Liftoff to Learning:
|Video Title: Voyage of Endeavour - Then and Now
Video Length: 19:05
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During the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, astronauts compare the technology for spaceflight with the technology used during the 18th century voyage of Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour.
Subjects: Comparison of the vessels and voyages of the seagoing Endeavour and the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour's First Flight
The maiden flight of NASA's newest Space Shuttle, Endeavour, captured the excitement, spirit, and flexibility of manned spaceflight. The seven-member crew experienced a roller coaster of emotions throughout their nine-day flight while trying to capture the stranded INTELSAT Vl satellite and perform an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) to evaluate Space Station Freedom construction techniques.
In March 1990, the INTELSAT Vl F-3 communications satellite was carried to space by a commercial Titan launch vehicle. A problem with the upper stage vehicle stranded the satellite in a 560-kilometer-high orbit instead of deploying it in its planned geostationary orbit of 36,000 kilometers above Earth. Since its failed launch, the 4,064 kilogram communications satellite had been orbiting Earth in an orbit unusable for communications.
One of the primary objectives of the STS-49 mission was to capture INTELSAT and fit it with a new rocket motor. Once attached, the new motor would propel the satellite to its proper orbit where it would begin service by providing a relay link for the equivalent of 120,000 two-way simultaneous telephone calls and three television channels. The capture would be an even greater challenge since INTELSAT was not designed to be retrieved by the Space Shuttle.
After the trouble-free launch of Endeavour, flight controllers in Washington, D.C. commanded the INTELSAT satellite to fire its thrusters for the first of four maneuvers to lower and circularize the spacecraft's orbit. The Endeavour crew also performed maneuvers to begin closing the distance between the orbiter and the satellite. During the first three days of the mission, while Dan Brandenstein and Kevin Chilton maneuvered Endeavour, other crew members completed checkout of the four Extravehicular Mobility
Units (EMUs) to be used during the unprecedented three planned spacewalks. Led by Bruce Melnick, the crew also checked out the orbiter's 1 5-meter-long Remote Manipulator System (RMS), or robot arm, that would be used in the capture of INTELSAT.
The first attempt to capture the stranded satellite occurred on the fourth day of the mission. Two crew members in EMUs, Pierre Thuot poised at the end of the RMS and Rick Hieb positioned in the orbiter payload bay, planned to attach a capture bar which would provide a grapple fixture for later use by the RMS. However, the satellite proved to be more sensitive to external forces than previously thought. After several attempts at capture, Endeavour maneuvered away so that the satellite could be stabilized prior to the next attempt.
Additional attempts on the fifth day again proved unsuccessful. Although the satellite was stabilized after the first attempt, the capture bar still was unable to grab hold. The crew was then given one day off before attempting a third try. During the day off, the crew suggested a plan to use three crew members to grab and hold the satellite by hand. Although a three-person EVA had never been attempted before, a team of flight controllers, engineers, and fellow astronauts on the ground developed, evaluated, and verified the entire procedure in one day.
Throughout the day, between rescue attempts, the crew was busy with a variety of activities. In addition to participating in the development of the rescue plan for INTELSAT, they conducted medical tests evaluating the human body's performance in microgravity.
The public interest and excitement about the mission began to grow after the first rescue attempt. NASA received a deluge of suggestions on possible ways for the crew to grab the satellite. These ideas included: using magnets attached to the EVA crew member's feet, using bungee cords, lassoing the satellite, using a large glove-like device to haul in INTELSAT, and applying velcro to the satellite.
The third attempt at capture added crew member Tom Akers to the original team of Thuot and Hieb in the first ever three-person EVA. The crew members positioned themselves 120 degrees apart in the orbiter's payload bay, forming three stable legs for the capture. Commander Brandenstein gently maneuvered Endeavour directly under the 4,064 kilogram satellite so that the three crew members could reach up and grab it by hand. Hieb and Thuot attached the grapple fixture as Akers continued to stabilize the satellite. Then, Melnick, operating the orbiter's robot arm, was able to complete the grapple of the satellite.
Following capture, the satellite rescue operation proceeded as planned. A new rocket motor was connected to the INTELSAT satellite, and the satellite was sent to geostationary orbit. This third EVA was the first time more than two EVAs were conducted on a Shuttle mission. It was also the longest EVA in history, 8 hours 29 minutes, surpassing the record of 7 hours 37 minutes held by the Apollo 17 astronauts.
