Space News for April 19, 1999

Astronauts Complete Partially Successful Mir Spacewalk

Russian cosmonaut Viktor Afanasyev and French astronaut Jean-Pierre Heignere spent six hours “spacewalking” outside of the Mir spacestation on Friday. Their goal was to repair some holes in the hull and perform a few experiments, but they ran out of time and had to return before completing their mission.

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Global Surveyor Suffers Antenna Glitch

The Mars Global Surveyor was attempting to deploy its high-gain antenna boom to point at Earth when it developed a problem with one of its hinges. The spacecraft was put into “contingency mode” while JPL and Lockheed Martin engineers attempt to determine the problem.

Astronomy Now

Team Delays Mercury Capsule Salvage

Suffering problems with its equipment, the team planning to retrieve the Mercury space capsule delayed its operation at least a day – they expect to head out Monday. The team is looking for the Mercury capsule that almost drowned astronaut Gus Grissom when an emergency hatch blew open after splashdown in 1961.

CNN Space

Air Force Plans Investigation into NASA Launch Problems

Thanks to the recent botched launch of the Defense Support Program satellite, the US Air Force is investigating the upper-stage motor that apparently caused the satellite to enter an incorrect orbit. This investigation will probably delay the launch of the Chandra X-ray telescope that is planning to use the same motor.

CNN Space

Space News for April 16, 1999

First Multi-Planet Star System Discovered

Astronomers have discovered a group of three Jupiter-sized planets orbiting around the star Upsilon Andromedae. This is the first ever multiple planet star system found – all previous 18 extrasolar planets have been unique to their star system.

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Landsat 7 Successfully Launches

Launched aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket, the Landsat 7 earth observational satellite was successfully placed into a polar orbit. The satellite will orbit the Earth every 16 days, and document environmental conditions and changes in climate.

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Swatch Abandons Plans to Launch Satellite

Under tremendous pressure from amateur ratio enthusiasts, Swatch has abandoned its plans to launch a communications satellite from Mir. The satellite would have broadcast advertisements on the specific frequency used by ham operators – sort of a radio spam. Swatch has moved its message to the Internet instead.

BBC News

More Globalstar Satellites Launched

Globalstar continues to build its satellite network with Wednesday’s launch of four more telecommunications satellites from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Globalstar plans to have a complete network of 48 satellites by the end of the year.

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Space News for April 15, 1999

Search Begins for Mercury Capsule

Undersea salvage experts are looking for the Mercury 4 space capsule that almost drowned astronaut Gus Grissom almost 40 years ago. It’s expected that the capsule will be found at a depth of over 15,000 in the Atlantic Ocean.

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International Space Station will Be Noisy

The latest Russian component of the International Space Station will exceed noise level requirements of 50-55 decibels. Parts of the new Zarya service module will be as loud as 72 decibels, making warnings difficult to hear, and possibly causing hearing damage.

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Oldest Known Galaxy Discovered

Peering out to the edge of the universe, the Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the oldest known galaxy, which the discoverer has named after his sister – “Sharon”. Although it’s very old, the galaxy looks young, because the light has taken 13 billion years to reach Earth.

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TekStar Wins Solar Cell Contract

TekStar has won a lucrative contract to supply Lockheed Martin’s new satellite systems with solar power cells. TekStar previously supplied solar cells for Mars Pathfinder and the current Deep Space 1 missions.

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Space News for April 14, 1999

Scientists Discover Medium-Sized Black Holes

Astronomers have discovered several examples of medium-sized black holes located in nearby galaxies – probably between 10 and 100,000 times the mass of our sun – possibly caused by the aggregation of many smaller black holes.

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Another Possibility for Universe’s Missing Mass

Still on the hunt to find the universe’s missing mass, astronomers have used the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer peek into the hidden hearts of of distant galaxy clusters. They’ve found huge clouds of hot gas sucked into the center of these clusters – sometimes causing gravitational collapse of the whole cluster.

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European Eutelsat Launches

Carried aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket, the Eutelsat W3 satellite was placed into geostationary orbit Monday night. The launch was a complete success, a relief considering the rash of recent launch accidents.

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Controversial Paper Warns of Possible Asteroid Impact

Newly discovered asteroid 1999 AN10 has caused quite a stir in the astronomy community, as a recent paper warns that it could strike the Earth in 2039. Although the rock crosses the Earth’s path twice a year, gravitational effects could push it into a collision course… or not, depending on who you ask.

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Space News for April 13, 1999

Hypernova Remnants Discovered

Considered mere supernovas until recently, astronomers have discovered the remnants of two massive hypernovas in nearby galaxy M101 – each explosion is estimated to have been 100 times more powerful than the average supernova.

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Hubble Sprinkled by Space Debris

Analysis of the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission’s video footage has revealed that the telescope has suffered nearly 800 micrometeorite and space debris impacts since it was launched nearly 10 years ago.

