December 14, 2009 - 1.5 Billion Mile Checkup

1.5 Billion Mile Checkup With only two of its six gyroscopes functioning properly, the aging Hubble Space Telescope suspended science operations in November 1999, while it awaited its third scheduled servicing mission. Launched ten years ago this week, the STS-103 mission was highlighted by twenty-four hours of spacewalks over three days to refurbish the ailing Hubble, which had traveled nearly 1.5 billion miles since its 1990 launch. In addition to replacing all six of Hubble’s gyroscopes, astronauts on board the shuttle Discovery installed an advanced computer that was twenty times faster and had six times more memory than its predecessor. Other enhancements included a new fine guidance sensor, new insulation, and a new solid-state data recorder to replace the old reel-to-reel one.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 14-20, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 14

Geminid meteor shower

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon

Moon phase Tuesday 15

1965: Gemini VI launched
1970: Venera 7 makes first landing on Venus
1984: Vega 1 launched to study Venus and Halley’s Comet
2003: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center opens

Moon phase Wednesday 16

New Moon 7:02 am

1857: E. E. Barnard born
1965: Pioneer 6 launched
1976: Last two Saturn V moon rockets donated to museums

Moon phase Thursday 17

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines

Moon phase Friday 18

Mercury 1.4° south of Moon
Mercury at greatest elongation (20° E)

1999: Terra spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 19

1960: MR-1A launched, first Mercury capsule
1961: CNES founded
1966: United Nations approves Outer Space Treaty
1999: STS-103 Discovery launched

Moon phase Sunday 20

Jupiter 0.6° south of Neptune
Moon at apogee

1904: Mount Wilson Solar Observatory founded
1972: Final M2-F3 lifting body flight
1978: Venera 12 lander lands on Venus
2009Soyuz TMA-17 launched carrying ISS Expedition 22/23 crew

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.