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January 27, 2014 - Free at Last

Free at Last   For nearly two decades after Alexei Leonov’s pioneering space walk in 1965, orbiting astronauts who ventured outside were always attached in some way to their spacecraft—either by umbilical hoses that carried oxygen, or by tethers that prevented them from accidentally floating away. Not until the STS-41B shuttle mission, launched thirty years ago this week, did spacewalking astronauts sever the ties that previously bound them. During the eight-day mission, astronauts Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart (shown here) each tested the Manned Maneuvering Unit, a backpack with nitrogen gas thrusters that the astronauts could operate with joysticks on the arm rests. At one point during McCandless’s spacewalk, he ventured nearly 100 meters (300 feet) from the safety of the shuttle.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

January 27 - February 2, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 27

1967: Apollo 1 astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffee die in cockpit fire on launch pad during test

Moon phase Tuesday 28

Mars 5° north of Spica
Venus 2° north of Moon

1611: Johannes Hevelius born
1986: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes, 7 astronauts die

Moon phase Wednesday 29

1964: SA-5 launched, first Saturn I Block 2 rocket
1989: Phobos 2 enters orbit around Mars

Moon phase Thursday 30

New Moon 4:39 PM ET
Moon at perigee

1964: Ranger 6 launched

Moon phase Friday 31

Chinese New Year

Mercury at greatest elongation (18° E)
Venus appears stationary

1958: Explorer 1 launched
1961: Mercury Redstone 2 suborbital flight with chimpanzee Ham
1966: Luna 9 launched
1971: Apollo 14 launched
1985: ESA approves the Columbus program

Moon phase Saturday 1

Mercury 4° south of Moon
Neptune 5° south of Moon

1956: Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) established
1959: First Titan I launch
2003: Space shuttle Columbia destroyed during reentry; 7 astronauts die

Moon phase Sunday 2

Groundhog Day

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