Space News for June 3, 1999

Roton Tests Delayed

Although ground tests of the Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle have been carried out, a full air test flight of the rocket is behind schedule. Originally planned for only a few weeks after its announcement ceremony on March 1st, it’s already been 3 months of delays – there’ll likely be more.

Space Daily

Eta Carinae Grows Unusually Bright

Once one of the brightest stars in the night sky of the Southern hemisphere, Eta Carinae has been releasing an increasing amount of energy – now twice as much as it did 20 years ago. The star is over 100 times the size of our sun, and relatively close to our solar system – only 7,500 light years. Strangely, astronomers have no explanation why this energy increase is happening.

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Elongated Asteroids Could Be Weaker

Nothing more that a loose collection of rocks held together by gravity, elongated asteroids are believed to be much weaker than spherical asteroids. Light impacts or gravitational effects can pull these asteroids apart. This theory also helps explain how asteroids can have moons.

Astronomy Now
Space Daily

Io May Contain High Concentrations of Salt

Astronomers have discovered large concentrations of chlorine in the atmosphere of Io – higher concentrations than anywhere else in the solar system. It’s believed this chlorine, spewed into the atmosphere by huge volcanoes, forms into common table salt on the surface of the planet.

Space Daily

Space News for June 2, 1999

Mir Will Finally Be Shut Down

Unable the find the additional funding they need, Russian officials have decided to scrap Mir. The current cosmonauts will leave the station for the last time in August, and it will remain unattended as its orbit decays into the atmosphere, finally burning up sometime in August.

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Sun’s Orbit Around the Galaxy Calculated

Using a precise radio telescope, astronomers have calculated exactly how long it takes for the sun to make one revolution around the Milky Way: 226 million years. Last time the sun was in this position, dinosaurs roamed the planet. To make their calculations, astronomers used Sagitarius A*, a star believed to be exactly at the center of the galaxy.

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Space Chronicle

Hubble Captures Entire Star Lifecycle

Recent photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope show a region of space that displays all stages of star evolution. The image is of the nebula NCG 3603, and it contains a blue supergiant star called Sher 25 surrounded by rings of interstellar gas.

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exoScience
Space Daily

Earth Microbes Survive in Mars Conditions

A microbe discovered deep in the ocean near hot vents has been found to be able to thrive in Martian conditions – an environment hostile to almost every kind of life on Earth. The bacteria doesn’t require oxygen, but converts hydrogen and nitrogen into methane gas. Not only does this discovery raise hopes of finding life on Mars, but also of future techniques to make Mars more Earthlike, by introducing life to the planet.

CNN Space

Space News for June 1, 1999

Shuttle Astronauts Visit Space Station

As part of their mission, astronauts from the Space Shuttle began their supply mission to the International Space Station by checking out their future home. Although it’s noisy and cold, the ISS already feels like home. The astronauts will spend the next 3 days transferring their cargo over.

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Increased Solar Storms Could Be a Threat in Year 2000

Researchers are forecasting that 2000 will be at the height of the sun’s 11-year solar cycle – a time when it’s most active with solar flares. This increase solar activity could cause a range of problems, from interference with satellite transmission to endangering astronaut’s spacewalks.

MSNBC

New Class of Brown Dwarf Discovered

Astronomers have discovered what they believe is a new class of star, which they’re calling methane brown dwarves. Approximately 10 to 80 times the size of Jupiter, the stars are too small to have the nuclear reactions that make stars shine brightly.

Space Central

Amateur Rocketeers Fight for Space Prize

The Space Frontier Foundation is offering $250,000 to the first amateur rocket group that can get a payload of 4.4 pounds into space (124 miles). Many groups are vying for the prize, and they’re using many innovative methods to get there, including launches from balloons.

CNN Space

Space News for May 31, 1999

Evidence of Possible Oceans on Mars

Recent maps of the Red Planet taken by the Mars Global Surveyor have found possible evidence of oceans, that could have covered the planet in the past. This evidence includes what seems to be the shorelines of two dried up oceans.

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Shuttle Docks with Space Station

It took some tricky piloting, but Space Shuttle commander Kent Rominger successfully hooked up the spacecraft with the International Space Station. Although the Space Shuttle has docked with Mir many times in the past, it was the first docking with a US space station since Skylab.

Astronomy Now
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Chandra Preparations Resume

After being on hold while the Air Force investigates a string of misfired rockets, preparations to launch the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have resumed. Chandra is to use the same Inertial Upper Stage rocket as those responsible for misplace Air Force satellites – NASA is cautious, but still moving forward.

Astronomy Now
SpaceViews

British Businessman was too Tall to Fly on Mir

A recent report from the Russian Space Agency has quelled the rumors of why British businessman Peter Llewellyn won’t be flying up to Mir. It turns out he’s too tall (6’3″), and won’t fit on the spacecraft. Although he could fit in the commander’s seat, it would put the rest of the crew at risk.

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Space News for May 28, 1999

Global Surveyor Builds Mars Map

Still orbiting the Red Planet, Mars Global Surveyor has been busy providing data for a three-dimensional map of the surface. This new topological map will show the altitude of every point on Mars to an accuracy of 42 feet.

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Discovery Launch Successful

After a six month launch hiatus, the Space Shuttle Discovery roared into the sky from Cape Canaveral yesterday. This will be the first of 4 missions planned for this year, and is primarily focused on stocking the International Space Station with supplies. Discovery will return in 10 days.

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British Businessman Backs Down from Mir Trip

Originally planning to make a trip to Mir to help raise funds for a Russian hospital, British businessman Peter Llewellyn will not be going. The Russian space agency planning to train the new cosmonaut said he was declined because it appears that he won’t be providing the $100 million that the agency was expecting.

