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GordonD last won the day on September 7 2012

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About GordonD

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    All-round great guy
  • Birthday 03/23/1958

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    Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Interests
    Real spacecraft, also the late-war Luftwaffe stuff

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  1. 22 MAY 1965 Project Fire 2 This was a Command Module configuration test, with an Atlas-D boosting a small scale-model of the spacecraft to high altitude before a solid-fuel rocket slammed it back into the atmosphere to test the capsule’s performance during re-entry at a velocity that would be experienced by a vehicle returning from the Moon. 1969 Apollo 10 Crew: Tom Stafford (CDR); Eugene Cernan (LMP); John Young (CMP) CSM: Charlie Brown; LM: Snoopy Stafford and Cernan undocked the Lunar Module and fired the descent engine to take it to within 15km of the lunar surface. This was the point at which the descent engine would be fired again to take the LM down for a landing but that was for the next mission: after a few more orbits the ascent engine was fired, simulating a launch from the lunar surface. Here there was a brief moment of panic as the ascent stage spun wildly out of control: it was later established that an incorrectly-set switch meant that the computer immediately began trying to locate the CSM. Had the crew not regained control when they did, it is likely that they would have crashed on the Moon. However the crew's skill ensured a safe return and after docking they reported back, "Snoopy and Charlie Brown are hugging each other!" 1981 Soyuz 40 landing Crew: Leonid Popov (CDR); Dumitru Prunariu [Romania] (RC) Landing site: 225 km SE of Dzheskasgan This was the final flight of the original Soyuz configuration (albeit modified several times along the way, not least following the Soyuz 11 accident when its capacity was reduced to two): the upgraded Soyuz-T was already in service. Popov and Prunariu had spent a week aboard Salyut 6, their Soyuz the last manned spacecraft to dock there. Flight time was 7d 20h 42m and 124 orbits.
  2. 21 MAY 1986 Soyuz TM-1 launch Crew: none This was the first unmanned test flight of the upgraded version of the Soyuz spacecraft, intended to replace the Soyuz-T. It would become the standard ferry for the Mir programme, and would continue to be used right through to the ISS era. On 23 May, TM-1 docked with Mir, which was temporarily vacant as the resident crew had transferred to Salyut 7.
  3. So who's going to be the first to build a diorama of this?
  4. 20 MAY 1958 NACA/Air Force Memorandum of Understanding on the DynaSoar The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the US Air Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the principles in the development and testing of the Air Force's Hypersonic Boost Glide Vehicle (DynaSoar). The following principles would apply to the project: (1) The project would be conducted as a joint Air Force-NACA project. (2) Overall technical control of the project would rest with the Air Force, acting with the advice and assistance of NACA. (3) Financing of the design, construction, and Air Force test of the vehicles would be borne by the Air Force. (4) Management of the project would be conducted by an Air Force project office within the Directorate of Systems Management, Headquarters, Air Research and Development Command. NACA would provide liaison representation in the project office and provide the chairman of the technical team responsible for data transmission and research instrumentation. (5) Design and construction of the system would be conducted through a negotiated prime contractor. (6) Flight tests of the vehicle and related equipment would be accomplished by NACA, the USAF, and the prime contractor in a combined test program, under the overall control of a joint NACA-USAF committee chaired by the Air Force.
  5. 19 MAY 1965 A-003 The third Little Joe II abort flight was intended to be a high-altitude test, with the escape system being triggered at a height of around 34km, 89 seconds after launch, taking the Command Module up to more than 56km before going through an actual re-entry sequence. Only seconds after lift-off, however, the Little Joe’s guidance system malfunctioned and the vehicle pitched over and began a violent spinning motion. The LES cut in automatically and plucked Command Module BP-22 clear as the Little Joe started to break up. Though the mission had to be classed a failure so far as the high-altitude abort was concerned, the LES had proved its worth by operating in a real emergency—which was, as a NASA spokesman pointed out afterwards, the purpose for which it had been designed. 1996 STS-77 launch Crew: John Casper (CDR); Curtis Brown (P); Andrew Thomas, Daniel Bursch, Mario Runco, Marc Garneau [Canada] (MS) 77th Shuttle mission; 11th flight of Endeavour Carried out numerous experiments aboard the SPACEHAB module and also deployed and retrieved the SPARTAN-07 free-flying pallet which conducted independent research including a test of an inflatable antenna. 2000 STS-101 launch Crew: James Halsell (CDR); Scott Horowitz (P); Mary Ellen Weber, Jeffrey Williams, James Voss, Susan Helms, Yuri Usachyov [Russia] (MS) 98th Shuttle mission; 21st flight of Atlantis Third ISS assembly flight, designated ISS-03-2A.2A. (No, that's not a typo.) Originally intended to follow the launch of the Zvezda module but this was delayed, so the mission was split in two and this flight concentrated on repairs and resupply in the Zarya and Unity modules. Cooling fans, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and an on-board computer were installed and supplies placed for the eventual use of the Expedition 1 crew later in the year. One EVA was carried out, by Voss and Williams on 21 May, lasting 6h 44m. Handrails and a camera cable were installed, as well as the remaining parts of the Russian crane. This was the first flight of the refitted Atlantis with the glass cockpit.
