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GordonD last won the day on September 7 2012

GordonD had the most liked content!

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About GordonD

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

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

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  1. GordonD

    Long (ish) Jokes.

    Reminds me of the elderly farmer who couldn't keep his hands off his young wife. So he sacked them all and bought a combine harvester.
  2. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    22 FEBRUARY 1977 Space Shuttle Orbiter/SCA Flight CI-2 The second Captive-Inactive flight took place four days after the first, with a take-off weight of 283.7 tonnes. The extra mass this time meant the aircraft’s take-off run was just under 2km. The primary task on the second flight was to evaluate stability and control characteristics and study the “flutter regime” at altitudes up to 6.7km. Checks were made at various heights and speeds up to a maximum of 288 knots. This was some ten knots above the planned Orbiter release speed but as always NASA was building in a safety margin. After 3hr 13min the aircraft landed back at Edwards, and ALT programme manager Deke Slayton announced that the planned sixth test would be dropped if everything continued to go as well as the first two flights. 1996 STS-75 launch Crew: Andy Allen (CDR); Scott Horowitz (P); Jeffrey Hoffman, Maurizio Cheli [Italy], Claude Nicollier [Switzerland], Franklin Chang-Diaz (MS); Umberto Guidoni [Italy] (PS) 75th Shuttle mission; 19th flight of Columbia Second flight of the Italian Tethered Satellite System, in which a probe would be deployed on a long cable to interact with the Earth's ionospheric environment of charged gas (plasma) and its magnetic and electric fields, to understand how a tethered satellite makes contact with the ionospheric plasma and how an electrical current is extracted and to demonstrate electrical power generation, as a product of current and voltage, to determine how such a system could be used as a space-based power source. The TSS's first flight, on STS-46, had been a failure becayse the tether jammed and the satellite was only deployed some 260 metres instead of the planned 20km. This time, although the probe almost reached its target distance the tether snapped and the experiment failed again. 2000 STS-99 landing Crew: Kevin Kregel (CDR); Dominic Gorey (P); Gerhard Thiele [Germany], Janet Kavandi, Janice Voss, Mamoru Mohri [Japan] (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center Flight time 11d 5h 39m; 181 orbits 2010 STS-130 landing Crew: George Zamka (CDR); Terry Virts (P); Kay Hire. Stephen Robinson, Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center Flight time 13d 18h 6m; 217 orbits
  3. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    21 FEBRUARY 1961 MA-2 Crew: none The first flight of a Mercury-Atlas combination had ended in failure when the launch vehicle broke up under the stresses of Maximum Dynamic Pressure. NASA engineers made sure the problem could not recur by adding a steel band 20cm wide below the adapter ring, thus moving the stressed region to a less-critical area of the rocket. It was a temporary solution: later flights would be launched by a thicker-skinned vehicle where the band would not be required. But temporary or not, the solution was effective, the Atlas sending the capsule to a peak altitude of 183km and a maximum velocity of 21,290km/hr. Landing came 2,300km downrange, after which the spacecraft was retrieved by the destroyer USS Greene. 1996 Soyuz TM-23 launch Crew: Yuri Onufriyenko (CDR); Yuri Usachyov (FE) Mir Expedition 21. The planned mission duration was six months, during which the residents would be joined by US astronaut Shannon Lucid who arrived in March. 1997 STS-82 landing Crew: Ken Bowersox (CDR); Scott Horowitz (P); Joseph Tanner, Steven Hawley, Greg Harbaugh, Mark Lee, Steven Smith (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center This concluded the second Hubble Space Telescope maintenance mission. Flight time was 9d 23h 37m, 149 orbits.
  4. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    20 FEBRUARY 1962 Mercury MA-6 (Friendship 7) Pilot: John Glenn Landing site: Atlantic Ocean, 21° 29' N, 68° 48' W First American orbital flight, following two sub-orbital missions. Glenn had to shut down the automatic attitude control system because of a faulty yaw thruster but was able to use the manual fly-by-wire system with no difficulty. A more serious problem was an indication that the spacecraft's heat shield had come loose (this was part of the landing procedure where the shield would drop down to expand a pneumatic bag designed to cushion the splashdown impact). Glenn was instructed not to jettison the retropack following retrofire, in the hope that the restraint straps would keep the shield in place, though he was not advised of the reason for this. As it turned out the signal was faulty and the shield was securely attached all the time. Splashdown was some 60km off target as when retrofire calculations were made no consideration had been given to the capsule's weight loss due to the use of onboard consumables, but Glenn was picked up by the destroyer USS Noa. Flight time was 4h 55m; three orbits. 