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THIS MONTH IN SPACE HISTORY - NOVEMBER
Compiled by Ron Baalke
In 1932, Wernher von Braun was named the head of the German liquid-fuel
In 1961, the US attempted to launch an unmanned Mercurcy capsule to
test the Mercury Tracking Network. The first stage exploded 26 seconds
after lifoff, and the Range Safety Officer blew up the remaining stages
44 seconds after launch.
In 1962, the USSR launched Mars 1 to Mars. The mission failed when
contact was lost to the spacecraft when it was 105 million km from
In 1963, the first Soviet satellite with extensive maneuver capability,
Polyot 1, was launched.
In 1994, the Wind spacecraft was launched to measure the solar wind
plasma and magnetic field.
In 1885, astronomer Harlow Shapley was born. Shapley was an American
astronomer who helped determined distances to the stars and the center
of the Milky Way.
In 1917, the 100-inc telecopse at Mt. Wilson Observatory, California,
saw first light.
In 1978, the crew of Soyuz 29 returns to Earth aboard Soyuz 31.
In 1957, Sputnik 2 was launched by the USSR. The second satellite to
orbit the Earth, Sputnik 2 carried a dog named Laika. Laika died in the
satellite a few days after launch, and Sputnik 2 burned up when it
reentered the Earth's atmosphere in April 1958.
In 1960, Explorer 8 was successfully launched and returned data on the
Earth's ionosphere, and confirmed the existence of a helium layer in
the upper atmosphere.
In 1973, Mariner 10 was launched. Mariner 10 was the first mission to
use the gravitational attraction of one planet to reach another, and
the first spacecraft to encounter Mercury. Mariner 10 achieved a
gravity assist of Venus on February 5, 1974. After the Venus flyby,
Mariner's trajectory was bent in toward the Sun to accelerate and fling
it out of Venus's gravitational field and onward to Mercury. Mariner 10
reached Mercury on March 29, 1974, passing over the planet at just 705
kilometers (438 miles) above the surface. Photographs revealed an
intensely cratered, Moon-like surface and a faint atmosphere of mostly
helium. After the flyby, Mariner entered solar orbit, flying by Mercury
again on September 20-23, 1974, and photographing the sunlit side of
the planet and the south polar region.
In 1906, a meteorite struck a building in Diep River, South Africa.
In 1962, the USSR attempted to launch a spacecraft to Mars. The
spacecraft failed to leave Earth parking orbit.
In 1981, the USSR launched Venera 14 to Venus. A lander was dropped off
on March 5, 1982 and the mother spacecraft continued to flyby Venus.
The lander lasted 57 minutes on the surface of Venus, and returned
images and X-ray florescences analysis of the soil of Venus.
In 1993, the Galileo spacecraft exited the asteroid belt for the second
time on its way to Jupiter.
In 1906, Fred Whipple was born in Iowa. Whipple proposed the "dirty
snowball" model for comets.
In 1967, the ATS-3 satellite is launched into Earth orbit and takes the
first images of the full Earth from space.
In 1994, the Ulysses spacecraft completed its first solar passage
around the Sun.
In 1670, a meteorite hit a house in China and broke the roof beam.
In 1966, Lunar Orbiter 2 was launched to the Moon. After going in lunar
orbit on Novemer 10, Lunar Orbit 2 returned hundreds of images
including the Ranger 8 landing site.
In 1967, Surveyor 6 was launched and landed on the Moon 3 days later.
It returned 11,524 images from the lunar surface. Its rocket was also
fired briefly to hop the spacecraft 8 feet from its original landing
site, the first liftoff ever from the surface of the Moon.
In 1656, astronomer Edmond Halley was born.
In 1895, X-rays were discovered.
In 1958, the US attempted to send a spacecraft, Pioneer 2, to the Moon.
Pioneer 2 did not achieve the required velocity for a Moon trajectory
because of a launch vehicle malfunction - the third stage failed to
ignite. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 1550 km before burning up
in the Earth's atmosphere after a 412 minute flight. Pioneer 2 did
return some data that indicated the Earth's equatorial region has
higher flux and energy levels than previously believed.
In 1960, Little Joe 5 was launched on a suborbital flight to qualify
the Mercury capsule system.
In 1968, Pioneer 9 was launched into solar orbit. The spacecraft
carried six solar radiation experiments.
In 1982, a 6 pound meteorite fell through the roof of a house in
Wethersfield, Connecticut. The meteorite fell into the living room,
bounced off the floor into the dining room, ricocheted off the ceiling
and knocked over a chair. It finally came to rest underneath the dining
room table and had broken into two pieces. Interestingly, another
meteorite had also hit a house in Wethersfield in 1971.
