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May 4, 2009 - Magellan Sets Sail

Magellan Sets Sail  The STS-30 crew wasted no time getting to work during its four-day mission twenty years ago this week. Less than four hours after the space shuttle Atlantis reached orbit, its crew of five astronauts released the Magellan spacecraft from the shuttle’s cargo bay.  About an hour after deployment, with Atlantis at a safe distance, the Inertial Upper Stage rocket attached to Magellan fired, sending the spacecraft out of Earth orbit toward a rendezvous with Venus, where it would spend more than four years mapping Earth’s cloud-shrouded neighbor. Magellan was the first American planetary mission in eleven years and the first launched from a shuttle. Between 1989 and 1994, Magellan made radar maps of more than ninety-eight percent of the surface of Venus.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 4-10, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Monday 4

Saturn 6° north of Moon

1967: Lunar Orbiter IV launched
1989: STS-30 Atlantis launched, releases Magellan spacecraft
2002: Aqua satellite launched

Tuesday 5

Cinco de Mayo

Eta Aquarid meteor shower

1961: Freedom 7 suborbital flight; Alan Shepard is first American in space

Wednesday 6

Mars 0.5° south of Uranus
Venus appears stationary

1968: Neil Armstrong ejects safely from Lunar Landing Research Vehicle before it crashes
1975: NASA announces that Canada will build the Shuttle robot arm

Thursday 7

Mercury appears stationary

1992:STS-49 Endeavour launched

Friday 8

Saturday 9

Full Moon 12:01 am

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

Sunday 10

Mother’s Day

Antares 0.6° south of Moon

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

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