Author Topic: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History  (Read 232428 times)

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #200 on: 11/02/2013 05:26 pm »
January 14: NASA AND SPACECOM MODIFY TDRSS CONTRACT
NASA and the Space Communications Co. (SPACECOM) have agreed to a modification in the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System contract which will give NASA greater control and flexibility over the system, as well as the potential to extend its lifetime by several years. The modification was agreed to after two years of study, and will allow NASA to take over the use of the commercial telecommunications portion of TDRSS, the Advanced Westar. SPACECOM, a partnership affiliated with Continental Telecom, Inc., Fairchild Industries and the Western Union Corp., will be paid $216 million as compensation for its Advanced Westar investment and related costs.

For NASA, control of TDRSS will permit schedule and performance requirements based solely on the needs of the space agency and other government users, eliminating any potential conflicts with commercial operations. SPACECOM will continue to own and operate TDRSS – leasing the service to NASA – for a ten-year period beginning in 1983. The system will revert to NASA ownership in 1993.

The contract modification will make six satellites available for TDRSS services. Three will be located in geosynchronous orbit, one of them an in-orbit spare, and three more will be available as spares on the ground. The ground spares could be modified to take advantage of new technologies involving different frequencies and higher data rates. (JSC Space News Roundup, Jan. 14, 1983)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #201 on: 11/02/2013 05:27 pm »
January 17: PIONEERING SPACE CHIMP DIES AT AGE 26
Ham, the first chimpanzee to ride a rocket into space, died at age 26 at the North Carolina Zoological Park where he had lived for the past 2 1/2 years. Ham rode a Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in a sub-orbital flight January 31, 1961, three years to the day after Explorer 1 went into space, after which he was transferred to the National Zoo in Washington until 1980. (Today, Jan. 19, 1983)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #202 on: 11/02/2013 05:28 pm »
NASA at 25 – The Damn Sputnik Thing All Over Again

(By Jay Barbree)

The chimpanzee was flying first. All that animal would do was bang levers and push buttons and get jolted with electricity if he didn’t perform as trained. The astronauts protested, but the medical folks insisted. There were too many unknowns about spaceflight to risk human life without first sending up a chimp as a possible sacrifice. The fact that a chimpanzee is a highly intelligent anthropoid, an animal closely related to and resembling a human, didn’t matter. Killing one’s animal cousin appeared acceptable.


A BIT MORE INTERESTING

Of the seven candidates that came to the Cape for final flight training, a chimp named Chang was considered to be prime, and Elvis was the backup. The only problem was that Elvis was a female, so named because of her long sideburns. In order to cause no offense, the names had to be changed. Chang became Ham and Elvis was christened Patti. Ham stood for “Holloman Aero Med,” his home in New Mexico, and (known to just a very few) Patti stood for “Patrice Lumumba,” the African tyrant, because the chimps came from the French Cameroon.

NASA selected the newly crowned Ham, and on January 31, 1961, the astronauts gathered to watch the launch. The flight turned out to be abit more interesting. Redstone had a “hot engine.” It burned all of its fuel five seconds early. The control system sensed that something was wrong. Instantly it ignited the escape tower hooked to the Mercury capsule, and it blew the spacecraft away. This sent Ham higher, faster and farther. The chimpanaut landed 122 miles beyond his target and came down hard, hitting the ocean with a teeth-jarring stop.

The rough splashdown was followed with the stomach-churning motion of six-foot waves, and by the time the recovery choppers showed up, Ham’s capsule was on its side. More than eight hundred pounds of water had rolled in and they had a sputtering, choking, almost-drowned chimp on their hands.


WE HAD THEM

Alan Shepard reviewed Ham’s flight. He knew he could have survived it, but he also knew his own flight was in deep trouble. If only the damn chimp ride had been on the money, then he would have been off the launch pad in March. But Ham’s flight wasn’t on the money, it was a disaster, and Dr. von Braun was worried. He had the responsibility for the astronauts’ lives. “We require another unmanned flight,” he said soberly.

Working with the engineers, Shepard confirmed that the problem with Ham’s Redstone had been nothing more than a minor electrical relay. The fix was quick and Shepard said, “Even von Braun should be satisfied with what we found!” Shepard was wrong. Dr. von Braun stood fast. “Another test flight.”

The March 24 repeat Redstone launch was perfect. Shepard could have killed. He knew he should have been on that flight. America would now have the first astronaut in space. Over drinks, he told me, “We had them, Barbree. We had the Russians by the gonads and we gave it away.”

“Maybe not,” I said, trying to resurrect hope. “You could still be first. May’s not that far away.”

“Not a chance,” he said in that distant manner of his. “It’s the damn Sputnik thing all over again.”

(Jay Barbree, “Live from Cape Canaveral,” Smithsonian Books/Harper Collins, 2007 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #203 on: 11/02/2013 05:31 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #204 on: 11/02/2013 05:35 pm »
January 20: NASA RULES OUT USBI PLANS
NASA officials rule out a proposed move of United Space Boosters, Inc., from Kennedy Space Center to a private site north of the Canaveral Barge Canal on Merritt Island. The space agency's announcement came in the form of a letter from Air Force Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson, the agency's Associate Administrator for Spaceflight, to East Merritt Island Homeowners Association President Sue Ford. (Today, Jan. 21, 1983 – edited)


Cosmos 1402 Is Out of Control

(By Jerry Hannifin and Frederic Golden)

Soviet spy satellite threatens to leave a trail of radioactive debris

While the rest of the world anxiously watched and waited, the Soviets struggled last week to keep one of their spy satellites from plunging prematurely and dangerously back to Earth. The high drama was reminiscent of NASA's unsuccessful attempt to control the fall of Skylab four years ago, when fragments of the unmanned U.S. space station harmlessly hit the Australian outback. But the problem with the Soviet satellite had a particularly frightening element. Aboard the faltering red star was some lethal cargo: a miniature nuclear power plant that could spray deadly radioactive material over a wide swath of the Earth.

