Jan - Feb 2000

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The Shuttle oribits the Earth every 90 minutes. Here, with the payload bay door at lower left, we see one of the many sunsets...

Shuttle  returns from Earth mapping mission!

...fading over the horizon. These images were taken just minutes apart on Flight Day 2.

bullet22 February - 7:30PM EST - Shuttle Endeavour is back on the ground at Kennedy Space Center! It was the second landing attempt, the first one having been waved off due to high cross-winds at the Shuttle Landing Facility. The landing took place at 6:22PM EST, after the pilots were given the go-ahead for a de-orbit burn, firing the on-board engines to slow them down for re-entry from their 150-mile high flight. The crew have disembarked from the orbiter, and gave Endeavour the once-over, joined in their inspection by throngs of NASA personnel. The spacecraft has been "safed" (no danger of exploding propellant or noxious chemicals), and the 6 astronauts will head for the Astronaut Quarters for a thorough physical exam. Bad weather had threatened to send Endeavour to back-up landing sites in California or New Mexico, but conditions improved enough to allow a return to Florida
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.


bullet21 February - The Endeavour crew have wrapped up their Earth mapping mission today. After having some trouble stowing the 200-ft-long radar mast, they were able to secure it in the cargo bay, and prepare for their landing tomorrow. Bad weather at KSC threatens to force the orbiter to land at Edwards AFB in California. If the weather at Edwards looks bad, an emergency landing will take place at White Sands, New Mexico.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.


bullet20 February - The Rose Center for Earth and Space made its debut in New York City yesterday. Part of the American Museum of Natural History, it features the famous Hayden Planetarium.

Endeavour is on the last day of its mapping mission - Stay Tuned for more Shuttle news!
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

Today In Space History - 38 years ago today (20 Feb 1962), John Glenn rocketed into space aboard his "Friendship 7" capsule. The Mercury-Atlas 6 mission was the first orbital flight by a U.S. astronaut, catapulting Glenn to national hero status, and giving the American space program a much-needed shot in the arm, after several successes by the Soviet Union threatened to leave the U.S. behind in the space race. The launch (the first from Cape Canaveral's Pad 14) was NASA's third manned space mission, sending Glenn on a 3-orbit mission for nearly five hours. Mission Facts here and here; Crew info here and here; News highlights here, here, and here; Image collections here, here, and here. Glenn's Mercury spacecraft was far from trouble-free. He had to take manual control of the capsule after an automatic thruster malfunctioned, and there was a scare when the heat shield, which protected the astronaut from incinerating in the heat of atmospheric friction, was thought to have come looseGlenn left NASA after realizing he wouldn't fly in space again - making him the first ex-astronaut! He started a career in business, and entered politics, becoming a U.S. senator and making an unsuccessful 1984 bid for President. He finally did return to space, as part of the crew of Shuttle Discovery's STS95 mission in 1998.


bullet19 February - Earlier this week, Endeavour's mission was threatened to be cut short - now it is being extended by 9 hours!
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

The Hayden Planetarium is back! Part of the new Rose Center for Earth and Space in the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium re-opens today.


bullet18 February - NASA's efforts to conserve fuel on this week's Shuttle mission have paid off! The STS-99 crew will return to Earth from their 3-D radar mapping mission on Tuesday, without cutting the mission short.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

After 2 days of weather-related delays, France's Arianespace has launched a Japanese communications satellite, SUPERBIRD-4, aboard an Ariane-4 rocket.


bullet17 February - The current shuttle mission is halfway over, and NASA is still trying to squeeze every ounce of fuel so that the flight, which is using more propellant than expected, can go on for the full 9-day duration.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

Mars Polar Lander? Forget it! The renewed search has been called off - signals heard last month were probably not from the lost space-probe, after all. Back to the drawing board!

Where did the moon come from? Our peaceful satellite may have had a violent origin!

Can Russia revive an enormous radio-telescope - a former cold-war weapon - for scientific use?

NASA boss Dan Goldin dukes it out with Congress about budget increases, and U.S. dependence on Russia for key ISS components.


bullet16 February - Shuttle Endeavour continues its mapping mission in Earth orbit. NASA is hopeful that fuel concerns won't cut the flight short. [See also 15 Feb].
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

The Cassini probe, on its way to Saturn, has captured new images of the asteroid 2685 Masursky.

