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

The supernova in the Crab nebula was last seen by naked eye observation.
ref: messier.seds.org

Born, Giovanni Riccioli, Italian astronomer (names of Lunar features)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, Benjamin Franklin, American writer, inventor, publisher, and ambassador

Dr. Benjamin Franklin (17 January 1706 - 17 April 1790) was an American journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, and inventor. One of the leaders of the American Revolution, he also was well known for his many quotations and his experiments with electricity. Franklin was a member of the Freemasons, corresponded with members of the Lunar Society and was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

See also Surprising Facts About Benjamin Franklin
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, Samuel Morey, inventor (internal combustion engine)

Samuel Morey (23 October 1762 - 17 April 1843), American inventor, was a pioneer in steamships who accumulated a total of 20 patents, including a patent for the internal combustion engine on 1 April 1826.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

R. Luther discovered asteroid #17 Thetis.

N. R. Pogson discovered asteroid #67 Asia.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #276 Adelheid.

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #805 Hormuthia.

1964 21:36:00 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
Geraldine Mock of the US became the first woman to fly solo around the world, returning to Columbus, Ohio where she had started 29 days earlier.
ref: airandspace.si.edu

1967 07:05:00 GMT
NASA launched Surveyor 3, the second US Lunar lander.
Surveyor test article sitting on a beach, NASA photo Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog surveyor_beach.jpg
Surveyor test article sitting on a beach, NASA photo
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Surveyor 3, launched 17 April 1967, was the second spacecraft in the Surveyor series to acheive a soft landing on the Lunar surface. The main purpose of the mission was to determine various characteristics of the Lunar terrain in preparation for Apollo Lunar landing missions. Equipment on board included a television camera and auxiliary mirrors, a soil mechanics surface sampler, strain gages on the spacecraft landing legs, and numerous engineering sensors. The spacecraft landed on the Moon at 3.01 deg S latitude, 23.42 deg W longitude in the southeastern part of Oceanus Procellarum at 00:04:53 UT on 20 April 1967 (19 April 19:04:53 EST). Touchdown on the Lunar surface occurred three times because the Vernier engines continued to fire during the first two touchdowns causing the spacecraft to lift off the surface. A large volume of new data on the strength, texture, and structure of Lunar material was transmitted by the spacecraft, in addition to the Lunar photography transmission. The last data were returned on 4 May 1967.

On 19 November 1969, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module (LM) landed within about 180 meters of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean visited the earlier spacecraft on their second moonwalk on 20 November, examining Surveyor 3 and its surroundings, taking photographs, and removing about 10 kg of parts from the spacecraft, including the TV camera, for later examination back on Earth.

The Surveyor 3 camera is now on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1970 18:07:41 GMT
NASA's Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after surviving an explosive failure of their spacecraft while en-route to the Moon.

Apollo 13 (AS 508) consisted of the Command and Service Module (CSM) "Odyssey" and the Lunar Module (LM) "Aquarius." The flight was launched on 11 April 1970, intended to be the third mission to carry humans to the surface of the Moon, but an explosion of one of the oxygen tanks and resulting damage to other systems resulted in the mission being aborted before the planned Lunar landing could take place. The crew, commander James A. Lovell, Jr., Command Module pilot John L. Swigert, Jr., and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr., were returned safely to Earth on 17 April 1970.

The purposes of the Apollo 13 mission were (1) to explore the hilly upland Fra Mauro region of the Moon, (2) to perform selenological inspection, survey, and sampling of material in the Fra Mauro formation, (3) to deploy and activate an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), (4) to further develop man's capability to work in the Lunar environment, and (5) to obtain photographs of candidate Lunar exploration sites. These goals were to be carried out from a near-circular Lunar orbit and on the Lunar surface at 3 deg S latitude, 17 deg W longitude. Although the planned mission objectives were not realized, a limited amount of photographic data was obtained. Lovell was a Navy captain on his fourth spaceflight (he'd flown previously on Gemini 7, Gemini 12, and Apollo 8), Haise and Swigert were both civilians on their first spaceflights.

