Five years ago today — November 15, 2008 — the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying equipment and materials for the International Space Station.
(View from inside Endeavour of part of an ISS truss solar panel against the backdrop of Earth. Thanksgiving eve, 2008. NASA image.)
The STS-126 crew — Christopher J. Ferguson, Eric A. Boe, Sandra H. Magnus, Stephen G. Bowen, Donald R. Pettit, Robert S. (Shane) Kimbrough and Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper — spent over 2 weeks in space making modifications to the ISS. By the time they undocked to head back to Earth, leaving Magnus on the ISS and bringing Gregory E. Chamitoff home with them, they had installed an additional bathroom and waste processing system in order for the station to support six residents at a time. They also took part in four spacewalks, primarily to repair joints on the ISS solar arrays.
First, a little space history that I didn’t catch the first time around: 35 years ago this week, the Soviet Union sent two missions to Venus from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
(Venera lander, or “descent craft.” Image from the National Space Science Data Center.)
The first of the two, Venera 11, consisted of a flyby platform and a lander (“descent craft”), and launched on September 9, 1978. The second, Venera 12, also consisted of a flyby platform and a lander, and launched on September 14th. Venera 12’s course got it to Venus four days ahead of Venera 11: the Venera 12 lander reached the surface of Venus on December 21, 1978, and the Venera 11 lander followed on Christmas day.
And to follow up on one of my earliest space history posts which noted the launch, 20 years ago today, of the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-51: 5 years ago when I wrote that entry, I had no idea that a little over a year later I would meet one of the STS-51 astronauts, Frank L. Culbertson, Jr., at a NASA Industry-Education Forum. He was a very pleasant fellow, and well met.
Life can be weird and wonderful.
Five years ago today — September 6, 2008 — a Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg AFB carrying a privately-owned remote sensing satellite.
(GeoEye 1. Image from the Satellite Imaging Corporation web page.)
Despite being privately owned and operated, one of GeoEye 1‘s main customers for its multi-spectral images is the Department of Defense. You can see a selection of GeoEye imagery in this gallery.
And on the same day that GeoEye 1 launched, the Chinese launched two environmental monitoring satellites, Huan Jing 1A and Huan Jing 1B, from the Taiyuan launch site on a Long March 2C rocket.
So, 5 years ago today was a good day for remote sensing!