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Born, Christian Sorensen Longomontanus, Danish astronomer, developed Tycho's geoheliocentric model empirically

Christian Huygens patented a pocket watch employing a spiral balance spring, lacking a fusee for equalizing the mainspring torque, implying Huygens thought that his spiral spring would isochronise the balance.

Born, William Griggs, inventor (photo chromo lithography)

J. Ferguson discovered asteroid #50 Virginia.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #251 Sophia.

Born, John Vincent Atanasoff, computer pioneer (built the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC), in November 1939)

August Kopff discovered asteroids #650 Amalasuntha, #651 Antikleia and #3133 Sendai.

G. Neujmin discovered asteroid #768 Struveana.

Born, Vitaly Ginzburg, Russian physicist, astrophysicist, Nobel 2003 with Abrikosov and Leggett "for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids", Soviet and Russian Academies of Sciences member, one father of Soviet H bomb

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #939 Isberga.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1072 Malva.

Died, Max Planck, German physicist, considered to be the father of quantum mechanics (Nobel 1918 "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta")

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (23 April 1858 - 4 October 1947) was a German physicist who is considered to be the inventor of quantum theory. In 1899, he discovered a new fundamental constant, which is named Planck's constant, and is, for example, used to calculate the energy of a photon. Also that year, he described his own set of units of measurement based on fundamental physical constants. One year later, he discovered the law of heat radiation, which is named Planck's law of black body radiation. This law became the basis of quantum theory, which emerged ten years later in cooperation with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.

P. Shajn discovered asteroid #2108 Otto Schmidt.

Born, Gregory Thomas Linteris PhD (at Demarest, New Jersey, USA), NASA payload specialist astronaut (STS 83, STS 94, nearly 19d 16h total time in spaceflight)
Astronaut Gregory T. Linteris, STS-94 payload specialist, NASA photo s96-13318.jpg
Astronaut Gregory T. Linteris, STS-94 payload specialist, NASA photo

1957 19:28:04 GMT
USSR launched Sputnik 1 on an R-7 (ICBM) booster, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth.
Sputnik 1, 1/2 scale model assembled by Fred Koschara q=201710044
Sputnik 1, 1/2 scale model assembled by Fred Koschara

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite successfully placed in orbit around the Earth. (The Russian word "Sputnik" means "companion," "satellite" in the astronomical sense.) In 1885, in his book "Dreams of Earth and Sky," Konstantin Tsiolkovsky had first described how such a satellite could be launched into a low altitude orbit. Coming at the height of the Cold War, the launch caught the West by surprise, and began the space race by galvanizing interest and action on the part of the American public to support an active role in space research, technology, and exploration.

Sputnik 1 was launched on an R-7 (ICBM) booster from Baikonur Cosmodrome at Tyuratam (370 km southwest of the small town of Baikonur) in Kazakhstan, then part of the former Soviet Union, on 4 October 1957 at 10:28:04 pm, Moscow time. It was the first in a series of four satellites in the Soviet Sputnik program, a contribution to the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958). Three of these satellites (Sputnik 1, 2, and 3) reached Earth orbit.

The Sputnik 1 satellite was a 58.0 cm (14.7 inches) diameter aluminum sphere that weighed 84 kg (184.3 lb) with four whip-like antennas that were 2.4-2.9 meters long. The antennas looked like long "whiskers" pointing to one side. The spacecraft obtained data pertaining to the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere and the propagation of radio signals in the ionosphere. The instruments and electric power sources were housed in a sealed capsule and included transmitters operated at 20.005 and 40.002 MHz (about 15 and 7.5 meters wavelength), the emissions taking place in alternating groups of 0.3 seconds duration. The downlink telemetry included data on temperatures inside and on the surface of the sphere.

Since the sphere was filled with nitrogen under pressure, Sputnik 1 provided the first opportunity for meteoroid detection (no such events were reported), since losses in internal pressure due to meteoroid penetration of the outer surface would have been evident in the temperature data. The satellite transmitters operated for three weeks, until the on-board chemical batteries failed on 26 October 1957, and were monitored with intense interest around the world.

