Space News for June 24, 1999

Cassini Gets a Boost From Venus

Although it’s bound for Saturn, Cassini will pass within 1,600 kilometers of Venus’ surface today to receive a powerful gravity boost of its velocity. After this, it will perform a close pass of Earth, skimming the planet only 800 kilometers. The spacecraft’s nuclear powerplant has activists concerned.

Astronomy Now

FUSE to Launch

With the final preparations complete, NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) is ready for its launch on board a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral. FUSE will search for the “fossil records” of the Big Bang and uncover secrets about the origin of the universe.

Astronomy Now
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SpaceDaily

Scientists to Study Far Side of the Sun

The European Space Agency announced that it will be using its SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft to monitor the far side of the sun. Although the spacecraft doesn’t view the far side directly, it can detect strong ultraviolet emissions from active regions of the sun, and provide warnings for increased solar activity.

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[email protected] Surpasses All Expectations

Only a month old, the [email protected] software has signed up 660,000 volunteers. Together they’ve contributed over 15,000 years of computing time to the project, making this the largest distributed computing experiment in history.

Fox News

Space News for June 23, 1999

Surveyor Landing Spot to Be Selected

A group of planetary geologists are meeting at a conference in Buffalo to determine suitable landing locations for the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, which will test technologies designed to support human life.

explorezone.com

Hubble’s Damage Worsening

The Hubble Space Telescope is on its last legs, with only three functioning gyros (down from six), which it requires to change its direction. Although it can still operate with only three, NASA believes there’s a 50% chance any one of the remaining gyros will fail this year. A shuttle repair mission is planned for later this year.

SpaceDaily

Leonids May Put on a Show

Experts believe that this year’s Leonid meteor shower may be one of the most spectacular. Scheduled to reach their peak around November 17th, the Leonids are caused when the Earth passes through the tail of comet Tempel-Tuttle. It’s may be possible that the shower will reach a full-fledged storm, with thousands of meteors visible per hour.

Space Science News

Space News for June 22, 1999

QuikScat Successfully Deploys

NASA’s QuikScat weather satellite has successful reached its initial elliptical orbit of 800km above the Earth’s surface, and deployed its solar panels. The satellite will fire its thrusters another 25 times to perfect its final orbit, and begin its mission a month from now.

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Cosmonaut Spends Longest Time in Space

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev has spent more time in space than anyone else – currently 681 days over 6 missions. With Mir due to be destroyed later this year, it’s unlikely his record will be broken any time soon.

BBC News
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Palomar Observatory Searches for Asteroids

A 1.2 meter Oschin telescope at Palomar Observatory is being upgraded to help the search for near-Earth asteroids. The upgrade will cost $500,000 and will involve the installation of an electronic camera capable of detecting asteroids.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 21, 1999

FUSE Readied for Launch

Next week will finally bring the launch of NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) spacecraft on a Boeing Delta II rocket. FUSE will search the universe for hydrogen and deuterium, and hopefully answer a few questions about the Big Bang.

BBC News

Oldest Known Galaxy Found

Thanks to the 400-inch Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers have found the farthest known galaxy – over 11 billion light years away, and thought to contain an enormous black hole. It’s expected that even further objects will be discovered by the newly completed, and more powerful, Gemini telescopes.

CNN Space

QuikScat Weather Satellite Launched

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force base on a Titan II rocket, NASA’s QuikScat weather satellite is on its way to a final altitude of 800 kilometers above the Earth. The purpose of the satellite is to map ocean wind speed and direction.

Space Chronicle

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Budget Cuts Could Affect Future NASA Missions

NASA’s 2000 budget could be cut by up to $1 billion, potentially putting two missions in jeopardy. Space Technology 4 (ST4) “Champollion” and the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander would be abandoned if the proposed budget cuts are approved by the House of Congress.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 18, 1999

Space Station Nearly Struck By Debris

NASA controllers attempted to fire the International Space Station’s rockets to move it out of the way of a piece of Russian space junk which was going to pass too close for comfort. Unfortunately, the computer program designed to execute the maneuver crashed the ISS for 90 minutes. Fortunately the debris missed the station by a safe margin.

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Mir Will Have One Last Crew

Although they’re still planning for Mir’s fiery destruction later this year, Russian space officials have announced they’ll be sending one final crew to the doomed station. It’s still unknown how the Russians will be able to guide Mir’s 100 tonnes safely back to Earth and crash into an uninhabited area.

BBC News
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Hubble Completes Image of Spiral Galaxy

Hubble finished what it started over four years ago, when it completed imaging of spiral galaxy NGC 4414. The image was obtained by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera through three different colour filters.

CNN Space

Gemini Demonstrates its Power on Pluto

The new Gemini telescope in Hawaii’s first target was the planet Pluto, which it resolved with a level of quality equal to the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope, with its Chilean twin has 10 times the resolution power of any telescope on Earth.