  6. 18 MAY 1969 Apollo 10 launch Crew: Tom Stafford (CDR); Eugene Cernan (LMP); John Young (CMP) CSM: Charlie Brown; LM: Snoopy Apollo 10 was the second mission to orbit the Moon but the first to do so with a Lunar Module. It was a complete dress-rehearsal for the first lunar landing, duplicating the flight right up to the point of Powered Descent Initiation (PDI), when the LM engine would be fired to take it down to the surface. To this day stories persist that the propellant tanks had deliberately been left only partly filled in case the crew took it upon themselves to attempt a landing; these are slurs on the discipline of the astronauts, who were all military officers. This was the first astronaut crew where all three had previous flight experience: Stafford and Young had flown two Gemini missions and Cernan, one; all three would fly again, with Young and Cernan both reaching the lunar surface after all (and Young going on to fly the Space Shuttle twice) while Stafford was selected for the politically significant Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. 1991 Soyuz TM-12 launch Crew: Anatoli Artsebarsky (CDR); Sergei Krikalev (FE); Helen Sharman [United Kingdom] (RC) This flight was highly publicised in the UK due to the presence of Britain's first astronaut, Helen Sharman. She had answered a recruitment advertisement which stated "Astronaut wanted; no experience necessary" and was chosen out of nearly 13,000 applicants. She was a research chemist with a confectionery company: tabloid headline writers around the country rejoiced at the chance to describe her as "the girl from Mars". The UK Government refused to underwrite the cost of her flight, which ended up being sponsored by various British companies as well as a public lottery. Despite this, the mission was launched on schedule, the spacecraft reaching Mir two days later, and Sharman becoming the first woman to visit. Expedition 8 was coming to an end; Artsebarsky and Krikalev would form Expedition 9 when the current occupants returned to Earth along with Sharman in a week or so.
  7. 17 MAY 1966 Gemini IX scrubbed Crew: Tom Stafford (CDR); Gene Cernan (P) Gemini VIII had achieved the first docking two months earlier but the mission had been aborted soon afterwards when the spacecraft developed an uncontrollable roll manoeuvre. It was hoped that Gemini IX would have better luck, though the deaths of the prime crew in an aircraft crash had already cast a shadow. However, as the astronauts waited in the spacecraft word came that their Agena target vehicle had failed to reach orbit and the launch was scrubbed. Telemetry indicated that Agena staging had taken place on schedule at T+300 seconds. The Agena continued transmitting signals until T+436 seconds, when all telemetry ceased. Hidden behind clouds, the Atlas's B-2 engine gimballed hard to the right starting at T+120 seconds and remained fixed in that position, flipping the launch vehicle 216° around and sending it back towards Cape Kennedy. This rotation had made it impossible for ground guidance to lock on. Radar stations in the Bahamas tracked it heading north and descending. Vehicle stability was gradually regained following BECO, however it had pitched approximately 231° from its intended flight path. Both vehicles plunged into the Atlantic Ocean 107 nautical miles (198 km) downrange. The Agena's engine did not fire since the proper altitude and velocity had not been attained, preventing the guidance system from sending the start command.
  8. One of my fantasy projects that will never get done is a DC-3 in Starfleet markings, implying that they will still be flying in Captain Kirk's time!