The orbit of the then inactive satellite was later observed optically to decay 92 days after launch (4 January 1958), after having completed about 1400 orbits of the Earth over a cumulative distance traveled of 70 million kilometers. The orbital apogee declined from 947 km after launch to 600 km by 9 December.

The Sputnik 1 booster rocket also reached Earth orbit and was visible from the ground at night as a first magnitude object, while the small but highly polished sphere, barely visible at sixth magnitude, was more difficult to follow optically. Several replicas of the Sputnik 1 satellite can be seen at museums in Russia and another is on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC, now British Airways) began the first transatlantic passenger jet service with flights between London and New York City, but not yet with a daily schedule.

1959 02:24:00 GMT
USSR launched Luna 3 to the Moon, which returned the first images of the Lunar far side.
Luna 3, image courtesy of NASA luna_3.jpg
Luna 3, image courtesy of NASA

Luna 3, launched 4 October 1959, was the third spacecraft successfully sent to the Moon, and the first to return images of the Lunar far side. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the Lunar farside was produced. These first views of the Lunar far side showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and only two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Dreams). (Mare Desiderii was later found to be composed of a smaller mare, Mare Ingenii (Sea of Ingenuity) and other dark craters.)

The spacecraft was a cylindrical cannister with hemispherical ends and a wide flange near the top end. The probe was 130 cm long and 120 cm at its maximum diameter at the flange. Most of the cylindrical section was roughly 95 cm in diameter. The cannister was hermetically sealed and pressurized at 0.23 atmospheres. Solar cells mounted on the outside of the cylinder provided power to the chemical batteries inside the spacecraft. Shutters for thermal control were also positioned along the cylinder and were designed to open to expose a radiating surface when the interior temperature exceeded 25 degrees C. The upper hemisphere of the probe held the covered opening for the cameras. Four antennae protruded from the top of the probe and two from the bottom. Other scientific apparatus (micrometeoroid and cosmic ray detectors) was mounted on the outside of the probe. Gas jets for attitude control were mounted on the outside of the lower end of the spacecraft. Photoelectric cells were used to maintain orientation with respect to the Sun and Moon. The spacecraft had no rockets for course adjustment. The interior of the spacecraft held the cameras and film processing system, radio equipment, propulsion systems, batteries, gyroscopic units for attitude control, and circulating fans for temperature control. The spacecraft was spin stabilized and was directly radio-controlled from Earth.

The imaging system on Luna 3 was designated Yenisey-2 and consisted of a dual lens camera, an automatic film processing unit, and a scanner. The lenses were a 200 mm focal length, f/5.6 aperture objective and a 500 mm, f/9.5 objective. The camera carried 40 frames of temperature- and radiation resistant 35-mm isochrome film. The 200 mm objective could image the full disk of the Moon, and the 500 mm could take an image of a region on the surface. The camera was fixed in the spacecraft and pointing was achieved by rotating the craft itself. A photocell was used to detect the Moon and orient the upper end of the spacecraft and cameras towards it. Detection of the Moon signaled the camera cover to open and the photography sequence to start automatically. After photography was complete, the film was moved to an on-board processor where it was developed, fixed, and dried. On command from Earth, the film was moved to a scanner where a bright spot produced by a cathode ray tube was projected through the film onto a photelectric multiplier. The spot was scanned across the film and the photomultiplier converted the intensity of the light passing through the film into an electric signal which was transmitted to Earth. Frames were scanned with a resolution of 1000 lines, the transmission could be done at a slow rate for large distances from Earth and a faster rate at closer range.

