Frontier Status Report

Frontier Status Report #53

Frontier Status Report #53

July 11, 1997

Dale M. Gray

The High Frontier is reaping the benefits of past activity. Not since Apollo has the media spent so much time examining space activities. Mars Pathfinder has met and exceeded its goals on the red planet. Columbia orbits overhead conducting space science experiments. Mir slowly returns to a stable configuration as plans progress for the restoration of its power supplies. There were two launches: the repacked Progress 35 from Russia and a Delta II carrying five Iridium satellites from Vandenberg AFB.


The Shuttle Columbia Microgravity Science Laboratory mission continues to orbit the earth with around-the-clock experimentation in the SpaceLab module. The shuttle is slated for landing in Florida on July 17 after sixteen days in orbit (NASA).

On the ground, Discovery has been rolled to the Vehicle Assembly Building and has been joined with the ET and SRBs. The Shuttle will be rolled out to Pad 39A on July 14 in to prepare for a scheduled August 7 launch of the Crista-Spas-2 mission (NASA).


After the excitement of last week, the crew of Mir has brought the station into equilibrium and are preparing for an internal repair spacewalk. Toward that end, supplies delivered by the Progress M-35 spacecraft on July 7 are being unpacked. In addition, personal gear was sent to replace items left in the damaged Spektr module. To assure adequate preparation for the repair mission, the internal walk has been delayed one week to around July 18. In the interim, specialists and cosmonauts are working in a mockup of the Spektr module in the Hydrolab facility in Star City to develop procedures for the repair. The mission hinges on the successful replacement of a sixteen-inch drogue section in a thirty-two-inch docking hatch connected to Spektr with a custom-built hatch delivered by Progress M-35. The new hatch has twenty four electrical connections which will allow both the control of Spektr's solar panels and the transfer of electricity. Only ten of the connections are to be used; the remaining fourteen will serve as back-up and/or provide for future expansion. Connectors are of special design for use by bulky space-suit gloves. The US will provide vacuum-certified lights and connector tools. The operation is expected to last as long as six to seven hours (Flatoday; NASA; AW&ST).

The carbon dioxide removal system was taken off line for several days when a valve failed. A new valve was installed and the system restarted. The gyrodyne system was taken off line on July 7 during the docking of the Progress spacecraft. Because the attitude for docking was not optimal for the solar panels that powered the gyrodynes, the system was placed on standby and the station was controlled with thrusters (Flatoday; NASA).


The Mars Pathfinder spacecraft successfully bounced to a landing on Mars on July 4. The lander came to rest on its base petal. Air bags were deflated and winched in to clear a path for the rover Sojourner. When it was determined that one of the air bags had not cleared from the rover's path, the petal was extended and the air bag winched-in--clearing the path. A communications problem was also detected between the rover and the lander. This was cleared by turning off the modems and allowing them to reset. The problem may have been associated with a power spike that occurred when the high-gain antenna was deployed. Photographs from the lander and rover have been transmitted to Earth during the Martian day when the Earth is in direct line with the antenna. The rover successfully offloaded from the lander and has begun its task of analyzing the wide variety of rocks available at the landing site, which is in an immense flood channel. The first rock to be studied, Barnacle Bill, surprised scientists by having a make-up of Andesite, which is produced on Earth by volcanoes driven by plate tectonics. Most recently, the rover accidentally ran one wheel up on the rock named Yogi. Although the incident occurred at a heart-pounding two feet per minute, no damage occurred to rover or rock (ABC; NBC; CBS; Spacex, PBS; Flatoday).

It is ironic to note that the entire Pathfinder mission costs are around $250 million, including launch. The film Titanic, which will release later this year, cost almost $300 million (Robert Haynes-Peterson).


A Delta II rocket was launched from Vandenberg AFB on July 9. The successful deployment of five Iridium satellites raises the total for the constellation to seventeen or a quarter of the final fleet. Released into near polar orbits from 72 - 85 minutes after launch, the 1,445-pound satellites will eventually orbit at 421 nautical miles. The McDonnell-Douglas rocket performed without incident. The next Delta launch, on July 22, will be carrying a Global Positioning System 2R-2 satellite (Flatoday). JAPAN

Because of the deaths of 500 domestic birds, the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) may have to move one of their rocket test sites on Hokkaido Island. On May 16 the Agency ignited about 110 pounds of rocket propellant in a test. When the sound of the test reached a coop four miles away, the birds within ran to a corner of the enclosure and were crushed to death. Scientists theorize that low-level vibrations bounced off of a temperature inversion (AW&ST).


