Tech History

January 23, 2003

Last Contact with Pioneer 10

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The last successful contact was made with the spacecraft Pioneer 10, one of the most distant man-made objects in the universe.

Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Saturn in 1976 and the orbit of Uranus in 1979. On June 13, 1983, the craft crossed the orbit of Neptune, the outermost planet, and so became the first human-made object to leave the proximity of the major planets of the Solar System. The mission came to an official end on March 31, 1997, when it had reached a distance of 67 AU from the Sun, though the spacecraft was still able to transmit coherent data after this date.

The final, very weak signal from Pioneer 10 was received on January 23, 2003 when it was 12 billion kilometers (80 AU) from Earth.Further attempts to contact the spacecraft were unsuccessful.

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Tech History

Columbia launches for last time

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Space Shuttle Columbia (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-102) was the first space-rated orbiter in NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet. It launched for the first time on mission STS-1 on April 12, 1981, the first flight of the Space Shuttle program. Over 22 years of service, it completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107 on February 1, 2003, resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.

Tech History

January 10, 1962

Saturn V announced

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NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.

The Saturn V (spoken as “Saturn five”) was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA between 1966 and 1973.The three-stage liquid-fueled launch vehicle was developed to support the Apollo program for human exploration of the Moon, and was later used to launch Skylab, the first American space station. The Saturn V was launched 13 times from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with no loss of crew or payload. As of 2016, the Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful (highest total impulse) rocket ever brought to operational status, and holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 140,000 kg (310,000 lb), which included the third stage and unburned propellant needed to send the Apollo Command/Service Module and Lunar Module to the Moon.