After launch on an 8K72 (number I1-8) on a course over the Earth's north pole, the Blok-E escape stage was shut down by radio control from Earth at the proper velocity to put the Luna 3 on a figure-eight trajectory which brought it over the Moon and around the far side, which was sunlit at the time. Initial radio contact showed the signal from the probe was only about half as strong as expected and the interior temperature was increasing. The spacecraft spin axis was reoriented and some equipment shut down resulting in a drop in temperature from 40 degrees C to about 30 degrees C. At a distance of 60,000 to 70,000 km from the Moon, the orientation system was turned on and the spacecraft rotation was stopped. The lower end of the station was oriented towards the Sun, which was shining on the far side of the Moon. The spacecraft passed within 6,200 km of the Moon near the south pole at its closest approach at 14:16 UT on 6 October 1959 and continued on to the far side. On 7 October the photocell on the upper end of the spacecraft detected the sunlit far side of the Moon and the photography sequence started. The first image was taken at 03:30 UT at a distance of 63,500 km from the Moon's surface and the last 40 minutes later from 66,700 km. A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side. After the photography was complete the spacecraft resumed spinning, passed over the north pole of the Moon and returned towards the Earth. Attempts to transmit the photographs to Earth began on 8 October but were believed to be unsuccessful due to the low signal strength. The photographs were scanned and 17 resolvable but noisy photographs were transmitted to ground stations by radio in facsimile form on 18 October 1959, as the spacecraft, in a barycentric orbit, returned near the Earth. The photographs were to be retransmitted at another point close to Earth but were not received. Contact with the probe was lost on 22 October. The probe was believed to have burned up in the Earth's atmosphere in March or April of 1960, but may have survived in orbit until after 1962.

1959 10:00:00 GMT
NASA successfully launched Little Joe-6 (LJ-6) from Wallops Station, Virginia, carrying a boilerplate Mercury capsule with a dummy escape system on a ballistic flight for qualification of the launch vehicle structure and evaluation of command systems.

1960 17:45:00 GMT
The 100th launch of a Douglas Thor-based launch vehicle carried the Courier 1B active communications satellite to orbit, the first active repeater in space.

The COURIER I-B active communications satellite, the first active repeater in space, was successfully placed into orbit by a Thor-Able-Star launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 4 October 1960. After completing one orbit, it received and recorded a transcribed message to the United Nations by President Eisenhower, transmitted from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and retransmitted it to another Earth station in Puerto Rico. This marked the 100th launch of the Douglas Thor (combined military and scientific launches) and a Thor record of 60% of the US satellites boosted into orbit.

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroid #1994 Shane.

1961 18:40:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A VO Stability Test mission # 42 with the with lower ventral off, in which Robert Rushworth reached a maximum speed of 4554 kph (Mach 4.30) and achieved a maximum altitude of 23.774 km.

1962 18:10:00 GMT
NASA and the USAF launched X-15A VO Stability Test mission # 71 in which Robert Rushworth reached a maximum speed of 5621 kph (Mach 5.17) and a maximum altitude of 34.199 km in a flight marred by failure of the APU, ball nose, and yaw damper.

1964 03:50:00 GMT
NASA launched Explorer 21 (IMP 2) into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for interplanetary and distant magnetospheric studies of energetic particles, cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and plasmas.

Explorer 21 (IMP 2), a solar cell and chemical battery powered spacecraft, was launched 4 October 1965 into an orbit lower than was planned. IMP 2 was instrumented for interplanetary and distant magnetospheric studies of energetic particles, cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and plasmas. Each normal 81.9 second telemetry sequence consisted of 795 data bits. After every third normal sequence, there was an 81.9 second interval of rubidium vapor magnetometer analog data transmission. Initial spacecraft parameters included a local time of apogee at noon, a spin rate of 14.6 rpm, and a spin direction of 41.4 degrees right ascension and 47.4 degrees declination. The significant deviation of the spin rate and direction from the planned values and the achievement of an apogee of less than half the planned value adversely affected usefulness of the data. Otherwise, the spacecraft systems performed well, with nearly complete data transmission for the first 4 months and for the sixth month after launch. Data transmission was intermittent for other times, and the final transmission occurred on 13 October 1965.

1965 07:56:40 GMT
USSR launched Luna 7 from Baikonur, which was intended to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. However, due to premature retrofire and cutoff of the retrorockets, the spacecraft impacted the Lunar surface in the Sea of Storms.

1967 17:16:00 GMT
NASA and the US AF launched X-15A UV Plume/Solar/MM Technology/Meteor/Solar mission # 189 in which William Dana reached a maximum speed of 6272 kph (Mach 5.53), and achieved a maximum altitude of 76.535 km.

