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

J. R. Hind discovered asteroid #14 Irene.

J. Perrotin discovered asteroid #138 Tolosa.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #220 Stephania.

A. Charlois discovered asteroids #367 Amicitia and #368 Haidea.

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #875 Nymphe.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #913 Otila.

Born, James Alan Abrahamson (at Williston, North Dakota, USA), Lt. General USAF, USAF MOL astronaut candidate, Associate Director of NASA, director of President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (1984-1989)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

C. Jackson discovered asteroid #1323 Tugela.

The final 29.5 second flight of Goddard's series L section B rocket reached an altitude 3250 feet. The 17 ft 8 in. rocket was 9" diameter, with streamline retractable air vanes, a wire-wound pressure storage tank, and much-improved stabilization.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, F. Richard "Dick" Scobee (at Cle Elum, Washington, USA), Lt. Colonel USAF, NASA astronaut (STS 41-C, STS 51-L; 6d 23.66h in spaceflight) (deceased, Challenger 10)
Astronaut Dick Scobee, NASA photo (6 August 1984)Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable January 2020) 384px-Scobee-fr.jpg
Astronaut Dick Scobee, NASA photo (6 August 1984)
Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable January 2020)

Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee (19 May 1939 - 28 January 1986) was an American astronaut who died commanding the Space Shuttle Challenger, which suffered catastrophic booster failure during launch of the STS 51-L mission.

Selected for NASA's astronaut program in January 1978, Scobee completed his training in August 1979. While awaiting his first orbital spaceflight mission, he served as an instructor pilot for the shuttle's 747 carrier aircraft. In April 1984, Scobee piloted the Challenger mission STS 41-C, which successfully deployed one satellite and repaired another.

Scobee was elevated to the role of spacecraft commander for the ill-fated STS 51-L mission, designed to deploy a satellite to study the approaching Halley's Comet and to inaugurate the Teacher in Space Project. STS 51-L was delayed numerous times due to bad weather and technical glitches. When it finally did lift off the pad, an O-ring seal failure caused an explosion 73 seconds into the flight, killing Scobee and the other six members of the crew. The tragedy, viewed live on television across the globe, prompted several days of national mourning, as well as a major shakeup at NASA.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Jean-Pierre Haignere (at Paris, France), French engineer, cosmonaut (Soyuz TM-17/Mir Altair/Soyuz TM-16, Mir 27; 209.5 total days in space)
ESA astronaut Jean-Pierre Haignere (31 October 2000), photo from www.kremlin.ruSource: Wikipedia Jean-Pierre_Haigner%C3%A9.jpg
ESA astronaut Jean-Pierre Haignere (31 October 2000), photo from www.kremlin.ru
Source: Wikipedia
ref: www.esa.int

Born, Pierre Joseph Thuot (at Groton, Connecticut, USA), Commander USN, NASA astronaut (STS 36, STS 49, STS 62; nearly 27d 7h total time in spaceflight)
Astronaut Pierre Thuot, NASA photo Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable May 2020) 384px-Pierre_Thuot.jpg
Astronaut Pierre Thuot, NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable May 2020)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Retrorockets aboard the USSR Sputnik 4 (Korabl Sputnik I) satellite fired when the satellite was in the incorrect attitude, preventing its planned recovery.

Sputnik 4, launched 15 May 1960, was a USSR satellite, the first of a series of spacecraft used to investigate the means for manned space flight. It was a flight test of a Vostok 1KP prototype manned spacecraft (without a heat shield and therefore not recoverable) that would be used for the first human spaceflight. It was put into a nearly circular orbit, and contained scientific instruments, a television system, and a self-sustaining biological cabin with a dummy of a man. The spacecraft was designed to study the operation of the life support system and the stresses of flight. The spacecraft radioed both extensive telemetry and prerecorded voice communications. After four days of flight, on 19 May 1960, the reentry cabin was separated from its service module and retrorockets were fired, but because of an incorrect attitude, the spacecraft did not reenter the atmosphere for 844 days; it re-entered the atmosphere on 5 September 1962. A piece was found in the middle of a major street in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1960 16:46:00 GMT
NASA launched X-15A Altitude buildup test mission # 16 piloted by Air Force Major Robert White, which reached a maximum speed of 1590 mph (2559 kph, Mach 2.31), and a maximum altitude of 109,000 feet (33.222 km, 20.643 miles).
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1964 18:26:00 GMT
NASA launched X-15A Optical Degradation /Alternate Build Technology/Test mission # 107 which reached a maximum speed of 3493 mph (5623 kph, Mach 5.02), and a maximum altitude of 195,800 feet (59.680 km, 37.08 miles).
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1965 13:01:04 GMT
NASA launched Apollo mission A-003 as a demonstration of the performance of launch escape system in the high-altitude region; the altitude was not met when the booster failed early, but the escape system worked properly.

