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September in History

September 10, 1813 - A small shower of meteors fell on Limerick (Adare), Ireland. The largest meteorite weighed 65 pounds.

September 13, 1902 - A meteorite weighing 9 pounds fell in Crumlin, Antrim, Ireland.

September 9, 1959 - NASA launched "Big Joe," an Atlas ICBM, topped with a full-scale Mercury spacecraft. The purpose of the flight was to orbit a Mercury payload to test the heatshield which protected the capsule during re-entry. The capsule survived and post-flight examinations proved the heatshield's structural integrity.

September 18, 1959 - The U.S. satellite Vanguard 3 was launched into Earth orbit. The satellite measured solar X-rays, determined environmental conditions in space, and explored Earth's magnetic field.

September 12, 1966 - A Titan rocket launched the Gemini 11 spacecraft with astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. and Gordon. The flight lasted 71 hours 17 minutes. The crew returned safely to Earth.

September 10, 1967, 8:50 p.m. local time - A large fireball was observed over northern Ohio moving from east to west and broke up into smaller pieces near Oberlin. No trail was observed, but the meteor did produce a hissing sound as it passed. An eyewitness in Akron reported that the fireball appeared several times larger than the Moon. "It had every color and a boiling surface moving slow enough to see molten colors moving on the surface." the entire event lasted about 5 seconds. The break up of the fireball produced a rumbling sound that lasted for several seconds afterward.

September 9, 1975 - The Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander spacecraft was launched. It entered Martian orbit on Aug. 7, 1976. The Lander reached the surface on September 3, 1976, landing in the region known as Utopia Planitia. The Orbiter stopped transmitting on July 25, 1978. The Lander functioned for 3-1/2 years, stopping on April 11, 1980.

September 5, 1977 - The Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched. The spacecraft encountered Jupiter on March 5, 1979 and provided evidence that Jupiter had a ring. It passed near Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980 and gave a close up view of Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

September 29, 1987 - The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-26) was launched with astronauts Richard Hauck, Richard O. Covey, David C. Hilmers, George D. Nelson, John M. Lounge, Bruce McCandless, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Loren J. Shriver, Charles F. Bolden Jr., and Steven A. Hawley. This was the first flight of the redesigned Space Shuttle since the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 1, 1986.

September 7, 1990 - Part of a U.S. Titan rocket fell from a crane at Edwards Air Force Base. It exploded sending flames 150 feet (45 meters) into the air and killing at least one person.

September 12, 1992 - The Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-47) was launched with astronauts Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Curtis L Brown Jr., Mark Lee, Jay Apt, N. Jan Davis, Mae Carol Jemison, and Momoru Mohri. Jemison became the first black woman in space. Lee and Davis were the first married couple to travel together in space. And this was the first flight of the Japanese Spacelab. The crew returned September 21.

September 25, 1992 - The U.S. spacecraft Mars Observer was launched toward the planet Mars on a photraphic mapping mission. Contact with the spacecraft was lost on Aug. 21, 1993. An extensive investigation concluded that a malfunction in the spacecraft's propulsion system probably caused the spacecraft to spin out of control. The results of the investigation triggered changes in the design of future spacecraft, beginning with its successor, the Mars Global Surveyor.

September 7, 1995 - The Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-69) was launched with astronauts David M. Walker, Kenneth D. Cockrell, James Voss, Jim Newman, and Michael Gernhardt. The crew relayed video images of an Atlantic hurricane to Earth. Two scientific-studies satellites were deployed and then retrieved because of malfunctions. The crew returned to Earth September 18.

September 16, 1996 - The Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-79) was launched with astronauts Jay Apt, Terry Wilcutt, William Readdy, Tom Akers, Carl E. Walz, and John Blaha. Atlantis docked with the Russian Mir space station on September 18. A crew exchange was performed, transferring John Blaha to Mir and retrieving astronaut Shannon Lucid, who set the U.S. and women's individual duration in space record, 188 days. The revised crew returned safely to Earth on September 26.

September 10, 1998 - A computer malfunction brought down a Ukrainian rocket carrying 12 commercial satellites, minutes after blast off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.


J. M. Thomas, last updated November 15, 1999.

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