In 1984, space shuttle Discovery is launched on the STS-51A mission. On
board is Anna Fisher who becomes the first mother in space.
In 1992, the Geotail spacecraft made its third flyby of the Moon.
In 1934, Carl Sagan was born.
In 1967, Apollo 4 was launched in an unmanned test, and the powerful
Saturn 5 rocket is launched for the first time.
In 1970, the OFO-1 satellite (Orbiting Frog Otolith) was launched.
OFO-1 carried frogs which were used to study the effects of
weightlessness on the inner ear.
In 1823, a meteorite hit a house in Waseda, Japan.
In 1918, Robert Goddard demonstrated tube-launched solid propellant
rockets in Aberdeen, Maryland.
In 1968, the USSR launched Zond 6 which circled the Moon and returned
back to Earth.
In 1970, the USSR launched Luna 17 which landed on the Moon seven days
later in the Sea of Rains. The first Moon rover, Lunokhod 1, was then
deployed and remote-controlled by a 5-man team from Earth. The rover
traveled over the lunar surface for 11 months, transmitted photos and
analyzed soil samples.
In 1572, a 25 year old Tycho Brahe observed the bright supernova in
Cassiopeia. This moved him so deeply that he decided to devote the rest
of his life to astronomy.
In 1875, Vesto Slipher was born. Slipher was the first to measure the
In 1935, the first photo of the Earth's curvature was taken from a
balloon, Explorer 2, in South Dakota. The balloon had reached an
altitude of 72,000 feet, which also set an altitude record.
In 1966, Gemini 12 was launched carrying Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin.
This was the final Gemini flight and included a then record 5.5 hour
spacewalk. The first solar eclipse photos were taken from space.
In 1982, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched on the first operational
flight of the Space Shuttle. Two satellites were deployed during the
In 1988, cosmonauts Vladmir Titov and Musa Manarov set a space
endurance record of 326 days in space onboard the space station Mir.
They would extend the record to 366 days.
In 1995, the Space Shuttle Atlantic docked with the Mir space station
for the second time during the STS-74 mission.
In 1960, a US satellite called Discoverer 17 was launched into Earth
orbit. A capsule was ejected from Discoverer 17 which reentered into
the Earth's atmosphere and parachuted. The capsule was recovered in the
mid-air as it was descending by a US Air Force plane.
In 1965, the USSR launched Venera 2 on a Venus flyby mission. The
spacecraft flew by Venus, but did not return any data.
In 1980, Voyager 1 flew by Saturn and gathered a treasure trove of new
information on the planet. The G Ring was discovered, "spokes" are
observed on the B Ring, and braiding is seen in the F Ring.
Additionaly, three new moons are discovered. Prometheus and Pandora are
the first shepherding moons ever discovered. Some of the moons are
found sharing the same orbit, and these are called co-orbitals. The
rings are found to be made up of thousands of ringlets.
In 1981, space shuttle Columbia is launched on the second shuttle
flight, STS-2, carrying Joe Engle and Richard Truly. The shuttle's
robot arm is tested for the first time. This also marked the first time
that a spacecraft has been launched twice.
In 1831, James Maxwell was born. Maxwell was a pioneer in
electromagnetism and the nature of light.
In 1978, the HEAO-2 satellite was launched. HEAO-2 mapped X-ray sources
and discovered the most distant and brightest quasar.
In 1971, Mariner 9 became the first man-made object to go into orbit
around another planet when it went into orbit around Mars.
In 1969, Apollo 12 was launched to the Moon. Lightning hit the escape
tower just seconds after launch, momentarily knocking out electrical
systems, but the flight continued. Carrying Charles Conrad, Richard
Gordon and Alan Bean, the second-ever manned Moon landing occurred five
days later. 74 pounds of lunar rock samples was returned.
In 1738, astronomer William Herschel was born in Hanover, Germany.
Herschel would discover Uranus in 1781.
In 1988, the USSR launched their first space shuttle, Buran, using
their powerful Energia rocket. The unmanned spacecraft circled the
Earth twice and successfully landed after a 3 hour 20 minute flight.
In 1988, NRAO's 300-foot radio telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia
In 1965, the USSR launched Venera 3 towards Venus. The mission failed
when contact was lost from the spacecraft just prior to its arrival on
March 1, 1966. The spacecraft did impact Venus and became the first
man-made object to reach the surface of another planet.
In 1973, the final launch to Skylab was performed carrying astronauts
Gerald Carr, Edward Gibson and William Pogue. They set a US space
endurance record of 84 days on Skylab and also had a record 7 hour
In 1974, the first intentional interstellar message was sent from the
radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico towards the globular cluster
In 1597, German astronomer Henry Gellibrand was born.