Still, STS-49 was not finished breaking records. With Endeavour performing almost flawlessly, NASA mission managers decided to extend the mission two days to complete more mission objectives and allow the crew enough time to prepare for landing. This allowed two crew members, Tom Akers and Kathy Thomton, to perform the Assembly of Station by EVA Methods (ASEM) experiment, the fourth EVA on the flight and another first. The spacewalkers built a pyramid-shaped truss structure and then docked a pallet to it using Endeavour's robot arm operated by Bruce Melnick - thus simulating the installation of a crew module node to a space station truss structure. These activities took longer than had been estimated prior to the mission and pointed to the need for further evaluation of assembly concepts in-orbit. The crew also tested a self-rescue device for an EVA crew member who may become untethered from Space Station Freedom . Although originally scheduled for two EVAs and now limited to one, most of the objectives of ASEM were met by the INTELSAT spacewalks and this fourth spacewalk.
The STS-49 crew also conducted the middeck Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG) experiment. The CPCG experiment provides a means of producing large, high-quality protein crystals. Larger, higher quality crystals can be grown in space due to the absence of distortions produced on the ground by gravity. Knowing the precise structure of these complex molecules provides the key to understanding their biological function.
Landing of Endeavour provided another first, the use of the orbiter drag chute which reduced landing roll-out distance and orbiter tire and brake wear. The drag chute was just one of many improvements made to Endeavour. Endeavour features updated avionics systems, mechanical systems, and modifications for future use as an Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO). Although not used on STS-49, the EDO modifications would allow Endeavour to remain in space for as long as 28 days.
The maiden flight of Endeavour included many firsts, but, above all, it demonstrated the flexibility of the Space Shuttle program and the ability of the ground control and flight crew team to rise to meet the challenges of space flight operations.
|Captain Cook's Endeavour||contents|
|NASA Orbiter-Naming Program||contents|
Booster - Small rocket used to raise satellites from low to high orbit.
Captain James Cook - Sea captain and explorer who commanded the English sailing ship Endeavour.
Commander - The leader and chief pilot of a Space Shuttle crew.
Endeavour- The name of a sailing ship commanded by Captain James Cook and the name of the newest Space Shuttle orbiter.
Geologist - Scientist who studies the physical processes that form the rock and soil of the solid portions of Earth.
INTELSAT - Communications satellite.
Mission Specialist - Astronaut who specializes in scientific experiments, payload handling, and spacewalking on Space Shuttle missions.
Oceanographer - Scientist who studies the physical processes at work in the world's oceans.
Pilot - Second in command of a Space Shuttle mission.
Sextant - Device that is used to measure angles of the Sun and stars in order to make latitude determinations.
International Space Station- NASA's planned international space station for the end of this century.
Star-tracker - Device for determining the position of Space Shuttle orbiters by measuring angles to selected stars.
Transit of Venus - An astronomical event in which the Sun, Venus, and Earth are in direct line so that the silhouette of Venus is seen crossing the disk of the Sun.
|Sine Curve Orbits
Demonstrate why orbital maps show orbits as sine curves by making out of white paper and tape a cylinder large enough to surround a world globe. Use the marker pen to draw a heavy line representing a Space Shuttle orbit. When viewed from the side, the line will appear to be straight. Using the scissors, cut the cylinder on the line you drew. Discard the upper part, and place the bottom part of the cylinder over the globe. Show that the cut edge of the paper represents an orbit. Next, separate the lower half of the cylinder along the taped edges and flatten out the paper. The orbit will now show as a sine curve.
Sailing/Space Ship Endeavour
Commander: Daniel C. Brandenstein (Capt., USN).
Pilot: Kevin P. Chilton (Lt. Col., USAF).
Mission Specialist: Richard J. Hieb
Mission Specialist: Bruce E. Melnick (Cmdr., USCG).
Mission Specialist: Kathryn C. Thorton (Ph.D.)
Mission Specialist: Thomas D Akers (Lt. Col., USAF).
Mission Specialist: Pierre J. Thuot (Cmdr., USN).
To obtain biographic information, click on highlighted names