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Race To Space
Someone will win the prize...
               ... but at what cost?
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C. H. F. Peters discovered asteroid #116 Sirona.

Died, Joseph Liouville, French mathematician (transcendental numbers)
ref: mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #316 Goberta.

A. Kopff discovered asteroid #643 Scheherezade; M. Wolf discovered asteroids #641 Agnes and #642 Clara.

F. Kaiser discovered asteroid #761 Brendelia.

M. Wolf discovered asteroids #810 Atossa and #811 Nauheima; S. Belyavskij discovered asteroid #812 Adele.

Born, Hans Joachim Oskar Fichtner, German guided missile expert during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, Head, Electrical Systems Integration Branch, Guidance/Control Division, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (1960)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #936 Kunigunde.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1151 Ithaka.

E. Delporte discovered asteroid #1707 Chantal.

G. Kulin discovered asteroid #1538 Detre; H. Alikoski discovered asteroids #1697 Koskenniemi, #2180 Marjaleena and #2487 Juhani.

L. Oterma discovered asteroid #2064 Thomsen; Y. Vaisala discovered asteroid #2820 Iisalmi.

In Huntsville, Alabama, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicated the Marshall Space Flight Center. (NASA had already activated the facility on July 1.)
ref: www.nasa.gov

The first episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek was aired. ("The Man Trap")
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1966 18:39:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A HS/Elec loads Test mission # 171. John McKay reached 1602 mph (2578 kph, Mach 2.44) max speed, 73,200 ft (22.311 km, 13.863 mi) max altitude. Premature engine shutdown at 38 seconds led to emergency landing at Smith Ranch.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

1967 07:57:01 GMT
NASA launched the Surveyor 5 Lunar landing mission.
Surveyor prototype resting on a beach, NASA photo Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog surveyor_beach.jpg
Surveyor prototype resting on a beach, NASA photo
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Surveyor 5, launched 8 September 1967, was the third spacecraft in the Surveyor series to achieve a successful Lunar soft landing, and the first mission to obtain in-situ compositional data on the Moon. The primary objectives of the Surveyor program, a series of seven robotic Lunar soft landing flights, were to support the coming crewed Apollo landings by: (1) developing and validating the technology for landing softly on the Moon; (2) providing data on the compatibility of the Apollo design with conditions encountered on the Lunar surface; and (3) adding to the scientific knowledge of the Moon. The objectives for Surveyor 5 were to land on the Moon in Mare Tranquillitatis and obtain postlanding television pictures of the Lunar surface. The secondary objectives were to conduct a vernier engine erosion experiment, determine the relative abundances of the chemical elements in the Lunar soil by operation of the alpha-scattering instrument, obtain touchdown dynamics data, and obtain thermal and radar reflectivity data.

The instrumentation for Surveyor 5 was similar to that of the previous Surveyors, and included the survey television camera and numerous engineering sensors. An alpha-scattering instrument was installed in place of the surface sampler, and a small bar magnet attached to one footpad was included to detect the presence of magnetic material in the Lunar soil. Convex auxilliary mirrors were attached to the frame to allow viewing of the surface below the spacecraft. Surveyor 5 had a mass of 1006 kg at launch and 303 kg at landing.

Surveyor 5 was launched at 7:57:01 UT (3:57:01 AM EDT) from Eastern Test range launch complex 36B at Cape Kennedy on an Atlas-Centaur rocket. The Centaur placed the spacecraft into an Earth parking orbit, then restarted 6.7 minutes later to inject Surveyor 5 into a Lunar transfer trajectory. A midcourse trajectory correction involving a 14.29 second firing of the verier engines was performed at 1:45 UT on 9 September. Immediately following the maneuver, the spacecraft began losing helium pressure. It was concluded that the helium pressure valve had not reseated tightly and the helium was leaking into the propellant tanks, causing an overpressure which opened the relief valves, discharging the helium. A new emergency landing plan was adopted. Early vernier engine firings were made while there was still helium to slow the spacecraft, reduce its mass, and leave more free volume in the propellant tanks for the helium. The burn of the main retrorocket was delayed to an altitude of 1300 meters at a velocity of 30 m/s rather than the planned 10,700 meters at 120 to 150 m/s.

