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For the latest News From Space, click here.

For the rest of 1999's News From Space, click here.

bullet30 September 1999 -  What killed The Mars Climate Observer? A software glitch caused by part of the probe's programming being entered in English units (pounds of force) and part being entered in metric units (newtons). The firm that built the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin, submitted acceleration data to NASA/JPL using the English figures, but NASA's standards specify that measurements should use the metric system. Rocket science, indeed!

Check your local TV listings for the upcoming "Red Files" special about the Secret Soviet Moon Mission on PBS.


bullet29 September - Time-share in space? Cash-strapped Russians may sell time on ISS to other space agencies.

Largest explosions in the universe may come from the deaths of massive stars.


bullet 28 September - NASA to investigate Mars Orbiter loss - Contact with the probe ended abruptly last Thursday.

Chandra telescope astounds scientists with Crab Nebula images.


bullet26 September - The Mars Climate Observer was part of the "faster, better, cheaper" philosophy for planetary exploration. The lost space probe probably ventured below the minimum survivable altitude and broke up in the Martian atmosphere. No one ever said that space exploration was risk-free!

How safe is the Shuttle fleet?

Man busted for trying to sell bogus moon rocks.

This Week In Space History - Two Shuttle anniversaries: 
The 11th anniversary (29 Sep 1988) of STS-26 (Shuttle Discovery) launch, the 26th shuttle mission. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. This was the first Shuttle flight after the Challenger disaster 31 months earlier - you know they were keeping a close eye on this one! This mission featured a deployment of a TDRS-3 satellite.

The 5th anniversary (30 Sep 1994) of STS-68 (Shuttle Endeavour) launch, the 65th shuttle mission. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collection here. This mission landed at Edwards AFB and featured the Space Radar Laboratory among its many payloads.

This week also marks the 37th anniversary (29 Sep 1962) of the launch of Alouette I, the first Canadian satellite. The bird went up from Vandenberg AFB (USA) on a Thor Agena B rocket. This launch made Canada the third nation on earth to have a spacecraft in orbit. Alouette I stayed in orbit for 10 years, studying the ionosphere.


bullet25 September - The next Mars mission will land this December - how can NASA ensure its success? (NY Times story - registration required). Mars or bust!!

NASA administrator Dan Goldin wants to privatize part of the space agency!



24 September - FLASH!!! Latest Mars mission is a failure - The Mars Climate Orbiter, a mission to orbit the Red Planet and study its weather patterns, has been lost after a 9-month voyage from Earth. Apparently, navigational errors directed the probe to come too close to the Martian surface, causing it to either break up or burn up in the thin atmosphere. Scientists lost contact with the orbiter early yesterday, and by this morning, they had declared the mission a loss and stopped searching for the 125-million-dollar(US) probe.  This is a serious setback for NASA/JPL, but the upcoming Mars Polar Lander mission is not in danger - though some of its experiments will have to be re-arranged.  GRRR!! First Mars Observer, now this - maybe somebody up there doesn't want us getting too close??

Can solar megaflares point the way to extrasolar planets?

Commercial imaging satellite launched. Ikonos is the world's highest-resolution non-military satellite.


bullet23 September - Contact lost with Mars Climate Orbiter!!

University claims supercollider "Not A Doomsday Machine".



22 September - New moons discovered around Uranus! The 7th planet now has the most satellites in our solar system, with 21 moons.

Mars awaits arrival of Climate Orbiter.

Round-the world balloon pilots honored - the historic gondola was added to the National Air & Space Museum's Milestones Of Flight exhibit. (Whaddya mean that's not space news??? It was called the Breitling Orbiter!!!)


bullet21 September - Controversial supercollider experiment to create quarks - and maybe a black hole???

Shuttle reveals ancient Scottish secrets!



19 September - Russia concedes that Mir station is abandoned - de-orbit mission in doubt.

Supermassive star clouds found at center of our galaxy.

Christie's auction nets "space loot" - a total of US$1,934,955 was collected for various space exploration artifacts in New York City. Jim Irwin's moon-dust-covered Apollo 15 patch sold for $310,500.

