Tuesday, December 1, 2009

50 YA - November events

I apologize to anyone who wondered what was going on fifty years ago... with my busy schedule and the excitement of STS-129 I fell behind in my 50 YA blogging. So here's a recap of events that would have been put up last month...

Little Joe Test vehicle on 8/21/59. A launch on November 4th was similar to this. However, the escape rocket failed to eject the capsule on time.

On November 7, the DISCOVERER VII mission launched ok but the camera payload was not recovered.

On November 9th, an amazing event occurred- data from the EXPLORER VII space probe indicated that the entire Van Allen radiation belt surrounding the Earth, and only recently discovered, broke up and disappeared for several days!

On November 16th, Capt. Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr. made an extraordinary parachute jump from an open balloon gondola from an altitude of 76,400 feet!

On November 20, DISCOVERER VII again successfully launched its spy satellite into a polar orbit, but the capsule was not recovered.

On November 26, Pioneer P-3 blasted off from the Cape on an Atlas-Thor-Able combo rocket. Suddenly, at 45 seconds into the launch, the payload shroud tore away and exposed the lunar probe. At 104 seconds, the satellite and the third stage broke away from the rocket and were lost over the ocean.

On November 28/29, two balloon explorers (M. Ross and C.B. Moore) flew onboard the ONR STRATO-LAB HIGH IV balloon and operated a telescope to take measurements of water vapor in the atmosphere of venus. The observations were done at an altitude of 81,000 feet. The principle being used here was that the thin air of the upper atmosphere provided very good seeing for the telescope. Of course, this would eventually lead to placing telescopes in space itself.

Finally, on today's date, December 1, a dozen nations including the USA and the USSR formalized and signed the Antarctic Treaty promoting advanced scientific research while banning all military work on the Antarctic continent.

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