The new descent profile worked flawlessly, and Surveyor 5 touched down on the Lunar surface on 11 September 1967 at 00:46:44 UT (8:46:44 PM EDT 10 September) at 1.41 N, 23.18 E (selenographic coordinates) on a 20 degree slope of a 9 x 12 meter rimless crater in southwest Mare Tranquillitatis. Touchdown was 29 km from the original target. All experiments were performed successfully. Surveyor 5 returned 18,006 television pictures during its first Lunar day. The alpha-scattering instrument was deployed and performed the first in-situ analysis of an extraterrestrial body, returning 83 hours of data on Lunar soil composition during the first Lunar day, beginning on 11 September 1967. A vernier engine erosion experiment was conducted on 13 September, about 53 hours after landing, consisting of a firing of the vernier engines for 0.55 seconds while the spacecraft sat on the ground, to examine the effects of the engines on the surface. The spacecraft shut down from 24 September to 15 October 1967 over its first Lunar night on the Moon's surface. An additional 1048 pictures and 22 hours of alpha-scattering data were received during the second Lunar day. On 18 October Surveyor 5 acquired thermal data during a total eclipse of the Sun. Transmissions for the second day were received until 1 November 1967, when shutdown for the second Lunar night occurred about 200 hours after sunset. Transmissions were resumed on the third and fourth Lunar days, with the final transmission occurring at 04:30 UT on 17 December 1967. Pictures were transmitted during the first, second, and fourth Lunar days. A total of 19,118 pictures were transmitted.

Alpha-scattering results indicated soil composition, resembling Earth basaltic rock, of 53% to 63% oxygen, 15.5% to 21.5% silicon, 10% to 16% sulphur, iron, cobalt, and nickel; 4.5% to 8.5% aluminum, and small quantities of magnesium, carbon, and sodium. The quantity of material adhering to the magnet was consistent with a mixture of pulverized basalt and 10% to 12% magnetite with no more than 1% metallic iron. The vernier engine experiment produced minor but observable erosion of the surface. All mission objectives were accomplished.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

N. Chernykh discovered asteroid #3739.

Died, Willard Frank Libby, physicist and chemist, inventor of radiocarbon dating, Nobel 1960 "for his method to use carbon-14 for age determination in archaeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science"
ref: www.nobelprize.org

L. Zhuravleva discovered asteroids #3095 and #3662.

Died, Hideki Yukawa, Japanese physicist (Nobel 1949 "for his prediction of the existence of mesons on the basis of theoretical work on nuclear forces")

Hideki Yukawa (23 January 1907 - 8 September 1981) was a Japanese theoretical physicist and the first Japanese person to win a Nobel prize. In 1935 he published his theory of mesons, which explained the interaction between protons and neutrons, and was a major influence on research into elementary particles. In 1940 he became a professor in Kyoto University. In 1940 he won the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy, and in 1943 the Decoration of Cultural Merit from the Japanese government. In 1949 he became a professor at Columbia University, and also won the Nobel prize for physics.
ref: www.nobelprize.org

L. Zhuravleva discovered asteroid #3587.

P. Wild discovered asteroid #3258.

1983 22:52:00 GMT
The RCA Satcom 7 commercial communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 72 deg W.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1984 21:41:00 GMT
The US Air Force launched the Navstar 10 (USA 5) navigation satellite from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, a GPS Block 1 component of the Global Positioning System.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1988 23:00:00 GMT
An Ariane 3 launched from Kourou carried GTE's GStar 3 and IBM STLC's SBS 5 comsats to space, initially positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 93 deg W and 123 deg W, respectively. GStar used its on-board propulsion to achieve orbit after the AKM failed.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1996 21:49:00 GMT
GE Americom's GE 1 commercial communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 103 deg W.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1998 21:13:00 GMT
A Delta 7920-10C launched from Vandenburg, California, carried five Iridium communication satellites (Iridium 77, 79, 80, 81, 82) to orbit, placed in Plane 6 ascending nodes. Iridium 79 failed in low orbit.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

2000 07:46:00 CDT (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA launched STS 106 (Atlantis 22) for International Space Station Flight 2A.2b to prepare the ISS for permanant residents.

STS 106 was launched 8 September 2000 from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B after a smooth countdown. The inital orbit of 72 x 328 km x 51.6 deg was circularised by the Shuttle's OMS engines at apogee.

Of nearly 12 days in orbit, STS 106 spent seven docked with the International Space Station, preparing the ISS for the arrival of the first residents in its permanent habitation, the Expedition One crew. Atlantis docked with the PMA-2 adapter on the International Space Station at 05:51 GMT on 10 September.

