|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1999 - Quarter 1|
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The Roton large-scale Air Test Vehicle began flight tests to demonstrate the autorotation and rotor capabilities. Thereafter technical challenges and lack of sufficient investment seemed to stall the project and then kill the project.
The Mars Polar Lander was placed by the first burn of the second stage into a 157 x 245 km x 28.35 deg parking orbit. The second stage restarted at 20:55 GMT and shut down in a 226 x 740 km x 25.8 deg Earth orbit. The solid rocket third stage (a Star 48B with a Nutation Control System and a yo-yo despin device) then ignited and put the spacecraft into solar orbit, separating at 21:02 GMT. Mars Polar Lander was to land near the south pole of Mars on December 3, 1999, and conduct conduct a three month mission, trenching near its landing site and testing for the presense of frozen water and carbon dioxide. Attached were two Deep Space 2 Microprobes, penetrators which would impact the Martian surface separately from the lander and return data on subsurface conditions from widely spaced points.
When the spacecraft reached Mars on December 3, the lander separated from the cruise stage at 19:51 UTC and the two penetrators, Scott and Amundsen, were to separate about 20 seconds later. No further communications were ever received from the spacecraft. Landing had been expected at 20:01 UTC at 76.1S 195.3W, with the penetrators landing a few kilometres from each other at 75.0S 196.5W.
This failure resulted in a review and reassessment of NASA's 'faster, better, cheaper' approach to planetary missions.
Taiwan's first satellite, with experimental communications, ocean imagery, and ionospheric studies instruments. The Primex OAM placed itself and the payload into an elliptical transfer orbit. A second OAM burn circularized the orbit, and ROCSAT separated into a 588 x 601 km x 35.0 deg orbit.
Stardust was to fly within 100 km of comet 81P/Wild-2 in January 2004 and recover cometary material using an aerogel substance. A return capsule would land on a lake bed in Utah in January 2006, returning the material to earth. The launch went as planned. The second stage ignited at 21:08 GMT and its first burn put the vehicle into a 185 km x 185 km x 28 degree parking orbit at 21:14 GMT. The second stage second burn at 21:25 changed the orbit to planned values of 178 km x 7184 km x 28.5 degrees. The Star 37FM solid third stage ignited at 21:29 GMT and placed the spacecraft into a 2 year period solar orbit. The spacecraft separated at 21:31 GMT. Meanwhile, the Delta 266 second stage burned a third time on its own, until its propellants were depleted, entering a final orbit of 294 km x 6818 km x 22.5 degrees. The Stardust probe flew past Earth at a distance of 3706 km at 1115 GMT on January 15, 2001, and flew near the Moon at a distance of 98000 km at around 0200 GMT on January 16. The gravity assist flyby changed Stardust's heliocentric orbit from 0.956 x 2.216 AU x 0.0 deg to 0.983 x 2.285 AU x 3.7 deg.
The first launch of the Soyuz- Ikar launch vehicle, selected by Orbcomm after failure of the Zenit launcher. The Ikar upper stage was derived from the Yantar reconnaissance satellite's propulsion module. The Soyuz second stage separated at 8 minutes 48 seconds into flight after placing the Ikar into a 236 km x 884 km x 52.0 deg transfer orbit. The Ikar stage burned at the second apogee passage, at 06:23 GMT, and released the Globalstar satellite at the top of the dispenser into a 915 km x 947 km x 52.0 deg orbit at 07:27 GMT. The three remaining satellites mounted around the side of the dispenser were released into a 903 km x 946 km x 52.0 deg orbit. This was also the first launch carried out by the Starsem organization, a joint venture including Aerospatiale and TsSKB-Progress (the launch vehicle manufacturer). The dispenser was built by Aerospatiale/Aquitaine (Bordeaux).
