Thursday, 30 October 2008
I spotted a reasonably bright moving medium to fast speed (scale 3-4) Fireball at 18.06 Hours U.T from my house, I would say its estimated Magnitude was possibly -4 to -5 leaving a long trajectory trail (possibly 60 to 70 degrees) from the Constellation of Cygnus on the Azimuth to the North West location of Bootes, the trail was thin and straight with orange-red burning material spewing from the small orange coloured fireball and was moving quite straight through the sky so any firework can be ruled out, I also thought before the fireball appeared I heard a reasonable bang in the sky.
The Fireball started dim got brighter and burnt itself out as it got into thicker atmosphere in the North West and I would say overall it lasted for around 10 seconds at the most disappearing 20 degrees above the Horizon.
I was wondering if this may have been a Cygnid fireball as it came from that Constellation (or direction) of the sky.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
The messages will be broadcast beginning at 11 a.m. CDT, Monday, Oct. 27, on both standard definition and high-definition NASA TV. The HD version also will be broadcast at 11 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, Oct. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Speeding 210 miles above Earth at five miles per second, Expedition 18 Commander E. Michael Fincke and Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff will join millions of Americans and cast their votes in the Nov. 4 election. Thanks to a Texas bill passed in 1997, Fincke and Chamitoff will join several past astronauts who have voted from orbit.
Joined by Russian Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov, Fincke and Chamitoff also beamed down a message celebrating the upcoming 10th anniversary of the station's launch. The first space station component, the bus-sized Zarya module, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 20, 1998. During the last 10 years, 76 flights have launched to the complex. The orbiting laboratory has grown to a mass of almost 600,000 pounds and an inside volume larger than a four-bedroom house.
For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit:
For the latest information on the space station, visit:
- end -
Friday, 24 October 2008
Thursday, 23 October 2008
A question I asked Suffolk County Council about Streetlighting curbs in my area....
Dear Mr Watling
we are currently investigating remote monitoring and control systems and will soon be having talks with adjacent local authorities regarding part night lighting or dimming but as yet there have been no decisions. We will need to consult with our own Councillors, Parish and District Councils prior to any decision.
Part night lighting was precisely what used to happen not so many years ago but was done away with on grounds of both personal safety and traffic safety - extended opening times have not helped!
Regarding good clear skies, we are gradually replacing old units which cause light pollution with those causing zero uplighting.
Intelligent Transport Systems and Street Lighting Team Leader
Fax No (01473) 216864
Environment & Transport
Service Delivery Agency
B1- F5 -16
'Spring Forward' and 'Fall Back' - that's how to remember when to change the clocks. This year, 2008, we 'Go Back' early Sunday morning October 26 - so remember to put your clocks back one hour, officially at 1am GMT (2am BST) or for some of us that will be before we go to sleep on Saturday night!
British Summer Time (BST) is the daylight saving time in effect in the UK and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) stays the same all year round and is measured from the Greenwich Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. It is the place from where all time zones are measured. In 2002 an order was made to link our summertime to Europe permanently. This means that the clocks go forward and back on the last Sundays in March and October respectively.
2008 March 30 and October 26
Clocks go back Autumn 2008 | Remember that the clocks go back by one hour on Sunday October 26, 2008
The English have been moving their clocks backwards and forwards since 1916. Businessman William Willett had noticed that during the summer people wasted the light mornings in bed. He proposed that the clocks be moved forward by one hour for summer so that the extra light could be put to better use in the afternoon, and put back for winter.
What does the clocks going back mean to you? Shorter, darker days is just the beginning for most of us.
While we can still enjoy flip flops and holiday memories at the moment, once the clocks change we will have to accept the inevitable. It is the end of summer and the beginning of the relentless, unstoppable descent into Christmas madness.
Almost as soon as those hands go back, we have packed away light, airy summer thoughts. The mornings get darker and the chilliness starts to set in. We notice the pumpkins and spiders decorating the shops. Small children dress like monsters and demand free stuff. Not that unusual, but it is indeed Halloween again.
Within a few days we find ourselves oohing and aahing over fireworks and perhaps even wearing a scarf. Must be Bonfire Night. We can fool ourselves a little longer by playing in the garden and taking fresh country walks in big jumpers. Maybe we can even still sit outside the pub to have a few beers.
But by mid-November there is only one destination: the festive season. Before we know it, we're gazing longingly at aspirational Christmas scenes on magazines, loitering near the wrapping paper, and planning Christmas drinks with old friends. The warm, cosy arms of Christmas are enveloping us.
