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87 B.C.
Halley's Comet passed perihelion in its third known passage, as determined from records by Chinese astronomers.

In 2000 years of observations since 240 BCE, Chinese records have never missed a return of Halley's Comet. From those records, Cowell and Crommelin computed the dates of perihelion passage as:

 1. 15 May 240 BCE
 2. 20 May 163 BCE
 3. 15 August 87 BCE
 4. 8 October 12 BCE
 5. 26 January 66 CE
 6. 25 March 141 CE
 7. 6 April 218 CE
 8. 7 April 295 CE
 9. 13 February 374 CE
10. 3 July 451 CE
11. 15 November 530 CE
12. 26 March 607 CE
13. 26 November 684 CE
14. 10 June 760 CE
15. 25 February 837 CE
16. 17 July 912 CE
17. 2 September 989 CE
18. 25 March 1066 CE
19. 19 April 1145 CE
20. 10 September 1222 CE
21. 22.7 October 1301 CE
22. 8.8 November 1378 CE
23. 8.2 January 1456 CE
24. 25.8 August 1531 CE
25. 26.9 October 1607 CE
26. 14.8 September 1682 CE
27. 12.6 March 1758 CE
28. 15.9 November 1835 CE
29. 19.7 April 1910 CE
30. 9 February 1986 CE

Note that the precision of the dates from passage 21 onward could be computed with increased accuracy because of additional observations. However, at the time of their computation, the 1986 passage was still a future event. (The actual date was found from other sources.)

On 19 April 607, Comet 1P/607 H1 (Halley) approached within 0.0898 AU (13.5 million km, 8.4 million miles) of Earth. On 374-April-1.9, it had approached closer, having come within 0.0884 AU (13.2 million km, 8.2 million miles), and on 837-April-10.5, it became the third closest approach in history prior to 1900, passing within 0.0334 AU (5 million km, 3.1 million miles).

On 16 October 1982, astronomers David Jewitt and G. Edward Danielson using a CCD camera with the 5.1 m Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar Observatory were the first to detect Halley's Comet on its thirtieth recorded return.

See also The past orbit of Halley's Comet (SAO/NASA ADS)

See also Comet Close Approaches prior to 1900 (CNEOS)

See also History of Halley's Comet (Wikipedia)

See also Halley's Comet (CQ Press)

See also Comet 1P/Halley (Halley's Comet) (Smithsonian NASM)
ref: adsabs.harvard.edu

Died, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, German Jesuit missionary, astronomer (contributions to the Chinese calendar)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, Pierre Bouguer, French mathematician, astronomer, inventor (heliometer, for photometry, the measurement of light intensities)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

J. C. Watson discovered asteroid #101 Helena.

C. H. F. Peters discovered asteroid #166 Rhodope.

Born, Leslie Comrie, astronomer and mechanical computation pioneer

Leslie John Comrie (15 August 1893 - 11 December 1950), born in Pukekohe, New Zealand, was an astronomer and a pioneer in mechanical computation. During World War I, he lost a leg fighting in France with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. While convalescing, he started using a mechanical calculator and went on to modifying commercial calculators for specific projects.

In April 1928 his article On the Construction of Tables by Interpolation described the use of punch card equipment for interpolating tables of data, comparing this with the less efficient and more error-prone methods using mechanical calculators. Also in 1928, he was the first to use punch card equipment for scientific calculations, using Fourier synthesis to compute the principal terms in the motion of the Moon for 1935 to 2000.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born (Old Style date), Leon Theremin, Russian inventor (electronic musical instruments, video interlacing technique, espionage equipment)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

P. Gotz and A. Kopff discovered asteroid #542 Susanna.

The world's first freight delivery tunnel system began operations, underneath Chicago, Illinois. Similar technologies are likely to be used within space colonies to avoid congestion in public spaces.
ref: cr4.globalspec.com

A. Kopff discovered asteroid #686 Gersuind.

Born, Bernhard Tessmann, rocket engineer, German expert in guided missiles during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war