The STS 106 crew spent five days, 9 hours and 21 minutes inside the International Space Station. The seven crewmembers completed a long checklist aimed at making the station a home for its first residents, who would arrive about five weeks later to stay for more than four months. Acting as plumbers, movers, installers and electricians, the astronauts installed batteries, power converters, a toilet and a treadmill on the orbiting outpost. They also delivered more than 2,993 kilograms (6,600 pounds) of supplies.

Astronauts Lu and Malenchenko performed a spacewalk beginning at 04:47 GMT on 11 September. They rode the RMS arm up to the newly arrived Zvezda Service Module and began installing power, data and communications cables, reaching a distance of 30 meters from the airlock when installing Zvezda's magnetometer. The total EVA duration was 6 hours 21 minutes.

Atlantis' thrusters were fired four times to boost the station's altitude by 22.5 kilometers (14 miles).

The Shuttle undocked from ISS at 03:44 GMT on 18 September. After undocking, Pilot Scott Altman moved Atlantis to a distance of about 137 meters (450 feet) from the station, and made two circuits of the station, each lasting half an orbit, as the rest of the crew photographed its exterior for documentation. The final separation maneuver was executed at 05:34 GMT.

The payload bay doors were closed at 04:14 GMT on 20 September, and at 06:50 GMT, the OMS engines ignited for a three minute burn lowering the orbit from 374 x 386 km x 51.6 deg to 22 x 380 km x 51.6 deg. After entry interface at 07:25 GMT, STS 106 ended 20 September 2000 when Atlantis landed on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, with main gear touchdown at 07:56:48 GMT, for a mission duration of 11 days, 19 hours, 10 minutes.

The flight crew for STS 106 was: Terrence Wilcutt, Commander; Scott D. Altman, Pilot; Edward T. Lu, Mission Specialist 1; Richard A. Mastracchio, Mission Specialist 2; Daniel C. Burbank, Mission Specialist 3; Yuri I. Malenchenko, Mission Specialist 4; Boris V. Morukov, Mission Specialist 5.
ref: www.nasa.gov

2004 15:59:00 GMT
NASA's Genesis solar wind sample return capsule returned to Earth. Its parachutes failed to deploy, resulting in a crash which contaminated most, if not all, of the samples. (Landing time is estimated.)
Genesis sample return capsule on the ground after impact, NASA photo Source: NASA Genesis Multimedia genesis_capsule_ground_2.jpg
Genesis sample return capsule on the ground after impact, NASA photo
Source: NASA Genesis Multimedia

The primary objective of the Genesis mission was to collect samples of solar wind particles and return them to Earth for detailed analysis. The science objectives were to obtain precise measurements of solar isotopic and elemental abundances and provide a reservoir of solar matter for future scientific analysis. Specifically, the primary scientific objectives were to obtain precise measurements of isotope ratios of oxygen, nitrogen, and solar wind isotopic fractionation. Study of these samples would allow testing of theories of solar system formation and evolution and early nebular composition. A total sample mass of roughly 10 to 20 micrograms was expected.

The Genesis spacecraft had a launch mass of 636 kg, including 142 kg of fuel, and consisted of a 2.3 meter long, 2 meter wide spacecraft deck with two fixed solar panel wings with a total span of 7.9 meters, and a sample return capsule mounted on top of the deck. The spacecraft was spin stabilized at one revolution every 37.5 seconds. Propulsion was provided by a hydrazine monopropellant thruster using a helium pressurant. Communication was in the S-band via a fixed antenna. The solar panels provided a maximum of 254 Watts of power to a nickle-hydrogen storage battery. Temperatures were maintained by heaters and passive thermal control. The spacecraft was also equipped with ion and electron electrostatic monitors to determine which solar wind regime was being encountered, and to help set the appropriate collector voltage. Spacecraft subsystems and monitors were mounted beneath the sample return capsule.

The sample return capsule was disc shaped with a blunt conical top and bottom, 1.5 meters in diameter and 1.31 meters high, with a total mass of about 225 kg. It contained a 97.3 cm diameter science cannister which held a concentrator and three collector arrays. The collector arrays were flat discs made of ultra-pure silicon, silicon carbide, germanium, sapphire, chemically deposited diamond, gold, aluminum, and metallic glass wafers which were exposed to the solar wind. Isotopes of helium, oxygen, nitrogen, neon, radon, and other elements were implanted in the top 100 nm of these materials. The concentrator was an electrostatic mirror which concentrated elements up to neon by a factor of approximately 20. Each collector array was to be deployed for a different solar wind regime.