In 1966, the Leonids meteor shower became a meteor storm as 150,000
meteors per hour were observed.
In 1923, Alan Shepard was born. Shepard was the first American to go
into space, and walked on the Moon during the Apollo 14 mission.
In 1962, Ranger 2 was launched as a flight test of spacecraft systems
for future lunar and interplanetary missions. The launch vehicle
attitude control system failed, resulting in a low Earth orbit, and the
spacecraft reentered into Earth's atmosphere two days later.
In 1989, COBE was launched to study the stars and collect data for the
Big Bang theory.
In 1947, the 200-inch mirror for the Hale telescope arrived at Mt.
In 1602, Otto von Guericke was born. Von Guericke is known as the
inventor of nothing (he was the first to create a vacuum).
In 1889, astronomer Edwin Hubble was born in Marshfield, Missouri.
In 1967, the USSR attempted to launch a Zond spacecraft to the Moon,
but it failed to reach Earth orbit.
In 1983, the IRAS spacecraft ran out of helium coolant and became
inoperative. IRAS discovered dust around the sun between Mars and
Jupiter, and discoverd numerous new asteroids and comets.
In 1987, a conjuction of Venus, Mars, Saturn and the Moon occurred.
In 1960, Tiros II, a weather satellite was launched into Earth orbit
and returned over 36,000 photos of Earth's cloud cover.
In 1977, the European Space Agency launched its first satellite,
In 1933, the first USSR liquid-fueled rocket reached an altitude of 260
In 1885, the very first photograph of a meteor trail was taken in
In 1959, the US attempted to send a Pioneer spacecraft to the Moon. The
payload shroud broke away 45 seconds after liftoff and the spacecraft
did not achieve Earth orbit.
In 1963, Explorer 18 was launched into a lower than expected Earth
orbit, but discovered a new high radiation region beyond the Van Allen
In 1965, France launched its first satellite, Asterix 1, and became the
fourth space faring nation.
In 1971, Mariner 9 returned the first close-up image of Deimos while in
orbit around Mars.
In 1989, Kvant-2 was launched by the USSR to dock with the Mir space
station. Kvant-2 is as large as Mir itself, and docked with the space
station on December 6.
In 1701, Swedish astronomer and chemist, Anders Celsius, was born.
In 1971, the USSR's Mars 2 arrives at Mars. A small lander was deployed
which failed and crashed on the surface. The Mars 2 orbiter went into
orbit successfully around the red planet.
In 1659, Huygens recorded the first markings on the planet Mars.
In 1963, the Cape Canaveral space center in Florida was renamed to the
Kennedy Space Center in honor of John F. Kennedy who had been
assassinated 6 days earlier.
In 1964, Mariner 4 is launched towards Mars. Mariner 4 would become the
first spacecraft to successfully flyby Mars on July 15, 1965. Mariner 4
gave scientists their first glimpse of Mars at close range, passing
over the planet at an altitude of 9,846 kilometers (6,118 miles) above
the surface and putting to rest the myths of the late 19th century that
the planet may have harbored an advanced civilization.
In 1983, space shuttle Columbia was launched with Spacelab 1 in its
cargo bay on the STS-9 mission (also known as STS-41A).
In 1803, Christian Doppler was born, discoverer of the Doppler Effect
(color shift of moving objects).
In 1961, the US launched Mercury 5 into Earth orbit carrying a
chimpanzee named Enos. After 3 orbits, Enos was returned safely back to
In 1967, the first Australian satellite, Wresat 1, was launched.
In 1971, Mariner 9 returned the first close-up image of Phobos while in
orbit around Mars.
In 1954, a 8.5 pound meteorite fell through the roof of a house in
Sylacauga, Alabama. The meteorite crashed through the roof into the
living room and bounced off a radio, and then struck Elizabeth Hodges
as she was sleeping on the couch. The radio was broken from the
meteorite hit, but fortunately Mrs. Hodges only suffered bruises on her
hip and leg.
In 1964, the USSR launched Zond 2 on a Mars flyby mission. The mission
failed when contact was lost enroute to the planet. Zone 2 did flyby by
Mars in August 1965, but no data was returned.
___ _____ ___
/_ /| /____/ \ /_ /| Ron Baalke | email@example.com
| | | | __ \ /| | | | Jet Propulsion Lab |
___| | | | |__) |/ | | |__ Pasadena, CA | I am doing basic research, when
/___| | | | ___/ | |/__ /| | I don't know what I'm doing.
|_____|/ |_|/ |_____|/ | Wernher Von Braun