USSR's Zond 5 L1 capsule was flown by An-12 from Bombay to Moscow, safely returning the biological payload after the first circumlunar Earth return mission.

Zond 5 was launched 14 September 1968 from a Tyazheliy Sputnik (68-076B) in Earth parking orbit to make scientific studies during a Lunar flyby and to return to Earth, an unmanned test flight of the Soviet manned spacecraft equipment. En route to the Moon, the main stellar attitude control optical surface became contaminated and was rendered unusable. Backup sensors were used to guide the spacecraft. On 18 September 1968, the spacecraft flew around the Moon, the closest approach being 1,950 km. High quality photographs of the Earth were taken from a distance of 90,000 km.

A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences, the pilot's seat was occupied by a 175 cm tall, 70 kg mannequin containing radiation detectors.

Returning to Earth, the gyroscopic platform went off line due to a ground operator error, making the planned guided entry impossible, forcing the spacecraft controllers to use a direct ballistic entry. Unlike the Zond 4 mission, which had re-entered over western Africa in April, the self destruct command was not given. On 21 September 1968, the reentry capsule entered Earth's atmosphere. Communications with Zond 5 were lost as it re-entered over the South Pole. It had to re-enter at an angle of 5 to 6 degrees to the horizontal: One degree too high, and it would skip off the atmosphere and be lost into space; one degree too low and the G-forces would increase from 10-16 to 30-40 - not only enough to kill the "crew," but to destroy the spacecraft. The safe entry corridor was only 13 km across, and had to be hit at 11 km/sec - "like hitting a kopek [Russian penny] with a rifle at a 600 meter range." After the ballistic 20G re-entry, the capsule braked aerodynamically, deployed parachutes at 7 km, and splashed down in the backup area in the Indian Ocean at 32.63 degrees S, 65.55 degrees E. Soviet naval vessels were 100 km from the landing location and successfully recovered the spacecraft the next day, shipping it via Bombay (3 October 1968 aboard the Vasiliy Golovnin) back to Soviet Union, safely returning the biological payload to Moscow on 4 October 1968.

It was announced that the turtles (actually steppe tortoises) had lost about 10% of their body weight, but remained active and showed no loss of appetite.

The mission was planned as a precursor to manned Soviet Lunar spacecraft flights.

USSR's Lunokhod 1 (Luna 17) officially ceased operations.

Luna 17 was launched 10 November 1970 to the Moon via an Earth parking orbit, and entered Lunar orbit on 15 November 1970. It soft landed on the Moon on 17 November 1970, in the Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) region. The spacecraft had dual ramps by which the payload, Lunokhod 1 (an exploratory rover with eight independently powered wheels), descended to the Lunar surface.

Lunokhod was powered by a solar cell array, and equipped with four television cameras and special extendable devices to impact the Lunar soil for soil density and mechanical property tests. An x-ray spectrometer, an x-ray telescope, cosmic-ray detectors, and a laser device were also included in the instrumentation package. The rover was intended to operate through three Lunar days but actually operated for eleven Lunar days (Earth months). The operations of Lunokhod officially ceased on 4 October 1971, the anniversary of Sputnik 1. By that time, Lunokhod had traveled 10.54 km, had transmitted more than 20,000 TV pictures, sent more than 200 TV panoramas, and had conducted more than 500 Lunar soil tests.

L. Kohoutek discovered asteroid #3475.

Purple Mountain Observatory discovered asteroids #2223 Sarpedon and #2363 Cebriones.

C. Kowal discovered asteroid #2594; T. Smirnova discovered asteroid #3055.

1978 23:09:30 GMT
USSR launched the Progress 4 unmanned supply vessel from Baikonur to Salyut 6.

USSR launched the Progress 4 unmanned supply vessel on 4 October 1978 to deliver fuel, consumable materials and equipment to the Salyut 6 space station. It docked with Salyut 6 on 6 Oct 1978 01:00:15 GMT, undocked on 24 Oct 1978 13:01:52 GMT, and was destroyed in reentry on 26 Oct 1978 16:28:13 GMT. Total free-flight time 4.22 days. Total docked time 18.50 days.

