||The USA launched Mariner 9
which orbited Mars for nearly a year and transmitted enough photographs
to nearly create a map of the planet.
||The Soviet Salyut 1
space station was launched, weighing 18 600 kg. Three days later
Soyuz 10, which contained a crew of three, docked with Salyut.
For some reason yet undisclosed, the cosmonauts did not enter the space
station but undocked and returned to Earth. In June another three man
crew were sent to the station and set a space flight duration record of
24 days. Numerous experiments were conducted including biological ones.
During re-entry however, these astronauts died of an air leak in a
valve, setting back the Soviet space programme. In 1973 USSR failed to
send up Salyut 2 when it went out of control in space and shed
its parts, though Salyut 3 (1974), Salyut 5 (1976),
Salyut 6 (1977) and Salyut 7 (1982) were successfully put
into orbit and were visited by many international crews.
||The last Apollo moon mission
that was undertaken, was designated the Apollo 17. The three
astronauts; one of the crew members was a civilian geologist, were sent
by the United States explored the Tarus-Littrow Valley region on a lunar
rover. These astronauts spent around 22 hours on the moon and travelled
35 kilometres, a far cry from the first Apollo mission’s 2 hours.
||The USSR launched two probes to
Mars called the Mars 2 and 3. Both probes crash landed on
Mars but still transmitted some data.
||Venera 8 was sent by the
USSR to Venus where it transmitted surface data including soil analysis.
||US Pioneer 10 and 11
spacecraft journeyed safely through the asteroid belt beyond the orbit
of Mars and flew by Jupiter in the following year. Pioneer 10
continued out of the Solar System and into interstellar space, becoming
the first probe to do so. It is expected to reach the nearest star in 80
000 years. Pioneer 11 passed by Saturn on its flight, preparing
the way for Voyagers 1 and 2.
||The United States?space
station; Skylab, was badly damaged during launch but the crew
successfully repaired the station by fitting a heat shielding canopy
over the spacecraft and freed a jammed panel. Skylab spent more than 740
hours observing the sun, returned 175 000 solar images, 64km of data
tape and 46 000 photographs of the Earth’s surface. It plunged back to
Earth in 1979 whilst in its 34 981st orbit.
||The USSR launched the Mars
4, 5, 6 and 7 probes to Mars but various technical
malfunctions hindered these missions.
||The Americans sent Mariner
10 to Venus where it transmitted the first detailed photographs of
the planet’s atmosphere. After flying past Venus it journeyed to Mercury
where it gave the first glimpses of its cratered surface. It made a
total of three passes of the planet. This probe was the first to use
gravity to assist its journey, using Venus?gravity as a ‘slingshot?to
propel it to Mercury.
|Aug, Sep, 1975
||The USA sent Viking 1 and 2
space probes to mars. Each contained a lander with consisted of life
detecting equipment, chemical laboratories, colour cameras, weather and
seismographic instruments. These landers were controlled by mission
controllers on Earth, functioning well for several years.
||Soviet Venera 9 and
10 dropped landing craft onto the Venusian surface, which survived
for an hour and transmitted the first photographs of the surface of
||During this year, the immensely
successful US Voyagers 1 and 2 probes were launched. The
probes flew past Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980-81. Both probes took
many measurements and photographs, sending them back to Earth.
Voyager 2, however, also travelled to Uranus and Neptune, taking
photographs of their surface.
||During this year the United States sent the
Pioneer Venus 1 and 2 to Venus. These spacecraft consisted
of five atmospheric probes and an orbiter. The orbiter mapped nearly the
entire surface of Venus, using radar whilst the probes analysed the
composition of the atmosphere and its reaction to external influences
like solar wind.