A day late and a dollar short, as my Dad says, but I couldn’t leave out a launch I actually saw, could I?
Yesterday — January 25, 2009 — was the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Clementine mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. In 1994 I was stationed at Vandy as part of the Titan (launch vehicle) System Program Office, and we watched the Titan-II launch from the parking lot of our building. One of my office-mates — Deb Fort, with whom I was stationed years earlier at the Rocket Lab — worked facilities support for the mission.
Clementine, for those who don’t remember it, was also known as the Deep Space Program Science Experiment, and was “designed to test lightweight miniature sensors and advanced spacecraft components by exposing them, over a long period of time, to the difficult environment of outer space.” So says this Naval Research Lab page, and they should know since they built the thing.
The Clementine mission plays an important role in my novel, MARE NUBIUM, as it was the first mission to return data that indicated ice in craters at the lunar south pole. Even though subsequent data show the ice probably isn’t as plentiful as once thought, it still makes (in my opinion) a good prop for a story.
Fifty years ago today, on January 2, 1959, the Soviet Union launched its Luna-1 mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon, and the first to escape Earth’s gravity and go into orbit around the Sun as an “artificial planet.”
You can read more about Luna-1 at this NASA page.
With lunar exploration in mind, do you know of any editors or agents looking for a novel about lunar exploration and survival? If so, let me know or point them my way … I’ll be shopping my new novel around soon.
Forty years ago today, Apollo-7 splashed down in the Pacific after the first manned flight of the Apollo program. (See this blog post for more on the mission.)
That was then, and our mission. As for now, and their mission:
India made the next giant leap in its space program early Wednesday with the launch of the country’s first deep space mission, a probe to circle the moon with science gear from India, Europe and the United States.
(From Spaceflight Now)
The spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1, launched last night (in Zulu [Greenwich Mean] time, at 0052 Wednesday).
The probe flew into space aboard a beefed-up Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, a 146-foot-tall rocket originally built to haul Earth observation satellites into orbit.
And now it’s on its way. Congratulations and good luck!
If I ever — no, that’s too negative; make it “when I” — get back to work on my novel of lunar survival, which has been on hold for the past three weeks, I wonder if I can work any of this into it. Probably not, but at least it gets me thinking about it again.
Five years ago today, the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 mission was launched to the moon. SMART was an acronym for “Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology,” and the spacecraft tested solar electric propulsion technology on its way to the Moon. According to the ESA fact sheet on SMART-1, the spacecraft entered lunar orbit on November 15, 2004 — for those who didn’t know, electric ion thrusters don’t make for a particularly speedy trip — and after a one-year extension the mission ended on 3 September 2006 with a planned lunar impact.
As well as testing new technology, SMART-1 did the first comprehensive inventory of key chemical elements in the lunar surface. It also investigated the theory that the Moon was formed following the violent collision of a smaller planet with Earth, four and a half thousand million years ago.
And hopefully, relying on some of the latest lunar science observations will help make my novel MARE NUBIUM a little more realistic. Time will tell.
Now, back to work on the thing 😉 .