May 7, 2012 - Getting a Grip on INTELSAT

Getting a Grip on INTELSAT The first flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, launched twenty years ago this week, was a resounding success. One of the primary objectives of the STS-49 mission was to capture and repair the INTELSAT VI communications satellite, which had been stranded in a low orbit for over two years. Astronauts Pierre Thuot and Richard Hieb made two spacewalks to try attaching a specially-designed capture bar to the slowly spinning satellite. On their third attempt, they were joined by astronaut Tom Akers, and were able to grab the satellite using nothing more elaborate than a firm grip. After being berthed in Endeavour’s cargo bay, INTELSAT VI was outfitted with a new perigee-kick motor, which later boosted the satellite into its proper geosynchronous orbit.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 7-13, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 7

1992: STS-49 Endeavour launched

Tuesday 8

Wednesday 9

Pluto 0.9° north of Moon

2003: Hayabusa launched, first mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid

Thursday 10

1967: M2-F2 lifting body crash-lands; footage later becomes opening scene of “The Six Million Dollar Man”

Friday 11

1974: SMS-1 launched, first geostationary weather satellite
2009: STS-125 Atlantis launched, fifth and final Hubble servicing mission

Saturday 12

Last Quarter Moon 5:47 PM ET

1930: Adler Planetarium opens, first planetarium in Western Hemisphere

Sunday 13

Mother's Day

Jupiter in conjunction with Sun
Neptune 6° south of Moon

1964: Apollo A-001 launched (Little Joe II test flight)

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