Apollo mission A-003, launched 19 May 1965, was a planned high-altitude abort test, flown at WSMR (White Sands, New Mexico). One of the planned objectives for the high altitude test was demonstration of orientation of the Command Module (CM) to a main heatshield forward attitude after abort. About 25 seconds after launch, and at an altitude of about three miles, the Little Joe II booster disintegrated as a result of violent - and unprogrammed - roll. The launch escape system (LES) functioned perfectly, however, and lifted the spacecraft (boilerplate 22) clear of the vehicle. ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea, while acknowledging that A-003's "prime objectives . . . were not met," rightly observed that the LES nonetheless "proved its mettle in an actual emergency."
ref: en.wikipedia.org

The Soviet Union ratified a treaty with the United States and Britain banning nuclear weapons from outer space.
ref: www.history.com

1971 10:20:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 421 for "investigation of the upper atmosphere and outer space."
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1971 16:22:44 GMT
USSR launched the Mars 2 orbiter and lander, the first spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars.
USSR Mars 2 probe, illustration courtesy of NASA Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog mars3_iki.jpg
USSR Mars 2 probe, illustration courtesy of NASA
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

The Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical spacecraft, each with a bus/orbiter module and an attached descent/lander module. The primary scientific objectives of each orbiter were to image the Martian surface and clouds, determine the temperature on Mars, study the topography, composition and physical properties of the surface, measure properties of the atmosphere, monitor the solar wind and the interplanetary and Martian magnetic fields, and act as a communications relay to send signals from the lander to Earth.

Mars 2 was launched towards Mars on 19 May 1971. Mid-course corrections were made on 17 June and 20 November. Mars 2 released the descent module 4.5 hours before reaching Mars on 27 November 1971. The descent module entered the Martian atmosphere at roughly 6.0 km/s, at a steeper angle than planned. The descent system malfunctioned, and the lander crashed at 45 deg S, 302 deg W, delivering the Soviet Union coat of arms to the surface. The cause of the failure may have been related to the extremely powerful Martian dust storm taking place at the time. Mars 2 was the first manmade object to reach the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, the orbiter engine performed a burn to put the spacecraft into a 1380x24,940 km, 18 hour orbit about Mars with an inclination of 48.9 deg. Scientific instruments were generally turned on for about 30 minutes near periapsis.

For scientific experiments (most mounted in a hermetically sealed compartment) the Mars 2 orbital bus carried: a 1 kg infrared radiometer with an 8- to 40-micron range to determine the temperature of the Martian surface to -100 degrees C; a photometer to conduct spectral analysis by absorption of atmospheric water vapor concentrations in the 1.38-micron line; an infrared photometer; an ultraviolet photometer to detect atomic hydrogen, oxygen, and argon; a Lyman-alpha sensor to detect hydrogen in the upper atmosphere; a visible range photometer covering six narrow ranges between 0.35 and 0.70 microns; a radiotelescope and radiometer instrument to determine the reflectivity of the surface and atmosphere in the visible (0.3 to 0.6 microns) and the radio-reflectivity of the surface in the 3.4 cm range and the dielectric permeability to give a temperature estimate to a depth of 35 to 50 cm below the surface; and an infrared spectrometer to measure the 2.06 micron carbon dioxide absorption band, allowing an estimate of the abundance along a line of sight to determine the optical thickness of the atmosphere and hence the surface relief.