Apollo 13 was launched at 19:13:00 UT (02:13:00 p.m. EST) from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. During the second stage boost, the center engine of the S-II stage cut off 132 seconds early, causing the remaining four engines to burn 34 seconds longer than normal. The velocity after the S-II burn was still lower than planned by 68 m/sec, so the S-IVB orbital insertion burn at 19:25:40 was 9 seconds longer than planned. Translunar injection took place at 21:54:47 UT, CSM/S-IVB separation at 22:19:39 UT, and CSM-LM docking at 22:32:09 UT. After separation from the Apollo spacecraft, the S-IVB auxilliary propulsive system burned at 01:13 UT on 12 April for 217 seconds to put the S-IVB into a Lunar impact trajectory. (It impacted the Lunar surface on 14 April 1970.) The Apollo astronauts made a 3.4 second mid-course correction burn at 01:27 UT on 13 April.

A television broadcast was made from Apollo 13 from 02:24 UT to 02:59 UT on 14 April and a few minutes later, at 03:06:18 UT, Jack Swigert turned the fans on to stir oxygen tanks 1 and 2 in the Service Module. Wires which had been damaged during pre-flight testing in the Beech-built oxygen tank number 2 shorted, and the Teflon insulation caught fire. The fire spread within the tank, raising the pressure until at 3:07:53 UT on 14 April (10:07:53 EST 13 April; 55:54:53 mission elapsed time), oxygen tank number 2 exploded, damaging oxygen tank number 1 and the interior of the Service Module, and blowing off the bay number 4 cover. (See a transcript of the events from 2.5 minutes before the accident to about 5 minutes after.) With the oxygen stores depleted, the Command Module was unusable, the mission had to be aborted, and the crew transferred to the Lunar Module and powered down the Command Module.

At 08:43 UT, a mid-course maneuver (11.6 m/s delta V) was performed using the Lunar Module descent propulsion system (LMDPS) to place the spacecraft on a free-return trajectory which would take it around the Moon on a path that took the astronauts farther from Earth than any humans had ever been before and return it to Earth, targeted at the Indian Ocean at 03:13 UT 18 April. After rounding the Moon, another LMDPS burn at 02:40:39 UT 15 April for 263.4 seconds produced a differential velocity of 262 m/s, and shortened the estimated return time to 18:06 UT 17 April, with splashdown in the mid-Pacific. To conserve power and other consumables, the Lunar Module was powered down except for environmental control, communications, and telemetry, and passive thermal control was established. At 04:32 UT on 16 April, a 15 second LMDPS burn at 10% throttle produced a 2.3 m/s velocity decrease and raised the entry flight path angle to -6.52 degrees. Following this, the crew partially powered up the CSM. On 17 April at 12:53 UT, a 22.4 second LMDPS burn put the flight path entry angle at -6.49 degrees.

The Service Module, which had been kept attached to the Command Module to protect the heat shield, was jettisoned on 17 April at 13:15:06 UT, and the crew took photographs of the damage. The Command Module was powered up, and the Lunar Module was jettisoned at 16:43:02 UT. Any parts of the Lunar Module which survived atmospheric re-entry, including the SNAP-27 generator, planned to power the ALSEP apparatus on the Lunar surface and containing 3.9 kg of plutonium, fell into the Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand. Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 17 April 1970 at 18:07:41 UT (1:07:41 p.m. EST) after a mission elapsed time of 142 hours, 54 minutes, 41 seconds. The splashdown point was 21 deg 38 min S, 165 deg 22 min W, southeast of American Samoa and 6.5 km (4 miles) from the recovery ship USS Iwo Jima.

On 13 June 1970, the Apollo 13 Accident Review Board published the results of its investigation. The explosion was found to have been caused by a bare-wire heating element within the fuel cell liquid oxygen tank. The element itself had burned off its insulation through a combination of unimplemented specification changes early in the program, coupled with unauthorized procedures during ground testing.

The Apollo 13 Command Module "Odyssey" is now on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

E. F. Helin and S. J. Bus discovered asteroid #2135 Aristaeus.

Died, Marcel Dassault [Bloch], French airplane builder
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1993 07:37:24 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA's STS 56 (Discovery 16, 54th Shuttle mission) ended after carrying the ATLAS-2 and SPARTAN-201 experiment packages in orbit.

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

1998 14:19:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 90 (Columbia 25, 90th Shuttle mission) carrying the Spacelab experiment platform on its final flight.