The object of the international concern was a spacecraft innocuously dubbed Cosmos 1402. Launched last August, it is a five-ton bundle of electronics, including a powerful radar used by the Soviets to track U.S. naval vessels. In 1978 a similar satellite, Cosmos 954, scattered radioactive fragments over Canada's Northwest Territories. Though no one was killed or injured, the embarrassed Soviets paid Canada $3 million to help defray the cost of the difficult cleanup.

Initially, Soviet officials brushed off Western concern about the satellite: But as evidence accumulated from tracking stations that Cosmos 1402 was falling, Moscow finally admitted that the satellite was in trouble. Although they insisted that the reactor, containing 100 Ib. of nuclear fuel, would burn up in the atmosphere, U.S. officials said that some radioactive debris would reach the ground. As a precaution, they mobilized special teams to gather the "hot" material. Meanwhile, Soviet ground controllers were radioing a flood of signals to the errant craft, which is tumbling wildly through space at an altitude of about 150 miles, in an effort to control it. Unless they succeed, Pentagon sources said, Cosmos 1402 will make a fiery, meteor-like reentry into the atmosphere before month's end, possibly around January 24.

Because of the highly inclined plane of the satellite's orbit (about 65° to the equator), Cosmos 1402 could crash almost anywhere, from as far north as Greenland to the southernmost tip of South America. That orbital path precluded any rescue attempt by the new U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger; even if it could be launched in time, it would be unable to achieve so tilted an orbit. As to just when Cosmos 1402 might strike, one U.S. intelligence officer said: "We'll be able to make some hard calculations about the time and place of landing when the satellite's period (the time it takes to make a complete swing around the earth) degrades to 87.4 minutes." Last week Cosmos 1402 was circling once every 89.3 minutes.

The Soviets have been launching ocean-surveillance satellites at the rate of two or more a year. Their radars and other sensors are not run by electricity from solar panels or chemical fuel cells, the power sources used by American spy satellites like the Air Force's Big Bird. Instead, the Soviet satellites rely on a type of small, portable nuclear reactor called Topaz (after the gemstone), which uses as its fuel enriched uranium 235, the same highly radioactive material "burned" by nuclear power plants on the ground.

During the international storm that followed the crash of Cosmos 954, the Soviets briefly stopped launching nuclear-powered spy satellites, but flights resumed in 1980. Moscow insists that the reactors do not violate any treaty. The U.S. has not pressed the issue. For one thing, the Defense Department is itself considering using reactors to power laser and particle-beam weapons that may eventually be deployed in space. Also, NASA has already sent nuclear power packs to the Moon and uses them regularly on robot spacecraft to the outer planets, like the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn and beyond. (Reason: sunlight is too weak to be tapped as an energy source.)

To American space scientists, the real problem is not that the Soviets are sending reactors into space. As Jerry Grey, spokesman for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, points out, it is that they are doing it "so damned stupidly" – operating the nuclear-powered satellites at such low altitudes that they easily become vulnerable to premature return. (If an object is launched high enough to avoid the upper atmosphere's braking effects, it can orbit indefinitely, like the Moon.) At times, in order to do closeup snooping, the Soviets let their satellites descend to as low as 100 miles, then boost them up with onboard rockets to prevent any further orbital "decay."

But there are limits to the sorties a satellite can make; usually it will exhaust its rocket fuel after six or seven months. When that happens, the Soviet controllers radio commands that explode the satellite into nuclear and nonnuclear components. The nonnuclear parts are allowed to sink back into the atmosphere, where most of the metal burns up in the frictional heat of reentry. The reactor is lifted with one last spurt of rocket fuel to an altitude of 500 to 600 miles, where it can drift safely for hundreds of years.

By late last month it became clear to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, whose cameras, radars and computers keep track of the more than 5,000 objects now in orbit, that Cosmos 1402 was not following this scenario. When it broke into three pieces on Dec. 28, all languished in the same orbit, perhaps because of a booster failure. With each swing around the Earth, the nuclear reactor's orbit shrank a little more. Some U.S. officials speculate that the Soviets might be able to destroy the reactor with a remaining explosive charge, or even a burst from one of their killer satellites, a risky procedure that would leave a sinking radioactive cloud in orbit. Or they might have enough maneuvering fuel left to steer the lethal package into the sea. At week's end the fate of Cosmos 1402, as well as of the people in its path, was still very much up in the air. (Time, Jan. 17, 1983)


January 22: TASS SEES U.S. CREATING COSMOS “HULLABALOO”
In only the third Soviet comment on Cosmos 1402 in the two and a half weeks since the Pentagon first raised an alarm about the demobilized nuclear-powered reconnaissance satellite, Tass accused Washington Friday night (Jan. 21) of mounting a ''provocative hullabaloo'' about the satellite in order to deflect attention from America's arms buildup.