Additionally, the craft carried a phototelevision unit with one 350 mm focal length 4 degree narrow angle camera and one 52 mm focal length wide angle camera, on the same axis and having several light filters, including red, green, blue, and UV. The imaging system returned 1000 x 1000 element scanned pictures with a resolution of 10 to 100 meters by facsimile after development in an automatic onboard laboratory. Radio occultation experiments were also performed when communications transmissions passed through the Martian atmosphere in which the refraction of the signals gave information on the atmospheric structure. During the flight to Mars, measurements were made of galactic cosmic rays and solar corpuscular radiation. Eight separate narrow angle electrostatic plasma sensors were on board to determine the speed, temperature, and composition of the solar wind in the range 30 to 10,000 eV. A three axis magnetometer to measure the interplanetary and Martian fields was mounted on a boom extending from one of the solar panels.

The Mars descent module consisted of a spherical 1.2 m diameter landing capsule, a 2.9 m diameter conical aerodynamic braking shield, a parachute system and retro-rockets. The entire descent module had a fueled mass of 1210 kg, the spherical landing capsule accounted for 358 kg of this. An automatic control system consisting of gas micro-engines and pressurized nitrogen containers provided attitude control. Four "gunpowder" engines were mounted to the outer edge of the cone to control pitch and yaw. The main and auxiliary parachutes, the engine to initiate the landing, and the radar altimeter were mounted on the top section of the lander. Foam was used to absorb shock within the descent module. The landing capsule had four triangular petals which would open after landing, righting the spacecraft and exposing the instrumentation.

The lander was equipped with two television cameras with a 360 degree view of the surface as well as a mass spectrometer to study atmospheric composition; temperature, pressure, and wind sensors; and devices to measure mechanical and chemical properties of the surface, including a mechanical scoop to search for organic materials and signs of life. It also contained a pennant with the Soviet coat of arms. Four aerials protruded from the top of the sphere to provide communications with the orbiter via an onboard radio system. The equipment was powered by batteries which were charged by the orbiter prior to separation. Temperature control was maintained through thermal insulation and a system of radiators. The landing capsule was sterilized before launch to prevent contamination of the Martian environment.

The Mars 2 and 3 landers carried a small walking robot called PROP-M. The robot had a mass of 4.5 kg and was tethered to the lander by a cable for direct communication. The rover was designed to "walk" on a pair of skis to the limit of the 15 m cable length. The rover carried a dynamic penetrometer and a radiation densitometer. The main PROP-M frame was a squat box with a small protrusion at the center. The frame was supported on two wide flat skis, one extending down from each side, elevating the frame slightly above the surface. At the front of the box were obstacle detection bars. The rover was planned to be placed on the surface after landing by a manipulator arm, to move in the field of view of the television cameras, and stop to make measurements every 1.5 m during its travels. The traces of movement in the Martian soil would also be recorded to determine material properties.

The Mars 2 and 3 orbiters sent back a large volume of data from December 1971 to March 1972, although transmissions continued through August. It was announced Mars 2 and 3 had completed their missions by 22 August 1972, after 362 orbits completed by Mars 2 and 20 orbits by Mars 3. The probes sent back a total of 60 pictures. The images and data revealed mountains as high as 22 km, atomic hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere, surface temperatures ranging from -110 C to +13 C, surface pressures of 5.5 to 6 mb, water vapor concentrations 5000 times less than in Earth's atmosphere, the base of the ionosphere starting at 80 to 110 km altitude, and grains from dust storms as high as 7 km in the atmosphere. The data enabled creation of surface relief maps, and gave information on the Martian gravity and magnetic fields.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1972 14:38:00 GMT
USSR launched Molniya 2-2 into orbit from Plesetsk, a communication satellite for long-range telephone and telegraph radio communication, transmission of USSR central television programs to stations in the Orbita network, and international cooperation.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1977 16:38:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 909, an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon target.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1978 00:28:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 1009, an anti-satellite (ASAT) interceptor. It succeeded in its intercept of Cosmos 970, and was deorbited using an on-board engine.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

O. and G. Pizarro discovered asteroid #2567 Elba; and R. M. West discovered asteroids #2526 Alisary, #2595 Gudiachvili, #2596 Vainu Bappu and #3477.

1983 22:26:00 GMT
An Atlas Centaur launched the Intelsat 5 F-6 communications satellite into orbit, which was positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 29 deg E in 1983; 18 deg W in 1983-1992; 34 deg W in 1992; 50 deg W in 1992-1995; 31 deg W in 1995-1998.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1984 15:11:00 GMT
USSR launched a Proton rocket carrying three Glonass satellites for testing components and apparatus of the space navigation system being set up to determine positions of Soviet civil aircraft and vessels in the Soviet merchant marine and fishing fleets.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1987 04:02:10 GMT
USSR launched Progress 30, an unmanned supply vessel, to the Mir space station.

Progress 30 was an unmanned supply vessel launched to the Mir space station on 19 May 1987. It rendezvoused with Mir/Kvant in its orbit of 343 X 366 km, 51. 6 deg., and docked with the station on 21 May 1987 05:50:38 GMT. It undocked on 19 Jul 1987 00:19:51 GMT and was dstroyed in reentry on 19 Jul 1987 05:42:00 GMT. Total free-flight time 2.30 days. Total docked time 58.77 days.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1990 08:32:33 GMT
USSR launched a Proton rocket carrying three Glonass satellites for testing components and apparatus of the space navigation system being set up to determine positions of Soviet civil aircraft and vessels in the Soviet merchant marine and fishing fleets.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1994 17:03:00 GMT
The US Air Force launched a Pegasus/HAPS booster carrying the SDI STEP 2 (SIDEX) spacecraft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. It did not achieve its planned orbit, but was still useful.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1996 06:30:00 EDT (GMT -4:00:00)
NASA launched STS 77 (Endeavour 11, 77th Shuttle mission) carrying SPACEHAB and Spartan/IAE into orbit.

The original STS 77 launch date of 16 May 1996 was changed to 19 May due to conflicts with the Eastern Range schedule. The 19 May 1996 countdown proceeded smoothly to an on-time liftoff.

The fourth Shuttle flight of 1996 was highlighted by four rendezvous activities with two different payloads. The primary payloads, all located in the cargo bay, were the SPACEHAB-4 pressurized research module; the Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) mounted on Spartan 207 free-flyer; and a suite of four technology demonstration experiments known as Technology Experiments for Advancing Missions in Space (TEAMS). More than 90 percent of the payloads were sponsored by NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology.

SPACEHAB-4 was a single module which carried nearly 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of support equipment, and a variety of experiments covering such fields as biotechnology, electronic materials, polymers and agriculture, including: Advanced Separation Process for Organic Materials (ADSEP); Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA); Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (PGBA); Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-2 (FGBA-2); Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG); Gas Permeable Polymer Membrane (GPPM); Handheld Diffusion Test Cell (HHDTC); Commercial Float Zone Furnace (CFZF); and the Space Experiment Facility (SEF). Also considered part of the SPACEHAB payload complement, but located in middeck lockers, were the IMMUNE-3 and NIH-C7 payloads. CFZF, sponsored by NASA and the German and Canadian space agencies, was considered the top priority SPACEHAB-4 payload; designed to produce large, ultra-pure crystals of such semiconductor materials as gallium arsenide. FGBA-2, an on-orbit soft-drink dispenser, required some troubleshooting, and the SEF experiment was declared failed when command problems with the payload could not be fixed.

The Spartan free-flyer was deployed on flight day two using the orbiter Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm. The 132-pound (60-kilogram) IAE antenna structure, mounted on three struts, was inflated to its full size of 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter, about the size of a tennis court. The potential benefits of inflatable antennas over conventional rigid structures include their lower development costs, greater reliability, and lower mass and volume, requiring less stowage space and potentially a smaller launch vehicle. The actual on-orbit performance of the antenna - its surface smoothness - was documented with cameras and sensors for later analysis. The deployment and inflation proceeded smoothly, and the IAE was jettisoned 90 minutes later into an orbit from which it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on 22 May. On flight day three, the Spartan 207 pallet was returned to the orbiter cargo bay.

Satellite deployment and rendezvous activities were also conducted with Passive Aerodynamically-Stabilized Magnetically-Damped Satellite (PAMS), one of four Technology Experiments for Advancing Missions in Space (TEAMS) research payloads. TEAMS payloads were located in the Hitchhiker carrier in the payload bay. The Satellite Test Unit (STU) on PAMS was deployed on flight day four. Three orbiter rendezvous were conducted with the satellite from a distance of 2,000-2,300 feet (610-701 meters) away to acquire satellite attitude information. STU relied on aerodynamic stabilization rather than attitude control propellants to properly orient itself. After some difficulty, the Attitude Measurement System (AMS) in the payload bay successfully locked onto the satellite and began accurately tracking it, with initial indications showing that the concept of propellant-free aerodynamic stabilization works.