BBC News

Message Sent to the Stars

A commercial group has successfully beamed an international signal from a radio telescope in the Southern Ukraine. Aimed a four nearby star systems, the message included a rebroadcast of an original message sent 25 years ago, a “Rosetta Stone”, containing images and mathematical proofs, as well as messages from 50,000 paying participants.

MSNBC

Space News for May 27, 1999

Indian Rocket Launch Successful

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully lifted off from Sriharikota, an island off the coast of India on Wednesday. Although this was the 4th successful launch of the PSLV rocket, this was India’s first successful commercial launch, as two of the satellites it placed into orbit were from Germany and South Korea.

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China Continues Preparations for Manned Space Flight

Planned to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the communist republic, China hopes make its first manned space flight before October 1st. This would make China the third country capable of independently launching humans into orbit. This announcement comes on the heels of allegations that Chinese stole rocketry science from the US.

CNN Space

Space Exploration Conference Begins in Houston

The 18th Annual International Space Development Conference began in Houston on Thursday to discuss the current and future state of the space exploration industry. More than 100 personalities in the space industry will speak at the conference including Buzz Aldrin, Robert Zubrin, and Babylon 5’s Bruce Boxleitner.

Space Chronicle

Space News for May 26, 1999

Universe Could Be Younger Than Previously Thought

The age of the universe has been adjusted to 13.4 billion years according to recent calculations by Australian astronomer Charles Lineweaver – a decrease of 1.6 billion years from previous estimates.

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Discovery Mission Will Stock Space Station
One of the key objectives of the upcoming Space Shuttle Discovery mission will be to stock the International Space Station with nearly two tons of supplies. The Space Shuttle will reach the ISS two days after launch, and begin unloading supplies.

Space Online

Amateur Rocket Breaks Record
A rocket launched by amateur group JP Aerospace broke a new altitude record on Sunday when it reached a total altitude of 72,223 feet. Although this was a new record, they didn’t reach their goal of crossing the threshold of space (60 miles), mainly because the balloon that the rocket was to launch from didn’t reach its maximum altitude.

SpaceViews

Meteors Won’t Be a Threat to Satellites
A treat for backyard astronomers, this year’s above-average Leonid meteor shower was a brief concern for space officials, due to possible impact with satellites. However, as the 1998 shower, which was also high, and had no effect on satellites, officials have reduced the risk of this threat.

SpaceViews

Space News for May 25, 1999

Shuttle Ready for Launch

Engineers have repaired the hail damage to Discovery’s fuel tank, and are preparing the Shuttle for launch on Thursday. NASA officials admit they’re a little nervous about this launch, considering the recent series of launch failures.

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Suicide Mission for Lunar Prospector
With its overall mission objectives fulfilled, and budget starting to run out, officials are planning for Lunar Prospector to make the final sacrifice to prove the existence of water at the Moon’s south pole. They plan to crash the probe into the Moon, and study the ejecta for signs of water.

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ESA Approves Mars Express
The European Space Agency has given the final approval for the development of a European mission to Mars – Mars Express. With budget approval, the 14 member states will now begin development of spacecraft, which will launch in 2003.

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Indian Rocket Prepares for Launch
India’s enters the commercial launch industry with preparations to launch a series of satellites aboard its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on Wednesday. This first launch will carry a South Korean mini-satellite, a German Research satellite, and an Indian oceanographic remote sensing satellite.

CNN Space

Space News for May 24, 1999

VentureStar Looks for Government Backing
Lockheed Martin has gone to Congress to find funding for its VentureStar reusable space vehicle project, after failing to get any backing from Wall Street investors. Too expensive for Lockheed Martin to develop on its own, the company needs to find billions from a variety of government and commercial financing sources.

Space Daily.

Skywatchers View Regulus Occultation
The moon passed in front of another bright star in the sky – this time it was Regulus, in the constellation of Leo. These eclipses, called occultations can be used by astronomers to help chart lunar features, such as craters and mountains.

Astronomy Now
explorezone.com

Military Titan Launch Successful
After a string of failures, the US Air Force was finally able to loft a satellite on a Titan IVB rocket. Carrying a top secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, the rocket lifted off from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California on Saturday.

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Encounter 2000 Prepares Interstellar Message
Instead of merely listening for incoming messages, a commercial project called Encounter 2000 has decided to send its message out to the stars. In addition to general information about humanity, and our understanding of mathematics, logic, and chemistry, the company is allowing private citizens the opportunity to tag their own message on the end… for a price.

Encounter 2000 Website
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SpaceViews

Space News for May 21, 1999

Astronauts Get Grumpy in Space
Researchers studying Mir astronauts and cosmonauts have learned a tremendous amount about humans react to the confines of space. Tensions flare, rivalries erupt, and the crew tends to blame Mission Control for almost any problem. They’re working to help counteract the negative effects of space travel, and learn how to avoid personality conflicts before they start.

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Space Chronicle

[email protected] Borrows 600 Years of Computing Time

In only a week, [email protected] has become the world’s largest experiment in distributed computing, with more than 300,000 participants. This massive network has already racked up 600 years of computing time for the searchers, with a Michigan Tech University Group contributing a year by itself.

MSNBC

Hollywood Helps Design Next Spacesuit
NASA has turned to renowned costume designer Chris Gilman to help them create their next generation space suit because of his experience developing realistic movie replicas. Gilman’s objective was to improve the suit’s visibility, increase mobility, and be easier to get on an off.

exn

Russia Allows Mir to Stay Aloft with Private Funding
Although government funding for the ancient space station has dried up, Russia has agreed to keep Mir aloft if private funding can be found in time. Estimates for the annual operations range between $100 million and $250 million; although, it’s unclear exactly who’ll provide the private funding.

MSNBC