This Week In Space History - 2nd anniversary (25 Sep 97) of STS-86 (Shuttle Atlantis) launch, the 87th shuttle mission. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; KSC image collection here. This mission was the seventh docking with the Mir station and featured a joint US-Russian spacewalk.


bullet18 September - Floyd didn't only hit Florida and the Carolinas - we lost power here in northern NJ for 28 hours! Check out these photos of the hurricane's aftermath at Kennedy Space Center (NASA) and Cape Canaveral Air Station (USAF)! An exhibit of a Mercury Redstone rocket from the the 60's was toppled by the high winds. Two other NASA facilities also closed for the storm, as KSC came back on-line Thursday (16 September).


bullet15 September - The Shuttle Fleet is spared as Hurricane Floyd skirts Florida. Millions fled the hurricane-force winds, which even caused Disney World to close down for a full day for the first time in its 28-year history. The gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building lost some siding, but the  overall damage was minimal. KSC's web server is still down at this writing.

Mark Lee removed from next May's STS-98 mission - allegedly for "conduct unbecoming of an astronaut" - what's that all about??? More info on Mark Lee in the STS-47 story below.

Christie's Space Memorabilia auction this Saturday in NYC (full article below).



14 September - Cape Canaveral is threatened by Hurricane Floyd! The Shuttle fleet is battened down in the Orbiter Processing Facility. The storm will probably not score a direct hit on the Cape, but may make landfall further up the U.S. coast. KSC has been evacuated except for a skeleton crew, and the four rockets currently on launch pads remain outside, but secured as much as possible. Even this website is affected, as many links to NASA web sites are temporarily off-line.

First Earth-sized planet discovered outside our solar system!

Today In Space History: Forty years ago today, the Soviet probe Luna 2 became the first man-made object to reach another planetary body, crashing into the moon near Mare Ibrium. 30 minutes later, the last stage of its rocket also impacted the lunar surface.


12 September - Wow! This Week In Space History features four Shuttle anniversaries plus a Gemini mission!
Today marks the 31st anniversary of the Gemini 11 (GT-XI) launch, the 15th U.S. manned spaceflight. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collection here. This mission was commanded by the late Pete Conrad, who would later become an Apollo 12 moonwalker and the first Skylab commander. The Gemini crew practiced docking techniques with an Agena target vehicle and created the first artificial gravity when pilot Dick Gordon spun the Agena by a tether


See the Shuttle Page for the rest of this week's anniversaries.

News: Space Frontiers Conference 23-26 September - seats still available! NASA chief Dan Goldin will be giving the keynote address.
Shuttle repairs continuing.
X-34 spaceplane unveiled at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
Mars Climate Orbiter approaches the Red Planet. Photos here.
Hurricane Floyd heading for the Cape! Rocket launches delayed.
Are black holes the source of much of the energy in the universe?


10 September - Public events at JPL mark Jupiter exploration milestones. Pasadena is the place to be next week!

Why is everybody pointing nuclear missiles at us???


9 September - Happy 9/9/99!
Gov't panel rips Lockheed for missile failures.
NASA sets tentative Shuttle launch dates - flip-flops next 2 flights. Fleet may last another 40 years!
Next-generation booster rockets may be re-usable.
1100-foot-tall dust devils observed on Mars!
Here is the latest SPACEWARN bulletin from NASA.
Mir "drifting" in orbit.
Did NASA kick an astronaut off an upcoming mission?


8 September -  JPL Flight projects director Gene Giberson dead at 76 - career spanned entire space program.


5 September -  Cell phone acting up? Radio stations fuzzy? Blame solar flares.
Scientists still looking for moon water in Lunar Prospector data.
Project Full Moon photo tour (super-quality prints of photos taken on Apollo missions, assembled by Michael Light) continues on to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this month. You can still catch the exhibit at the Newseum at Arlington, VA until 12 September (as part of the Dateline Moon exhibit) or at the Hayward Gallery in London until 19 September. Book (244 pages) available here.


This Week In Space History - 
See the Shuttle Page for the rest of this week's anniversaries.


4 September - Space Shuttle fleet grounded as wiring problems surface! Space Station flights also face delays.


2 September - Cassini probe snaps a few photos of Earth's moon on its way to Saturn.


1 September 1999 - Cosmonauts warn that unattended Mir station could spin out of control!
High-end auction house Christie's will feature a Space Exploration sale this month - items like Neil Armstrong's spacesuit (not the one he wore on the moon - that's in the Smithsonian), Deke Slayton's watch, etc. will go under the gavel on 16 September. For those of us without an extra few $100K lying around, the catalog is available for $35.

This Week In Space History - Two Shuttle anniversaries (moved to the Shuttle Page).

Chandra space telescope continues to work well.