Other TEAMS experiments were the Global Positioning System (GPS) Attitude and Navigation Experiment (GANE); Vented Tank Resupply Experiment (VTRE); and Liquid Metal Thermal Experiment (LMTE).

Secondary experiments included: Brilliant Eyes Ten Kelvin Sorption Cryocooler Experiment (BETSCE), an instrument designed to supercool infrared and other sensors through cyclical release and absorption of hydrogen; Aquatic Research Facility (ARF), a joint Canadian Space Agency/NASA project that allows investigation of wide range of small aquatic species, including starfish, mussels and sea urchins; Biological Research in a Canister (BRIC 07) to study endocrine functioning; Tank Pressure Control Experiment/Reduced Fill Level (TPCE/RFL) to develop pressure control for cryogenic tankage; and a series of experiments flying in Get Away Special (GAS) canisters.

Casper spoke with Mir cosmonaut and US astronaut Shannon Lucid, who was entering her 65th day aboard the Mir space station.

No significant on-orbit problems with the orbiter were reported.

STS 77 ended 29 May 1996 when Endeavour landed on revolution 161 on Runway 33, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on the first opportunity at KSC. Orbit altitude: 153 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 39 degrees. Rollout distance: 9,291 feet (2,832 meters). Rollout time: 42 seconds. Mission duration: 10 days, zero hours, 39 minutes, 18 seconds. Miles traveled: 4.1 million.

The flight crew for STS 77 was: John H. Casper, Commander; Curtis L. Brown Jr., Pilot; Daniel W. Bursch, Mission specialist; Mario Runco, Jr., Mission Specialist; Marc Garneau, Mission Specialist (CSA); Andrew S. W. Thomas, Mission Specialist.
ref: www.nasa.gov

1996 16:34:00 GMT
A large asteroid came within 279,000 miles (450,000 km) of the Earth.
ref: www.newscientist.com

Died (heart attack), Yevgeni Vassilyevich Khrunov, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 5/Soyuz 4), a member of the first crew to transfer between spacecraft
ref: www.spacefacts.de

2000 05:11:00 CDT (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 101 (Atlantis) as the International Space Station Flight 2A.2a mission.

STS 101 was launched 19 May 2000, an ISS logistics flight. During the mission, the shuttle Atlantis spent nearly 10 days in space, six of which (20 May - 26 May) were spent docked with the International Space Station.

On STS 101, Atlantis flew as the most updated space shuttle ever, outfitted with a new "glass cockpit" which was 34 kilograms (75 pounds) lighter and used less power than before, and other state-of-the-art upgrades to key systems, including more than 100 new modifications incorporated during a ten month period at Boeing's Palmdale, California, shuttle factory in 1998. Among the improvements: Atlantis' airlock was relocated to the payload bay to prepare for International Space Station assembly flights; the communications system was updated; several weight reduction measures were installed; enhancements were made to provide additional protection to the cooling system; and the crew cabin floor was strengthened.

While docked with the space station, the crew refurbished and replaced components in both the Zarya and Unity Modules. Voss and Williams performed a 6.5 hour space walk the day after docking to install a Russian Strela cargo boom on the outside of Zarya. They also replaced a faulty radio antenna and performed several other tasks in advance of space walks on future station assembly missions.

The top priority for STS 101 was to replace four of six 800 ampere batteries in the Zarya Module. Zarya received additional new equipment: four cooling fans and ducting to improve airflow, three fire extinguishers, ten smoke detectors, and an onboard computer. A suspect radio frequency power distribution box in Unity used as part of the early S-band communications system was also replaced.

Three hour-long orbit raising burns on 24 and 25 May by the Reaction Control System (RCS) engines on Atlantis were used to raise the station to a 372 x 380 km x 51.6 deg orbit.

STS 101 ended on 29 May 2000 when Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It was the fourteenth nighttime landing in Shuttle history, and the twenty-second consecutive mission to end with a landing at KSC. Mission duration: 9 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes. Orbit altitude: 173 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 51.6 degrees. Miles traveled: 4.1 million.

