Monday, October 23, 2017

Discovery (STS-120) launched 2007

L-R: Parazynski, Wheelock, Wilson, Zamka, Melroy, Tani, Nespoli

Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-120) took off October 23, 2007, being the 23rd mission to the International Space Station.  Commander Pamela Melroy was the second woman after Eileen Collins to become commander of a space shuttle mission.  When they docked with the ISS, Peggy Whitson was commander of the space station so for the first time, there were two female mission commanders in space.

The rest of the crew consisted of Pilot George Zamka, Mission Specialist 1 Douglas Wheelock, Mission Specialist 2 Stephanie Wilson, Mission Specialist 3, Scott Parazynski, Mission Specialist 4 Paolo Nespoli (on the ISS right now!), and Mission Specialist 5 Daniel Tani.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

India reaches the moon! Chandrayaan I launched 2008

India's first lunar probe, Chandrayaan 1, was launched October 22, 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center north of Chennai.  The spacecraft consisted of an orbiter and a lander.  Chandrayaan 1 entered lunar orbit on November 8 and the Moon Impact Probe separated from the orbiter on November 14. 

The Moon Impact Probe landed near the Shackleton crater on the south pole, making India the fourth country to reach the moon.

Two months shy of its first anniversary, the orbiter stopped sending signals on August 28, 2009.  Indian Space Research Organization expected it to crash onto the lunar surface in 2012 but as of 2016, it is still in orbit.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy birthday, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette!

Julie Payette, born October 20, 1963 in Montreal, Canada, is a space shuttle astronaut, a veteran of two missions.  Her first flight was on Discovery (STS-96) in May-June 1999 as mission specialist.  She operated the Canadarm and is the first Canadian aboard the International Space Station.

Her second and final mission was aboard Endeavour (STS-127) in July 2009 also as a mission specialist.

She left the Canadian  Space Agency after her final flight and is now the current Governor General of Canada since October 2017. 

Zond 8 launched 1970

Zond 8, an unmanned Soviet space probe was launched October 20, 1970 from an Earth-orbiting platform to the moon.  It flew by the moon, making its closest approach on October 24.  It returned to Earth, splashing down in the Indian Ocean, October 27.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tiangong 1, Chinese Space Station, to crash to Earth by April 2018

Tiangong 1, the Chinese Space Station launched in 2011, is scheduled to come tumbling back to Earth sometime before April 2018.  The Chinese have known about this since last year, when they announced they had lost the telemetry signal from the station.

After a series of successful internal tests in March 2012, Shenzhou 9 blasted off June 16 with three astronauts, Commander Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang, and Liu Yang (first Chinese woman in space) and docked with the space station.  They returned June 29.

The following June, Shenzhou 10 docked with the space station with another crew of three: Commander Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping (second Chinese woman in space).  It was the second and final trip to Tiangong 1.   After they left, the space station was put into 'sleep mode'.

Tiangong 1 has gone past its useful life and the Chinese had predicted they would be able to control its re-entry, but with the telemetry link lost, it will re-enter Earth's atmosphere uncontrolled.  Nobody knows where it will land.  Most of Earth's surface is uninhabited, but there is exists the remote possibility that some of the station's parts may reach ground and hit an inhabited area.

Just giving y'all a heads-up!

Styx releases "Cornerstone" 1979

Styx released their ninth studio album Cornerstone October 19, 1979.  It peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 and is at least double platinum at this time.  Babe is the biggest single from the album and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Mariner 5 flies by Venus 1967

Mariner 5, launched June 14, 1967, made its closest approach to Venus on October 19, 1967.  It was meant to be a backup for Mariner 4, but with the success of that mission,  it was modified for a Venus mission. 

Liftoff went without many problems and data sent during its flyby corroborated the Soviet's Venera 4 lander which arrived at Venus the day before, that the Venusian atmosphere was hotter and more denser than previously thought.

NASA discovered earlier Mariner 5 was in a slow roll and soon after its flyby, contact was lost.  The mission was ended November 5 and the defunct spacecraft is in a heliocentric orbit.