Following last week's loss of the Japanese Adeos-1 satellite, NASA is considering raising the orbit of its Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer/Earth Probe (TOMS/EP). This craft is collecting complementary data to that once collected by Adeos-1. The move will hopefully allow collection of some of the data now being lost. The craft has sufficient fuel to raise its orbit almost to that of the Adeos-1. In return, some lower-orbit data on aerosols and ozone will be lost. The next spacecraft to carry a NASA TOMS instrument will be the Russian Meteor-3M mission slated for 2000 (AW&ST).


Not since those heady days of Apollo has the nation's attention been drawn so attentively to space. While network news got off to a slow start, the 100 million hits on Mars Pathfinder Internet pages dramatically caught their attention. By July 5, the networks were devoting much of their news time to Pathfinder and the related stories of Mir and Columbia, and even dusted off older stories on Hubble. Meanwhile, two summer movies are also reflecting the increased interest in space. Space has come into its own.

While the public's attention span has never been long and this present interest will fade, this does not mean things will be back to normal, at least as far as space is concerned. Public interest faded after Apollo and again when the shuttle was first introduced. But lately something has changed--space has become an active frontier.

Frontiers, whether on the ground or in space, are economically driven. However, several non-economic "climatic" conditions affect the rate of their ignition and later their growth. These factors can be easily remembered as Technology, Legislation and Charisma (TLC). These function similarly to the fire triangle of Fuel, Heat and Oxygen. Any increase in these factors increases the flame or the frontier. Charisma for the space frontier has hit a new high-water mark. As a result of this media blitz and increased public interest, new deals will be struck, new lives will turn toward space for careers, new government programs in space will be considered and perhaps funded. The flood of space media coverage will surely pass--however, it will leave in its wake an increased climate of Charisma for the space frontier.


(Courtesy J. Ray, L. Cochrane, and R. Baalke)

  • Jul 16 - Classified mission K-18, Titan 4A, Vandenberg AFB
  • Jul 17 - Columbia, STS-94, Landing, Kennedy Space Center
  • Jul 18 - SeaStar, Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL, Vandenberg AFB
  • Jul 18 - Internal space walk, Mir space station.
  • Jul 22 - GPS 2R-2 Navstar, Delta 2, Cape Canaveral.
  • Jul 23 - NEAR, Deep Space Maneuver
  • Jul 24 - Lewis, Lockheed Martin Launch Vehicle-1, Vandenberg AFB
  • Jul 25 - AC-133/Superbird-C comsat, Atlas 2AS, Cape Canaveral.
  • Jul 30 - Start-1, EarlyBird commercial remote sensing craft, Svobodny, Russia.
  • Aug TBA - PanAmSat-5, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan
  • Aug 5 - Classified mission K-17, Titan 4A/ Centaur, Cape Canaveral
  • Aug 5 - Soyuz TM-26, Mir crew rotation, Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Aug 7 - Shuttle Discovery Launch, CRISTA-SPAS 2, Kennedy Space Center


The space population remains at ten. There are two Russians and one American on Mir. On board Columbia, Mission STS-94, are Commander Jim Halsell; Pilot Susan Still; Mission Specialists Janice Voss, Michael Gernhardt and Donald Thomas; and Payload Specialists Roger Crouch and Greg Linteris. This is the 2763 day of continuous space occupation beginning with the reoccupation of Mir on September 8, 1989.

Index for Frontier Status Report 1997

Home Tour Join! Contents Team News Catalog Search Comm
Sources of information. ASI W9900202r1.0
Frontier Status Report is written by Dale M. Gray. Maintained by by Jim Sealy Jr.
Additional web formatting by Simone Cortesi. FSR is also archived on the web at
Copyright © 2001 Artemis Society International, for the contributors. Updated Sat, Oct 20, 2001
Maintained with WebSite Director. Internet services provided courtesy of CyberTeams.