The flight crew for STS 101 was: James D. Halsell, Commander; Scott J. Horowitz, Pilot; Mary Ellen Weber, Mission Specialist 1; Jeffrey N. Williams, Mission Specialist 2; James S. Voss, Mission Specialist 3; Susan J. Helms, Mission Specialist 4; Yuri V. Usachev (RSA), Mission Specialist 5. For Usachev, Voss and Helms, the short visit to the ISS was a preview of the much longer time they would spend aboard the outpost as the Expedition Two crew in 2001.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

2004 06:23:00 GMT
Japan's Hayabusa (MUSES-C) flew by Earth at an altitude of 3725 km, on its way to asteroid 25143 Itokawa/1998 SF36.

The primary scientific objective of the Hayabusa (formerly Muses-C) mission was to collect a surface sample of material from the small (550 x 180 meter) asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36) and return the sample to Earth for analysis. It was also a technology demonstration mission. Other scientific objectives of the mission included detailed studies of the asteroid's shape, spin state, topography, color, composition, density, photometric and polarimetric properties, interior and history.

The spacecraft was launched on 9 May 2003 on an M-5 solid fuel booster from the Kagoshima launch center. Following launch, the name Muses-C was changed to Hayabusa (Japanese for falcon), and the spacecraft was put into a transfer orbit to bring it to asteroid 25143 Itokawa (1998 SF36), a 0.3 x 0.7 km near-Earth object. The ion engines were successfully test-fired from 27 May to the middle of June 2003. A large solar flare in late 2003 degraded the solar panels. The loss of power available to Hayabusa's ion engines forced the originally planned early summer 2005 rendezvous with Itokawa to be moved back to September. Hayabusa flew by Earth on 19 May 2004 at an altitude of 3725 km at 6:23 UT. On 31 July 2004 the X-axis reaction wheel failed. Rendezvous with the asteroid occured in September 2005 with the spacecraft coming to rest relative to the asteroid at a distance of 20 km at 1:17 UT on 12 September. The spacecraft did not go into orbit around the asteroid, but remained in a station-keeping heliocentric orbit close by. On 3 October 2005 Hayabusa lost the use of the Y-axis reaction wheel and was using one reaction wheel and two chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control.

Hayabusa initially surveyed the asteroid's surface from a distance of about 20 km in the "home position", a region roughly on a line connecting the Earth with the asteroid on the sunward side. This is global mapping phase 1, the phase angle during this phase was small, no greater than 20 - 25 degrees. Global mapping phase 2, which lasted about a week, began on 4 October when the spacecraft reached a position near the terminator at a distance of 7 km, affording high phase angle views of the asteroid. Following this the spacecraft moved back to the home position and then moved close to the surface in November for a "rehearsal" touchdown. This touchdown was attempted on 4 November but was aborted due to an anomalous signal at 700 meters above the asteroid's surface.

On 12 November a second rehearsal touchdown was attempted. The spacecraft began its descent from 1.4 km altitude at 3 cm/sec to an altitude of 55 meters. The small lander/hopper, Minerva, was deployed at 6:34 UT (3:34 p.m. JST) but unfortunately Hayabusa had already reached the 55 meter level and had begun an automatic ascent so the release was at a higher altitude than planned. Contact with the lander was lost and it is believed Minerva moved off into space without landing.

At 12:00 UT on 19 November 2005 (9:00 p.m. JST, 7:00 a.m. EST) Hayabusa began its descent towards the asteroid from an altitude of 1 km. At 19:33 UT (4:33 a.m. JST 20 November) the final approach was commanded and the descent began from an altitude of about 450 meters at 12 cm/sec. The target marker was released at 20:30 UT 19 November (5:30 a.m. JST 20 November) about 40 meters above the asteroid and Hayabusa's descent was slowed to 3 cm/sec to allow the marker to fall ahead of it. The spacecraft reduced its speed to zero and then began free-fall at an altitude of 17 meters at which point contact was lost. Later telemetry indicated that Hayabusa hit the surface at 20:40 UT 19 November (5:40 a.m. JST 20 November) at roughly 10 cm/sec and bounced. It bounced again at 21:10 and then landed at 21:30 within about 30 meters of the target marker. At 21:58 (6:58 a.m. JST 20 November) it was commanded to make an emergency ascent. The craft remained on the surface for about half an hour but did not fire the projectile to collect a sample. This was the first ever controlled landing on an asteroid and first ascent from any other solar sytem body except the Moon.

