Space News for April 9, 1999

Stardust Passes Mars Probes

The Stardust spacecraft has passed the slower moving Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander spacecraft on the same trajectory to reach the Red Planet. While the other two probes will enter into Mars orbit, Stardust will continue on to meet up with Comet Wild 2.

Astronomy Now

US Lays Groundwork for Missile Defense System

US Space Command has allocated $1.8 billion to begin the development of an advanced missile defense network located in Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. The contract is expected to be awarded in early 2000, and will take cover 15 years of development.

CNN Space

ESA will Upgrade Ariane 5 Payload Capacity

In order to compete effectively against its international competitors, the European Space Agency is planning to upgrade the Ariane 5 rocket. The improvements will eventually allow the rocket to carry 11 tons of payload into orbit.

CNN Space

Comet Mission Under Budget Threat

Budget pressures at NASA could force cancellation of an ambitious expedition to land a spacecraft onto a comet – a mission called Space Technology 4. The project is in jeopardy because of launch delays of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope.