Saturday, July 25, 2015

This Week in Space History: July 28th - August 3rd

          Compiled by Matt Heimbecker

Here are a few of the more noteworthy entries in the Space Library covering the week of July 28th - August 3rd:

  • July 28, 1969 - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers sent signals to Mariner VI to turn on its TV camera and scientific experiments that would measure Mars surface characteristics and atmosphere. The spacecraft (launched on February 24th as part of the first "dual mission" to Mars along with Mariner VII) would begin taking the first of 33 far-encounter pictures 771,500 miles from Mars beginning early July 29th. Full-disc photos would be received at JPL on July 29th.
  • July 29th, 1993 the team behind the Array of Low-Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors (ALEXIS) satellite, which was launched into orbit April 25th on board an Air Force Pegasus rocket for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, announced that scientists now expect to get much of the data they seek from the damaged satellite. Officials at the New Mexico laboratory had hoped to demonstrate that they could handle space missions faster, better, and cheaper than NASA. However, one of the satellite's four solar panels was damaged during the launch, and the satellite was deemed a loss. Unmanned satellites frequently diagnose their own maladies, make adjustments needed to survive, and allow themselves to be reprogrammed in orbit. This is what happened to ALEXIS, which on July 5th was brought under control and a week later conducted its first experiment. The craft used six telescopes to capture x-rays that could reveal evidence of weapons proliferation, and it carries an experiment designed to determine how Earth's atmosphere distorts radio signals.

Page one of an eleven page document which rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard created in order to receive US patent #1341053 for a "magazine rocket" in 1920. The document is one of many available in electronic format at The Space Library

  • July 30th, 1982 - Cosmonauts Anatoly Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev made a space walk from the orbiting station Salyut 7 to disassemble and partially replace worn out equipment on the station's exterior and study opportunities for doing various jobs outside it. After they donned space suits, Lebedev left the station for the "zone" of operations, while Berezovoy remained in the open manhole to film his walk for television. They dismantled and passed into the station a micrometeorite-measuring instrument and some panels with optical and various structural materials that had been outside the station since its launch April 19th.
  • July 31st, 2008 - A team of scientists led by Robert H. Brown of the University of Arizona, Tucson, announced in the journal Nature that NASA’s ESA spacecraft had gathered evidence that Saturn’s moon Titan has at least one lake of liquid hydrocarbons. The discovery made Titan the only known celestial body, besides Earth, to have liquid on its surface. Data from previous fly-bys had shown that Titan has several features that appear to be lakes, but scientists had been unsure whether these bodies contained liquid or solid material.
  • August 1st, 1963 - The MARINER II interplanetary space probe completed its first orbit of the sun, after traveling approximately 540,000,000 mi. Launched Aug. 27th, 1962, the spacecraft passed within 21,648 mi. of Venus Dec. 14th, 1962, and provided 111 million bits of information on Venus and interplanetary space.
  • August 2nd 1991 - The scheduled launch of Atlantis on August 1st was delayed by a false alarm over a pressure valve and then by bad weather, the media reported. The launch was then rescheduled for August 2nd. The astronauts' first task after takeoff was to launch the $120Mln USD ($156.5Mln CDN) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, which was done successfully.

The first page of a three page 1936 German patent issued to Rudolf Nebel, a spaceflight advocate active in Germany's amateur rocket group, the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR – "Spaceflight Society") in the 1930s and in rebuilding German rocketry following World War II. The document one of many available online at The Space Library.

  • August 3rd, 1975 - The Philadelphia Inquirer reported  space expenditures resulted in tangible economic benefits, according to a report, "The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending," being prepared for NASA by Chase Econometric Associates, Inc. Using methods developed for regular national economic forecasts, Chase predicted that, if NASA's research and development budget were increased by $1Bln USD ($1.3Bln CDN) for the 1975-84 period, the US gross national product (GNP) would swell by $23Bln USD ($30Bln CDN) or 2% over the normal rate of growth. Labor productivity in the non-farm areas of the economy would rise more than 2% over the normal growth rate, and more than one million jobs would be created, reducing the unemployment rate by nearly 0.4% by 1984.
The Space Library, designed and built by the people at Burlington, Ontario based Apogee Books, is currently in beta test but even now contains 6,656 documents and over thirty thousand pages of first generation source materials from NASA and others covering almost the entirety of humanity's expansion into the high frontier.

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