A second touchdown and sampling run was made on 25 November, early telemetry indicated the spacecraft touched down at 10 cm/sec and that two sampling bullets were fired 0.2 seconds apart at 22:07 UT 24 November (7:07 a.m. JST 25 November) but later examination indicated the bullets did not fire. On 9 December contact was lost with the spacecraft, presumably because of torques caused by a thruster leak which altered the pointing of the antenna. Communication with the spacecraft was regained in early March 2006. It appeared the chemical fuel had been lost due to the leak. Also, two of three reaction wheels were also inoperable and 4 of the 11 lithium-ion battery cells were not functioning. Ground controllers used the solar batteries to run the ion engine in place of the chemical thrusters to maintain attitude control. The ion engine ran until November 2007 when it was turned off and the spacecraft went into hibernation mode and continued on a ballistic trajectory. There was still a large margin of xenon left to run the thrusters for propulsion and attitude control.

The re-entry capsule detached from the main spacecraft between 300,000 and 400,000 km from the Earth, coasting on a ballistic trajectory, and re-entering the Earth's atmosphere on 13 June 2010. The capsule experienced peak decellerations of about 25 G and heating rates approximately 30 times those experienced by the Apollo spacecraft. It landed via parachute near Woomera, Australia. Subsequent examination of the sample return capsule showed that there were roughly 1500 dust particles from asteroid Itokawa which were presumably kicked up into the collection area during the touchdowns due to the extremely low surface gravity.

Spacecraft Details

On-board optical navigation was planned to be employed extensively during the landings and sample collection operations because the long communication delay prohibited ground-based real-time commanding. The samples, with a total mass of approximately one gram, were to be held inside a separate re-entry capsule. (The lander was also to deploy a small rover supplied by NASA onto the surface of the asteroid, but the rover was cancelled by NASA due to budget constraints.) All operations at Itokawa had to take into account the extremely low gravity at the asteroid's surface.

Hayabusa was equipped with a universal sample collection device to gather roughly one gram of surface samples taken from the landings at 3 different locations. The device consisted of a funnel-shaped collection horn, 40 cm in diameter at the end, to be placed over the sampling area. A pyrotechnic device then fired a 10 gram metal projectile down the barrel of the horn at 200 - 300 m/sec. The projectile struck the surface, producing a small impact crater in the surface of the asteroid and propelling ejecta fragments back up the horn, where some were funnelled into a sample collection chamber. Prior to each sampling run, the spacecraft was drop a small target plate onto the surface from about 30 m altitude to use as a landmark to ensure the relative horizontal velocity between the spacecraft and asteroid surface was zero during the sampling. After collection, the samples were to be stored in the re-entry capsule for return to Earth.

The Minerva lander was a small (591 gram) cylinder about the size of a coffee can, designed to be released from the spacecraft on the first rehearsal touchdown run. It had the ability to "hop" on the surface of the asteroid and had full autonomy. It was equipped with an imaging system comprising three miniature cameras and temperature measuring devices. Data was to be relayed to Hayabusa and then to Earth.

The rover, or Small Science Vehicle (SSV), was to have been a NASA contribution to the mission but was cancelled due to budget contraints. The SSV would have been dropped onto the surface of the asteroid by the Hayabusa spacecraft. The rover goals were to make texture, composition and morphology measurements of the surface layer at scales smaller than 1 cm, investigations of lateral heterogeneity at small scales, investigation of vertical regolith structure by taking advantage of disturbances of the surface layer by microrover operations, and to measure constraints on the mechanical and thermal properties of the surface layer. The rover would have weighed about 1 kg and was to be capable of rolling, climbing, or hopping around on the surface of the asteroid. It would have run on solar power and carry a multi-band imaging camera, a near-infrared point spectrometer, and an alpha/X-ray spectrometer (AXS).
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

2004 17:47:00 GMT
Taiwan launched ROCSAT 2, a civilian surveillance satellite, from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, using a Taurus XL booster.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

2004 22:22:00 GMT
An Atlas IIAS carried the AMC-11 (GE-11) commercial communications satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

We are going to run out of oil!
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