1986 Mir launch With the US space programme grounded following the Challenger accident, the Soviet Union took their own programme to a new level with the launch of their next generation space station. Instead of a single forward docking port, Mir (the name translates as either 'peace' or 'village') had a spherical docking module with five ports, one on the centre line as usual and four more around the outside. Clearly they were looking to expand the station by attaching research modules as time went by, and indeed this was the case, with the base block being expanded over the next few years. Over the course of its orbital life, which was much longer than originally planned, Mir would host twenty-eight resident crews and numerous short-term visitors, including even a series of dockings by the US Space Shuttle, as the two countries' space programmes merged. 1999 Soyuz TM-29 launch Crew: Viktor Afanaseyev (CDR); Jean-Pierre Haigneré [France] (FE); Ivan Bella [Slovakia] (RC) Mir Expedition 27. Afanaseyev and Haigneré would remain aboard for six months, while Bella would return to Earth with Gennadi Padalka aboard Soyuz TM-28 after a week. However Sergei Avdeyev, launched the previous August, continued his mission for a full year. Haigneré's backup for his mission was Claudie André-Deshays; the two would later marry. 2001 STS-98 landing Crew: Kenneth Cockrell (CDR); Mark Polansky (P); Robert Curbeam, Marsha Ivins, Thomas Jones (MS) Landing site: Edwards AFB Due to bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center the mission was extended by two days and landing eventually switched to Edwards. Flight time was 12d 21h 20m; 202 orbits.
  5. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    19 FEBRUARY 1969 E-8 No.201 launch failure Also identified by NASA as Luna 1969A, this turned out to be the Soviet Union's first attempt to land a roving vehicle on the lunar surface. Unfortunately during the launch phase, as the vehicle passed through the point of maximum dynamic pressure, the payload shroud collapsed and debris struck the external propellant tanks, causing spillage which was ignited by the engine exhaust. The first stage exploded though the upper stages were blasted free and crashed to the ground. 1990 Soyuz TM-8 landing Crew: Aleksandr Viktorenko (CDR); Aleksandr Serebrov (FE) Landing site: 55 km NE of Arkalyk Mir Expedition 5. Flight time 166d 6h 58m; 2,631 orbits 1998 Soyuz TM-26 landing Crew: Anatoli Solovyov (CDR); Pavel Vinogradov (FE); Léopold Eyharts [France] (RC] Landing site: 50° 11' N, 67° 31' E Solovyov and Vinogradov formed Mir Expedition 24, with flight time of 197d 17h 34m and 3,128 orbits. Eyharts had been launched at the end of January aboard Soyuz TM-27; his flight time was 20d 16h 36m with 325 orbits.
  6. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    18 FEBRUARY 1930 Discovery of Pluto On this day astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto, which had been thought to exist for some time because of gravitational effects on the outermost known planets. By comparing photographs of the same portion of the night sky taken several days apart, Tombaugh spotted that one of the objects had moved. The announcement of the discovery made headlines around the world and there were more than a thousand suggestions for a name. 'Pluto' was suggested by an eleven-year-old girl from Oxford, Venetia Burney. In 2006, however, after further bodies of similar size had been discovered at the edge of the Solar System, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet' by the International Astronomical Union. Burney was still alive and was quoted as saying, "At my age, I've been largely indifferent [to the debate]; though I suppose I would prefer it to remain a planet." 1977 Space Shuttle Orbiter/SCA Flight CI-1 Following the taxi tests a few days earlier, the Shuttle development programme began its next phase, consisting of a series of flights with the Orbiter unmanned and all its systems shut down, known as Captive-Inactive, to examine the aerodynamic handling characteristics of the craft. With a combined mass of 264.9 tonnes, the combination took to the air for the first time, leaving the ground at an airspeed of 142 knots following a take-off run of 1,830m. At a height of 4,900m the aircraft levelled off and began a series of tests including airspeed calibration with a Cessna A-37 flying alongside. Throughout the flight, engineers Horton and Guidry were checking instruments to monitor the stresses on the airframe: the problem was not with the added weight, since the Orbiter was actually lighter than a 747’s maximum load of passengers plus their luggage, but its location on top of the fuselage, which shifted the combination’s centre of gravity upwards. Despite this, pilots Fulton and McMurtry reported no problems: in fact the aircraft seemed more stable than expected. Fulton later stated that “most of the time we couldn’t even tell that the Shuttle was up there!” The carrier eventually descended to 3,050m for further instrument calibrations before making a safe landing more than two hours after take-off.
  7. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    17 FEBRUARY 1965 Ranger 8 launch Ranger 8 was the third of the 'Block 3' probes, with a purely photographic goal and the attempt to rough-land an instrument probe removed. Ranger 6 had failed because of a camera malfunction but Ranger 7 had been a success and hopes were high for a repeat. In the event Ranger 8 returned 7,137 photographs up to the moment of lunar impact, which took place on 20 February when the spacecraft was travelling at around 2.6km/sec. The final image was taken from a height of 4.2km, two seconds before impact, and is incomplete because the probe crashed while it was being transmitted back to Earth. Its impact point was in the Sea of Tranquillity, some 60km from where Apollo 11's LM Eagle would land four years later.
  8. GordonD

