The European Space Agency’s first deep space mission, Giotto, is launched aboard an Ariane 1 rocket. The probe was designed to study Halley’s Comet with 10 different scientific instruments. Though damaged, as expected, by debris from the comet during its March 13, 1986, flyby, Giotto still was
able to perform many of its functions. It accomplished
a similar flyby of the Grigg-Skjellerup comet July 10, 1992.
Soyuz 14 is launched and docks with the Salyut 3 space station July 4, 1974. Col. PavelPopovich and Lt. Col. Yuri Artyukhin test the space station as a possible military reconnaissance platform (a secret at the time) and conduct simple biomedical experiments while there.
A Japanese M-V-3 rocket launches the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA)
(which means hope in Japanese) spacecraft to study Mars’ upper atmosphere and the atmosphere’s interaction with the solar wind.
However, the spacecraft encountered numerous problems on its journey, which led to several innovative attempts to use Earth swingbys to salvage the mission, which was finally abandoned in December 2003, when an effort to place the spacecraft into a usable orbit around Mars fails.
Built by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Comet Nucleus Tour (Contour) is launched aboard a Delta 2 rocket to do close proximity studies of two comet nuclei, Encke and Schwassman-Wachmaan 3. The satellite went silent Aug. 15, and was unable to complete its mission. Later, Contour’s STAR 30 solid rocket engine was found to have failed.
Composed of an orbiter and an impactor segment, the Deep Impact spacecraft launches its impactor into comet Tempel 1. The mission was a success and yields data about the comet’s surprisingly soft surface. The spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the mission was managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
gives Phase B shuttle contracts to two different teams – McDonnell Douglas and Martin Marietta, and North American Rockwell and General Dynamics. Engine contracts were given to Pratt and Whitney, Rocketdyne and Aerojet.
NASA Administrator, James Webb, and
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
decide to jointly study the development of large launch vehicles. The agreement marks the beginning of the DOD-NASA Large Launch Vehicle Planning Group.
North American Rockwell receives a $2.6 billion contract from NASA to develop two sets of test models for the space shuttle orbiter. Two of the test models are to be used as stand-ins – with about the same size, shape and weight of a functional shuttle – to develop procedures for moving and handling the real thing. The other two models are to be used as flight-test models to test for structural durability.
China Aerospace Corp. of Beijing and Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG of Munich create a joint venture company, EurasSpace GmbH, to build telecommunications and Earth observation satellites. Hailed as a great step forward to improving European and Chinese space relations, the EurasSpace joint venture eventually was abandoned.