It's only a matter of time before we find ourselves devouring mince pies, knocking back the mulled wine and singing Fairytale of New York. There is no hope for us.
Every year, we go Christmas crazy and demand joy and goodwill from everyone. Then it's January and we're all depressed. The cosiness of confinement has turned to claustrophobia and we've got at least three more months of it with nothing else to look forward to.
This is when we need to make plans: organise days out; cook some big old roasts for family and friends; book a West End show; take a city break, ski trip or a winter sun holiday. And look forward to spring when the clocks will go forward and we'll start all over again.
by Maxine Clarke.
Many people across Europe will need to remember to turn their clocks back by one hour in their local times when daylight saving time comes to an end on October 26, 2008. On this date, most countries in Europe will revert back to their local standard times.
Many places around Europe, including Berlin in Germany, will end the 2008 daylight saving schedule on October 26, 2008 and Clocks Turn One Hour Back in Europe
Not all countries will turn the clocks back at the same time. For example, parts of Denmark (eg. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland) and Portugal (eg. Azores) will move the clock back from 1am local time to 12:00 midnight (or 00:00) on October 26, 2008. Countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as most of Portugal and Spain's Canary Islands, will shift the clock back from 2am to 1am at their local times on this date.
Countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain (except the Canary Islands), and the Russian Federation will turn the clocks back from 3am to 2am at their local times. Countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Turkey, and Ukraine will turn the clocks back from 4am to 3am at their local times. Timeanddate.com's Upcoming Clock Changes has more information about time changes that occur in various countries when daylight saving time ends.
Europe's Daylight Saving Time
The European Union's (EU) daylight saving schedule runs from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October. An EU directive states that the last Sundays in March and October would be the dates definitively adopted for the daylight saving schedule among EU countries.
Prior to the EU's directive, during the 1980s many European countries had different daylight saving practices and this affected transport schedules and communications issues, especially for businesses, across Europe. In 1996 the EU standardized daylight saving time across most of Europe to ensure consistency with daylight saving times.
Listed below are the major time zones used across EU countries during the non-daylight saving period:
Western European Time (WET), observed during the winter only in countries such as Denmark (Faroe Islands only), Portugal and Spain (Canary Islands only).
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), observed all year in Iceland and during the winter only in countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom (main islands – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Central Europe Time (CET), observed in countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Sweden.
Eastern Europe Time (EET), observed in countries including Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia and Lithuania.
During summer daylight saving time/summer time, Western European Summer Time (WEST) is used instead of WET, Central European Summer Time (CEST) is used instead of CET, and Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) is used instead of EET.
The United Kingdom and Ireland
It is important to note that the United Kingdom does not observe Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, also known as UTC) all year round. It reverts from British Summer Time (BST) to GMT when it ends its daylight saving schedule. Ireland switches from Irish Summer Time (IST) to GMT when daylight saving time finishes.
Note: Any reference to summer in this article relates to summer in the northern hemisphere.
with the launch of the country's first deep space mission, a probe to
circle the moon with science gear from India, Europe and the United
The 3,042-pound Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft was launched at 0052 GMT
Wednesday (8:52 p.m. EDT Tuesday) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center
on Sriharikota Island on India's east coast.
The probe flew into space aboard a beefed-up Polar Satellite Launch
Vehicle, a 146-foot-tall rocket originally built to haul Earth
observation satellites into orbit.
The PSLV flew east from the launch site, propelling the spacecraft to
a velocity of more than 20,500 mph and reaching an initial orbit with
a high point of 14,205 miles and a low point of 158 miles. The
inclination was about 17.9 degrees, according to the Indian Space
"Our baby is on the way to the moon," one engineer said a few minutes
after the launch.
Engineers at the Chandrayaan 1 control center near Bangalore reported
they had contacted the spacecraft moments after it was deployed from
the rocket's fourth stage.
"This is an historic moment as far as India is concerned," said G.
Madhavan Nair, ISRO chairman. "It was a remarkable performance by the
launch vehicle. Every parameter was on the dot."
Senior ISRO officials spoke to the launch team shortly after the first
portion of the mission was declared a success.
"What we have started is a remarkable journey for an Indian spacecraft
to go to the moon and try to unravel (its) mysteries," Nair said. "I
must take this opportunity to congratulate every one of you who have
really contributed to this great success."
The final days before launch were plagued by monsoon rains, but the
showers stopped long enough for officials to clear the rocket for
launch at dawn Wednesday, Indian time.
