Sunday, July 01, 2012

On July 1st: KSC, Mercury, Asteroids

The above image shows Dr. Wernher von Braun (left) explaining the Saturn rocket system to President John F. Kennedy (right) at Launch Complex 37 in November 1963. Image Credit: NASA 

Happy Birthday, KSC!

The 50th birthday of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Located on Merritt Island, Florida, KSC has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968.

The facility was authorized in 1958 during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was originally known as the Launch Operations Directorate (LOD), reporting to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

President John F. Kennedy's 1961 goal of a lunar landing before 1970 led to an expansion of NASA operations from a few buildings in the Industrial Area of Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex (later Cape Canaveral Air Force Station). NASA began land acquisition in 1962. The major buildings in KSC's Industrial Area were designed by architect Charles Luckman.

On July 1st, 1962, the site was renamed the Launch Operations Center, achieving equal status with other NASA centers. On November 29th, 1963, following the death of President Kennedy, the facility received its current name by Executive Order 11129.

To learn more about KSC's history, check out this URL: 

Happy Anniversary, Hebe! 

Asteroid 6 Hebe has its 165th anniversary of discovery (July 1st, 1847) by German amateur astronomer Karl Ludwig Hencke. 6 Hebe is a large main-belt asteroid.

Orbital Mechanics 

The planet Mercury is at its greatest eastern elongation (26 degrees). On Sunday, June 24th, NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission completed its 1,000th orbit of Mercury since orbit insertion in mid-March 2011. The primary mission was planned to end on March 17th, 2012, but NASA has announced an extension to MESSENGER for additional year. For more on Mercury and the MESSENGER mission, visit these URLs: and .

Asteroid 1221 Amor (1932 EA1) has its closest approach to Earth (0.745 AU). 1221 Amor is a Mars-crossing, near-Earth asteroid discovered on March 12th, 1932, by Belgian astronomer Eugène Joseph Delporte. 1221 Amor is the namesake of the Amor asteroids, a group of near-Earth astroids which approach Earth from beyond, but do not cross Earth's orbit. Most Amors do cross the orbit of Mars. Some suggest that the two moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, may be Amor asteroids that were captured by Mar's gravity.

Asteroid 5392 Parker (1986 AK) has its closest approach to Earth (1.854 AU). 5392 Parker is a Mars-crossing, near-Earth asteroid discovered on January 12th, 1986, from Palomar Observatory, San Diego, by American astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker. 5392 is named in honor of American physician and amateur astronomer Donald C. Parker.

Asteroid 216 Kleopatra (A905 OA, A910 RA) has its closest approach to Earth (2.036 AU). 216 Kleopatra is a main-belt asteroid discovered April 10th, 1880, from Pula, by Austrian astronomer Johann Palisa. 216 Kleopatra was named after the queen of ancient Egypt (Cleopatra) and it was recently discovered that it has two small moons.

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