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September 12, 2016 - M Equals 1

M Equals 1  Lifting off into a two-second launch window aboard a Titan II rocket fifty years ago this week, Gemini XI was the ninth crewed Gemini flight, sending astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Dick Gordon into low-Earth orbit to perform a docking maneuver with an Agena target vehicle (seen above). This maneuver had been successfully performed by four previous Gemini teams, but Conrad and Gordon had the trickier objective of rendezvousing and docking with the drifting upper stage during their very first orbit—a scenario known as “M=1.” Practicing the skills that would eventually be needed to dock the Apollo lunar module and command module in lunar orbit, the astronauts successfully completed the M=1 maneuver eighty-five minutes after launch, and with plenty of propellant to spare.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

September 12-18, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 12

Mercury in inferior conjunction

1959: Luna 2 launched
1966: Gemini XI launched
1970: Luna 16 launched
1991: STS-48 Discovery launched
1992: STS-47 Endeavour launched
1993: STS-51 Discovery launched

Moon phase Tuesday 13

1977: Second glide test of Space Shuttle Enterprise
1978: Venera 12 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 14

1966: Gemini XI, docked with Agena booster rocket, reaches 850-mile-high orbit

Moon phase Thursday 15

Neptune 1.2° south of Moon

1965: “Lost in Space” premieres
1968: Zond 5 launched, first circumlunar spaceflight with living creatures (tortoises)
2016: Tiangong-2 space station launched
2017: Cassini mission ends with planned entry into Saturn’s atmosphere

Moon phase Friday 16

Full Moon 3:05 PM ET

1848: First observation of Hyperion, moon of Saturn
1996: STS-79 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Saturday 17

Venus 3° north of Spica

1789: William Herschel discovers Mimas
1857: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky born
1930: Ed Mitchell born
1959: First powered flight of X-15
1976: First rollout of space shuttle Enterprise

Moon phase Sunday 18

Moon at perigee
Uranus 3° north of Moon

1964: Saturn SA-7 launched
1977: Voyager 1 takes photo of Earth and Moon together in space
2006: Anousheh Ansari becomes first woman space tourist
2013: Cygnus 1 supply ship launched to ISS

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