"We have been fighting against all odds the past four days," Nair said.
Chandrayaan 1, India's first robotic mission to leave Earth orbit,
will fire its own engine up to five times in the next two weeks to
gradually reach a 250,000-mile-high orbit taking the spacecraft to the
vicinity of the moon.
The probe will fire its engine again Nov. 8 to enter lunar orbit. The
burn is scheduled to begin at about 1227 GMT (7:27 a.m. EST) to place
Chandrayaan 1 in an oval-shaped parking orbit. That orbit will
eventually be lowered to a circular path about 62 miles above the
Plans call for Chandrayaan 1 to release a 64-pound impactor around
Nov. 15 for a suicidal nosedive into the moon. The trip from orbit to
the lunar surface will take about a half-hour, and the small craft
will relay imagery, altitude information and spectral data back to
Earth through the Chandrayaan mother ship.
Chandrayaan means "moon craft" in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India.
The $80 million mission is India's answer to a pair of lunar missions
launched last year by Japan and China. Both countries' moon orbiters
are still collecting imagery and scientific data.
But unlike the Japanese and Chinese missions, India invited large
contributions from other nations to put instruments on Chandrayaan 1.
Scientists from Europe and the United States answered the call.
More than half of the probes 11 instruments come from outside India.
The European Space Agency spent $8 million to fund three payloads,
while NASA provided two more sensors. Bulgarian scientists also
contributed a radiation monitor to the mission.
The payloads will be turned on and tested by the end of November
before the spacecraft begins an operational mission lasting at least
two years, officials said.
Scientists expect data from Chandrayaan 1 to help create the most
detailed global chemical map of the moon showing mineral
concentrations across the lunar surface. Researchers will also make a
three-dimensional terrain map of the moon based on information yielded
by the mission.
"We are going to look at the moon slightly differently than the people
who are looking at it (now). We're looking at the moon very
systematically," said Mylswamy Annadurai, Chandrayaan 1 project
director at ISRO. "We're going to make a repository of the whole moon
and its contents."
ESA's three instruments come from teams led by scientists in the
United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden.
"In an era of renewed interest for the moon on a worldwide scale, the
ESA-ISRO collaboration on Chandrayaan 1 is a new opportunity for
Europe to expand its competence in lunar science while tightening the
long-standing relationship with India - an ever stronger space power,"
said David Southwood, ESA director of science and robotic exploration.
The ESA-funded X-ray and near-infrared imaging spectrometers, called
C1XS and SIR 2, will detect mineral signatures in soil on and just
below the lunar surface. Both instruments are based on similar sensors
that flew aboard Europe's SMART 1 spacecraft, which was deliberately
crashed into the moon in 2006.
"European scientists will have the fantastic opportunity to continue
our work on the moon," said Detlef Koschny, ESA's Chandrayaan 1
Europe's instruments aboard Chandrayaan 1 will work closely with other
countries' payloads to help fill in the blanks in what scientists know
about the moon.
"The Apollo missions went down to the surface, but only in a limited
number of spots, whereas Chandrayaan tries to do detailed imaging of
the entire sphere of the moon," said Christian Erd, ESA's Chandrayaan
1 project manager.
SARA, the other ESA payload, will observe solar wind particles
contacting the moon's surface to study its effects on the top layer of
NASA provided a pair of instruments, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper and
the MiniSAR radar, as part of the agency's effort to return to robotic
exploration of the moon.
"The opportunity to fly NASA instruments on Chandrayaan 1 undoubtedly
will lead to important scientific discoveries," said Michael Griffin,
NASA administrator. "This exciting collaboration represents an
important next step in what we hope to be a long and mutually
beneficial relationship with India in future civil space exploration."
The Moon Mineralogy Mapper, nicknamed M3, is a visual and
near-infrared imaging spectrometer designed to plot mineral resources
at higher resolutions than any instrument before. M3 scientists from
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory hope the device will help them create
mineral maps to find science-rich landing sites for future missions.
M3 will also look for direct evidence of pockets of water ice hidden
inside craters near the lunar poles. Scientists believe there are
frozen water deposits deep within the eternally dark craters due to
high concentrations of hydrogen found there on previous missions.
The MiniSAR payload was developed by the Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory. The instrument will bounce radar beams off
the lunar surface to look for signs of water ice packed inside the
walls of deep craters near the moon's poles.