Tessmann first met Von Braun in 1935. He was involved in the basic planning for Peenemuende, moving there in late 1936 to supervise construction, and conducted the first engine testing there at Test Stand I. Tessmann worked on wind tunnels, then on thrust measuring systems for V-2 engines. He was evacuated to Koelpinsee after the August 1943 bombing, where he designed ground equipment for V-2 mobile units and was involved in planning the Projekt Zement underground V-2 facilites at Ebensee, Austria. He was evacuated to Thuringia at the end of the war, and as of January 1947, was working at Fort Bliss, Texas. He worked the remainder of his life with the rocket team, at Fort Bliss, White Sands, and then at Huntsville. As of 1960, he was Deputy Director, Test Division, at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

The American-built Panama Canal was inaugurated with the passage of the US vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

G. Neujmin discovered asteroid #882 Swetlana.

W. Baade discovered asteroid #934 Thuringia.

V. Albitskij discovered asteroid #1002 Olbersia.

P. Shajn discovered asteroids #1112 Polonia and #1113 Katja.

Died, Wiley Post (plane crash, Point Barrow, Alaska), pilot who in 1933 became first person to fly solo around the world

Wiley Hardeman Post (22 November 1898 - 15 August 1935) was the first pilot to fly solo around the world. Also known for his work in high altitude flying, Post helped develop the first pressure suits. Post and American humorist Will Rogers were killed when Post's plane crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow, Alaska.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

G. Neujmin discovered asteroid #2536 Kozyrev; K. Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1739 Meyermann, #1818 Brahms and #2306.

Born, Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr (at Macon, Georgia, USA), Captain USN, NASA astronaut (STS 33; 5d 6m in spaceflight) (deceased)
Astronaut Sonny Carter, NASA photo (24 August 1984)Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable August 2019) Manley_Carter.jpg
Astronaut Sonny Carter, NASA photo (24 August 1984)
Source: Wikipedia (www.jsc.nasa.gov unavailable August 2019)

Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr. (15 August 1947 - 5 April 1991) was a NASA astronaut who flew on STS-33. He was also selected to fly on STS-42 as a mission specialist at the time of his death in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311 in Brunswick, Georgia while on travel for NASA.
ref: www.nasa.gov

William Bridgeman flew the D-558-II Skyrocket from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to an altitude of 79,494 feet (24.230 km), the highest altitude attained by a human being to that date.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

P. Shajn discovered asteroid #1954 Kukarkin.

Died, Ludwig Prandtl, German physicist (rigorous systematic mathematical analyses in the science of aerodynamics, father of aeronautical engineering)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

The US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) provided the Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) authority and initial funding to develop the Juno V launch vehicle, which was later named Saturn I.
ref: history.nasa.gov

Born, Scott Douglas Altman (at Lincoln, Illinois, USA), Captain USN, NASA astronaut (STS 90, STS 106, STS 109, STS 125; over 51d 12.75h total time in spaceflight)
Astronaut Scott D. Altman, NASA photo (5 May 2004)Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021) 384px-Scott_Douglas_Altman.jpg
Astronaut Scott D. Altman, NASA photo (5 May 2004)
Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021)
ref: www.nasa.gov

NASA's Mercury astronauts began their initial centrifuge training at the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory.
ref: history.nasa.gov

NASA selected Plasmadyne Corporation for development of a 1-kilowatt electric arc jet rocket engine.
ref: www.hq.nasa.gov

The US Navy barge Compromise, carrying the first Saturn 1 booster, arrived at Cape Canaveral. The Saturn was delayed only 24 hours in its 2,200-mile journey from Huntsville, Alabama, after being stuck in the mud in Indian River just south of the Cape.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1962 06:52:00 GMT
USSR Vostok 3 landed in Karaganda, completing the first tandem orbital mission, after cosmonaut Nikolayev had spent approximately 94 hours in orbit.

