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May 8, 2017 - Fact Meets Fiction

Fact Meets Fiction  Fifty years ago this week, an experimental lifting body aircraft called the M2-F2 crashed during a test flight. The M2-F2, designed to test the aerodynamics of shuttle-like spacecraft, was carried aloft by a B-52 mother ship and released to glide back to a landing at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. On fifteen previous occasions it flew without a hitch, but on this flight pilot Bruce Peterson experienced a phenomenon known as “pilot induced oscillation.” He lost control of the wingless craft, which crashed on the dry lake bed. Miraculously, Peterson survived the incident. Footage of the actual crash later found its way into the opening sequence of the 1970s TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” creating the premise for the injured pilot to be rebuilt as a “bionic” man.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 8-14, 2017

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Monday 8

Juno appears stationary

Tuesday 9

2003: Hayabusa launched, first mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid

Wednesday 10

Full Moon 5:43 PM ET

1900: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin born
M2-F2 lifting body crash-lands; footage later becomes opening scene of “The Six Million Dollar Man”

Thursday 11

1974: SMS-1 launched, first geostationary weather satellite
2009: STS-125 Atlantis launched, fifth and final Hubble servicing mission

Friday 12

Moon at apogee

1930: Adler Planetarium opens, first planetarium in Western Hemisphere

Saturday 13

Saturn 3° south of Moon

1964: Apollo A-001 launched (Little Joe II test flight)

Sunday 14

Mother's Day

1973: Skylab launched
2009: Herschel and Planck space observatories launched
2010: STS-132 Atlantis launched

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