|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1972 - Quarter 1|
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Chelomei's preliminary draft project for the UR-700M launch vehicle and LK-700 spacecraft was reviewed by a government expert commission. Based on the decades worth of development and tens of billions or roubles required to realise the project, the state commission recommended that further work on manned Mars expeditions be deferred indefinitely.
By December 1970, there were four crews in training for two pairs of Soyuz spacecraft to be launched to test the Kontakt lunar rendezvous/docking system. The launches at that time were scheduled to occur after the missions to the Salyut 1 space station were completed. Soyuz Kontakt 1 would have been the active spacecraft of the first mission. References: 344 .
Soyuz equipped with the passive Kontakt rendezvous/docking system of the LK lunar lander. Would have docked with Soyuz Kontakt 1. References: 344 .
Sigurd A. Sjoberg was named Deputy Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Sjoberg succeeded Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., who was named Director of MSC January 14. References: 16 .
Over Pacific. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 278 .
Highly Eccentric Orbiting Satellite; particles and fields data. Fifth satellite of ESRO. Also registered as US object 1972-05A in A/AC.105/INF.248 with orbit 7835.4 min, 439 x 248160 km x 90.2 deg, category B. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 .
At the time of the cancellation of the MOL program in June 1969, the first manned mission was planned for early 1972. A crew of two would have spent thirty days in orbit operating sophisticated military reconnaisance equipment and other experiments. Walt Williams told Michael Cassutt that Jim Taylor would have commanded the first MOL flight, and given Williams's background in flight test operations, Mercury. and Gemini, that call was pretty much his at that time. As for the pilot, Al Crews, a holdover from the Dynasoar program, is considered by Cassutt as good a guess as any. References: 128 .
Soft landed on Moon; returned soil samples to Earth. Landed on Moon 21 February 1972 at 19:19:00 GMT, Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 56.50 E - Mare Fecunditatis. Luna 20 was placed in an intermediate earth parking orbit and from this orbit was sent towards the Moon. It entered lunar orbit on February 18, 1972. On 21 February 1972, Luna 20 soft landed on the Moon in a mountainous area known as the Apollonius highlands, 120 km from where Luna 18 had crashed. While on the lunar surface, the panoramic television system was operated. Lunar samples were obtained by means of an extendable drilling apparatus. The ascent stage of Luna 20 was launched from the lunar surface on 22 February 1972 carrying 30 grams of collected lunar samples in a sealed capsule. It landed in the Soviet Union on 25 February 1972. The lunar samples were recovered the following day. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 67 , 274 , 296 .
Not listed as failure by Martin but did not reach orbit. Possible spaceplane test? References: 5 .
Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On approval of work on the draft project for the N1-L3M two-launch lunar landing proposal' was issued. References: 474 .
Decree 'On work on the technical proposal for the creation of the MOK' was issued. References: 474 .
Soyuz Kontakt 3 would have been the active spacecraft of the second dual launch to test the Kontakt lunar orbit rendezvous system. References: 344 .
Soyuz equipped with the passive Kontakt rendezvous/docking system of the LK lunar lander. Would have served as a docking target for Soyuz Kontakt 3. References: 344 .
Jupiter flyby December 1973; first man-made object to leave solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on December 3, 1973, when it reached approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km). As of Jan. 1, 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. Additional Details: Pioneer 10. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 278 , 296 .
The Skylab rescue mission was a definite NASA commitment. The hardware, procedures, documentation, and training would need to be available immediately after the launch of Skylab 2 for a potential rescue mission. To accomplish this requirement, the rescue mission would be treated as a separate mission in the Skylab Program. The rescue mission would be established as a standing agenda item for major boards and panels, and its status would be reviewed on a regular basis with other missions.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On adoption of Tselina-O into armaments' was issued. References: 474 .
Venus atmospheric probe. The spacecraft took 117 days to reach Venus, entering the atmosphere on 22 July 1972. Descent speed was reduced from 41,696 km/hr to about 900 km/hr by aerobraking. The 2.5 meter diameter parachute opened at an altitude of 60 km, and a refrigeration system was used to cool the interior components. Venera 8 transmitted data during the descent and continued to send back data for 50 minutes after landing. The probe confirmed the earlier data on the high Venus surface temperature and pressure returned by Venera 7, and also measured the light level as being suitable for surface photography, finding it to be similar to the amount of light on Earth on an overcast day. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 64 , 296 .
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