''This calculation is simple,'' the official Soviet Government press agency said in a dispatch. ''Let the Americans and West Europeans hide in bunkers in fear of 'satellite splinters.' Then they might not notice nuclear missiles which are being feverishly installed around them by the NATO strategists.''

Tass maintained that there was nothing to fear, reiterating the previously publicized position that Cosmos 1402 had been divided on command into three segments after it had concluded its work, and that the nuclear fuel core, the only element the Russians have referred to as being of any potential danger, would burn up in the atmosphere sometime in mid-February, leaving radiation within internationally recognized safe levels.

In contrast to the Western preparations, there were no publicly reported precautions taken within the Soviet Union, and most Russians seemed to consider the matter routine and not threatening. Given the extensive passage of the satellite over Soviet territory, however, Western diplomats presumed that the Soviet military had taken secret precautions in the event that segments landed in the Soviet Union.

The domestic Soviet news media made no immediate mention of the note sent Friday to United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, stating that the main body of the satellite, minus the fuel core, would enter the atmosphere somewhere over the Arabian Sea Sunday night. The note made no reference to the possibility of radiation in the descending segment, or of the chances that any section would survive reentry.

American experts have raised the possibility that in the four months the satellite was operating, radioactivity contaminated other components, including those about to re-enter the atmosphere. Given the satellite's large size, estimated at upward of 8,000 pounds, American experts believe chances are that sizable fragments will survive re-entry. The Soviet commentaries have offered no assurances that the main section will burn up completely. In fact, they have taken little note of the main body of the satellite, concentrating, rather, on assurances that the separate fuel core will disintegrate into fine particles in the Earth's atmosphere.

''What was the cause of the sudden turmoil in capitals of Western countries?'' Tass asked Friday after giving a sarcastic sketch of some of the preparations being taken. ''It turns out that all that is because of a Soviet artificial Earth satellite! If one is to believe Washington, that satellite is about to plummet on the heads of Earthmen who are therefore being called upon to immediately hide in basements.''

''Should one say that all these fears are groundless?'' the Tass dispatch asked, and repeated the press agency's explanations about the measures that ''insure guaranteed conditions'' for the fuel core to disintegrate. What will fall on residents of the Western countries is not splinters of a Soviet satellite, Tass said, but ''a stream of impudent lies and slander that is pounced on them in order to divert their attention from the unprecedented arms race that has been launched by the United States.'' (Serge Schmemann, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 1983 – edited)


January 24: U.S. SCANS INDIAN OCEAN FOR RADIATION
United States aircraft and ships patrolled the Indian Ocean today to check for any increased atmospheric radiation from the nuclear-powered Soviet satellite's fiery plunge back to the Earth. The Defense Department said it had no reports yet on the survey results. Nor did it have any new information on whether any fragments of the four-ton craft survived the reentry yesterday and reached the water. The ''impact area'' was so far from land, the Pentagon said, that the satellite's final plunge could not be observed.

Meanwhile, the North American Aerospace Defense Command turned its attention to tracking the remaining segment of Cosmos 1402, which Soviet officials have said is the nuclear fuel core. This smaller section, probably weighing less than 1,000 pounds, could enter the atmosphere as early as next week. According to the command's calculations, the fuel-core section is circling the Earth in an orbit ranging from a high of 132 miles to a low of 127 miles. As with the rest of the Cosmos, the section is traveling each day over all parts of the world between 65 degrees north latitude and 65 degrees south. American tracking analysts have not released any new reentry time predictions since the one they made last week, which established a ''reentry window'' of Feb. 7-13.

The Soviet Union yesterday forecast that the fragment including the fuel core of the satellite's reactor should enter the dense layers of the atmosphere between Feb. 3 and Feb. 8. The Soviet statement continued to emphasize that the core would disintegrate and burn up well before it reached the surface. Earlier Soviet statements also said that the ''radiation situation will be within the limits recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection,'' a United Nations body that studied the issue. Pentagon officials have generally agreed with the Soviet assurances, noting that in a somewhat similar incident in 1978, the uranium fuel of Cosmos 954 apparently burned up completely high in the atmosphere. But some fragments of the satellite's structure did survive and fall over the sparsely populated Northwest Territories of Canada.

Although the American and Soviet Governments issued several seemingly conflicting statements on Cosmos 1402 in the last three weeks, there was a tendency now among American officials to accept Soviet predictions. After all, a Soviet statement Friday night was remarkably accurate in forecasting not only the time but the general area where the main body of the satellite would fall. It predicted the satellite would come down late Sunday (Jan. 23) over the ''region of the Arabian Sea.'' The satellite, in fact, plunged through the lower, dense atmosphere soon after it passed over the Arabian Sea, coming down far south of the Indian subcontinent.

Maj. Douglas Kennett, a Pentagon spokesman, said that American space experts were not too surprised by the Soviet accuracy. ''It's their satellite,'' he said. ''They knew the satellite's characteristics, which we didn't know. They have an excellent tracking system. They ought to be able to predict that.'' Geoffrey Perry of Kettering, England, an amateur space tracker with considerable experience in the field, called the prediction ''amazing,'' adding, ''I compliment them on their estimate.''

