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November 12, 2012 - Suborbital Water Balloon

Suborbital Water Balloon In the early 1960s, it was clear that only a rocket with a cluster of engines would be powerful enough to send Apollo astronauts to the Moon. The Saturn I program, which gave NASA experience launching these giants, had its third test flight fifty years ago this week. The unmanned, eight-engine SA-3 vehicle had a fully-fueled first stage and two dummy upper stages filled with 109,000 liters (30,000 gallons) of water. The water was part of Project Highwater, an experiment to study how fuel released into the upper atmosphere would affect radio transmission and local weather conditions. At an altitude of 170 kilometers (105 miles), the upper stages were detonated, and within seconds ground observers witnessed a huge ice cloud estimated to be several kilometers in diameter.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

November 12-18, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 12

Saturn 4° north of Moon

1833: Great Leonid Meteor Shower
1980: Voyager 1 flies past Saturn
1981: STS-2 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 13

New Moon 5:08 PM ET
Total Solar Eclipse visible from Australia

1971: Mariner 9 becomes first spacecraft to orbit Mars
1978: Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) launched

Moon phase Wednesday 14

Moon at perigee

1969: Apollo 12 launched, second lunar landing mission
2008: STS-126 Endeavour launched
2011: Soyuz TMA-22 launched carrying ISS Expedition 29/30 crew

Moon phase Thursday 15

Venus 4° north of Spica

1738: William Herschel born
1973: First powered flight of X-24B lifting body
1988: Green Bank 300-foot radio telescope collapses
1988: Soviet Shuttle Buran launched

Moon phase Friday 16

Mars 4° south of Moon
Pluto 0.1° south of Moon

1962: Saturn SA-3 launched
1973: Skylab 4 crew launched on 84-day mission
1974: Interstellar message broadcast from Arecibo radio telescope
2009: STS-129 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Saturday 17

Leonid meteor shower
Mercury in inferior conjunction

1970: Luna 17 lands on Moon; Lunokhod 1 rover becomes first wheeled vehicle on Moon

Moon phase Sunday 18

Leonid meteor shower

1923: Alan Shepard born
1989: Cosmic Background Explorer launched

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