The combination of data from the M3 and MiniSAR instruments will allow
researchers to determine how many craters could harbor the frozen
water, NASA officials said.
India's indigenous suite of science payloads include a terrain camera
designed to take detailed black-and-white pictures of the whole lunar
surface. The stereo camera will be able to spot features as small as
about 16 feet, according to ISRO.
ISRO scientists also built two spectral imagers, one focusing on
near-infrared and another in the X-ray range, to help produce precise
global maps of the minerals and soil contents on the moon's surface.
A laser system was also bolted to the spacecraft to determine its
altitude above the moon and chart lunar surface topography.
Indian engineers also constructed the moon impact probe.
"It has been the dream of Indian scientists to send a satellite around
the moon and then collect more data about the surface features,
minerals and so on," Nair said. "That dream is going to come true
through this mission."
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
The rocket is scheduled to be moved to the launch pad Saturday. Before that, all the systems are being tested over a four-day period.
Once the fully loaded rocket is moved to the launch pad at snail's pace on a mobile platform, the systems will be again tested for four days more.
The 52-hour countdown for the launch will begin at 4 a.m. Monday. The launch to deliver the Chandrayaan spacecraft into orbit is scheduled at 6.20 a.m. next Wednesday, Oct 22.
Like a basketball player without any fixed positions, Koshy joining ISRO in 1972 and was rotated in different departments - fabrication, tool design, the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) project - ISRO's first rocket - and development of the PSLV separation systems.
For Koshy, Chandrayaan will be his third major space mission.
He was mission director when ISRO launched an Israeli satellite in a stripped down version of PSLV in January and played a similar role when the space agency sent up a cluster of 10 satellites in April.
While the PSLV rocket for the previous missions and the current one are the same, Koshy terms each launch as unique, with its own set of challenges and calculations.
Speaking about the moon rocket, Koshy told IANS: "The vehicle structure was altered to accommodate bigger strap-on motors."
Traditionally the PSLV's six strap-on motors are 10 metres in length and carry nine tonnes of solid propellant each. For the moon mission, they have been extended to 13.5 metres and will each carry 12 tonnes of fuel.
"All the six motors have been ground tested," Koshy said.
As a matter of abundant caution, the PSLV rocket has been padded up with additional thermal insulation.
Koshy said the fabrication of the 316-tonne rocket started two years ago and its integration with the lunar orbiter took another two months.
The rocket will sling into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GSO) the cuboid-shaped spacecraft.
With a lifespan of two years, the spacecraft will start orbiting the moon from Nov 8. It will also release a moon impact probe that will land on the lunar surface on Nov 14 - celebrated in India as Children's Day to mark the birthday of the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
The other notable feature of the moon rocket is that it will be the last one to be guided by ISRO's old avionics systems.
"We have developed our own processor that would start guiding our rockets from next year," Koshy said.
According to him, ISRO is working on plans to increase the thrust of the rocket's upper stage and carry more fuel in the second stage.
Koshy said ISRO is getting enquiries for the launch of 500-600 kg satellites. A new vehicle with ideal capacity would lower launch costs, he added.
As ISRO sends around four rockets up every year, one year's production was always in the pipeline, he pointed out.
Hailing from a big family of seven sisters and one brother, Koshy, the son of a Maths professor, is the only rocket scientist in his family. Even his daughter and son have stayed away from this tricky craft while his wife Rani Mary George is a principal scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Thiruvananthapuram.
Slated to retire in 2010, the rocket scientist has no career regrets.
"If I have to start my career all over again, I will choose ISRO as my employer," he asserted.
Meanwhile, the basketball fraternity can be proud that one amongst them is getting India on to the moon!
Monday, 20 October 2008
ORIONID METEOR WATCH: If you wake up before sunrise on Tuesday, Oct. 21st, set aside 15 minutes or so to watch the sky around Orion. You might see some meteors. The annual Orionid meteor shower, caused by dusty debris from Halley's Comet, is peaking today and tomorrow. Little was expected of this year's display because a bright Moon is hanging in the pre-dawn sky, causing an interfering glare. Surprisingly, however, sky watchers on Oct. 20th witnessed 15 or more Orionids per hour, many of them brighter than first magnitude stars. If this stronger-than-expected display spills into Tuesday, you might be glad to wake up early. Check http://spaceweather.com for updates and a sky map.
The spacecraft separated from the third stage of its Pegasus launch vehicle at 1:53 p.m. and immediately began powering up components necessary to control onboard systems. The operations team is continuing to check out spacecraft subsystems.