28 August - The last full-time crew of the Russian space station, Mir, has returned home in their Soyuz TM29 capsule to a hero's welcome, parachuting back to Kazakhstan. The Station will remain in orbit for six more months, in case private investors can fund further time aloft. Otherwise, a cleanup crew will push it out of orbit, where most of the station will burn up in the atmosphere. TV-set-sized chunks of wreckage will survive re-entry. Russia will attempt to the de-orbit it over the ocean, but there is a chance that small pieces of wreckage may come down in Canada. One of the returning cosmonauts, Sergei Avdeyev, holds the world's record for space endurance, clocking in 742 days in orbit. 

Hurricane Dennis threatens Cape Canaveral!

26 August -
After 13 years, the Russian Mir space station is due to be abandoned Friday! Will there be one more clean-up crew after this? The station's orbit will decay, and a freight transport will be used to push it out of orbit next spring, burning it up over the Pacific. The sometimes-buggy station has endured far beyond its originally-intended 5-year lifespan. Full story at Florida Today.

Chandra X-Ray observatory returns first images! The orbiting space telescope transmitted its first set of photos to Cambridge, Mass today.

Water from a stone? Ancient salty droplets found in meteorite!


25 August - Upcoming shuttle launches delayed due to electrical inspections. Endeavour may go up in late October for STS-99.
NASA reveals upcoming Mars landing site for Polar Lander mission. Frozen water at the south pole may uncover evidence of past life.
New "X-Planes" to be tested - will any of them be used for military purposes?
Russia will abandon Mir station!
NASA to release first Chandra images.
What is a nano-satellite???


23 August - The GPS bug bites, but only a little - see the GPS page for details.

The controversy over the Mercury 4 space capsule "Liberty Bell 7" continues, as a man who worked for the manufacturer of the hatch claims that the astronaut erred and blew the hatch prematurely. Astronaut Gus Grissom insisted that an equipment malfunction caused the hatch to blow, sending the spacecraft to the bottom of the ocean where it would remain until it was salvaged last month. Grissom, who narrowly avoided drowning in the incident, would go on to command Gemini 3, and perished in the tragic Apollo 1 fire in 1967. NASA supported his claim that he could not have blown the hatch accidentally, and awarded him a Distinguished Service medal in addition to assigning him to further space missions.

Is Russia secretly training a crew to beat the U.S. to man the International Space Station?

bullet 22 August - GPS Rollover bug doesn't bite - more details at the GPS page
NASA to reveal site of next Mars mission this week - will also hold briefings on new X-Vehicle programs.
NASA Shuttle milestone - accepts delivery of 100th external fuel tank.
This Week In Space History -
STS-51I anniversary (moved to the Shuttle Page).

bullet 21 August -  The Global Positioning System (GPS) network of satellites experiences the first rollover of its 1024-week counter tonight. Learn what this may mean to you at our new GPS page.


19 August - Cassini Probe safely performs Earth flyby to gain momentum on its way to Saturn to study the gas giant, and drop off the European Space Agency's Huygens probe to study Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
More Space History - 17th anniversary of Soviet mission Soyuz T-7 to the orbiting Salyut 7 space station (19 Aug 1982). The flight featured the world's second woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, who became the first-ever female space walker on this mission. The Salyut space stations were a series of small orbiting facilities launched by the USSR, eventually evolving into today's Mir space station.
America's first space-woman, Sally Ride, went up seven  months after the Soviets, and the first American woman to perform an EVA would not do so until October 1984. 



15 August - This Week In Space History - 34th anniversary of the Gemini 5 launch. On 21 August 1965, astronauts Gordon Cooper (who became the first astronaut to have orbited the earth in two separate missions) and Charles "Pete" Conrad roared into orbit atop a Titan II rocket from Pad 19 at Cape Canaveral (then known as Cape Kennedy). Gemini-Titan 5 (GT-5) was the third manned flight of Project Gemini, an important string of missions that took the early triumphs of the Mercury series and advanced the state of the art in space travel with achievements like the first U.S. spacewalk, first U.S. rendezvous between 2 ships, and more. Gemini would later lead up to the historic Apollo moon landings. Click here for NASA's Gemini 5 photo archive.  Here's a shot from Wright-Patterson AFB's museum. Hey, did you notice the Air Force markings on there (instead of NASA)? Stay tuned for the scoop on that!


