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Halley's Comet passed perihelion in its seventeenth 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, Nathaniel Bliss, English astronomer, Britain's fourth Astronomer Royal (1762 - 1764)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, Baron Franz Xaver von Zach, Hungarian scientific editor, astronomer
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Died, William Rowan Hamilton, Irish mathematician, physicist, astronomer; child prodigy
ref: en.wikipedia.org

J. C. Watson discovered asteroid #174 Phaedra.

L. Carnera discovered asteroid #489 Comacina.

Born, Valentin Petrovich Glushko (at Odessa, Ukraine), Soviet rocketry pioneer, Chief/General Designer OKB-456 1946-1974, preeminent Soviet rocket engine designer, Head of NPO Energia 1974-1989, directed Energia booster, Buran spaceplane development
ref: en.wikipedia.org

G. Neujmin discovered asteroid #847 Agnia.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1087 Arabis.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroids #1130 Skuld, #1150 Achaia, #1159 Granada and #2358 Bahner.

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #1703 Barry.

Born, Claude Nicollier (at Vevey, Switzerland), ESA mission specialist astronaut, (STS 46, STS 61, STS 75, STS 103; over 42d 12h total time in spaceflight), first Swiss astronaut
ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier Claude_Nicollier_Astronaut_of_the_European_Space_Agency_ESA_medium.jpg
ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier
ref: www.esa.int

Born, S. Christa McAuliffe, civilian American astronaut, chosen to be first the teacher in space (deceased - Challenger disaster)
TISP astronaut Christa McAuliffe, NASA photo S85-41239 (26 Sept. 1985) Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021) 382px-ChristaMcAuliffe.jpg
TISP astronaut Christa McAuliffe, NASA photo S85-41239 (26 Sept. 1985)
Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021)

Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe (2 September 1948 - 28 January 1986) was an American schoolteacher who was chosen to be the first teacher in space. She would have been the first civilian astronaut in space, except that McAuliffe was killed, along with her six fellow astronauts, when NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger Mission STS 51-L exploded only 73 seconds after its launch on the morning of 28 January 1986. McAuliffe was born Sharon Christa Corrigan in Boston, Massachusetts, and taught at Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire, before being chosen from over 11,000 applicants for the Space Shuttle mission. McAuliffe was married and had two children.

NASA selected McAuliffe for the Teacher In Space (TISP) program in the summer of 1984 and in the fall she took a year-long leave of absence from teaching, and trained for an early 1986 Shuttle mission. She had an immediate rapport with the media, and the TISP program received tremendous popular attention as a result. It is in part because of the excitement over McAuliffe's presence on the Challenger that the accident had such a significant impact on the nation.

See also Wikipedia
ref: www.nasa.gov

Born, Gerhard Julius Paul Thiele (at Heidenheim-Brenz, Germany), ESA mission specialist astronaut (STS 99; over 11d 5.5h in spaceflight)
ESA astronaut Gerhard P.J. Thiele, STS-99 mission specialist, NASA photo Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021) 477px-Gerhard_Thiele.jpg
ESA astronaut Gerhard P.J. Thiele, STS-99 mission specialist, NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021)
ref: www.spacefacts.de

1965 17:40:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A-2 RAS,ST,Landing test mission # 146 in which John McKay attained a maximum speed of 3570 mph (5745 kph, Mach 5.16), and reached a maximum altitude of 239,800 ft (73.091 km, 45.417 mi).
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Analyses of the radioactive decay of Argon 40 and Neon 21 in two Apollo 11 Lunar samples indicated that the minimum age of the Sea of Tranquillity from which the samples were obtained was about 3.1 billion years - plus or minus 200 million years.
ref: history.nasa.gov

NASA's ATS 2 satellite re-entered the Earth's atmosphere after collecting some useful data in spite of its incorrect orbital insertion at launch.

ATS 2 (Applications Technology Satellite) was a medium altitude, gravity gradient stabilized spacecraft designed to (1) test new concepts in spacecraft design, propulsion, and stabilization, (2) take high quality cloudcover pictures, (3) provide in situ measurements of the aerospace environment, and (4) test improved communication systems. The cylindrically shaped spacecraft was 56 inches (142 cm) in diameter and 72 inches (183 cm) long. Its structure consisted primarily of a corrugated thrust tube with honeycombed bulkheads secured to each end. Equipment components and payload were externally mounted on the outer surface of the thrust tube as well as on a structure that slid into the interior of the thrust tube. Electric power was provided by two solar arrays mounted on either end of the spacecraft's outer shell and by two rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries. Extending radially outward from the side of the spacecraft were four 92.5 foot (28.2 m) adjustable gravity gradient booms. The spacecraft telemetry system consisted of four 2.1 W transmitters (two at 136.47 MHz and two at 137.35 MHz), and a microwave communications experiment.

During its launch on 6 April 1967, the booster's second stage failed to ignite, resulting in an unplanned elliptical orbit. Stresses caused by this orbit eventually induced spacecraft tumbling. In spite of these conditions, useful data were obtained from some of the experiments, most notably the cosmic ray and particle experiments, and the field detection experiments. The satellite reentered the atmosphere on 2 September 1969.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1971 13:40:40 GMT
USSR launched Luna 18 from Baikonur to the Moon, an attempted sample return mission which crashed during its landing attempt after 54 Lunar orbits.