"After a 45-day orbit raising and spacecraft checkout period, the spacecraft will start its exciting science mission," said IBEX mission manager Greg Frazier of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Just as an impressionist artist makes an image from countless tiny strokes of paint, IBEX will build an image of the outer boundary of the solar system from impacts on the spacecraft by high-speed particles called energetic neutral atoms. These particles are created in the boundary region when the 1-million mph solar wind blows out in all directions from the sun and plows into the gas of interstellar space. This region is important to study because it shields many of the dangerous cosmic rays that would flood the space around Earth.
"No one has seen an image of the interaction at the edge of our solar system where the solar wind collides with interstellar space," said IBEX Principal Investigator David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We know we're going to be surprised. It's a little like getting the first weather satellite images. Prior to that, you had to infer the global weather patterns from a limited number of local weather stations. But with the weather satellite images, you could see the hurricanes forming and the fronts developing and moving across the country."
IBEX is the latest in NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers spacecraft. The Southwest Research Institute developed the IBEX mission with a team of national and international partners. Goddard manages the Explorers Program for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
For more information about the IBEX mission, visit:
Friday, 10 October 2008
Comet C/2007 N3 Lulin should become visible in late December at Magnitude 7 and into February of 2009 when it should reach magnitude 4.7 at its best-I will keep you all informed and updated about this one and any other phenomena happening in the sky.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
This graphic shows the trajectories for the Cassini spacecraft flybys planned for Oct. 9 and 31. Credit: NASA/JPL
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
The Soyuz was launched just over seven hours prior to the launch of the Apollo CSM. Apollo then maneuvered to rendezvous and docking 52 hours after the Soyuz launch. The Apollo and Soyuz crews conducted a variety of experiments over a two-day period. After separation, Apollo remained in space an additional 06 days. Soyuz returned to Earth approximately 30 hours after separation.
The final flight of the Apollo program was the first spaceflight in which spacecraft from different nations docked in space. In July 1975, a U.S. Apollo spacecraft carrying a crew of three docked with a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with its crew of two.
For the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), the United States used an Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) modified to provide for experiments to be conducted during the mission, extra propellant tanks and the addition of controls and equipment related to the Docking Module. Launch was accomplished with a Saturn IB.
The Docking Module was designed jointly by the United States and Soviet Union, and built in the United States. Its purpose was to enable a docking between the dissimilar Soyuz spacecraft and the U.S. Apollo. It was a three meter long cylinder 1.5 meters in diameter, and in addition to serving as a docking device, also served as an airlock module between the different atmospheres of the two ships (the U.S. ship with 100% oxygen at 260 millimeters of mercury; the Soyuz with a mixed oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere at 520 mm HG--lowered from its usual 760 mm Hg for this mission).
Prior to the conduct of ASTP, the astronauts and cosmonauts visited each other's space centers and became familiar with the spacecraft of the other country. The first visit was by the Russians to Johnson Space Center in July 1973, followed by a U.S. visit to Moscow in November 1973. In late April and early May 1974, the Russian flight crews returned to Johnson Space Center, and the U.S. crews went to Moscow in June and July 1974. The Russian crew made a third trip to the United States in September 1973 and came for the fourth and last time in February 1975. The U.S. crew visited the Soviet Union in late April and early May 1975 and became the first Americans to see the Russian launch facilities at Tyuratam on April 28, 1975.
Three simulation sessions were conducted between flight controllers and the ASTP crew in Houston and Moscow on May 13, 15 and 18, 1975 involving communications links between the two control centers, and fully occupied control center facilities. A final simulation was conducted from June 30-July 1, 1975. Additionally, in December 1974, the Russians made a human flight of the modified version of the Soyuz spaceship for system tests (Soyuz 16).
One of the most difficult problems to overcome was that of language differences. To alleviate this problem as much as possible, the Americans learned Russian and the Russians learned English. It was found that the best scenario was for the Russians to speak English and for the Americans to speak Russian.
Soyuz Launch: Soyuz 19, carrying cosmonauts Aleksey A. Leonov and Valery N. Kubasov, was launched into sunny skies from Baykonur Cosmodrome at 5:20 pm local time (8:20 am EDT) July 15, 1975. The spacecraft entered orbit with a 221.9-km apogee, 186.3-km perigee, 88.5-min period, and 51.8 inclination.