The 16 April 1998 launch of STS 90 was postponed for 24 hours due to a difficulty with one of Columbia's two network signal processors, which format data and voice communications between the ground and the Space Shuttle. Network signal processor 2 was replaced, and the liftoff on 17 April occurred on time.

STS 90 carried 26 Neurolab experiments which targeted one of the most complex and least understood parts of the human body - the nervous system. The primary goals were to conduct basic research in neurosciences, and to expand our understanding of how the nervous system develops and functions in space. Test subjects were crew members and rats, mice, crickets, snails and two kinds of fish. Neurolab was a cooperative effort of NASA, several domestic partners and the space agencies of Canada (CSA), France (CNES) and Germany (DARA), as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). Most of the experiments were conducted in the pressurized Spacelab long module located in Columbia's payload bay. It was sixteenth (and last) scheduled flight of the ESA-developed Spacelab module, although Spacelab pallets will continue to be used on the International Space Station.

The research was conducted as planned, with the exception of the Mammalian Development Team, which had to reprioritize science activities because of the unexpected high mortality rate of neonatal rats on board.

Other payloads included the Shuttle Vibration Forces experiment, the Bioreactor Demonstration System-04, and three Get Away Special (GAS) canister investigations.

Working with engineers on the ground a week into the flight, the on-orbit crew used aluminum tape to bypass a suspect valve in the Regenerative Carbon Dioxide Removal System that had threatened to cut short the mission.

Mission Management Team considered, but decided against, extending the mission one day because the science community indicated an extended flight was not necessary, and weather conditions were expected to deteriorate after the planned landing on Sunday, 3 May 1998.

STS 90 Mission Specialist Kay Hire was Kennedy Space Center's first employee to be chosen as an astronaut candidate.

STS 90 ended 3 May 1998 when Columbia landed on orbit 256 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the first KSC opportunity for the day. Rollout distance: 9,998 feet (3,047 meters). Rollout time: 58 seconds. Orbit altitude: 150 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 39 degrees. Mission duration: 15 days, 21 hours, 49 minutes, 59 seconds. Miles traveled: 6.375 million statute miles. This flight marked the 14th consecutive Shuttle landing at KSC, and the 21st in the last 22 missions.

The flight crew for STS 90 was: Richard A. Searfoss (3), Commander; Scott D. Altman, Pilot; Richard M. Linnehan DVM, Mission Specialist; Dafydd Rhys Williams MD (CSA), Mission Specialist; Kathryn P. Hire, Mission Specialist; Dr. Jay C. Buckey, Payload Specialist; Dr. James A. Pawelczyk, Payload Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

2002 13:31:00 CDT (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA's STS 110 (Atlantis 25) flight undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) after delivering the the 43 foot long S0 (S-Zero) Truss for assembly onto the Station.

STS 110 lifted off on 8 April 2002 on a mission to install the 43 foot long S0 (S-Zero) Truss, the backbone for future station expansion, to the International Space Station (ISS). While in orbit, the STS-110 crewmembers performed four spacewalks and used the shuttle and station robotic arms to install and outfit the S0. They prepared the station for future spacewalks and spent a week in joint operations with the station's Expedition Four crew. They also prepared the first railroad in space, the Mobile Transporter, for use.

The S0 (S-Zero) Truss is the first of nine pieces that will make up the station's external framework that will eventually span 109 meters (356 feet).

STS 110 Mission Specialist Jerry Ross became the first human to be launched into space seven times. With the two spacewalks that he performed, he tightened his grip on the most US spacewalks (nine) and spacewalking time - 58 hours, 18 minutes. Second on the list for both spacewalking milestones is Ross' crewmate Mission Specialist Steve Smith, who also conducted two spacewalks during STS 110 to give him a total of 49 hours, 48 minutes during seven spacewalks.

The mission had other spacewalk milestones. This was the first time that the station's robotic arm was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station, and it was the first time that all of a shuttle crew's spacewalks were based out the station's Quest Airlock.

The flight crew for STS 110 was: Michael J.Bloomfield, Commander; Stephen N. Frick, Pilot; Jerry L. Ross, Mission Specialist; Steven L. Smith, Mission Specialist; Ellen Ochoa, Mission Specialist; Lee M.E. Morin, Mission Specialist; Rex J. Walheim, Mission Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

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