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UMSF space history photo of the month
Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Jan 3 2008, 06:23 PM
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Maybe we could make this a monthly item, in which we could look back at the history of Unmanned Space missions.
For January 2008 I've chosen an image showing the coverage of the Sun by early Pioneer 5-8 spacecraft.
Pioneer 5 to 8, or Pioneer V to VIII using the system of Roman numerals in vogue during the early 1960s for spacecraft designations, were directed towards the Sun along the earth's orbit to monitor solar activity. Pioneer V was launched on 11th March 1960 and provided the very first space weather report 4 to 8 hours before a solar storm hit the Earth.
Some of this Pioneer quartet, Pioneer 6-7-8 even provided updates on our Sun's activity during the early Apollo Moon landings in order to check the damaging potential of solar flares to affect the astronauts.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Jan 19 2008, 08:00 PM
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Trying to show another early unmanned spacecraft, I have chosen Pioneer II
The Pioneer 2 spacecraft is prepared atop its third stage with the Able stage visible on the right. The cylinder-shaped Pioneer 2 weighted 39.6 kg and was 74 cm in diameter with a height from cone to cone of about 76 cm. Note the eight small low-thrust solid propellant velocity adjustment rockets mounted on the end of the upper cone in a ring assembly which could be jettisoned after use. It was launched on 8th November 1958 by a Thor-Able launch vehicle on direct ascent to lunar orbit. However, escape velocity was not reached as the third stage failed to ignite and the spacecraft burned up in Earth’s atmosphere after a 412 minutes flight…
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nprev
post Jan 19 2008, 08:13 PM
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Nice! And, I appreciate this, Phil; entirely appropriate to remember how far we've come, and how hard it was to get here...thanks! smile.gif


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 1 2008, 06:05 PM
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In late 1959, the 44 kilograms Pioneer 5 is being checked at the launchpad at the then named ETR 17A (Eastern Test Range). Pioneer 5 was intended for Venus flyby but the mission was downgraded to solar orbit in order to demonstrate deep-space probe technology. Launched in March 1960, final telemetry was received in June 1960 from a 36 million km record Earth distance…
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 3 2008, 06:08 PM
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Just wanted to conclude the early Pioneer series with another photo (before moving on next month to interplanetary spacecraft): wink.gif
Pioneers 6, 7, 8, and 9 were created to make the first detailed, comprehensive measurements of the solar wind, solar magnetic field and cosmic rays. These spin-stabilised 146 kilograms identical spacecraft acted as the world's first space-based solar weather network, providing practical data on solar storms which impact communications and power on Earth.


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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 22 2008, 07:09 PM
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Time for a Soviet-Russian success in the early days of unmanned spaceflight.
After Luna 1 (January 1959), which was renamed Mechta after it flew by the Moon instead of impacting on it, the Russians launched Luna 2 in September 1959, which became the first human-made object on the Moon.
The photo shows the 278 kg Luna 3, launched in October 1959, which made the first photos of the lunar far-side. The spin-stabilized craft acquired pictures of 70% of the previously unseen lunar far-side (Zond 3 imaged the rest in 1965). Luna 3’s main body was 1.3 meter long and had a diameter of 1.2 meter. Note the solar cells in many locations, in fact Luna 3 was the first Soviet-Russian spacecraft to use solar cells to power equipment and charge batteries. Also visible is the solar sensor and the gas-jet nozzles at the lower part of the lunar probe.
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Phil Stooke
post Feb 22 2008, 08:23 PM
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"After Luna 2 (January 1959), which was renamed Mechta after it flew by the Moon instead of impacting on it, "

Luna 1 was Mechta, which means 'dream'. The first Soviet maps of the farside made by Luna 3 named a dark area near our Mare Ingenii 'More Mechta', "Sea of Mechta" to commemorate it. This is sometimes translated 'Sea of Dreams' but I think that is not really the correct interpretation. That name is still used on Russian maps today, rather than the Latin 'Mare Ingenii' or a Russian translation of that.

Phil


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... because the Solar System ain't gonna map itself.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 29 2008, 11:40 AM
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celebrating the leap year this 29th Feb 2008 with some photos of Mariner 2 ( Mariner R for Ranger ).
Like the Ranger spacecraft, Mariner 2 consisted of a basic magnesium & aluminium framework topped by an aluminium superstructure with an omni antenna on the top. The 204 kg Mariner 2 was launched on 27 August 1962 onto Type 2 trajectory to our sister planet. It flew by Venus in December 1962 and last contact was made on 3rd January 1963 after 129 days of continuous operations. A record in those days wink.gif

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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 29 2008, 11:48 AM
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As Mariner 2 was the first successful interplanetary spacecraft, it deserves a second look.
Meanwhile, at least another 21 spacecraft fly by Venus ( including 15 Russian Venera, 5 American spacecraft and European Venus Express )...

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rlorenz
post Feb 29 2008, 02:40 PM
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QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Feb 29 2008, 06:48 AM) *
As Mariner 2 was the first successful interplanetary spacecraft, it deserves a second look.


There's a version of it hanging in the Smithsonian in DC (IIRC I have seen it described as an
EM - although also just described as 'built from test components') Anyway, it was a true
pioneer (!)

http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal100/mariner2.html
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Mar 15 2008, 07:50 PM
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The 365 kg Ranger spacecraft, which had 6 cameras in a 175 kg TV-unit just above the main body, had a single objective: obtain high resolution photos of the lunar surface in preparation & support of the manned Apollo project. These Ranger spacecraft just snapped photograph while they were crash-diving towards the lunar surface! NASA had its first success with Ranger 7 in July 1964. Later successes with Ranger 8 (February 1965) and Ranger 9 (March 1965) paved the way for the more sophisticated Surveyor spacecraft which soft landed on the Moon, but those are for next time wink.gif

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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Mar 29 2008, 08:29 AM
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The unmanned Surveyor spacecraft explored the Moon’s equatorial region in preparation of the manned Apollo program. During 1966-1968, NASA launched 7 of these 995 kg three-legged Surveyor spacecraft and yielded 5 outstanding successes. Surveyor 1 made the first soft landing on the Moon in June 1966. Surveyor 3 landed in April 1967 and was visited by the Apollo 12 astronauts in November 1969.
Surveyor 7 (January 1968) was a scientific mission and its TV registered 2 lasers aimed at the spacecraft from observatories in California & Arizona. This demonstrated the feasibility of using lasers to measure the Earth-Moon distance with great accuracy (this was done with laser reflectors left on the lunar surface by the Apollo missions and Soviet-Russian Lunokhod rovers)

This post has been edited by PhilCo126: Mar 29 2008, 05:54 PM
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Gladstoner
post Mar 29 2008, 09:58 AM
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.
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nprev
post Mar 29 2008, 11:36 AM
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laugh.gif ...could well be, Gladstoner! The early days of UMSF were (who'd've guessed?) very much like the early days of aviation.

Phil, thanks for that great Surveyor illustration...beautiful!!! One minor typo in your excellent synopsis, though; Surveyor 3 was visited by Apollo 12, not 14.

Conrad & Bean also removed some parts of the spacecraft and returned them to Earth to study the effects of two years of exposure to lunar conditions. One big surprise was the discovery of viable bacteria on these parts (Pseudomonas, I think), still living after two years on the Moon without protection.


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Phil Stooke
post Mar 29 2008, 12:20 PM
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The Surveyor bacterium story is not generaly accepted today. The people who did the work reported that they probably contaminated it. I think one of them wrote in to the Planetary Report about it years ago.

Surveyor descended on its little 'vernier' thrusters, after braking on a big rocket module mounted under the frame. The rocket and tankage were dropped as the verniers came on, and must lie near each landing site. None were seen in Surveyor images, or by the Apollo 12 crew. But if a Google Lunar X Prize rover were to visit a Surveyor site it might have a chance to search for it.

Phil


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... because the Solar System ain't gonna map itself.
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