Foreign correspondents, barred from the launch site, watched the launch on color TV sets in a Moscow press center. The first Soviet launch to be televised live, it was transmitted to viewers throughout the Soviet Union, the U.S., and eastern and western Europe. President Ford watched from a U.S. State Dept. auditorium with Soviet Ambassador to the U.S, Anatoly P. Dobrynin and NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, before Dr. Fletcher and Ambassador Dobrynin flew to Kennedy Space Center to watch the Apollo launch.
On the third orbit the Soyuz 19 crew established contact with U.S. mission control in Houston, putting into operation the global Moscow and Houston Soyuz-Apollo communications system. On the fifth orbit the cosmonauts made the first of two maneuvers to place Soyuz 19 into a circular docking orbit. New orbital parameters were 231.7-km apogee and 192.4-km perigee. The spacecraft was spin-stabilized at 3 per sec with all systems operating normally.
Apollo Launch: At 3:50 pm EDT July 15, 1975, 7 hr, 30 min, after the Soyuz launch-a Saturn IB flawlessly lifted the Apollo spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center's launch complex 39, carrying Apollo commander Thomas P. Stafford, command-module pilot Vance D. Brand, and docking-module pilot Donald K. Slayton. The spacecraft entered orbit with a 173.3-km apogee, 154.7-km perigee, 87.6-min period, and 51.8 inclination. The spacecraft's launch-vehicle adapter was jettisoned at 9 hr 4 min ground elapsed time (9:04 GET, counted from the Soyuz 19 launch) and the crew maneuvered the Apollo 180 to dock with the adapter and extract the docking module. These events were videotaped and transmitted to earth later via ATS 6 (NASA's Applications Technology Satellite launched 30 May 1974). A maneuver 2 hr later at 7:35 pm circularized the orbit at 172 km. The Saturn S-IVB stage was deorbited into the Pacific Ocean 1 hr 30 min later.
A second Soyuz 19 circularization burn of 18.5 sec at 8:43 am EDT July 16 placed that spacecraft in a circular orbit of 229 km, with all systems functioning normally.
Rendezvous and Docking: A series of Apollo maneuvers, with the final braking maneuver at 8:51 am EDT July 17, put the Apollo spacecraft in a 229.4-km circular orbit matching the orbit of Soyuz 19. A few minutes later Brand reported, "We've got Soyuz in the *such language*tant." Voice contact was made soon after. Hello. Soyuz, Apollo," Stafford said in Russian. Kubasov replied in English, "Hello everybody. Hi to you, Tom and Deke. Hello there, Vance."
All communications among the five crew members during the mission were made in the language of the listener, with the Americans speaking Russian to the Soviet crew and the Soviet crew speaking English to the Americans. Contact of the two spacecraft, 51 hr, 49 min, into the mission (12:09 pm July 17) was transmitted live on TV to the earth, and Stafford commented, "We have succeeded. Everything is excellent." "Soyuz and Apollo are shaking hands now," the cosmonauts answered. Hard docking was completed over the Atlantic Ocean at 12:12 pm, 6 min earlier than the prelaunch flight plan watched by millions of TV viewers worldwide. "Perfect. Beautiful. Well done, Tom. It was a good show. We're looking forward to shaking hands with you in board [sic] Soyuz," Leonov said. Tass later reported that Kubasov told Moscow ground controllers that "we felt a slight jolt at the moment of docking" but that all went according to plan.
Joint Activities: At 3:17 pm hatch 3 opened; Apollo commander Stafford and Soyuz commander Leonov shook hands 2 min later. "Glad to see you," Stafford told Leonov in Russian. "Glad to see you. Very, very happy to see you," Leonov responded in English. "This is Soyuz and the United States," Slayton told TV viewers around the world. Both Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev and President Ford congratulated the crews and expressed their confidence in the success of the mission. Stafford then presented Leonov with "five flags for your government and the people of the Soviet Union" with the wish that "our joint work in space serves for the benefit of all countries and peoples on the earth." Leonov presented the U.S. crew with Soviet flags and plaques. The men signed international certificates and exchanged other commemorative items. After nearly 4 hrs of joint activities, including a meal aboard the Soyuz, the Americans returned to the Apollo and the hatch was closed at 6:51 pm.
An integrity check of the hatches indicated an atmospheric leak on the Soviet side. Ground controllers later attributed the indication to temperature changes in the sealed docking module that were detected by the sensitive Soviet instrumentation. Future integrity checks of the hatches would be more rigorous, however.
