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March 25, 2013 - Smart Saturn

Smart Saturn Fifty years ago this week, this Saturn I rocket made a suborbital flight and proved it was smart enough to overcome a potentially catastrophic in-flight anomaly. The SA-4 mission was a milestone in the Apollo program because it was the final test of a single-stage Saturn launch vehicle. In addition, flight engineers put the first stage (seen here building up thrust on the launch pad prior to liftoff) through its most critical test to date, intentionally shutting down one of its eight engines one hundred seconds after launch to simulate an in-flight engine failure. The vehicle responded quickly, redirecting fuel to the remaining functioning engines and adjusting their burn time to make up for the lost thrust. Such an emergency procedure actually had to be employed during the Apollo 13 launch.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

March 25-31, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 25

Passover begins at sunset

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched
2014: Soyuz TMA-12M launched carrying ISS Expedition 39/40 crew

Moon phase Tuesday 26

2009: Soyuz TMA-14 launched carrying ISS Expedition 19/20 crew

Moon phase Wednesday 27

Full Moon 5:27 AM ET

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission

Moon phase Thursday 28

Venus in superior conjunction
Spica 0.005° south of Moon

1802: Heinrich Olbers discovers asteroid Pallas
1963: Fourth Saturn C-1 rocket (SA-4) launched
2013: Soyuz TMA-08M launched carrying ISS Expedition 35/36 crew

Moon phase Friday 29

Good Friday

Saturn 3° north of Moon

1807: Heinrich Olbers discovers Vesta
1974: Mariner 10 first Mercury flyby
1989: Starfire 1 launched
2006: ISS Expedition 13 crew launched

Moon phase Saturday 30

Moon phase Sunday 31

Easter Sunday

Moon at perigee
Mercury at greatest elongation (28° W)

1962: NASA approves final design of Gemini spacecraft
1982: Kvant module launched to Mir space station
1997: Pioneer 10 mission officially ends

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