The main body of Cosmos 1402 had been tumbling and apparently out of control since Dec. 28. A Soviet attempt to boost the reactor section, including the fuel core, into a higher, safe orbit had failed. Although satellites or pieces of satellites fall out of orbit every week, nearly all of them disintegrate and burn from the friction of their passage through the atmosphere, posing no danger below. It is not known how many fragments ever survive the reentry. So many of the objects fall into the ocean or on unpopulated lands and are never seen, as in the case of Cosmos 1402 yesterday.

Concern over the satellite was heightened, however, because it carried a nuclear reactor and some radioactive pieces of a satellite like it, Cosmos 954, had survived the reentry in 1978 and come down on land. Major Kennett, the chief Pentagon spokesman for the Cosmos watch, said, ''I don't think we'll ever know if any of this Cosmos reached land. That sort of material would be sitting now on the bottom of the Indian Ocean.'' (John Noble Wilford, The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1983 – edited)


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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #205 on: 11/02/2013 05:37 pm »
Tuesday, January 25, 1983 (Flight Readiness Firing 2) – A Real Detective Job

PAO: 9… we have a go for main engine start… 6… we have main engine start… all three engines are up and running… it’s a 20-minute… uh, 20-second firing; we have approximately seven more seconds remaining… at a hundred percent thrust… and we have shutdown; we have shutdown on time…

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #206 on: 11/02/2013 05:43 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #207 on: 11/02/2013 05:50 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #208 on: 11/02/2013 05:54 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #209 on: 11/02/2013 05:55 pm »
A LATE FEBRUARY CHALLENGER LAUNCH “IS NOT ACHIEVABLE”

As in Challenger’s first engine test December 18, engineers at Kennedy Space Center discovered a leak of hydrogen gas in the 18-foot-long compartment just forward of the three main engine nozzles. Lt. General James Abrahamson, Associate Administrator for Spaceflight, said that a late February launch of STS-6 “is not achievable.” The mission was originally scheduled to commence on January 20, 1983. Intensive troubleshooting to find the exact source of the leak will continue, according to Abrahamson.

Following the first Flight Readiness Firing in December, officials at KSC said they found evidence of excess hydrogen in the aft compartment of the orbiter, but did not know if it came from an internal or external source. The second test firing, designed to answer that question. Ruled out the possibility of an external source for the hydrogen, and now the task is pinpointing the cause within the main propulsion system.

Abramson said a third test firing, in keeping with NASA’s conservative approach to flying new vehicles, might be necessary to confirm the safety of the system. “This is a real detective job,” he said, “and one which will be difficult.” The leak found Tuesday was of the same order of magnitude as that discovered following the Dec. 18 test, he added. George Hardy, a representative of the Marshall Space Flight Center, said that beyond the hydrogen leak, the performance of the engines themselves was good in the second firing.

Abrahamson said a number of options exist which could keep the remainder of 1983’s flights on schedule. “There is a lot of flexibility in that schedule,” he said. Officials have considered pulling the main engines from Columbia and installing them in Challenger, but that would be a last resort because it would force a change in mission plans for STS-6, causing a shift to minimum weight and minimum mission configurations. He said it might also be necessary to pull an engine or engines at the pad and either repair them at the Cape or ship them back to the National Space Technology Laboratories for tests, repairs and certification.

Some have also suggested that the roles of flights seven and eight be reversed, in order to assure that both Tracking and Data Relay Satellites are functioning in orbit for the Spacelab mission on STS-9. But Abrahamson expressed an unwillingness to do this, saying that the two satellite customers on STS-7 have schedules which are important to meet. He also said officials working with TDRSS would like to see how the first satellite to be launched on STS-6 operates before sending the second into orbit.

NASA headquarters officials also consider using expendable Delta rockets to put some of the Space Shuttle's communication satellites into space because of the domino effect of delayed shuttle launches. Eventually NASA wants to get out of the Delta launch vehicle program after twelve more flights, but the agency may buy at least three additional Deltas because of shuttle delays. NASA Administrator James M. Beggs must decide how many more Deltas the agency is willing to fund. Contractors asked for an early decision to end uncertainties regarding manpower and supplier contracting.

(JSC Space News Roundup, Jan. 28, 1983; Today, Jan. 26/27, 1983; Aviation Week & Space Technology, Feb. 14, 1983 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #210 on: 11/02/2013 06:00 pm »
January 25: IRAS LAUNCHED – CLUES GET WARM IN THE SEARCH FOR PLANET X
Something out there beyond the farthest reaches of the known solar system seems to be tugging at Uranus and Neptune. Some gravitational force keeps perturbing the two giant planets, causing irregularities in their orbits. The force suggests a presence far away and unseen, a large object that may be the long-sought Planet X. Evidence assembled in recent years has led several groups of astronomers to renew the search for the 10th planet. They are devoting more time to visual observations with the 200-inch telescope at Mount Palomar in California. They are tracking two Pioneer spacecraft, now approaching the orbit of distant Pluto, to see if variations in their trajectories provide clues to the source of the mysterious force. And they are hoping that a satellite-borne telescope launched last week will detect heat signatures from the planet, or whatever it is out there.

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was boosted aboard a two-stage Delta rocket into a 560-mile-high polar orbit Tuesday night at 6:17 p.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. It represents an $80-million venture by the United States, Britain and the Netherlands. In the next six or seven months, the telescope is expected to conduct a wide-ranging survey of nearly all the sky, detecting sources not of ordinary light, but of infrared radiation, which is invisible to the human eye and largely absorbed by the atmosphere. Scientists thus hope that the new telescope will chart thousands or infrared-emitting objects that have gone undetected stars, interstellar clouds, asteroids and, with any luck, the object that pulls at Uranus and Neptune.