Following a sleep period, the crews prepared for another day of joint activity. Kubasov described the mission to Soviet TV viewers while the rest of the crews performed experiments in their respective spacecraft. At 5:05 am July 18, 1975, Brand entered the Soviet spacecraft; Leonov joined Stafford and Slayton in Apollo, greeting them with "Howdy partner." Kubasov gave American TV viewers a tour of his Soyuz, and Stafford followed with a tour of the Apollo. Then both Kubasov and Brand videotaped scientific demonstrations for transmission to earth later. Kubasov and Brand ate lunch in the Soyuz while Leonov ate with Stafford and Slayton in Apollo.
During a third transfer, Stafford and Leonov went into the Soyuz and Kubasov and Brand joined Slayton in Apollo. Brand gave Soviet viewers a Russian-language tour of the eastern U.S. as seen from space. Further speeches and exchanges of commemorative items were made for both U.S. and Soviet viewers before the final handshakes at 4:49 pm EDT July 18, when the crews returned to their respective spacecraft. The hatches were closed after Brand told Leonov and Kubasov, "We wish you the host of success. I'm sure that we've opened up a new era in history. Our next meeting will be on the ground." Total time for all transfers and joint activities was 19 hr 55 min. Stafford had spent 7 hr 10 min aboard Soyuz; Brand, 6 hr 30 min; Slayton, 1 hr 35 min. Leonov spent 5 hr 43 min in the Apollo, Kubasov 4 hr 57 min. During nearly 2 days of joint activities, the five men carried out five joint experiments.
Undocking and Separation: The Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft undocked at 95:42 GET (8:02 am EDT July 19, 1975). While the spacecraft were in station-keeping mode, the crews photographed them and the docking apparatus, transmitting the pictures live on TV to earth. The Apollo spacecraft then served as an occulting disk, blocking the sun from the Soyuz and simulating a solar eclipse the first man-made eclipse. Leonov and Kubasov photographed the solar corona as the Apollo backed away from the Soyuz and toward the sun. The two spacecraft then redocked at 8:34 am EDT with the Apollo maneuvering and the Soyuz docking system active while good quality TV was transmitted to earth. The second docking was not as smooth as the first because a slight misalignment of the two spacecraft caused both to pitch excessively at contact.
Final undocking also with the Soyuz active went smoothly and was completed at 11:26 am. As the spacecraft separated, the two crews performed the ultraviolet atmospheric absorption experiment, making unsuccessful data measurements at 150 m and then moving to a distance of 500 and 1,000 m, where data were successfully collected. The Apollo maneuvered to within 50 m of Soyuz and took intensive still photography of the Soyuz. Separation maneuvers to put the two spacecraft on separate trajectories began at 2:42 pm with a reaction-control system burn. With the maneuvers completed, Leonov told the Apollo crew, "Thank you very much for your very big job....It was a very good show." Brand answered, "Thank you, also. This was a very good job."
Soyuz Orbit and Landing: Soyuz 19 remained in orbit nearly 30 hrs after the undocking. The cosmonauts conducted biological experiments with microorganisms and zone-forming fungi. At 2:39 am EDT 21 July the Soyuz crew closed hatch 5 between their orbital vehicle and descent module and began depressurizing the orbital module. Braking burns of the descent engines began at 6:06 am when the spacecraft was 772 km from the Apollo. The 194.9-sec burn slowed the spacecraft to 120 km per sec. After another burn to stabilize the spacecraft the orbital and descent modules separated over Central Africa.
While Soviet viewers watched the first landing of a Soviet spacecraft televised in real time, the main parachute deployed at 7 km and jettisoned before the soft-landing engines fired. Soyuz 19 landed about 11 km from the target point northeast of Baykonur Cosmodrome at 6:51 am EDT July 21, after a 142-hr 31-min mission. The rescue helicopter approached the capsule immediately and specialists opened hatch 5. Kubasov stepped out waving to rescue-team members, followed by Leonov, both cosmonauts in apparent good health and spirits. The cosmonauts returned to Baykonur for medical checks and debriefings.
Apollo Postdocking Orbital Activities: Apollo remained in orbit while its crew continued U.S science experiments begun during predocking. Searching for extreme ultraviolet radiation, the ASTP crew marked the birth of a new branch of astronomy when they found, for the first time, extreme ultraviolet sources outside the solar system; some scientists had believed that such sources could never be found. One of the newly discovered sources turned out to be the hottest known white dwarf star. The Apollo detector also revealed the existence of the first pulsar discovered outside the Milky Way. About 200 000 light years from earth's galaxy, in the Small Magellanic Cloud, it was the most luminous pulsar known to astronomers, 10 times brighter than any discovered so far. After repairing some malfunctioning equipment, the astronauts also mapped x-ray sources throughout the Milky Way.