  9. 16 MAY 1963 MA-9 (Faith 7) splashdown Pilot: Gordon Cooper Splashdown site: 27°30' N, 176°15' W (130 km southeast of the Midway Islands in the Pacific Ocean) The Mercury spacecraft had not been designed for a day-long flight but modifications had enabled it to carry out such a mission, however, as time went on a number of faults developed. The most serious came on the 21st orbit when a short-circuit left the automatic control system without power; thus Cooper had to make a manual re-entry but still managed a pinpoint landing close to the recovery ship USS Kearsarge. His flight time was 1d 10h 20m and 22 orbits, a new American record but well short of what the Soviets were doing. 1992 STS-49 landing Crew: Daniel Brandenstein (CDR); Kevin Chilton (P); Rick Hieb, Bruce Melnick, Pierre Thuot, Kathy Thornton, Tom Akers (MS) Landing site: Edwards AFB With the repaired comsat safely on its way to its operational orbit, Endeavour flew back to Edwards to complete her first mission. The flight had been extended by two days because of the problems in retrieving the satellite: in the end it lasted 8d 21h 18m and 141 orbits. This also saw the first use of the Orbiter's drag chute, deployed between main and nose gear touchdown. 2011 STS-134 launch Crew: Mark Kelly (CDR); Gregory H. Johnson (P); Michael Fincke, Roberto Vittori [Italy], Andrew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff (MS) 134th Shuttle mission; 25th and final flight of Endeavour During training, Frederick Sturckow was appointed backup Commander when Mark Kelly was forced to take a leave of absence following the shooting of his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. However she made rapid progress and Kelly was able to return and fly the mission. For reasons unconnected with this, launch was delayed until the end of April, and by the time Endeavour got off the ground Kelly's twin brother Scott had ended his tour of duty on the ISS and returned to Earth; this would have seen the first meeting of two family members in orbit. Docking with the ISS was achieved on Day 3 of the mission and the astronauts began working alongside the Expedition 27 crew. Four EVAs were carried out: (1) 20 May: Chamitoff and Feustel (6h 19m). Retrieval and replacement of external experiment packages and equipment added to the port truss (2) 22 May: Feustel and Fincke (8h 7m). Refilling radiators with ammonia and lubrication of a solar array joint (3) 25 May: Feustel and Fincke (6h 54m) Installation of a grapple on the robotic manipulator arm and additional cabling for backup power to the Russian segment (4) 27 May: Fincke and Chamitoff (7h 24m). Stowage of the Orbiter's Boom Sensor System on the ISS truss and relocation of various other equipment. Total EVA times for each astronaut were: Chamitoff, 13h 43m; Feustel, 21h 20m; Fincke, 22h 25m.
  10. 15 MAY 1963 MA-9 (Faith 7) launch Pilot: Gordon Cooper Schirra’s six-orbit flight had proved that the Mercury capsule could sustain its pilot for up to nine hours, twice the original design life. The next step was to send a man around the world eighteen times, lasting in excess of a day. Early in the planning stages, however, it was realised that a delayed retrofire—as on Carpenter’s flight—would bring the spacecraft down on land, and the mission was extended by a further six orbits to prevent this. A 22-orbit flight would last around 34 hours, far in excess of the spacecraft’s design life, but the engineers were confident that it could be done. Among the items removed to save weight was the 34kg periscope, with the RSCS attitude control mode also being deleted, after most of the astronauts had deemed it unnecessary and wasteful of fuel. The fully-modified capsule weighed in at some 1,376kg: only 21kg heavier than Glenn’s! As on Schirra’s mission, the tracking network would present a problem, with ships having to be brought in to fill some of the gaps caused when the Earth rotated beneath the spacecraft’s orbital plane. Lift-off was postponed by 24 hours, not because of any problems with the spacecraft or launch vehicle, but due to a fault in the diesel engine propelling the service tower that prevented it being rolled back from the rocket. The following day things went so smoothly that Cooper actually fell asleep during the countdown! After orbit insertion, Cooper used only 0.09kg of propellant to turn the spacecraft around, much less than on any previous mission. Then he settled down to begin his programme of scientific experiments, one of which involved releasing an inflatable sphere in order to examine the reaction of two objects in close proximity in zero-gravity. The sphere failed to jettison properly, but that was one of the few failures of the flight. One factor that surprised the scientists was the amount of surface detail which Cooper reported seeing from orbit: he claimed to be able to distinguish individual houses and streets in cloudless areas, and in India he saw a railway locomotive moving along a track. Nobody had believed that such details could be visible from so high up, and some even felt that Cooper was exaggerating. After a sleep period—the first during an American mission—the astronaut carried out a systems check which revealed that power and fuel levels were much higher than had been anticipated for this stage in the flight. 1997 STS-84 launch Crew: Charles Precourt (CDR); Eileen Collins (P); Jean-François Clervoy [France], Carlos Noriega, Edward Lu, Yelena Kondakova [Russia], Michael Foale (MS) 84th Shuttle mission; 19th flight of Atlantis Sixth Shuttle-Mir docking; Foale replaced Linenger as the US resident aboard the station. Expedition 23 was in progress. Kondakova is the wife of cosmonaut Valeri Ryumin and had already spent five months aboard Mir in 1994/95. 2012 Soyuz TMA-04M launch Crew: Gennadi Padalka (CDR); Sergei Revin, Joseph Acaba [USA] (FE) ISS Expeditions 31/32. Docking with the station was achieved two days after launch and the crew joined Kononenko, Kuipers and Pettit who had been aboard the station since just before Christmas.