More on the NEAR probe's orbit of asteroid Eros [See also 14 Feb].

A private company is providing millions of dollars in funding to keep Russia's Mir space station in orbit. [See also 6 Feb].


bullet15 February - Endeavour continues its Shuttle Radar Topography Mission today, mapping 40,000 miles each minute. The balky thruster at the end of the radar mast, which was supposed to keep the orbiter in the right position for mapping, may threaten to cut the flight short by a day - but mission controllers are coming up with fuel-conservation techniques which may preserve the flight for its full duration.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

A Russian search team has located the Fregat rocket booster which has been missing since its return to Earth nearly 5 days ago. The unmanned ship has some innovative features, such as a new heat shield design and a motor that can be stopped and restarted numerous times while in flight. The dummy satellite, which was on board, has yet to be recovered. [See also 9 Feb].


bullet14 February -  Happy Valentine's Day!  The NEAR space-probe has executed a successful with the asteroid Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to ever go into orbit around an asteroid! NEAR has even spotted a heart-shaped crater on the surface.

More hearts??? Mars Global Surveyor spots a heart-shaped mesa on the Red Planet (OK, I'm ready to vomit now, with all this Valentine stuff!).

NASA is keeping an eye on Shuttle Endeavour's fuel consumption. At this rate, the radar-mapping mission may have to be cut short by up to a day, reducing the amount of data returned. The flight is going well otherwise, with scientists on the ground reportedly being elated with the super-detailed images coming back from STS-99, which has mapped 21 million square miles of the Earth's surface so far.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.


bullet13 February - A malfunctioning thruster at the end of the radar mast used for mapping may cut Endeavour's mission short! The STS-99 crew have had to use the orbiter's thrusters to keep the spacecraft steady, instead of a tiny gas jet at the end of the 200-ft (60-meter) radar mast. The jet seems to be clogged, and the use of the orbiter's thrusters consumes more fuel than the jet on the mast, which only needs a force equal to "about the weight of a penny in the palm of your hand" to keep the Shuttle in the proper position for mapping. The long mast acts like a huge lever, and the miniscule force is all it takes to move the massive spacecraft around.
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

The NEAR probe continues its approach of the asteroid Eros (that's right, named after the "love god"!). It is set to orbit the oddly-shaped asteroid tomorrow (Valentine's Day - these guys don't miss a trick, do they?)




12 February - 4PM EST - The first images from Shuttle Endeavour's radar-mapping mission have come back from orbit, showing a small, super-detailed radar snapshot of White Sands, New Mexico (USA). 
Follow the current mission status from NASA JSC & KSCFlorida Today, and  CBS News. Watch live video on NASA TV! (Check schedule here).
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports.

Russia has resumed flights of their Proton rocket, launching a commercial satellite for Indonesia today. It was the first launch of the workhorse booster since Kazakhstan (home of Russia's launch facility) lifted their ban on Proton launches (due to 2 crashes there last year). The Garuda-1 ("Eagle")  satellite will provide voice, fax and pager services throughout the Pacific Rim.


12 February - Shuttle Endeavour is off to a good start as the six-member crew begins their mission to create a 3-D map of the Earth. The STS-99 flight was cleared for launch yesterday morning and had a flawless liftoff at 12:43PM EST from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Shortly after reaching orbit, the 197-ft-long (60-meter) radar mast, the largest rigid structure ever to fly in space, was deployed from the orbiter's payload bay.
Check daily "Notes from the Project Scientist", and coverage from Florida Today and CBS.

NEARly there, NASA is set to rendezvous with an asteroid named Eros (named after the mythical god of love) on Monday - Valentine's day! The asteroid has about 100 craters that will need naming (with a love/romance theme) - and you can help! Enter The Planetary Society's "Names On Eros" contest! The NEAR probe will be the first spacecraft to ever orbit an asteroid.

Despite yesterday's awesome Shuttle launch, there are concerns about the safety of the fleet as the launch schedule begins to pick up the pace.


bullet11 February - Shuttle Endeavour has launched from NASA's KSC, roaring into space to create the first-ever 3-D radar map of the world!
Check Mission Control's  morning and evening Shuttle status reports, daily "Notes from the Project Scientist", and coverage from Florida Today and CBS.

Russian Shuttle model to become museum exhibit in Australia!