The last time a serious search of the skies was made, it led to the discovery in 1930 of Pluto, the ninth planet. But the story begins more than a century before that, after the discovery of Uranus in 1781 by the English astronomer and musician William Herschel. Until then, the planetary system seemed to end with Saturn. As astronomers observed Uranus, noting irregularities in its orbital path, many speculated that they were witnessing the gravitational pull of an unknown planet. So began the first planetary search based on astronomers’ predictions, which ended in the 1840s with the discovery of Neptune almost simultaneously by English, French and German astronomers.

But Neptune was not massive enough to account entirely for the orbital behavior of Uranus. Indeed, Neptune itself seemed to be affected by a still more remote planet. In the late 19th century, two American astronomers, William H. Pickering and Percival Lowell, predicted the size and approximate location of the trans-Neptunium body, which Lowell called Planet X. Years later, Pluto was detected by Clyde W. Tombaugh working at Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Several astronomers, however, suspected it might not be the Planet X of prediction. Subsequent observations proved them right. Pluto was too small to change the orbits of Uranus and Neptune; the combined mass of Pluto and its recently discovered satellite, Charon, is only one-fifth that of Earth’s Moon.


Recent calculations by the United States Naval Observatory have confirmed the orbital perturbation exhibited by Uranus and Neptune, which Dr. Thomas C. Van Flandern, an astronomer at the observatory, says could be explained by a single undiscovered planet. He and a colleague, Dr. Robert Harrington, calculate that the 10th planet should be two to five times more massive than Earth and have a highly elliptical orbit that takes it some 5 billion miles beyond that of Pluto hardly next-door but still within the gravitational influence of the Sun.

Some astronomers have reacted cautiously to the 10th-planet predictions. They remember the long, futile quest for the planet Vulcan inside the orbit of Mercury; Vulcan, it turned out, did not exist. They wonder why such a large object as a 10th planet escaped the exhaustive survey by Mr. Tombaugh, who is sure it is not in the two-thirds of the sky he examined. But according to Dr. Ray T. Reynolds of the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, other astronomers are so sure of the 10th planet, they think theres nothing left but to name it.

At a scientific meeting last summer, 10th-planet partisans tended to prevail. Alternative explanations for the outer-planet perturbations were offered. The something out there, some scientists said, might be an unseen black hole or neutron star passing through the Suns vicinity. Defenders of the 10th planet parried the suggestions. Material falling into the gravitational field of a black hole, the remains of a very massive star after its complete gravitational collapse, should give off detectable X-rays, they noted; no X-rays have been detected. A neutron star, a less massive star that has collapsed to a highly dense state, should affect the courses of comets, they said, yet no such changes have been observed.

More credence was given to the hypothesis that a brown dwarf star accounts for the mysterious force. This is the informal name astronomers give to celestial bodies that were not massive enough for their thermonuclear furnaces to ignite; perhaps like the huge planet Jupiter, they just missed being self-illuminating stars. Most stars are paired, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Sun has a dim companion. Moreover, a brown dwarf in the neighborhood might not reflect enough light to be seen far away, said Dr. John Anderson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Its gravitational forces, however, should produce energy detectable by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite.

Whatever the mysterious force, be it a brown dwarf or a large planet, Dr. Anderson said he was quite optimistic that the infrared telescope might fine it and that the Pioneer spacecraft could supply an estimate of the objects mass. Of course, no one can be sure that even this discovery would define the outermost boundary of the solar system. (John Noble Wilford, The New York Times, Jan. 30, 1983; Today, Jan 26, 1983 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #211 on: 11/02/2013 06:03 pm »
February 8: COSMOS 1402’s FUEL CORE FALLS “HARMLESSLY”
The last fragments of Cosmos 1402 vanished in a fiery plunge over the South Atlantic Ocean 1,100 miles east of Brazil early yesterday. Debate promptly began over whether health hazards would be created by the radioactivity it left behind in the upper atmosphere. A short time after reentry, which occurred about 6:10 a.m. EST, a Pentagon spokesman said the 110-pound enriched-uranium core had apparently ''burned harmlessly.'' This final piece of the satellite to fall never caused as much worry as the large section that fell on Jan. 23, and its demise came about more or less as predicted. The Pentagon said reconnaissance planes would check the atmosphere in the South Atlantic for any signs of increased levels of radioactivity. The debris broke up at 19 degrees south latitude, 22 degrees west longitude.

Despite an apparent end to the drama, which began in late December after a vain Soviet attempt to boost the nuclear reactor into a higher orbit, where it was to remain for 500 years, the core has not ''burnt up'' but was broken down into a cloud of radioactive dust.

Does it pose a danger to human health? Experts answer the question in radically different ways. One school holds there is no health risk, while another says the dispersed core, carried by winds around the globe, will eventually result in a few cases of genetic damage and death resulting from cancer.

Moreover, since both the United States and the Soviet Union plan to send other nuclear payloads into space, some groups say the health question may arise again in more dramatic form. The Progressive Space Forum, a Washington-based group that lobbies for a negotiated demilitarization of space, asserts that one type of accident with an American spacecraft could result in 40,000 deaths. In contrast, Government scientists, while acknowledging past problems, say the launching and use of American and Soviet nuclearpowered satellites is becoming safer with each passing year.