The crew completed nearly all the 110 earth-observation tasks assigned. Coordinated investigations had been made simultaneously by six groups of scientists on the ground, on ships at sea and in aircraft. The astronauts looked at ocean currents, ocean pollution, desert geography, shoreline erosion, volcanoes, iceberg movements, and vegetation patterns.
On 23 July the command-module tunnel was vented and the crew put on spacesuits to jettison the docking module. The command and service module unlocked from the DM at 3:43 pm EDT, and a 1-sec engine firing put the CSM into a higher orbit (232.2-km apogee, 219.0 km perigee) so that the DM could move ahead. A second maneuver put the CSM in a 223.2-km by 219.0-km orbit. Deorbit began at 4:38 p.m. The command module and service module separated, the drogue and main parachutes deployed normally, and the Apollo splashed down at 224:58 GET (5:18 p.m. EDT July 24) in the Pacific Ocean 163W and 22N, 500 km west of Hawaii. This was the last ocean landing planned for U.S. human space flights; future flights on the Space Shuttle would be wheeled touchdowns at land bases.
The CM landed in "stable 2" position (upside down 7.4) km from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. New Orleans. After swimmers from the rescue helicopter righted the spacecraft and attached a flotation collar, the Apollo was lifted by crane on to the deck of the recovery ship and Stafford, Brand, and Slayton stepped out to the cheers of the ship's crew. President Ford telephoned congratulations. During the welcome, the crew was evidently experiencing eye and lung discomfort; subsequent conversations and spacecraft data revealed that, during reentry, the earth landing system had failed to jettison the apex cover and drogues as scheduled and had to be fired manually, without first disabling the reaction-control system thrusters. With the CM oscillating, the thrusters began firing rapidly to compensate, and combustion products including a small amount of nitrogen tetroxide entered through the cabin-pressure relief valves. As soon as the RCS system had been disabled, fresh air was once again drawn into the cabin. The crew members told flight officials that they had put on oxygen masks once the spacecraft had landed, and then activated the postlanding vent system.
Because of the crew's discomfort, further shipboard ceremonies had been canceled and the crew had been sent to sick bay and then to Tripler Hospital in Hawaii for observation until August 8, 1975.
Primary ASTP mission objectives were to evaluate the docking and undocking of an Apollo spacecraft with a Soyuz, and determine the adequacy of the onboard orientation lights and docking target; evaluate the ability of astronauts and cosmonauts to make inter-vehicular crew transfers and the ability of spacecraft systems to support the transfers: evaluate the Apollo's capability of maintaining attitude-hold control of the docked vehicles and performing attitude maneuvers; measure quantitatively the effect of weightlessness on the crews' height and lower limb volume, according to length of exposure to zero-g; and obtain relay and direct synchronous-satellite navigation tracking data to determine their accuracy for application to Space Shuttle navigation-system design. The objectives were successfully completed, and the mission was adjudged successful on August 15, 1975.
Last Updated Saturday, July 19 2008 @ 12:32 PM MST
Friday, 3 October 2008
Oct. 3, 2008
Space Shuttle Program managers advanced the target launch date for Endeavour's STS-126 mission by two days to Nov. 14 at 7:55 p.m. EST.
Image above: Astronaut Steve Bowen prepares to practice spacewalking in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Image credit: NASA
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Endeavour will carry new equipment to the International Space Station that will allow the orbiting laboratory to double its current resident crew from three to six. One Endeavour crew member, Sandra Magnus, will remain on the station for a long-duration mission when Endeavour returns. She will take the place of current station resident crewman Greg Chamitoff.
Working inside the gigantic swimming pool at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab at NASA's Johnson Space Center, astronauts Steve Bowen and Shane Kimbrough are rehearsing the fourth spacewalk for the mission.
Technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will remove the Hubble Space Telescope servicing hardware from the cargo bay of space shuttle Atlantis on Oct. 13 as Atlantis stands on Launch Pad A. The Atlantis mission to service the Hubble has been delayed and Atlantis will be moved back from Launch Pad 39A to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Oct. 20. Endeavour will be moved to Pad A on Oct. 25.
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(For historical information, the preceding assembly sequence version may be viewed here.)
+ View computer-generated artist's renderings of future ISS assembly flights