Luna 18 was launched 2 September 1971, a month after the spacecraft's designer, Babakhin, had died at age 56. It was placed in an Earth parking orbit after launch, before being put on a translunar trajectory. On 7 September 1971, Luna 18 entered Lunar orbit, using a new method of navigation in Lunar orbit and for landing. The spacecraft completed 85 communications sessions and 54 Lunar orbits before it was sent towards the Lunar surface by use of braking rockets, in an attempted Lunar soil return mission, on 11 September 1971. It crashed while attempting to soft land, impacting the Moon in rugged mountainous terrain near Mare Fecunditatis at Latitude 3.57 (3 deg 34 min) N, Longitude 50.50 (56 deg 30 min) E (selenographic coordinates). Signals ceased at the moment of impact.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1972 17:50:29 GMT
The US Navy launched Triad 1 (TIP 1) from Vandenburg, California, a prototype of an improved Transit navigation satellite.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

P. Wild discovered asteroids #1935 Lucerna and #2005 Hencke.

USSR's Luna 22 used up its manuevering fuel during its 18 month mission of "scientific investigation of the Moon and circumlunar space from the orbit of an artificial satellite of the Moon."

Luna 22 was a heavy Lunar orbiter launched 29 May 1974, first into Earth parking orbit and then to the Moon, where it was inserted into a circular Lunar orbit on 2 June 1974. It was launched for scientific investigation of the Moon and circumlunar space from the orbit of an artificial satellite of the Moon, which was begun by the Luna 19 automatic station. The primary instruments were the imaging cameras the spacecraft carried. It also had the objectives of studying the Moon's magnetic and gravitational fields, surface gamma ray emissions and (thereby) the composition of Lunar surface rocks, as well as micrometeorites and cosmic rays. The spacecraft made many orbit adjustments over its 18 month lifetime in order to optimize the operation of various experiments, lowering the perilune to as little as 25 km. Maneuvering fuel was exhausted on 2 September 1975, and the mission was ended in early November 1975.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1975 13:12:00 GMT
USSR launched Molniya 1-31 from Plesetsk for operation of the long range telephone and telegraph radio communications system in the USSR, and transmission of television programs to stations in the Orbita network.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

E. Bowell discovered asteroids #2316 Jo-Ann, #2451 Dollfus, #2917 Sawyer Hogg, #3217 Seidelmann and #3255 Tholen.

N. Chernykh discovered asteroid #2983 Poltava.

N. V. Metlova discovered asteroid #3044.

A. Mrkos discovered asteroid #3141.

USSR lost contact with the Phobos 1 probe, en route to Mars, due to an erroneous command sent to the spacecraft a few days earlier which shut down the attitude control system.

Phobos 1, launched 7 July 1988, carried two landers and was planned to enter Mars orbit. It operated nominally until an expected communications session on 2 September did not occur. The failure of controllers to regain contact with the spacecraft was traced to an error in the software uploaded on 29/30 August which had deactivated the attitude thrusters. This resulted in a loss of lock on the Sun, resulting in the spacecraft orienting the solar arrays away from the Sun, thus depleting the batteries. Phobos 1 consequently was stranded in a heliocentric orbit.

Phobos 1, and its companion Phobos 2, were the next generation in the Venera-type planetary missions, succeeding those last used during the Vega 1 and 2 missions to comet P/Halley. The objectives of the missions were to: (1) conduct studies of the interplanetary environment; (2) perform observations of the Sun; (3) characterize the plasma environment in the Martian vicinity; (4) conduct surface and atmospheric studies of Mars; and, (5) study the surface composition of the Martian satellite Phobos. The main section of the spacecraft consisted of a pressurized toroidal electronics section surrounding a modular cylindrical experiment section. Below these were mounted four spherical tanks containing hydrazine for attitude control and, after the main propulsion module was to be jettisoned, orbit adjustment. A total of 28 thrusters (twenty-four 50 N thrusters and four 10 N thrusters) were mounted on the spherical tanks, with additional thrusters mounted on the spacecraft body and solar panels. Attitude was maintained through the use of a three-axis control system with pointing maintained with Sun and star sensors.

The Phobos probes carried two types of landers: a stationary Long-Term Automated Lander, and a Hopping Lander (Hopper) designed to be mobile through use of a hopping mechanism.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1996 07:41:40 GMT
Soyuz TM-23 landed 100 km SW of Akmola in Kazakstan with cosmonauts Yuri Onufrienko, Yuriy Usachyov and Claudie Andre-Deshays (the first French woman in space) aboard, returning from the Mir space station.

Russia launched Soyuz TM-23 on 21 February 1996 with cosmonauts Onufrienko and Usachyov aboard for Mir Expedition EO-21. Soyuz TM-23 docked with Mir at 14:20:35 on 23 February.

The spacecraft undocked on 2 September 1996 at 04:20 GMT with Yuri Onufrienko, Yuriy Usachyov and Claudie Andre-Deshays aboard, and made a small seperation burn at 04:24:40 GMT. The deorbit burn was executed at 06:47:20 GMT. The three Soyuz component modules separated at 07:14:36, and the parachutes were deployed at 07:26 GMT. Landing occurred at 07:41:40 GMT, 100 km SW of Akmola in Kazakstan. This concluded the French 'Cassiopee' mission.

See also Wikipedia
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1997 22:21:07 GMT
An Ariane 44LP launched from Kourou carried Eutelsat's Hot Bird 3 communications satellite and Europe's Meteosat 7 weather satellite to space, initially positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 13 deg E and 10 deg W, respectively.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

Died, Frederik Pohl, US science fiction author (e.g., Gateway (Heechee saga), Bipohl) and magazine editor (e.g., Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories, Galaxy, Worlds of if), 4 Hugo and 3 Nebula awards
ref: en.wikipedia.org

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