Vostok 3 (call sign Sokol/Falcon), the third spacecraft in the USSR's manned flight series, was launched 11 August 1962, piloted by cosmonaut Andriyan G. Nikolayev. The spacecraft consisted of a nearly spherical cabin covered with ablative material. There were three small portholes and external radio antennas. Radios, a life support system, instrumentation, and an ejection seat were contained in the manned cabin, which was attached to a service module that carried chemical batteries, orientation rockets, the main retro system, and added support equipment for the total system. The service module was separated from the manned cabin on reentry. The flight lasted approximately 94 hours, during which 64 orbits were completed. The spacecraft flew in an orbit close to Vostok 4 for 70 hr 28 min. As with the other Vostoks, cabin TV photography was obtained. A series of scientific and biomedical experiments was performed during the flight. The spacecraft landed on 15 August in the Karaganda region at 48:02 N 75:45 E. Vostok 3 and 4 landed successfully six minutes apart a short distance from each other.

Vostok 3 was a joint flight with Vostok 4, the first such flight, where Vostok capsules were launched one day apart, coming within a few kilometers of each other at the orbital insertion of the second spacecraft. The flight was supposed to occur in March, but following various delays, one of the two Vostok pads was damaged in the explosion of the booster of the third Zenit-2 reconnsat in May. Repairs were not completed until August. Vostok 3 studied man's ability to function under conditions of weightlessness; conducted scientific observations; furthered improvement of space ship systems, communications, guidance and landing. Immediately at orbital insertion of Vostok 4, the spacecraft were less than 5 km apart. Popovich (in Vostok 4) made radio contact with cosmonaut Nikolayev, who reported shortly thereafter that he had sighted Vostok 4. Since Vostok had no maneuvering capability, they could not rendezvous or dock, and quickly drifted apart. The launches gave the launch and ground control crews practice in launching and handling more than one manned spacecraft at a time. Nikolayev took color motion pictures of the Earth and the cabin interior.

Nikolayev later married Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, under pressure from Primier Nikita Kruschev.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1962 06:59:00 GMT
USSR Vostok 4 landed in Karaganda, completing the first tandem orbital mission, after cosmonaut Popovich had spent approximately 71 hours in orbit.

Vostok 4 was launched 12 August 1962, one day after Vostok 3, with cosmonaut Pavel R. Popovich on board. The spacecraft consisted of a nearly spherical cabin covered with ablative material. There were three small portholes and external radio antennas. Radios, a life support system, instrumentation, and an ejection seat were contained in the manned cabin, which was attached to a service module that carried chemical batteries, orientation rockets, the main retro system, and added support equipment for the total system. The service module was separated from the manned cabin on reentry. The flight lasted 64 orbits over 70.7 hours, and was in an orbit close to Vostok 3. Minimum distance between the two spacecraft was approximately 5 km. Radio communications were maintained between the two spacecraft and Earth during the flight. For the first time, TV pictures were transmitted from the spacecraft and broadcast by the Soviet TV system. A series of scientific and biomedical experiments was also performed. The spacecraft landed on 15 August in the Karaganda region at 48:09 N 71:51 E. Vostok 3 and 4 landed successfully six minutes apart a short distance from each other.

Vostok 4 was a joint flight with Vostok 3, for acquisition of experimental data on the possibility of establishing a direct link between two space ships; coordination of astronauts' operations; and to study of the effects of identical spaceflight conditions on the human organism. The launch of Popovich proceeded exactly on schedule, with the spacecraft launching within 0.5 seconds of the planned time, entering orbit just a few kilometers away from Nikolayev in Vostok 3. Popovich had problems with his life support system, resulting in the cabin temperature dropping to 10 degrees Centigrade and the humidity to 35%. The cosmonaut still managed to conduct experiments, including taking color motion pictures of the terminator between night and day and of the cabin interior.

Despite the conditions, Popovich felt able to go for the full four days scheduled. But before the mission, Popovich had been briefed to tell ground control that he was 'observing thunderstorms' if he felt the motion sickness that had plagued Titov and needed to return on the next opportunity. Unfortunately, he actually did report seeing thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico, and ground control took this as a request for an early return. He was ordered down a day early, landing within a few mintutes of Nikolayev. Only on the ground was it discovered that he had been willing to go the full duration, and that ground control had mistakenly thought he had given the code.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