Loral Skynet's Telstar 6 had a mixed C and Ku band communications payload. The Block DM3 upper stage released Telstar 6 in a 6638 km x 35,756 km x 17.4 degree geosynchronous transfer orbit. After the first burn of its on-board R-4D engine on February 18, Telstar 6 was in a 15,037 km x 35,800 km x 7.9 deg transfer orbit heading for its final geosynchronous slot at 93 deg W
JCSAT-6 carried a Ku-band relay system. It was operated by Japan Satellite Systems, Inc., Tokyo, provided communications and data relay for Japan and the Pacific Rim. Two burns of the Centaur upper stage placed it into a supersynchronous transfer orbit of 258 km x 96736 km x 24.1 degrees. JCSAT-6's on-board R-4D engine would maneuver it into its final geostationary location. Dry mass of the spacecraft was 1230 kg. Stationed at 124 deg E
Soyuz TM-29 docked with Mir on February 22 at 05:36 GMT. Since two crew seats had been sold (to Slovakia and France), Afansyev was the only Russian cosmonaut aboard. This meant that Russian engineer Avdeyev already aboard Mir would have to accept a double-length assignment. After the February 27 departure of EO-26 crew commander Padalka and Slovak cosmonaut Bella aboard Soyuz TM-28, the new EO-27 Mir crew consisted of Afanasyev as Commander, Avdeyev as Engineer and French cosmonaut Haignere. Follwoing an extended mission and three space walks, the last operational crew aboard Mir prepared to return. The station was powered down and prepared for free drift mode. The hatch between Mir and Soyuz was closed for the last time at 18:12 GMT on August 27, 1999. Soyuz TM-29 undocked from Mir at 21:17 GMT with Afanasyev, Avdeyev and Haignere aboard. The Mir EO-27 crew landed in Kazakhstan at 00:35 GMT on August 28. Afanasyev had set a new cumulative time in space record, but for the first time since September 1989 there were no humans in space. The only crew that might return to Mir would be one to deorbit it, and beyond that budgets indicated that no more than one Soyuz crew per year could be sent to the International Space Station.
ARGOS was a USAF Space Test Program P91-1 technology satellite, equipped with an ion engine, ionosphere, x-ray, and dust detectors. Much delayed, it finally was placed into orbit on the eleventh (!) launch attempt.
Denmark's Orsted gravity gradient stabilised satellite was to map the Earth's magnetic field. It was managed and operated by the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen. The satellite's prime contractor was CRI , Copenhagen.
Sunsat was built by students at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and carried a small imager and a message relay payload.
The Arab League satellite had 20 Ku-band transponders and was to be stationed at 26 degrees East. Dry mass was 1200 kg.
Skynet 4E was a SHF/UHF military communications satellite for the UK Ministry of Defense. Dry mass was 759 kg; it used a Thiokol Star 30 solid apogee motor. Stationed at 53 deg E.
Geosynchronous communications satellite, stationed at 35 deg E.
NASA's long-delayed WIRE (Wide Field Infrared Explorer) astronomy satellite was the fifth Small Explorer (SMEX) mission managed by NASA-Goddard. The L-1011 Stargazer launch aircraft took off from Vandenberg's runway 30/12 at 01:55 GMT on March 2 for the first launch attempt. The planned 02:56 GMT launch was cancelled at T-46 seconds due to a problem with the tail fin release mechanism of the Pegasus XL launch vehicle. The second attempt was successful, with the Pegaus XL being dropped at 36 degrees N x 123 degrees W over the Pacific Ocean at 02:56 GMT. However the WIRE ran into serious trouble shortly after orbit injection. The cover of the solid hydrogen telescope ejected prematurely, and the cryogenic coolant evaporated and vented, spinning the satellite out of control. WIRE was going to make an infrared photometry survey, generating a large catalog of galaxies and quasars. References: 4 .
X-38 atmospheric test vehicle V-132 was dropped from carrier plane NB-52 # 8 at 16:17 GMT. The V-132 subscale version of the X-38 successfully deployed its parafoil and glided to a landing on the lakebed after a 9 minute flight. V-132 tested the rudders and flaps; the simpler V-131, which made two drop tests earlier, tested the parafoil control system.
In the second Soyuz/Ikar launch four Globalstar satellites were delivered with the Ikar upper stage into a 235 km x 899 km x 52.0 degree transfer orbit. The Ikar stage then placed itself and its payload into a 897 km x 950 km x 52.0 degree deployment orbit. Satellite M022 was separated first from the top of the dispenser, followed by ejection of the other three satellites from the sides at 06:37 GMT. After dispensing the satellites, the Ikar deorbited itself on March 16.
A replacement for Asiasat 3, placed in the wrong orbit by a Proton launch in 1997, Asiasat 3S carried C and Ku band transponders. The Blok DM3 upper stage placed it a 9,677 km x 35,967 km x 13.1 deg geosynchronous transfer orbit. Asiasat's on-board R4D apogee engine was to be used to raise perigee to geostationary altitude. Mass in transfer orbit was 3,463 kg, down to 2,500 kg after insertion in geostationary orbit. Stationed at 105 deg E.
The first Boeing Sea Launch mission. The Zenit-3SL lifted off from the Odyssey floating platform on the equator at 154 degrees West longitude. The DemoSat payload was an instrumented dynamic model of an HS-702 satellite built by Boeing Commercial Space/Kent. 13 minutes after launch, the Block DM-SL upper stage completed its first burn and entered a 180 km x 735 km x 1.2 degree parking orbit. A second burn 47 minutes after launch placed DemoSat in a 638 km x 36,064 km x 1.2 degree geostationary transfer orbit. Three hours later, a third DM-SL burn lowered the stage's perigee so that it would re-enter quickly.
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