Encyclopedia Astronautica
December 31


December 31 Chronology


1909 December 31 - .
  • Birth of Bruno Helm - . Nation: Germany; USA. Summary: German engineer in WW2, member of the Rocket Team in the United States thereafter..

1924 December 31 - .
1940 December 31 - .
1943 December 31 - . LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: V-2.
  • First V-2 deliveries from Mittelwerk - . Nation: Germany. Summary: 4 or 5 missiles are 'delivered' in order to meet the end-of-the-year date set by the German leadership. They are immediately returned to the tunnel for rework..

1943 December 31 - .
  • Birth of John Denver - . Nation: USA. Summary: American pop singer who sought to fly into space before his death in an air crash..

1944 December 31 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: A4b; Taifun; Wasserfall.
  • Peenemuende rocket team faces the New Year - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Hitler. It was for them a depressing time. The V-2 came too late to affect the outcome of the war. The years 1939-1942, when Hitler had blocked development and production of the V-2, were lost years. By this time, the Peenemuende staff was allocated as follows: 135 were working on Taifun anti-aircraft barrage rocket; 1940 were working on the V-2; 1220 were working on the Wasserfall surface-to-air missile; 270 were working on the A4b winged V-2; and 660 were in administrative positions. Meanwhile Kammler was constantly underway, trying to deploy the wonder weapons he believed would save the Reich. He could only be met at one-hour meetings at autobahn intersections, on his way from one place to another.

1948 December 31 - .
  • Birth of Viktor Mikhailovich Afanasyev - . Nation: Russia. Summary: Russian test pilot cosmonaut. Flew on Mir EO-8, Mir EO-15, Mir EO-27, ISS EP-2. 555 cumulative days in space. Buran Test Pilot, 1985-1987. Transferred toTsPK, 1987. Call sign: Derbent (Derbent - Russian city).

1954 December 31 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone.
  • Hermes program terminated. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Army Ordnance terminated the Hermes project, during which development of high-performance liquid-fuel rocket and first stabilized platform inertial guidance equipment had been accomplished..

1956 December 31 - .
  • Birth of Dr Martin Joseph Fettman - . Nation: USA. Summary: Jewish-American veterinarian payload specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-58..

1958 December 31 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Letter-of-intent placed for Mercury Little Joe Test air frames. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. The letter-of-intent was placed with North American Aviation for the fabrication of the Little Joe Test vehicle air frame. Delivery of the air frames for flight testing was scheduled to occur every three weeks beginning in June 1959. Space Task Group had ordered all the major rocket motors, which were scheduled for delivery well ahead of the Little Joe flight test schedule. The spacecraft for this phase of the program was being designed and construction would start shortly. Thus the Little Joe program should meet its intended flight test schedule.

1958 December 31 - . 02:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18B. Launch Pad: LC18B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18A. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18A 149. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Series IV research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF.

1959 December 31 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • NASA approval of Saturn development program - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Silverstein. Program: Apollo. NASA accepted the recommendations of the Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee Silverstein Committee on the Saturn C-1 configuration and on a long-range Saturn program. A research and development plan of ten vehicles was approved. The C-1 configuration would include the S-1 stage (eight H-1 engines clustered, producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust), the S-IV stage (four engines producing 80,000 pounds of thrust), and the S-V stage two engines producing 40,000 pounds of thrust.

1959 December 31 - .
  • Mercury astronauts complete classroom training. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Mercury astronauts completed basic and theoretical studies in their training program and started practical engineering studies..

1959 December 31 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Nuclear propulsion work abandoned. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Program: Lunar L3. Summary: Korolev abandons work on nuclear-powered rockets. Future launch vehicles to be based on conventional lox/keroesene propellants..

1960 December 31 - . Launch Site: Chelkar. LV Family: R-5. Launch Vehicle: R-5. LV Configuration: R-5 V-1000 target.
  • Target mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: OKB-30. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1961 December 31 - .
  • Personnel strength of the Manned Spacecraft Center was 1,152. - . Nation: USA.

1962 December 31 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft contract status - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. As of this date, the cumulative cost of the Mercury spacecraft design and development program with the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, Contract NAS 5-59, had reached $135,764,042. During the tenure of this contract, thusfar, there had been 56 amendments and approximately 379 contract change proposals (CCP). At the end of the year, McDonnell had about 325 personnel in direct labor support of Project Mercury. Between March and May of 1960, the personnel complement had been slightly better than 1,600, representing a considerable rise from the 50 people McDonnell had assigned in January 1959 when study and contract negotiations were in progress. Peak assignments by month and by activity were as follows: Tooling - February 1960; Engineering - April 1960; and Production - June 1960.

