November 19 – Launch of Shuttle Mission STS-80 (1996)

1996 – Launch of space shuttle Columbia on mission STS-80 (19 days late). At 17 days, 15 hours and 53 minutes this became the longest shuttle mission, and comprised commander Kenneth D Cockrell, pilot Kent V Rominger, and mission specialists F Story Musgrave, Thomas D Jones, and Tamara E Jernigan. Musgrave was on his sixth flight, a record at the time, and became the only person to fly all five shuttles.

Crew of STS-80 (L-R: )
Crew of STS-80 (L-R: Rominger, Jernigan, Musgrave, Jones, Cockrell)

The 19 day tardiness mentioned above was caused by a number of factors. Firstly STS-79 had been held up, Then a hurricane warning delayed work on the boosters. An issue with nozzles dropped it from Nov 4th to 8th, and a rescheduled commercial launch didn’t help matters. All this gave the weather time to regroup, causing one final delay. We are still a long way from being able to repel a Borg attack.

We have a cubewano today! It is Kuiper-belt object 19521 Chaos, which was discovered by the Deep Ecliptic Survey on November 19th, 1998. Chaos is about 600 km in diameter, and may well be a dwarf planet, not much smaller than Ixion and Varuna. It orbits between a perihelion of about 40.9 AU and an aphelion of just under 50.6 AU, and spends more than 300 Earth years completing a single orbit of the Sun (or 1 Chaotic year, obviously).