Cosmos 1402 is one of eight nuclear craft that have plunged to earth unexpectedly. In 1969, according to the Department of Energy, two Soviet Moon-bound craft ''burned out in the atmosphere with the detected release of high-altitude radiation.'' One predecessor of Cosmos 1402 plunged into the Pacific Ocean north of Japan in 1973, and another fell over Canada in 1978. Accidents have also struck the American program. In 1964, a Transit nuclear-powered satellite failed to achieve orbit and broke up over the Indian Ocean. In 1968, a similar fate befell a Nimbus satellite. A final nuclear accident occurred in 1970 when the Apollo 13 moon lander plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

While Soviet failures center on nuclear reactors, the American ones have been with Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, devices that put out power through the natural decay of plutonium. The first American accident touched off an attempt to limit the dangers. Transit's power pack spread 17,000 curies of plutonium 238 throughout the atmosphere. To avert the problem, subsequent RTG.'s were wrapped in a thick metal shield that would stand up to the heat of atmospheric friction. The solution worked well in the next two accidents, according to Dr. Gary L. Bennett of the Energy Department. The power pack from the Nimbus satellite was recovered intact from the Santa Barbara channel off California, and the one from Apollo 13 today rests unopened in Tonga Trench of the Pacific.

Yet unacceptable dangers still remained, according to the General Accounting Office. In 1977 it found that ''emphasis on meeting time schedules and the intense interest in promoting the use of nuclear power in space have resulted in launches of nuclear-powered satellites despite unresolved questions of nuclear safety.'' To date the United States has launched 23 nuclear systems into orbit, while the Soviet Union has launched 18 satellites powered by nuclear reactors.

Critics such as the Progressive Space Forum say that the relative luck of both East and West cannot last much longer. ''Both countries are going in the direction of greater reliance on space nuclear power,'' said John Pike, a member of the Forum's national board, ''and the accidents are likely to increase.'' The gamble for the American program could be quite great, according to Mr. Pike. He said a Martin Marietta Company study of possible risks in launching a plutonium-powered satellite estimated that an accident could result in 40,000 fatal cases of lung cancer.

The Soviet Union, which has had its share of problems, has tried to avert catastrophe by redesigning space reactors. The crash of Cosmos 954 resulted in a 500-mile-long ''footprint'' of radioactive particles across the Canadian outback. The best way to avoid the danger, according to scientists in both the East and the West, is either to boost reactors into orbits high enough so that deadly fission products will have decayed by the time of reentry, or to build reactors so they totally disintegrate in the upper atmosphere. Shields are difficult to build because of pipes and control rods.

A radioactive dust cloud, according to Dr. David Buden of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, will eventually become quite dilute as it disperses in the atmosphere. ''The success of the method can be seen in the absence of excessive exposure following the re-entry of Cosmos 954, when the reactor is thought to have had at least 500,000 curies of fission product activity at shutdown,'' he said.

With the failure of Cosmos 1402, the Soviet Union revealed a new precaution. According to Dr. Oleg M. Belotserkovsky, director of the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute: ''The withdrawl of the fuel core with its radioactive fission products from the reactor insures guaranteed conditions for it to burn up in the dense strata of the atmosphere and for the materials to be dispersed into finely divided particles.''

The question is what happens to the radioactive dust. If it stays suspended in the upper atmosphere, it will eventually decay and become harmless. If, on the other hand, it soon drifts down to earth, entering the food chain and the lungs of humans, it might cause problems. According to the Progressive Space Forum, the long-lasting fission products of Cosmos 1402 are cesium and strontium, up to 50 curies of each. By interpolating from the damaging effects of fallout in the test of atmospheric nuclear weapons, the group estimates that the radioactivity from Cosmos 1402 could eventually result in cases of genetic damage, and anywhere from one to three deaths from radiationinduced cancer. This is a best estimate, and assumes that radioactivity will be distributed uniformly rather than concentrated in some way.

The chief frustration in the fallout calculations is that there is no easy way to know who is right, no way to know if the particles hang harmlessly in the atmosphere or enter the ecosystem and cause cancer. The problem was summed up by a Pentagon spokesman on the crash of Cosmos 1402: ''There's no license plate on this stuff, so we don't know who causes the increase in radioactivity after a while.'' (William J. Broad, The New York Times, Feb. 8, 1983 – edited)


A Cold Look at the Cosmos

(By Jerry Hannifin, Frederic Golden and Bob Buderi)

"The scientists are walking three feet in the air. They're absolutely ecstatic." So said a NASA spokesman last week as data began pouring down from one of the most unusual instruments ever launched into space. The cause of the jubilation is a one-ton cylindrical-shaped object called the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, or IRAS. A first of its kind, the solar-powered spy in the sky will literally show the Universe in a new light.

Peering into the heavens from its orbital perch, the $180 million robot observatory "sees" infrared light, or heat waves, a form of radiation totally beyond the range of human vision (and that of most living things other than rattlesnakes). Even cold objects radiate some heat, making it possible for IRAS to sense celestial bodies that are all but undetectable in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Until now such observations have been made with extreme difficulty. Since water in the Earth's atmosphere absorbs most infrared light, astronomers had to send up instrument-packed balloons and rockets, go aloft in specially equipped planes or perform infrared work in high-altitude observatories like the one atop Hawaii's 14,000-ft. Mauna Kea volcano. But thanks to some extremely innovative, indeed, out of this world, engineering, IRAS bypasses the obscuring atmosphere entirely.

