November 21, 2011 - Spy in the Sky

Spy in the Sky Twenty years ago this week, the space shuttle Atlantis was launched on a mission for the Department of Defense. The main objective of the STS-44 mission was the deployment of the Defense Support Program satellite, a surveillance satellite designed to detect nuclear detonations and missile launches from its stationary perch in geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the equator. At the end of the seven-day mission, Atlantis and its crew of six astronauts landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Seen here during post-flight processing, Atlantis is being hoisted on top of one of NASA’s two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, specially modified 747s that can ferry shuttles in piggyback fashion back to Florida. The large gantry-like structure is known as the Mate-Demate Device.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

November 21-27, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 21

Moon phase Tuesday 22

Saturn 7° north of Moon

1989: STS-33 Discovery launched

Moon phase Wednesday 23

Moon at perigee

1977: Meteosat 1 launched
1983: 149-day Salyut 7 mission ends
2002: STS-113 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Thursday 24

Thanksgiving Day

Mercury appears stationary

1947: First Aerobee rocket launch
: STS-44 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Friday 25

New Moon 1:10 AM ET

1970: First powered flight of M2-F3 lifting body

Moon phase Saturday 26

Mercury 1.7° south of Moon
Venus 3° south of Moon

1965: France becomes third nation to launch a satellite
1975: Final X-24B lifting body flight
1985: STS-61B Atlantis launched
1989: Kvant 2 module launched
2011: Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity launched

Moon phase Sunday 27

First Sunday in Advent

1885: First photo of a meteor shower
: Mars 2 probe becomes first artificial object to hit Mars
1997: Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission launched

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