Genesis was launched successfully at 16:13:40.324 UT on 8 August 2001 on a Delta 7326 (a Delta II Lite launch vehicle with three strap-on solid rocket boosters and a Star 37FM third stage). The first burn of the Delta second stage put Genesis in a 185 x 197 km x 28.5 deg parking orbit at 1624 GMT. At 1712 GMT a second burn raised the orbit to 182 x 3811 km, and at 1713 GMT the third stage fired to put Genesis on its trajectory towards the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian libration point, 0.01 AU from Earth, with a nominal apogee of around 1.2 million km, a three month journey. The L1 point is beyond the influences of the geomagnetic field and its trapped particles. Genesis reached the L1 point on 16 November 2001 and fired its hydrazine thrusters for 268 seconds to insert itself into a halo orbit at 19:03 UT (2:03 PM EST). A malfunctioning thermal radiator caused some concern for the health of the sample return capsule's critical battery, which was overheating, but Genesis began collecting solar wind samples on schedule. On 3 December 2001 it opened its collector arrays and began gathering samples of solar wind particles. It completed 5 halo orbits over 30 months collecting samples. In April 2004, it ended sample collection and shut the door to the sample collection cannister.

The samples were stowed and sealed in the contamination-tight canister within the Sample Return Capsule and returned to Earth over a five month period, flying past the Earth and returning in order to be positioned for daylight entry. On 8 September 2004, the Genesis space probe became the first spacecraft to return from beyond Lunar orbit to the Earth's surface. The sample return capsule was released from the main spacecraft bus at about 12:00 UT, 66,000 km above the Earth, and successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 15:52:47 UT (11:53 AM EDT, 9:53 AM local MDT) over Oregon at 11 km/s, and should have deployed a drogue parachute 2 minutes 7 seconds after entry at 33 km altitude, but a wiring error resulted in the drogue parachute release mortar failing to fire. The parachute never deployed, and the capsule crashed in the desert in the Dugway Proving Ground at 40 07 40 N 113 30 29 W at a speed of 86 m/s (311 km/hr, 193 mph), severely damaging the capsule. The science cannister was removed to a clean room and the sample collection fragments were shipped to Johnson Space Center. The cause of the parachute failure was believed to be incorrectly installed accelerometers which were to deploy the parachutes. The science team was confident that most of the planned science could be recovered from the salvaged sample collectors.

The spacecraft bus looped around Earth after the capsule was released and headed back out towards the L1 point.

The original plan for re-entry was as follows: Six minutes after drogue chute deployment, the main parafoil was to deploy at an altitude of 6 km over the USAF Utah Test and Training Range, where it would be aerocaptured by one of two specially equipped helicopters at an altitude of about 2.5 km. The spacecraft had the capability of going into a parking orbit if the weather at the capture site was unsuitable. The capsule was taken to a clean room at the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, transported to Johnson Space Center for contamination control and curation, and distributed to selected Advanced Analytical Instrument Facilities for analysis.

There was some concern that the sample return capsule battery would fail, jeopardizing the re-entry. The battery was overheating in space, but ground tests showed that the battery should have been unaffected by the amount of heating it had endured, and should have operated to deploy the parachute on reentry.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

2004 23:14:00 GMT
China launched the Shi Jian 6A and 6B (SJ-6A and SJ-6B) technology satellites from Taiyuan on a CZ-4B booster.

China launched the Shi Jian 6A and 6B (SJ-6A and SJ-6B) technology satellites on 8 September 2004. It was announced that the two satellites had a design life of at least two years, and would be used to probe the space environment, radiation and its effects, record space physical environment parameters, and conduct other related space experiments. The two satellites were built by the Shanghai Academy of Space Flight Technology and Dongfanghong Satellite Company under subcontract to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The scientific instruments aboard the satellites were mainly manufactured by the China Electronics Technology Corporation. Some Western observers believed the mission of the satellites included electronic intelligence technology tests. SJ-6B was released from the booster one minute after SJ-6A.

See also the Shi Jian 6B page
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

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