Fifty years ago in space history — August 7, 1959 — the Explorer-6 satellite launched from Cape Canaveral on a Thor Able rocket.
(Explorer-6 satellite. Click to enlarge. NASA image.)
Explorer-6 was small and spheroidal, with four solar array “paddles,” and was launched to study space radiation, cosmic rays, and other phenomena. It also carried “a scanning device designed for photographing the earth’s cloud cover,” according to this NASA page, and sent back the first crude television images of earth from space.
And 40 years ago today — on August 7, 1969 — the Soviet Union launched the Zond-7 circumlunar spacecraft from Baikonur on a Proton-K* rocket. Zond-7 performed a lunar flyby on August 11 and returned to earth on August 14, carrying color photographs it had taken of the Earth and the Moon.
We’ve come a long way in terms of imaging technology, with the new Kepler space observatory having “captured the light of a gas giant orbiting a star over a thousand light years away.” From the Spaceflight Now story, “Kepler [was] able to detect the light of the gas giant, determine its phases and know when it had vanished from view behind its sun.” Here’s an animation showing the light curve Kepler detected and its interpretation.
*It amazes me that the Proton rocket is still operating out of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and I’m thankful that I got to see those operations.
Cross-posted and expanded from the Space Warfare Forum: The top item on Spaceflight Now this morning was a single paragraph about Iran launching a satellite. I expect they’ll expand that as they get more information.
The Reuters story about the launch quotes the Iranian foreign minister saying the satellite was for “purely peaceful purposes,” but what else are they going to say? You think they’re going to say, openly, “Yes, we want to use our new satellite to look at the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and imagine what it will be like once we have destroyed the nation of Israel”?
Of course they say it’s for peaceful purposes.
Kudos to Reuters for pointing out that “The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used for launching weapons,” even though “Iran says it has no plans to do so.” Again, what else are they going to say? I just hope our government — and by that, I mean the upper echelons, outside the military — keep their eyes open as they consider the possibilities.
Finally, an invitation: If you or anyone you know is interested in space policy, space strategy, etc., you’re welcome to join the Space Warfare Forum.
As I type this, it’s not even 9 p.m., and I feel the need to go around the house and change all the clocks already.
Partly this stems from many years ago, when we showed up at church an hour late because we forgot the time change. Partly it stems from my own creeping forgetfulness.
What makes this annoying is that the change isn’t happening when it used to, but we have a nifty alarm clock that knows when it’s supposed to change and make the switch automatically. So, since Congress decided that it’s better to change the clocks earlier in the calendar, we’ll change that clock tonight only to have to change it again whenever the clock thinks the time has come.
Oh, the wonders of technology.