1963 December 31 - .
  • NASA/USAF discussions on MOL joint control and support. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth; Mueller. Spacecraft: MOL. MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth apprised George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, of recent discussions with officers from the Air Force's Space Systems Division regarding MSC's joint participation in the MOL project in the area of operational control and support. Such joint cooperation might comprise two separate areas: manning requirements for the control center and staffing of actual facilities. Gilruth suggested that such joint cooperation would work to the benefit of both organizations involved. Furthermore, because a number of unidentified problems inevitably existed, he recommended the creation of a joint NASA Air Force group to study the entire question so that such uncertainties might be identified and resolved.

1963 December 31 - .
  • Samuel C Phillips new NASA Deputy Director for Apollo Program - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Mueller; Phillips, Samuel. Program: Apollo. NASA announced the appointment of Air Force Brig. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips as Deputy Director of the NASA Headquarters Apollo Program Office. General Phillips assumed management of the manned lunar landing program, working under George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator of Manned Space Flight and Director of the Apollo Program Office.

1964 December 31 - .
  • Identical bioinstrumentation for both blocks of Apollo spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini. After conferring with the Space Medicine Branch and with the Gemini and Apollo support offices, Crew Systems Division officials opted for identical bioinstrumentation in both blocks of Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton Standard would also try to use identical harnesses.

1965 December 31 - .
  • Apollo SM reaction control system engine qualification completed - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM RCS. Summary: The SM reaction control system engine qualification was completed with no apparent failures..

1965 December 31 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1 1964.
  • Daunting year ahead - . Nation: USSR. Program: Voskhod; Soyuz; Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz 1; Soyuz 2A; Soyuz 7K-L1 mission 1; Soviet Lunar Landing. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz 7K-L1; Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK. Kamanin looks ahead to the very difficult tasks scheduled for 1966. There are to be 5 to 6 Soyuz flights, the first tests of the N1 heavy booster, the first docking in space. Preparations will have to intensify for the first manned flyby of the moon in 1967, following by the planned first Soviet moon landing in 1967-1969. Kamanin does not see how it can all be done on schedule, especially without a reorganization of the management of the Soviet space program.

1966 December 31 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
1968 December 31 - .
  • How to answer the Americans? - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Kutakhov; Frolov; Ustinov; Serbin; Smirnov; Pashkov; Gagarin. After two days of snow, family, and rest at this dacha, Kamanin is called to a General Staff meeting - the issue - how to answer the Americans? Attending are Generals Kutakhov, Moroz, Ponomarev, Kustanin, Yoffe, Frolov, Kartakhov, and others. It is agreed that the only proper answer is a Soviet lunar landing - but that is two to three years away. The 1964 resolution authorising the lunar program required a lunar flyby to be conducted by 1967 and a landing by 1968. But Ustinov, Serbin, Smirnov, and Pashkov hindered the attainment of this order. They were always requiring meetings, analyses, reports. The result - now many volumes of reports, but no action. The VPK proposes to land a Ye-8-5 robot on the moon and return lunar soil to earth in a 50 cm diameter, 38 kg capsule. The capsule will descend under a parachute and transmit on two VHF beacons in order to be located. But this still does not exist in metal, just in mock-up form. Considered logically, it could not be available earlier than the second half of 1969. The existing schedule for it to fly in the first half of the year is illogical and unachievable. Kamanin looks back with bitterness on the year of 1968 -- they have lost the moon race, they have lost Gagarin. His only consolation is his family.

1968 December 31 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC110L. LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • N1 launch pad 110 west completed - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L3.

1969 December 31 - .
  • 1969 in retrospect. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Tereshkova; Mishin; Keldysh; Smirnov; Ustinov; Grechko, Andrei; Kutakhov. Program: Soyuz; Lunar L3. Tereshkova is on a tour of Jordan and Syria. Kamanin muses over the year 1969. He is able to rationalise that it wasn't a bad year -- they flew 9 cosmonauts on five space missions. But of course they lost the moon to the Americans. He blames Mishin, Keldysh, Smirnov, and Ustinov for this. But he also blames the attitude of the Ministry of Defence and VVS. This is indicated by the total indifference to civilian space projects of Grechko and Kutakhov. They don't support the Gagarin Centre, or Kamanin's request for 10 additional Soyuz flights in earth orbit. Kamanin views the L3 spacecraft and mission scenario as unsafe. What is needed is a new spacecraft, launched by two N1 boosters, that will take a crew of 3 to 5 to the moon.

1970 December 31 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • UR 700/LK-700/RD-270 definitively cancelled. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Spacecraft: LK-700. Summary: Further development work on the RD-270 engine, UR-700 launch vehicle, and LK-700 lunar landing project are cancelled following the successful Apollo lunar landing..

1971 December 31 - . 19:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Atlantic Ocean. Launch Pad: 24.0 N x 53.0 W. Launch Platform: ZUB. LV Family: MR-12. Launch Vehicle: MR-12.
  • Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 177 km (109 mi).

1971 December 31 - . 20:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Atlantic Ocean. Launch Pad: 24.0 N x 53.0 W. Launch Platform: ZUB. LV Family: MR-12. Launch Vehicle: MR-12.
  • Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 158 km (98 mi).