BBC News

Space News for June 17, 1999

Chandra Nears Launch

After nearly a year of delays, NASA managers are aiming for a July 20th launch of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Chandra will launch with the Space Shuttle Columbia, use the same Inertial Upper Stage as recent failed US Air Force rocket launches.

Astronomy Now

Sea Launch Signs Up Four New Contracts

Bringing the total to 19 confirmed launch contracts, Sea Launch added 4 new launch contracts to its schedule. These new launches will fall between 2001 and 2003.

Space Daily

Consortium Plans Radio Telescope

Europe and the US are developing an array of radio telescopes which will be constructed in Chile. The array will consist of 64 12-meter telescopes spread over an area 10km across. The observatory will be the highest in the world, at an altitude of 5,000 meters.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 16, 1999

Mars Express Contract Signed

The contract to develop the Mars Express spacecraft was signed by the European Space Agency and Euro-Russian Starsem. The launch date for the spacecraft is set for June 2003. This is Starsem’s second contract with the ESA.

Astronomy Now
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Twin Telescopes Built

Two new ground-based telescopes have been built for two remote locations – Hawaii and Chile. Named Gemini telescopes, they use large mirrors and sophisticated electronics to be 10 times more powerful than those previously built.

BBC News

Cosmonauts Try to Raise Money for Mir

Desperate to keep Mir in orbit, two Russian cosmonauts have begun a grassroots effort to find funding for the doomed space station. Vitaly Sevastyanov and Gherman Titov have created the “People’s Charity Foundation” as a way for ordinary Russians to contribute to the station’s funding. They’ll need to raise $100 – $250 million to keep it up another year.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 15, 1999

Hubble Glimpses Star Birth

Stellar nurseries are normally obscured by a cloud of dust and gas, but the recent birth of a star in the Papillon Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud was revealed to the Hubble Space Telescope, as its birth was particularly violent, and blew off the obscuring dust.

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China Launches US Satellites

Two additions to the Iridium satellite network were launched on a Chinese Long March 2C – the 15th consecutive Chinese launch success. China is contracted to launch 1/3 of Iridium’s 66 satellites.

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Japan Delays Moon Mission

Originally slated for launch later this year, Japanese space officials have pushed back the launch of the Lunar-A spacecraft for at least 3 years. The spacecraft is designed to orbit the moon, and deploy penetrator probes into the surface. Upon tests, however, these probes were found to malfunction when they hit the ground, requiring the Japanese to redesign the system from scratch.

SpaceViews

QuikScat Ready for Launch

Built in only 12 months, the QuikScat will provide climatologists and meteorologists with daily pictures of winds above the world’s oceans. The satellite will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Titan II rocked on June 18th.

Space Daily

Space News for June 10, 1999

Team Assigned to Investigate Launch Failures

An independent team of experts are investigating Boeing’s recent launch failures, seperate from the government investigations. The team will review the Delta, Sea Launch, and Upper Intertial Stage, and provide their report by the fall.

CNN Space

Electrical Problem May Have Caused IKONOS Failure

It seems that aerospace companies do nothing but post-mortems these days. Lockheed Martin believes that the IKONOS 1 rocket launched from an Athena II rocket never reached orbit because of an electrical problem, which stopped a protective cover from being ejected at the proper time. With the additional load of the cover, the rocket didn’t have enough energy to reach orbit.

CNN Space

Warp Drive Becomes Theoretically Possible

It’s been quite a controversy: is a warp drive possible? Physicists have taken both sides of this argument, with one stating that it’ll take more energy than available in the Universe, and now, and new paper by Chris Van Den Broeck which states that it might require much less energy.

BBC News

exoScience

Globalstar Launch Delayed Again

As predicted, terrible weather in Florida has delayed the latest launch of Globalstar satellites on a Boeing Delta II rocket. The launch has been postponed until Thursday, with two launch windows to improve their chances of actually launching.

SpaceViews

Space News for June 9, 1999

Weather Delays Globalstar Launch

The Boeing launch of a Delta II was postponed due to bad weather that covered much of Florida. The rocket was carrying a set of four Globalstar satellites. Although there will be another launch window the next day, the weather outlook looks bleak, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to launch.

Astronomy Now

Dust Cloud Found Around Ganymede

Using instruments designed for just this task, Galileo has discovered a dust cloud orbiting Ganymede – Jupiter’s largest moon. It’s believed the cloud was created by high velocity meteorites knocking dust into space when they strike.

BBC News

Asteroid Search Needs Funding

At the recent International Monitoring Programs for Asteroid and Comet Threat (IMPACT) conference in Torino, Italy, astronomers generally agreed that there was a greater need for funding an international cooperation for the search of Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

SpaceViews

Another Asteroid Impact Possibility Discovered

Astronomers have discovered another asteroid that may impact the Earth in the relatively near future. 1998 OX4 will pass extremely close to the Earth in 2046, and there’s a 1-in-10 million chance that it will strike. This is the third announcement of such a close call, and astronomers believe the announcements will continue as an increasing number of asteroids are discovered.

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