To prevent its own heat, as well as that of space, from interfering with observations of far-off infrared sources, IRAS' sensitive electronic devices must be kept supercold. The telescope's array of detectors, plus its primary lens, a 22-in. mirror, are tucked inside a thermos bottle-like vessel filled with pressurized liquid helium, which keeps the entire mechanism at 4° above absolute zero (—459.7° F). The detectors are so responsive they could spot a tiny electric bulb on the planet Pluto, nearly 4 billion miles away.

Such sensitivity poses hazards. A fleeting, accidental glance at the sun or the earth could burn out the telescope. Even the strong reflected light of the moon or a bright planet like Jupiter would ruin the observations. For protection, IRAS has a highly polished gold-plated sun shield. But its main insurance is its precise course. Circling the Earth once every 103 minutes at an altitude of 560 miles in an orbit that carries it from pole to pole, IRAS roughly follows the line on the earth's surface where day meets night. Along this pathway, the telescope can always face 90° away from the sun, yet catch rays of sunlight on its solar panels to make electricity to power itself.

A decade in the planning, the telescope was built and launched in the U.S., while the rest of the spacecraft comes from The Netherlands. Twice a day IRAS' recorded observations, stored on tape by its computers, are "dumped" in a burst of radio signals as it passes above a ground station at Chilton, England. The signals are retransmitted via a communications satellite to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California for detailed computer analysis.

In orbit since Jan. 25, the satellite became operational last week when, on command from the British tracking station, the telescope's cover was successfully exploded away. Two quick test scans produced such a flood of data that cheering broke out in the Chilton control room. Said Caltech's Gerry Neugebauer, IRAS' co-chief scientist, "Everything is going even better than we thought it would."

This week IRAS begins the first formal infrared survey of the entire sky, which should become an important guide for future observations. Before it exhausts its helium supply, the telescope is expected to spot as many as a million heavenly objects. IRAS will observe young cool stars now hidden behind veils of tiny dust particles that block ordinary light. It will also study old stars near the end of their lives. Such observations could help clarify the mysteries of stellar birth and death. Closer to home, it may spot the long-sought Planet X, which some astronomers suspect is lurking beyond Pluto.

The orbiting eye should also help establish the true size of our Milky Way galaxy and discover distant galaxies and quasars. By identifying unknown sources of energy and adding data on the Universe's mass, IRAS may help settle the grandest question of all: whether the Universe will expand indefinitely or collapse upon itself under the remorseless tug of its own gravity.

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #212 on: 11/02/2013 06:10 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #213 on: 11/02/2013 06:14 pm »
AND PROBLEMS HEAT UP FOR SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER

Even while it took pride in the performance of the infrared telescope, NASA last week was confronted by new difficulties with the troubled Space Shuttle Challenger. Standing forlornly on its Florida pad since Nov. 30, the gleaming $1 billion orbiter will probably not be launched before mid-March at the earliest, two months late. Reason: a hazardous hydrogen leak required the removal last week of one of Challenger's three main rocket engines, a task never before attempted while a shuttle was still on the pad.

Using special sensors that can "sniff" the chemical signature of a gas, technicians traced the leak to a 3/4-in.-long crack in the hot-gas manifold, where hydrogen and oxygen are gathered under high pressure (4,400 Ibs. per sq. in.) before combustion. Undiscovered, the leak might have caused an explosion. This week technicians hope to install a new engine, trucked from the National Space Technology Laboratories in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

NASA last week decided to forgo a test firing of the new $30 million engine. Two other test firings, at $1.5 million each, have already taken place. But the space agency still must weigh new quality-control procedures. The crack that ultimately caused the leak was discovered during the engine's manufacture at Rockwell International's Rocketdyne plant in Canoga Park, Calif. The crack was welded, but it was not considered necessary to take the additional step of hardening the weld (cost: about $200,000). Now the space agency faces extra bills totaling about $4 million, to say nothing of irritated customers waiting impatiently on the sidelines for Challenger's lift-off. (Time, Feb 14, 1983 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #214 on: 11/02/2013 06:18 pm »
February 11: LEAK SOURCE FOUND – STS-6 MARCH LAUNCH SET
Discovery of a small crack in the combustion chamber manifold of the No. 1 main engine on the orbiter Challenger has cleared the way for an early-March launch of STS-6. On January 29, KSC spokesman Dick Young reported that technicians had found the hairline crack, about 3/4 of an inch long, in the main combustion chamber of engine 2011, which is at the top of the triangular array of three main engines. Analysis showed the crack to be the major source of excess hydrogen which accumulated in the engine compartment during two Flight Readiness Firings in December and January for the new orbiter.

Based on otherwise satisfactory performance of the engines during the two firings, officials have ruled out the need for a third FRF before launch. Engine 2011 was removed at the pad February 4 and taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. There its High-Pressure Oxidizer Turbopump was removed and installed on the replacement engine, 2016, which arrived from Mississippi the same day. The nozzle on Challenger’s No. 3 engine was also removed and replaced with the nozzle from engine 2011. Engine 2016 was inspected in the VAB and taken to the pad, where it was installed on Challenger Wednesday (Feb. 9).