  11. 14 MAY 1973 Skylab OWS launch The concept of an Orbital Workshop using an empty Saturn S‑IVB stage was first considered in 1965, under the title of the Apollo Applications Programme. As first envisaged, the flight plan would involve an unmanned Saturn IB launch to deliver the spent S-IVB, along with the Airlock Module and Docking Adapter. This would be followed by a second Saturn carrying the CSM, which would dock with the Workshop and allow the crew to purge any residual liquid hydrogen propellant and begin the task of fitting out the interior. A third Saturn IB, also unmanned, would deliver the Apollo Telescope Mount, at that time made out of a modified Lunar Module. In 1969, however, this plan was changed in favour of a fitted-out Workshop and Telescope Mount being launched by a two-stage Saturn V. One advantage of the “dry” concept was that it eliminated the health risk from any remaining traces of propellant. In February 1970 the programme was officially christened Skylab. Three manned flights were planned, the first lasting twenty-eight days and the others fifty-six days each. The last of the Saturn Vs looked different from all its predecessors: replacing the familiar shape of the LM adapter, Apollo CSM and LES atop the third stage, Skylab 1 had a simple aerodynamic shroud that made the whole vehicle some 9m shorter, though in unfuelled condition it was 23 tonnes heavier than the dry Apollo version. Fuelled up and ready for launch, the manned vehicle was heavier by about ninety tonnes. Skylab climbed off the pad on schedule, watched by less than half a million people: considerably fewer than the Apollo missions had attracted. The launch controllers celebrated as the Cape echoed to the thunder of the last of the Saturn Vs, but it soon became clear that things were going badly wrong. Telemetry from the Workshop seemed to indicate that one of the main solar panels had deployed, something not due to take place until Skylab was safely in orbit. In addition, the micro-meteoroid shield had been released to its operational position, a few centimetres clear of the hull. Mission Control suspected that the signals might be erroneous, but nobody was sure: the only thing to do was to wait and see. Skylab went into orbit as planned some 442km up, then the deployment sequence began. The solar panels were commanded to unfold and the aerodynamic shroud was jettisoned, allowing the Telescope Mount to rotate to its operational position and expose the Docking Adapter ready for the arrival of the first crew, due the following day. But something had gone drastically wrong, and Mission Control was already frantically trying to find out what was happening. By now, telemetry should have confirmed the deployment of the main solar panels, but no such signal had been received. The Workshop’s interior temperature was far above the planned level, and it was getting less than half of the electrical power it required to function. It soon became clear what had happened, but not why: one of the big solar panels had been torn away; the other was still attached, but it had not opened properly. Only the smaller panels of the ATM were supplying Skylab and they could not keep it running for long. And finally, the thermal protection had been lost when the air pressure tore away the micro-meteoroid shield and the internal temperature was far above a comfortable level for occupancy. Clearly nobody was going to live there until the problems were sorted out, and NASA postponed the first manned mission while it considered what to do. 1981 Soyuz 40 launch Crew: Leonid Popov (CDR); Dumitru Prunariu [Romania] (RC) Ninth Interkosmos mission. Docking with Salyut 6 was achieved the day after launch and the cosmonauts joined in with the Expedition 5 team. Experiments carried out included Reo - investigating changes in cerebral blood flow of central and peripheral; Capillary - technology of obtaining profile single crystals determined by using the capillary effect in conditions of weightlessness; Biodose - the study of the Earth's magnetic field and space radiation, and its influence on living organisms; Astro - identifying new forms of existence of nuclear matter; and Nanobalance - establishing thin protective layers of silicon dioxide under the action of the cosmic environment. 