1971 December 31 - . 21:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Atlantic Ocean. Launch Pad: 24.0 N x 53.0 W. Launch Platform: ZUB. LV Family: MR-12. Launch Vehicle: MR-12.
  • Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 179 km (111 mi).

1971 December 31 - . 23:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Atlantic Ocean. Launch Pad: 24.0 N x 53.0 W. Launch Platform: ZUB. LV Family: MR-12. Launch Vehicle: MR-12.
  • Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 183 km (113 mi).

1972 December 31 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K. LV Configuration: Proton 8K82K.
  • Brezhnev selects Almaz for next space station - . Nation: USSR. Program: Almaz. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Spacecraft: Almaz OPS. Summary: Brezhnev personally selects Almaz for next space station launch. Following two successive failures of DOS-7K station (Salyut 1 and the July 29, 1972 launch failure), Brezhnev personally selects Almaz for next launch (Salyut 2)..

1974 December 31 - .
  • Plasma-A satellite authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Plazma-A. Summary: Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 314 'On development of the Topaz-1 thermionic nuclear reactor for Plasma-A spacecraft' was issued..

1975 December 31 - .
  • Shuttle 1/4-scale model ground vibration test - . Nation: USA. Program: STS. Summary: 1/4-scale model ground vibration test facility construction starts..

1976 December 31 - .
  • Wernher Von Braun retires from Fairchild. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Summary: He had been diagnosed with cancer. Surgery was unsuccessful in halting its progress..

1977 December 31 - .
  • Deliver SSME envelope/electrical simulators - . Nation: USA. Program: STS. Summary: Deliver SSME envelope/electrical simulators on dock, Palmdale, Columbia (OV-102).

1979 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia model delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: In 1979 the EUK13 dimensional model of the Energia launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur for handling demonstrations and production of tooling..

1980 December 31 - . 02:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Molodezhnaya. LV Family: M-100. Launch Vehicle: M-100.
  • - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 87 km (54 mi).

1981 December 31 - . 04:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar V-2. LV Family: M-100. Launch Vehicle: M-100.
  • - . Nation: USSR. Apogee: 86 km (53 mi).

1982 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • 3M-T Buran transport aircraft delivered - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The 3M-T transport aircraft was completed and began delivery of central block propellant tanks and structural elements for construction of a realistic mock-up of the Energia booster. The 3M-T was a heavily modified M-4 bomber, and was limited to 50 tonnes loads carried on the top of the fuselage.

1982 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia mock-up completed - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The 4M Energia launch vehicle high fidelity mock-up was completed at Baikonur..

1983 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • OK-ML-1 orbiter mock-up arrives at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The OK-ML-1 mock-up arrived atop the 3M-T transport aircraft. OK-ML-1 was originally to have been used in the first launch of the Energia, by the end of 1983. But the program was years behind schedule, and in the end the OK-ML-1 was used for handling and pad compatibility tests.

1984 December 31 - . 20:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Eareckson. Launch Vehicle: Rocketsonde.
  • Arcasonde - . Nation: USA. Agency: MRN. Apogee: 56 km (34 mi).

1990 December 31 - .
  • Cosmonaut Vasili Grigoryevich Lazarev dies at age of 62 -- Natural causes. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Lazarev. Summary: Russian physician cosmonaut. Flew on Soyuz 12, Soyuz 18-1. Survived first manned spaceflight abort during launch..

1992 December 31 - .
1992 December 31 - . 02:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Ryori. LV Family: MT-135. Launch Vehicle: MT-135P. LV Configuration: MT-135P-R840.
  • Meteorological mission - . Nation: Japan. Agency: JMA. Apogee: 54 km (33 mi).

2000 December 31 - .
  • ISS Status Report: ISS 00-64 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gidzenko; Shepherd. Program: ISS. Flight: ISS EO-1. Summary: Having spent a quiet holiday weekend in orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the Expedition One crew members maintained a Naval New Year's tradition as they prepared to begin their tenth week in space.. Additional Details: ISS Status Report: ISS 00-64.

2004 December 31 - .
  • Cassini, Iapetus Flyby, Successful - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Cassini.

2007 December 31 - .
  • ISS On-Orbit Status 12/31/07 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Love; Malenchenko; Tani; Whitson. Program: ISS. Flight: ISS EO-16; ISS EO-16-1. New Year's Eve....16 times for the Expedition 16 crew of CDR Peggy Whitson, FE-1 Yuri Malenchenko and FE-2 Dan Tani while counting down to 2008!

    Crew off-duty day. Underway: Week 11 of Increment 16.

    Peggy and Dan began the day with the daily reading of SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) experiment data accumulated during the night, for logging and filling in questionnaire entries in the experiment 's session file on the HRF-1 laptop for downlink. (To monitor the crewmembers ' sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, Dan and Peggy wear a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by him as well as his patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition. The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days, as part of the crew 's discretionary 'job jar' task list.) Additional Details: ISS On-Orbit Status 12/31/07.


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