L. G. Karachkina discovered asteroid #3623.

Died, Leroy Randle Grumman, co-founder of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation

1991 18:10:00 GMT
USSR launched the Foton 7 materials research satellite from Plesetsk, which also carried German and French experiments, in continuation of space materials research conducted jointly with Germany and France. Foton 7 returned to Earth on 20 October 1991.

Died, Gordon Cooper, USAF colonel, astronaut (Mercury 9, Gemini 5)

(Leroy) Gordon Cooper, Jr. (6 March 1927 - 4 October 2004) was an American astronaut. He was one of the original Mercury 7 pilots in the Mercury program, the first manned space effort by the United States.

While stationed in Germany in the early 1950's, Cooper claims to have seen several unidentified flying objects (UFOs). He related his account on Art Bell's radio program, stating the objects were shaped "like saucers - they were metallic looking, but we couldn't really get close enough to see more than that. You couldn't see any wings on them." Cooper initially suspected the objects were Russian, but later speculated they could be "some kind of extraterrestrial vehicle."

Cooper was a test pilot in the US Air Force before being selected as a Mercury astronaut in April 1959. He was launched into space on 15 May 1963 aboard Mercury-Atlas 9 (Faith 7), the last Mercury mission. He orbited the Earth 22 times and logged more time in space than all five previous Mercury astronauts combined in that flight, a mission which lasted 34 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds, the first time an American spent more than 24 hours in space. Cooper also gained the distinction of becoming the first American astronaut to sleep not only in orbit but on the launch pad during a countdown.

Two years later, on 21 August 1965, Cooper flew as the commander of Gemini 5 on an eight-day mission with Charles Conrad. Cooper was the first person to make a second orbital flight. He was tentatively scheduled to fly in the Apollo program, but was scratched after a falling-out with NASA management. He retired from NASA and the Air Force on 31 July 1970 with the rank of colonel.

Cooper wrote one book, Leap of Faith, which chronicled his experiences with the Air Force and NASA, as well as his efforts to expose an alleged UFO conspiracy.

Cooper was the last American astronaut to orbit the Earth for an entire mission by himself, but not the last US astronaut to reach space alone: Two flights of the X-15 later in 1963 passed the 100 km "edge of space", and the Mojave Aerospace Ventures SpaceShipOne made three flights past that barrier. The third flight by the latter craft, in which it won the Ansari X Prize, occurred on 4 October 2004 - the same day that Cooper died of natural causes at age 77 in Ventura, California.

2004 14:49:00 GMT
Scaled Composites/Mojave Aerospace flew the Tier One SpaceShipOne Flight 17P - X-Prize Flight 2 mission to an altitude in excess of 100 km to capture the Ansari X Prize for the first civilian spacecraft to do so.

Scaled Composites/Mojave Aerospace flew the Tier One SpaceShipOne Flight 17P - X-Prize Flight 2 mission on 4 October 2004, in which Burt Rutan's privately funded SpaceShipOne made its second flight within 2 weeks to an altitude in excess of 100 km to capture the Ansari X Prize for the first civilian spacecraft to do so.

The objectives of the flight were to win the Ansari X-Prize, and break the rocketplane altitude record set by Joe Walker in the X-15 in 1963 (354,200 feet). The Tier One (White Knight/SpaceShipOne) composite aircraft took off at 06:49 PDT. The rocketplane was dropped exactly one hour later at 14.4 km altitude. Pilot Brian Binnie fired the hybrid rocket motor for 83 seconds. The engine cut off with SpaceShipOne at Mach 3.09 (3524 kph) at 65 km altitude. From there it coasted to 111.996 km (367,442 feet, 69.6 miles) altitude. Binnie experienced weightlessness for 3.5 minutes before re-entry began. The spacecraft reached Mach 3.25 during re-entry and a peak deceleration of 5.4 G's at 32 km altitude. Binnie reconfigured the vehicle to a glider at 15.5 km and then made an 18 minute glide to a landing at Mojave airport. SpaceShipOne thereby won the $10 million X-Prize. No anomalies were noted on the flight and SpaceShipOne returned with no maintenance squawks.

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