This Day In Astro History

Messenger captures crater image
Messenger captures image of never seen before crater. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

September 29

2009 - Messenger Mercury Flyby 3.

2004 - SpaceShipOne (SS1) successfully completed the first of two X-Prize flights. The peak altitude reached was 337,500 ft. Pilot, Mike Melvill, noted that his altitude predictor exceeded the required 100 km mark.

1988 - STS 26 Shuttle Discovery launched. Mission marked resumption of Shuttle flights after 1986 51-L accident.  Crew: Commander: Frederick H. Hauck, Pilot: Richard O. Covey, Mission Specialists: John M. Lounge, David C. Hilmers, George D. Nelson Mission Duration: 97 hours 11 seconds.

canada1962 - Canada's first communications satellite, the Alouette 1, is launched from a US air base in California. Alouette 1 was a small ionospheric observatory instrumented with an ionospheric sounder, a VLF receiver, an energetic particle detector, and a cosmic noise experiment. Extended from the satellite shell were two dipole antennas (45.7- and 22.8-m long, respectively) which were shared by three of the experiments on the spacecraft. The satellite was spin-stabilized at about 1.4 rpm after antenna extension. After about 500 days, the spin slowed more than had been expected, to about 0.6 rpm when satellite spin-stabilization failed. It is believed that the satellite gradually progressed toward a gravity gradient stabilization with the longer antenna pointing earthward. Attitude information was deduced only from a single magnetometer and temperature measurements on the upper and lower heat shields. (Attitude determination could have been in error by as much as 10 deg.) There was no tape recorder, so data were available only from the vicinity of telemetry stations. Telemetry stations were located to provide primary data coverage near the 80 deg W meridian and in areas near Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and Central Africa. Initially, data were recorded for about 6 h per day. In September 1972, spacecraft operations were terminated.
Spaceship One in flight
Spaceship One in Flight

sts 26 Mission patch
STS 26 Mission Patch

Alouette 1
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It is my conclusion that human evolution and the motions of matter in space are intrinsically linked. The observation and understanding of the complexity of biological history on Earth cannot be complete without the tandem observation and understanding of a dynamic greater cosmos. - SpaceGene