So, how about that nuke-powered Cassini probe, eh? Not to worry, NASA/JPL says the mission to Saturn is safe even though the length and distance of the flight requires a nuclear generator with 72 pounds of plutonium on board. Tuesday will mark its closest flyby of Earth (for a "gravity slingshot" back to the ringed planet). So all you anti-spaceprobe people can go home now.


No meteors? No eclipse? What's left to look at? Check here.



14 August - Galileo probe to Jupiter makes flyby of satellite Callisto!



13 August - [Eclipse links have been moved to the new Eclipse Page - Shuttle stories to the new Shuttle Page].
Check here for news on the next Shuttle mission. 
Check here for an article about a "secret" spy satellite launch failure.

Live meteor shower coverage from 105000 feet at!

More news on the possible failure of the Global Positioning System later this month - stay tuned for a full report!
Is the International Space Station a "sick building"?


12 August - [Eclipse links have been moved to the Eclipse Page]. 

Here Come the Perseids: The 1999 Perseid meteor shower peaks later this week with exceptionally good viewing expected under the dark skies of a nearly new moonFLASH! Peak viewing early Thursday & Friday mornings!


9 August - This week in space history: Lots-O-Links about the Space Shuttles Enterprise & Columbia - now moved to the new Shuttle Page

Forget the Y2K bug - what about the GPS1K bug?!? The Global Positioning System is rolling over on its 1024-week cycle. Will we be lost without this vital service?


7 August - More Chandra news...


6 August 1999 - This week in Space History - Forty years ago tomorrow, (7 Aug 1959), the U.S. Army launched an early satellite, called Explorer 6, on a Thor Able rocket. The mission, launched from  from Pad 17 at Cape Canaveral, was deemed a success despite a wobbly orbit, notably because it returned the first photos of the Earth from space. Other anniversaries include the 2 Aug 91 launch of STS-43 (Shuttle Atlantis) and the 7 Aug 97 launch of STS-85 (Shuttle Discovery). 


1 August 1999 - The Union Jack on the Red Planet? Great Britain announces Mars mission for 2003.
China is ready to embark on their own manned space program. The more the merrier, I say! 
In Mir news, two cosmonauts went out for what is likely the final spacewalk outside the Russian space station. Russia has agreed to pay $115 million in overdue rent for use of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
More Shuttle Events... [Top of Page]


31 July 1999 - Water on the moon? The Lunar Prospector spacecraft, which has been orbiting the Moon for 18 months now, has crashed into the moon's surface - on purpose! The space probe was running out of fuel anyway, and scientists wanted to control the end of the successful mission by directing it into a region of the moon that may contain pockets of ice. The deliberate smash-up is testing a theory that frozen water exists at the lunar poles, deposited over millions of years by comet impacts; the ice may be locked into the lunar topsoil in craters that are permanently in shadow. The presence of water on the lunar surface would make further manned exploration much easier. There might be enough water on the Moon to support human colonies! The impact was intended to throw up a plume of water that would be visible from Earth. So far, no cloud has been observed, but images are still being analyzed and it could be weeks before we see any results. 

Prospector also provides a final resting place for astronomer Eugene Shoemaker (of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fame), some of whose ashes are on board. His many discoveries include the comet that smashed into Jupiter in 1994. The burial of the ashes in the lunar south pole makes him the first human to be interred on another world.


35 years ago today (31 July 1964), the lunar probe Ranger 7 returned close-up pictures of the Moon's surface. The Ranger series was designed to crash-land on the Moon, beaming images back to Earth until the moment of impact. The seventh Ranger mission was the first to successfully return photos of the surface.

Today is also the 30th anniversary of the Mariner 6 flyby of Mars.


30 July 1999 - Space Center, Air Force Station Consolidate to Save Money - Most people don't know that the Kennedy Space Center is not the same place as Cape Canaveral - now they are consolidating some services.

Telescope may have found liquid seas on Titan!



28 July 1999: Columbia back home - engine leak confirmed
Here is the main page for the Deep Space 1 probe, which completed the closest flyby ever (10 miles) of an asteroid today. Scientists are declaring the mission a success despite the failure of a camera to obtain close-up photos of asteroid 9969 Braille. Some images from further away were obtained after the encounter.


Liberty Bell 7 returns! - Gus Grissom's Mercury 4 capsule raised from the ocean floor after nearly 40 years! Gus would later go on to command Gemini 3; he perished in the tragic Apollo 1 fire in 1967.


Saluting the Apollo 11 Mission - Thirty years ago this July 20, the single greatest technological achievement of all time happened...


Remembering Pete Conrad

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