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #215 on: 11/02/2013 06:21 pm »
Another milestone occurred during the week when the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and its Inertial Upper Stage booster were transported back to the pad on Friday (Feb.4) and installed in the Payload Changeout Room the following day. The payload has been to Pad 39A once before, but was removed and taken back to the Vertical Processing Facility on January 15 when the decision was made to conduct the second engine firing.

On Tuesday (Feb. 8), engineers picked up a critical test to verify the shuttle’s ability to communicate with and receive commands from Houston. In parallel with the test, payload test conductors verified communications links between TDRS and the primary backup Payload Operations Control Centers. During the all-day Mission Control Interface Test, Houston flight controllers sent commands to Challenger’s guidance computers through a satellite link between Challenger, the Merritt Island Tracking Station and Mission Control. Air-to-ground voice checks were also performed.

The Inertial Upper Stage checks were also completed during the week, and hydrazine was scheduled to be loaded into the TDRS spacecraft beginning today. (JSC Space News Roundup, Feb. 11, 1983; USA Today, Jan. 30 / Feb. 9, 1983; NASA STS-6 Press Kit – edited)
« Last Edit: 11/02/2013 06:22 pm by Ares67 »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #216 on: 11/02/2013 06:25 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #217 on: 11/02/2013 06:28 pm »

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #218 on: 11/02/2013 06:29 pm »
NASA BUDGET PLAN TOTALS $7.1 BILLION FOR 1984
NASA’s budget plan for Fiscal Year 1984 reflects a four percent increase over last year, for an overall budget of $7.1 billion. Major features of the budget include spending of $5.7 billion on research and development, $150 million on construction of facilities and $1.2 billion for research and program management. Under the plan, the JSC budget will be $204,618,000 – an increase of about $9.4 million. The total number of permanent civil service positions at JSC will remain at 3,293, the same as FY ’83.

“This is a constrained budget consistent with the serious fiscal and budgetary situation facing the nation,” said NASA Administrator James M. Beggs. “Nevertheless, it reflects the President’s renewed commitment to a strong national space and aeronautics program as outlined in his two important policy statements on space and aeronautics last year.”

Some 61% of the $5.7 billion, or $3.5 billion, requested for research and development would be earmarked for the Space Transportation System, including shuttle production and operations, upper stages, Spacelab and the proposed new Tethered Satellite System and for other support equipment and launch vehicles. “The division of the $3.5 billion reflects the continuing trend begun last year, to spend relatively more on operations and relatively less on capability development,” Beggs said.

The budget will support a schedule of five shuttle flights in FY ’83 and eight to nine flights in FY ’84, as well as the completion of OV-104, the Atlantis, and the acquisition of orbiter structural spares to support the four-orbiter fleet. The budget contains four initiatives, Beggs said, with budget requests totaling more than $50 million. These include:

- the Tethered Satellite System, a cooperative U.S.-Italian project designed to provide a new capability for conducting experiments in the upper atmosphere by suspending scientific payloads from the shuttle at distances of up to 100 kilometers.

- the Venus Radar Mapper, a lower cost version of the Venus Orbiting Imaging Radar, which will map the surface of Venus using radar mapping techniques.

- the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite, a project to develop and flight test advanced technology for satellite communications.

- the Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation project, a large computer system for use with aircraft design methods which would have the potential of cutting down on lengthy and expensive wind tunnel time and flight testing.

With Congressional approval, the budget will also support continued development of the Space Telescope, the Galileo orbiter and probe for launch to Jupiter in 1986, and the Gamma Ray Observatory in 1988. Funds will also be allocated for continued support of the planetary explorations by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, Pioneers 6 through 11, and Voyagers 1 and 2. (JSC Space News Roundup, Feb. 11, 1983 – edited)

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Re: Challenger STS-6 – A Walk into History
« Reply #219 on: 11/02/2013 06:34 pm »
NASA at 25 – Manned Spacecraft Center Renamed Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago next week, legislation was enacted which renamed the former Manned Spacecraft Center in honor of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson. The resolution to rename the center was introduced by Senators Lloyd Bentsen of Texas and Robert Byrd of West Virginia shortly after Johnson’s death in early 1973.

“Just as the Houston facility is a physical center of the space program,” Bentsen said in a statement before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, “Lyndon Johnson was, perhaps, the spiritual center of it. What better way to honor him, to reflect the new mood of the space effort, than to rename the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.” Official dedication ceremonies were held several months later, in August 1973. At the time of the dedication, the second Skylab crew had just surpassed the 28-day flight duration record set on the first manned Skylab mission.

During his tenure in the Senate, Johnson was a major force behind the formation of an organized space effort and later was one of the strongest supporters of NASA and space exploration. He believed that a nation which could tap its pioneering spirit through great deeds could ultimately benefit its citizens and the world. On May 6, 1958, he told a Senate committee: “Space affects all of us and all that we do, in our private lives, in our business, in our education, and in our government. We shall succeed or fail in relation to our national success at incorporating the exploration and utilization of space into all aspects of our society and the enrichment of all phases of our life on this Earth.”

Ten years later, as the U.S. was preparing for the first flights to the Moon, Johnson told a crowd gathered in Houston: “We do not build rockets and spacecraft to fly our flag in space or to plant our banner on the surface of the Moon. Instead, we work and we build and we create to give all mankind its last great heritage. We are truly reaching for the stars.” (JSC Space News Roundup, Feb. 11, 1983 – edited)

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