    Short Jokes III - Worst in the Series

    Actually that photo nearly never came to pass. During the conference Stalin spotted Roosevelt slipping Churchill a note and demanded to see it. It read A DEAD BIRD NEVER LEAVES ITS CAGE. He immediately suspected that they were plotting against him and threatened to pull the Soviet Union out of the war unless they gave him a full explanation. After a tense moment Roosevelt showed Stalin a note that Churchill had already passed him: YOUR FLY IS OPEN!
  9. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    16 FEBRUARY 1965 A-103/SA-9 This was the eight launch of the Saturn I, launched out of numerical sequence because it was ready for flight before #8. The meteoroid research satellite Pegasus 1 was carried inside the hollow shell of the BP-16 Service Module and, as planned, remained attached to the S-IV second stage after separation of the Apollo CSM, unfolding wing-like panels 29m across to detect and record meteoroid impacts to learn if they were likely to pose a hazard on Moon-bound flights. 1976 Soyuz 20 landing Crew: none Landing site: 56 km SW of Arkalyk After the Soyuz 18 crew departed from Salyut 4, an unmanned Soyuz was launched to dock with the vacant station on a long-duration test of the spacecraft's systems. Docking was achieved on 19 November 1975 and the craft then began a simulation of the three-month flights that were to come. Though the capsule landed safely, post-flight analysis showed that several systems had begun to degrade, placing an upper limit of around ninety days on this version of the spacecraft. This would lead to the concept of Taxi Flights, where space station occupants could remain in orbit for longer missions by sending a new crew up with a fresh spacecraft and returning in the old one before its 'use by' date was reached.
  10. GordonD

    RIP Opportunity

    NASA has declared the Opportunity mission concluded after the Mars Rover failed to respond to repeated signals to bring it out of hibernation. The rover landed on Mars on 25 January 2004 and was planned to operate for ninety days. It lasted fourteen years! Last contact was 10 June 2018, when a dust storm caused it to shut down. NASA hoped it would reboot once the weather cleared but it was not to be. In its lifetime Opportunity covered a distance of more than 45km. For six weeks in 2005 the rover was lodged in a sand dune but by careful manoeuvring a few centimetres at a time NASA managed to free it and it continued its travels. When the decision was taken to shut down operations, the final signal sent to the rover was the Billie Holiday song "I'll Be Seeing You". I'll find you in the morning sun And when the night is new I'll be looking at the moon But I'll be seeing you...
  11. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    15 FEBRUARY 1977 Space Shuttle Orbiter/SCA taxi tests Prior to the first flight, the linked Orbiter Enterprise and the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carried out a short series of taxi runs to check out the handling and braking characteristics. The first of these involved accelerating the combination to 76 knots then reducing speed to 23 knots before applying the brakes. After an inspection of the wheel assemblies revealed no damage or overheating, the aircraft began its second run, reaching a top speed of 120 knots. At 95 knots the pilot raised the 747’s nosewheel off the ground to test the elevators. Brakes were applied at 20 knots. The third and final taxi run saw a maximum speed of 137 knots, during which the nose was lifted 5°. The aircraft would have taken off at a speed of 145 knots and a pitch of 6.5° but at this stage there was no intention of it becoming airborne. Brakes were applied at a speed of over 40 knots, bringing the taxi tests to an end.
  12. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    14 FEBRUARY 1972 Luna 20 launch Luna 20 was the second successful attempt by the Soviet Union to return a sample of soil from the Moon. The first attempt, Luna 15, had been flown at the same time as Apollo 11 and was seen as a last-ditch attempt to beat the astronauts home with lunar samples, but the probe crashed while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the Moon. Luna 16 was successful but the next attempt, Luna 18, also crashed. However Luna 20 soft-landed in the Sea of Fertility on 21 February and picked up 30g of soil by means of an extending drill. The samples were deposited in a capsule on top of the ascent stage and launch took place on 22 February. The mission came to a successful conclusion on 25th February when the capsule parachuted down onto an island in the Karkingir River, 40km north of the town of Jezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
  13. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    13 FEBRUARY 1961 Mercury Mk. II On this day in 1961 NASA and the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation began formal discussions about the development of a two-man spacecraft to follow on from Mercury. This would eventually be formally named 'Gemini'.
  14. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    12 FEBRUARY 1961 Venera 1 launch Venera 1 was the Soviets' second attempt to launch a Venus probe in the current window. The first, eight days earlier, had failed to leave Earth orbit and was disguised with the name Sputnik 7. Venera 1, however, successfully departed parking orbit and set course for Venus. It confirmed the existence of the solar wind, discovered by Lunik 2, and carried out further studies of cosmic rays. Unfortunately on 26 February the probe failed to signal back and no further contact was received. Venera 1 flew within 100,000km of Venus on 19 May but no data was sent back. Soviet engineers believed that a solar direction sensor may have overheated, resulting in the loss of contact.
  15. GordonD

    Ups and Downs for February

    11 FEBRUARY 1984 STS-41B landing Crew: Vance Brand (CDR); "Hoot" Gibson (P); Ron McNair, Robert Stewart, Bruce McCandless (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center Mission highlight was the first test of the Manned Maneuvering Unit by McCandless. Flight time was 7d 23h 16m 1990 Soyuz TM-9 launch Crew: Anatoli Solovyov (CDR); Aleksandr Balandin (FE) Mir Expedition 6. Planned flight duration is six months. 1994 STS-60 landing Crew: Charlie Bolden (CDR); Kenneth Reightler (P); Nancy Jan Davis, Ron Sega, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Sergei Krikalev [Russia] (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center The first Shuttle flight with a Russian cosmonaut aboard. Mission duration 8d 7h 9m 1995 STS-63 landing Crew: James Wetherbee (CDR); Eileen Collins (P); Bernard Harris, Michael Foale, Janice Voss, Vladimir Titov [Russia] (MS) Landing site: Kennedy Space Center First Shuttle-Mir rendezvous, though no docking was planned. Flight time: 8d 6h 28m 1997 STS-82 launch Crew: Ken Bowersox (CDR); Scott Horowitz (P); Joseph Tanner, Steven Hawley, Greg Harbaugh, Mark Lee, Steven Smith (MS) 82nd Shuttle mission; 22nd flight of Discovery Second Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Five EVAs were carried out: (1) Smith & Lee (6h 42m) to replace the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS) by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) by the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). (2) Tanner & Harbaugh (7h 27m) - the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and one Engineering / Science Tape Recorder (ESTR) were exchanged and the Optical Control Electronics Enhancement Kit was installed. (3) Smith & Lee (7h 11m) exchanged one Data Interface Unit (DIU) and replaced a second ESTR by a Solid State Recorder (SSR). A Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) was replaced. (4) Tanner & Harbaugh (6h 34m) exchanged one of the Solar Array Drive Electronics (SADE) and installed covers on the magnometers. Repairs were also carried out to the thermal insulation, which had not been planned. (5) Smith & Lee (5h 17m) completed repairs to the thermal insulation. This EVA had not been planned in advance. Total EVA times were: Lee and Smith, both 19h 10m; Harbaugh and Tanner, both 14h 1m. 2000 STS-99 launch Crew: Kevin Kregel (CDR); Dominic Gorey (P); Gerhard Thiele [Germany], Janet Kavandi, Janice Voss, Mamoru Mohri [Japan] (MS) 97th Shuttle mission; 14th flight of Endeavour Shuttle Radar Topography Mission: the object was to use a specially modified radar system to acquire a high-resolution topographic map of the Earth's land mass (between 60°N and 56°S) and to test new technologies for deployment of large rigid structures and measurement of their distortions to extremely high precision. The SRTM mast was a truss structure consisting of 87 cube-shaped sections which were deployed out of the storage canister to a length of 60 meters