) of Earth.

99942 Apophis (originally designated 2004 MN4) is a Near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in late 2004: Initial observations of the asteroid indicated a relatively large probability (2.7%) that 2004 MN4 would strike the Earth in 2029. However, additional observations provided improved predictions that essentially eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon during that year. However, the approach in 2029 will substantially alter the object's orbit, and the precise details of its future orbit or any future close approaches (predicted for 2035, 2036 and 2037 with the current orbital parameters) will only be known after that has happened.

Based upon the observed brightness, 2004 MN4's length was estimated at 410 m (1350 ft); a more refined estimate based on radar observations is 320 m (1050 ft). Its mass is estimated to be 9.5x10^10 kg (43 million English tons).

As of April 2016, 2004 MN4 is projected to pass about 19,400 miles (31,300 kilometers) from the Earth's surface on 13 April 2029 (Friday the 13th), within the orbits of geosynchronous satellites (22,300 miles, 35,786 km). It will become as bright as magnitude 3.3 (easily visible to the naked eye), moving as fast as 42 degrees per hour. This close approach will be visible from Europe, Africa, and western Asia. No other closely approaching objects in recorded history have been visible to the naked eye. The maximum apparent angular diameter will be only 2 arcseconds, which means it will be a starlike point of light in all but the very largest telescopes. Such a close approach by an asteroid of this size is statistically expected to occur only about every 1,300 years.

2004 MN4 belongs to a group called the "Aten asteroids", asteroids with an orbital semi-major axis less than one astronomical unit. This particular asteroid currently has an orbital period about the sun of 323 days. Its path brings it across Earth's orbit twice on each passage around the Sun; however, the Earth is usually at a completely different point in its orbit.

See also Wikipedia
ref: science.nasa.gov

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