Astronomy Now

Air Force Attempting Satellite Rescue

Air Force controllers are attempting to rein in the Defense Support Program satellite – still locked in a lopsided orbit after its launch on Friday. It appears that an upper-stage motor malfunctioned on the Titan IV rocket, placing the satellite into an incorrect orbit.

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Mir’s Future Uncertain

Unable to afford the $250 million annual maintenance fees, Boris Yeltsin is uncertain about the future of the aging Mir space station. If additional funds can be found, space officials say that the station could stay up for another 3 years, but it’s possible it will be scuttled as early as August.

MSNBC

Space News for April 12, 1999

Military Satellite in Incorrect Orbit

Military officials have confirmed that the Defense Support Program satellite entered an incorrect orbit after its launch on a Titan IV on Friday. This foul-up follows the previous ill-fated Titan IV launch that exploded in August. Engineers are attempting to reposition the satellite.

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NASA Considers All-Female Crews

While only 25% of NASA’s current astronauts are women, the space agency is considering the benefits of an all-female crew – including research into bone loss and radiation. Others see it just as a media ploy.

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Mir Space Walk to Patch Holes

Still damaged from a collision with a cargo ship in 1997, Mir crewmembers are planning a spacewalk to repair several holes in the Spektr module with a “space patch kit”. The spacewalkers will also deploy and retrieve other experiments attached to the outside of the space station.

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Russia Working on Service Module for Space Station

Construction of the International Space Station will move into its third phase when the Russian Service Module is transferred to the Baikonur cosmodrome next month. Engineers will then require eight months at the site to prepare the station module for launch.

MSNBC

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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.

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Space News for April 8, 1999

Moon to Eclipse Aldebaran

Astronomers are preparing for April 18th, when the moon will pass in front of Aldebaran, one of the brightest stars in the sky. The Midwestern US will be late evening for the occultation, making it dark enough to see without a telescope.

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Spiral Star Found

Probably caused by the gravitational interaction of two stars orbiting closely, astronomers have found a spiral-shaped star called Wolf-Rayet 104. The star burns much hotter than average and ejects a spiral stream of superheated dust around it.

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FUSE Satellite Readied for Launch

The Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) has been transferred to NASA’s Hanger AE at Cape Canaveral for prelaunch preparations. Expected to launch on May 20th, the satellite will help answer questions about the origin of the universe by examining the presence of hydrogen and deuterium.

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Final Titan Launch

Lockheed Martin is preparing to launch its final Titan IV rocket from Cape Canaveral on April 9th. The rocket will carry an Air Force early warning satellite into space, after which the launch facility will be deactivated, and prepared for Lockheed’s newer Atlas V rocket.

Astronomy Now
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Space News for April 7, 1999

Delta 3 Launch Scrubbed

After three attempts to launch the Boeing Delta 3 rocket carrying the Orion 3 satellite, engineers were unable to get the rocket off the ground (three’s the unlucky number it seems). Officials will set a new launch date and time depending on when the facility is available again.

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Deep Space 1 Working Perfectly

Able to determine its location from anywhere in the solar system, and powered by an ion engine, Deep Space 1 is performing its mission “extremely well” in the opinion of its engineers. Launched in October 1998, the purpose of the spacecraft is to test 12 new spacefaring technologies.

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[email protected] Now Available for Unix

The three year-long wait is over, and [email protected] is now available for Unix computers. As of today, 1,400 people have already downloaded the software designed to help share computing processing analyzing SETI radio signals. Windows and Mac are still coming…

MSNBC

[email protected]

Space Station Manager Resigns

Randy Brinkley, manager of the International Space Station for the past 5 years, has announced his resignation from NASA. A space industry veteran, and manager of several shuttle missions, Brinkley will leave NASA later this month to take a position with a private sector firm.

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Space News for April 6, 1999

Hubble Captures Tarantula Nebula

The Hubble team has released its latest photo of the heavens. This time the space telescope shows fantastic views of the Tarantula Nebula, created by exploded supernovae, and found inside the Large Magellanic Cloud.

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NASA’s Aid to Russia Could Impact Space Station

NASA is planning to buy a second Soyuz spacecraft ($64 million) to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Critics are concerned that this money will jeopardize much-need research funds for experiments on the station.

Fox Space

US Policy Makes Student Launch Impossible

Unable to afford the $4.5 million fee to launch a satellite, Doctoral student Michael Swartwout, accepted a free launch with a Russian university. But US policy classifies the satellite as munitions, and won’t allow it to leave the country.

Fox Space

High Winds Delay Delta 3 Launch

Boeing delayed launch of the Delta 3 at the last minute because of high winds in Cape Canaveral. Still gun-shy from its previous launch disaster, and with the potential of toxic material drifting over populated areas, Boeing wasn’t taking any chances, and rescheduled the launch for Tuesday.

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