2010 STS-132 launch Crew: Kenneth Ham (CDR); Tony Antonelli (P); Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Stephen Bowen, Piers Sellers (MS) 132nd Shuttle mission; 32nd flight of Atlantis Delivered the Russian-built Rassvet Mini-Research Module to the ISS, where Expedition 23 was in progress. Docking was achieved after a two-day approach. The new module was berthed to the ISS on 18 May and the crew first entered it two days later following leak checks. They reported small metal filings floating around but as a standard precaution for the first entry of a new module they were wearing eye and breathing protection so there was no immediate health risk and they worked with Mission Control in Houston and Moscow to develop a technique for safely removing the floating debris. Three EVAs were carried out during Atlantis's stay: (1) 17 May: Reisman and Bowen; 7h 25m. A spare Ku-band antenna was installed on the ISS truss and bolts holding batteries were loosened ready for the next EVA (2) 19 May: Bowen and Good; 7h 9m. Four of the six batteries on the port truss were removed and new ones fitted, and a snagged cable for the laser imager freed (3) 21 May: Good and Reisman; 6h 46m. Two more batteries were replaced and a grapple fixture from Atlantis's payload bay brought inside the ISS Total EVA time for Reisman was 14h 11m; for Bowen, 14h 34m and for Good, 13h 55m. 2014 Soyuz TMA-11M landing Crew: Mikhail Tyurin (CDR); Rick Mastracchio, Koichi Wakata [Japan] (FE) Landing site: 47°20'59,478"N , 69°31'24,834"E (145 km SE of Dzheskasgan) This flight had been ISS Expeditions 38/39. Flight time was 187d 21h 44m and 2,916 orbits.
  12. Though in saturnapollo's case it would be a very realistic model so he'd be quite safe!
  13. 13 MAY 1964 A-001 The first in-flight test of the Apollo LES from a Little Joe II, launched from White Sands like all of the escape system tests, saw the launch vehicle deliberately blown up at an altitude of around 5.9km, at which point it was undergoing trans-sonic buffeting. The LES immediately went into operation and pulled the Command Module—BP12—clear of the Little Joe, lifting it to a height of about 7.3km. Now the escape tower’s pitch control motor fired to tumble the assembly over to point the blunt heat-shield forwards, after which the LES was jettisoned and the recovery sequence began. At 2.2km high, the main parachutes opened but in what would have been a rough ride for any men aboard, the spacecraft began swinging violently from side to side that eventually caused one of the ‘chutes to rip free. The Command Module was, however, designed to land safely with only two parachutes open and landing speed was an acceptable 9.15m/s: had men really been aboard, they would undoubtedly have been shaken but alive. The whole flight took just seven and a half minutes and all the test objectives were met. 1982 Soyuz T-5 launch Crew: Anatoli Berezovoy (CDR); Valentin Levedev (FE) Salyut 7 Expedition 1. Docking took place on 14 May and the cosmonauts settled in for a marathon flight. During their seven months in orbit only one EVA was carried out, on 30 July, lasting 2h 33m. The crew installed a film camera and floodlight, and swapped out samples on a space exposure experiment. They also practised assembly tasks which would be used on future missions to attach solar panel extensions.
  14. 12 MAY 1946 Douglas Aircraft spaceship feasibility study Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., completed an engineering study on the feasibility of designing a man-carrying satellite. The study showed that if a vehicle could be accelerated to a speed of 27 360 km per hr and aimed properly it would revolve on a circular orbit above the Earth's atmosphere as a new satellite. Such a vehicle would make a complete circuit of the Earth approximately every hour and a half. 1953 X-2 explodes in mid-air During a Bell captive-carry flight test over Lake Ontario, X-2 number 46-675 suddenly exploded, killing Bell test pilot Jean Ziegler and observer Frank Wolko. The EB-50A mothership managed to land, although damaged. Only after several other mysterious X-plane losses was the cause found to be a rocket engine gasket made of Ulmer leather, which decomposed and became explosively unstable after sustained exposure to liquid oxygen.
  15. Twenty years ago today the Scottish Parliament opened for business. (Don't worry, Mike, this doesn't break the BoP.) As part of the celebrations we were treated to this flypast: It had been announced that the Red Arrows would be involved but the appearance of Concorde was a complete surprise!
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