K. W. Kamper discovered asteroid #2104 Toronto.

The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by The Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, received a radio signal from deep space. The event was named the "Wow! signal" for a notation made by a volunteer on the project.
Wow! signal, original printout with Ehman's handwritten exclamationSource: Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO) wowcl.jpg
Wow! signal, original printout with Ehman's handwritten exclamation
Source: Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1980 05:31:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 1206 from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, a Soviet ELINT (Electronic and Signals Intelligence) satellite.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

E. F. Helin and M. Barucci discovered asteroid #3752.

1989 10:30:00 GMT
USSR launched the Resurs F-4 Landsat spacecraft from Plesetsk for investigation of the Earth's natural resources in the interests of various branches of the national economy of the USSR, and international cooperation.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1990 04:00:41 GMT
USSR launched the Progress M-4 resupply vessel from Baikonur to the Mir space station.

Progress M-4 was launched from Baikonur on 15 August 1990 to the Mir space station as an unmanned resupply vessel, to deliver cables for rewiring operations and equipment for the Soyuz TM-11 Japanese journalist flight. It docked with Mir on 17 Aug 1990 at 05:26:13 GMT, undocked on 17 Sep 1990 at 12:42:43 GMT, and was destroyed in reentry on 20 Sep 1990 at 11:42:49 GMT. Total free-flight time: 5.02 days. Total docked time: 31.30 days.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1991 09:15:00 GMT
USSR launched the Meteor 3-05 weather satellite from Plesetsk, carrying the US TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) instrument.

The Meteor 3-05 weather satellite was launched at 09:14 GMT on 15 August 1991 from Plesetsk Launch Complex LC32 on a Tsyklon 3 (Tsiklon-3) for gathering hydrometeorological data; testing of data-gathering and measuring equipment, of optical and mechanical television and radiometric scanning apparatus, of instruments for geophysical research and of methods for the remote sensing of the atmosphere and the Earth's surface for various branches of the USSR economy and science; and charting the state of the ozone layer, using the American TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) instrument. The objective of this cooperative space mission was to map global ozone from space with the goal of studying global and regional changes in the ozone.

The Meteor-3 series of meteorological observation spacecraft had a three-axis stabilized system to provide a nadir-pointing fixed-yaw attitude. The attitude system consisted of a combination of gyros and a horizon sensor similar to US satellites; attitude was controlled by momentum wheels. Solar energy was collected by twin solar panels and electrical power was provided by solar-charged nickel-cadmium batteries. Normal Meteor-3 instrumentation included twin TV cameras for monitoring Earth cloud cover and ice conditions, an infrared radiometer (IRR) for determining sea-surface temperature and obtaining cloud information, and a multichannel spectrometer (MCS) for providing thermal atmospheric sounding data. The Meteor 3-5 spacecraft incorporated a Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), designed and operated by NASA, the first foreign sensor to fly on the Meteor series. The Meteor-3 had a continuous telemetry format, and a 24-hour storage capacity on board for the TOMS operation. With a downlink data rate of 80 kbs, observational data were downlinked to receiving stations in both the US and Russia.

Meteor 3-5 continued to operate during 1993-1994, but its US TOMS instrument developed problems in May 1993, and failed entirely in late 1994. However, the data returned by the 30 kg instrument, particularly over the South polar region, was exceptionally valuable.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1992 22:18:32 GMT
Russia launched the Progress M-14 resupply vessel from Baikonur to the Mir space station.

Progress M-14 was launched 15 August 1992 as an unmanned resupply vessel to the Mir space station. Progress M-14 was specially modified to carry the first VDU (Vynosnaya Dvigatel'naya Ustanovka, External Engine Unit) propulsion unit. The VDU was mounted externally on a special structure between the cargo module and the service module, replacing the OKD fuel section present on normal Progress vehicles. The Mir crew performed a spacewalk to extract the VDU from the Progress vessel and place it on the end of the Sofora boom extending from the Kvant module. The VDU was used to provide attitude control capability for the Mir station. Progress M-14 docked with Mir on 18 Aug 1992 at 00:20:48 GMT, undocked on 21 Oct 1992 at 16:46:01 GMT, and was destroyed in reentry on 21 Oct 1992 at 23:12:00 GMT. Total free-flight time: 2.35 days. Total docked time: 64.68 days.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1995 22:30:00 GMT
An Athena-1 carrying GemStar 1 (VitaSat 1), the first launch from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenburg, California, was destroyed by range safety 160 seconds into the flight due to failure of the thrust vector control system.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Astronomers announced the discovery of the first known stellar planetary system with more than one planet in nearly circular orbits outside our own solar system - two planets orbiting a star in the Big Dipper.
ref: www.berkeley.edu

Contact was lost with NASA's CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) spacecraft following its scheduled burn to leave Earth orbit.

The CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) probe, a NASA Discovery class mission, was successfully launched on 3 July 2002. Built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), it began its five year mission to explore three comets, using repeated encounters with the Earth to modify its orbit in order to reach each target. Its primary objective was close fly-bys of two comet nuclei (Encke and Schwassmann-Wachmann-3) with the possibility of a fly-by of a third known comet (d'Arrest) or an as yet undiscovered comet. It was hoped that a new comet would be discovered that would be in the inner solar system between 2006 and 2008, in which case the spacecraft trajectory would have been changed if possible to rendezvous with the new comet. Scientific objectives included imaging the nuclei at resolutions of 4 meters, performing spectral mapping of the nuclei at resolutions of 100-200 meters, and obtaining detailed compositional data on gas and dust in the near-nucleus environment, with the goal of improving our knowledge of the characteristics of comet nuclei.

The first burn of the second stage was completed at 0659 UTC, putting the spacecraft in a 185 x 197 km x 29.7 deg parking orbit. At 0746 UTC, the second stage restarted for a short 4 second burn to adjust the orbit to 185 x 309 km x 29.7 deg, and then separated once the PAM-D (ATK Star 48B) solid third stage was spun up. The 1.5 minute burn of the third stage motor at 0748 UTC put it and CONTOUR in a 90 x 106689 km x 30.5 deg phasing orbit. By 8 July, CONTOUR's orbit was 214 x 106686 km x 29.8 deg. CONTOUR was to stay in the phasing orbit until 15 August, when it was to be injected into solar orbit using its internal ATK Star 30 solid motor. Flyby of the first target, comet 2P/Encke, was scheduled for November 2003.

CONTOUR was presumed lost on 15 August 2002 after numerous attempts to contact the probe failed. The spacecraft was scheduled to ignite its STAR 30 solid rocket engine at 0849 UTC (4:49 am EDT). This firing was to take CONTOUR out of Earth orbit and put it on a heliocentric trajectory. However, following the scheduled firing time, no further contact was made with the craft. Telescopic surveys were made under the assumption that the firing took place on schedule, and three objects were identified near the expected position of CONTOUR, leading investigators to believe that the firing took place and that these objects were parts of the spacecraft and rocket engine. An investigation board concluded that the most likely cause of the mishap was structural failure of the spacecraft due to plume heating during the solid rocket motor burn. Alternate possible, but less likely, causes determined were catastrophic failure of the solid rocket motor, collision with space debris, and loss of dynamic control of the spacecraft.

If successful, the engine burn would have put CONTOUR in the proper trajectory for an Earth fly-by in August 2003 followed by an encounter with comet Encke on 12 November 2003 at a distance of 100 to 160 km, and a fly-by speed of 28.2 km/sec, 1.07 AU from the Sun and 0.27 AU from Earth. Three more Earth fly-bys were to follow, in August 2004, February 2005, and February 2006. On 18 June 2006, CONTOUR would then encounter comet Schwassmann-Wachmann-3 at 14 km/sec, 0.95 AU from the Sun and 0.33 AU from Earth. Two more Earth fly-bys were scheduled in February of 2007 and 2008, and a fly-by of comet d'Arrest was possible on 16 August 2008 at a relative velocity of 11.8 km/sec, 1.35 AU from the Sun and 0.36 AU from Earth. All comet fly-bys had a planned closest encounter distance of about 100 km, and would have occurred near the period of maximum activity for each comet. After the comet Encke encounter, CONTOUR could have been retargeted towards a new comet if one was discovered with the desired characteristics (e.g. active, brighter than absolute magnitude 10, perihelion within 1.5 AU).
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

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