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January 9, 2012 - Hitching a Ride Home

Hitching a Ride Home After having spent 118 days on the Mir space station, astronaut John Blaha caught a ride home on the space shuttle Atlantis. Launched fifteen years ago this week, STS-81 was the fifth flight to the Russian space station. In addition to ferrying Blaha back home and leaving astronaut Jerry Linenger to take his place, the crew of Atlantis returned with the first plants to complete a life cycle in space—a crop of wheat grown from seed to seed—and they transferred six tons of supplies and equipment between the shuttle and Mir. This image of Mir, taken by the STS-81 crew, shows the various modules that were joined to the core module to form the space station complex. At the far right is the orange docking module that allowed space shuttles to join up with Mir on nine separate occasions.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

January 9-15, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 9

Full Moon 2:30 AM ET

1839: Thomas Henderson publishes distance to Alpha Centauri
1968: Surveyor 7 lands on Moon
1990: STS-32 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 10

1946: U.S. Army bounces radar signal off the Moon
1969: Venera 6 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 11

1978: First triple docking: Soyuz 26, Soyuz 27, Salyut 6
1996: STS-72 Endeavour launched
1998: Lunar Prospector arrives at Moon

Moon phase Thursday 12

1986: STS-61C Columbia launched
1997: STS-81 Atlantis launched
2005: Deep Impact spacecraft launched

Moon phase Friday 13

Venus 1.2° south of Neptune

1610: Galileo discovers Ganymede, moon of Jupiter
1978: NASA selects first women astronauts
1993: STS-54 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Saturday 14

Mars 9° north of Moon

1975: Earth Resources Technology Satellite is renamed Landsat
2005: Huygens probe lands on Titan
2008: MESSENGER spacecraft makes its first flyby of Mercury

Moon phase Sunday 15

1973: Luna 21 lander and Lunokhod 2 rover land on Moon
1976: Helios 2 launched
2006: Stardust spacecraft returns samples of comet dust

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.