The main office building at KSC was evacuated yesterday, as employees called in to report "suspicious-looking people" in the building. They turned out to be legitimate NASA employees. Better safe than blown to bits, we always say.

How common could intelligent life be beyond the Earth? Scientists are debating

Russia's space agency has pledged to launch the crew module for the International Space Station this July, which will lead to full-time occupation this November

Today In Space History - The 3rd anniversary (11 Feb 1997) of the STS-82 (Shuttle Discovery) launch, the 82nd Shuttle flight. Mission Facts here and here; Crew info here and here; News highlights here; Image collections here and here. This was the 22nd flight for Discovery, which would land at night at KSC nearly 10 days later. This was the second mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The Mobile Launch Platform developed a crack during rollout, but Discovery continued on its slow journey to Pad 39A after a 7-hour inspection [Source: Catherin Gregory].


bullet10 February - Japan's beleaguered space program suffered another setback as their Astro-E space telescope, which was to use a cryogenically cooled sensor to detect X-ray photons, failed to reach orbit aboard its M-V (M-5) booster. The satellite probably burned up in Earth's atmosphere after the solid-fueled rocket's first stage malfunctioned, sending the spacecraft off course.

Did the universe start with a "Big Bang"? Scientists in Switzerland have created a "Little Bang" that may help prove the theory of how matter was created.

Europe's new XMM satellite, an X-ray telescope even larger than Chandra, continues to send super images to scientists on Earth, some of which suggest that the universe is hotter than previously thought.

China wants a global treaty to ban space-based weapons, in response to recent U.S. tests of anti-missile technology. 


bullet9 February - A damaged wiring harness on one of the Space Shuttle's solid rocket boosters was determined to be only a superficial problem, clearing Endeavour for a Friday launch. The STS-99 mission is set to begin at 12:30PM EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Russia tested an advanced launch vehicle today, but it is still missing in the Ural mountains after its return to Earth. The "Fregat" rocket component is re-usable, and is capable of stopping and re-starting its engines several times during flight. The revolutionary design can be integrated into current Russian rocket models.

After four years in space, the SOHO space telescope, designed to observe the Sun from Earth orbit, has made over 100 comet observations.

Will the International Space Station ever get off the ground?

Close call? Yesterday's story of a potential Earth collision in 2022 turned out to be a false alarm, as updated course calculations showed that the asteroid, 2000 BF19, will miss our planet by 3.5 million miles (actually, that's a pretty narrow margin in the grand scheme of things!)


bullet8 February - Will a damaged wiring harness cause another launch delay for the Space Shuttle?

The missing Mars Polar Lander continues to elude the efforts of radio-astronomers around the world to locate the probe. After NASA had declared the lander "officially dead" in January, scientists at Stanford University thought they picked up a faint signal from the spacecraft earlier this month, prompting a renewed search.

A California desert town will allow a "lunar colony" to be built within its borders - as a prototype for the real thing!

That's the way the planet crumbles: Astronomers have discovered an asteroid which could collide with the Earth 22 years from now! Dang! Just when we were using up all our Y2K supplies, too!


bullet7 February - Japan's launch of their Astro-E X-ray observatory has been scrubbed for one day due to weather at the Kagoshima Space Center (the "other KSC"???). It will be the third launch of Japan's M-V (M-5) rocket. Next launch window: tomorrow.  More info on the home page of their space agency, NASDA. [see also 5 Feb].

Cape Canaveral will also see a rocket launch tomorrow: a Boeing Delta II will loft four GlobalStar comm sats into orbit. Follow the 3:54PM EST launch at Florida Today.

Endeavour's crew is back at KSC today, preparing for Friday's launch.

Russia will be able to continue launching their Proton heavy-lift rocket, thanks to neighboring Kazakhstan's lifting of their launch ban. The former Soviet republic is home to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia's main launch facility.

A huge solar flare erupted Saturday, releasing ten million times the energy released from a volcanic explosion.

President Clinton proposed a 3% increase for NASA's 2001 budget, bringing the space agency's funding level to $14 billion (that'll buy a lot of Tang!).

Giant dish antennas around the world continue to strain to hear if the little Mars Polar Lander is alive after all.

Senators support sharing of missile defense technology with Russia! [see also 20 Jan].  U.S. allies are skeptical of the system.


bullet6 February - The European Space Agency is getting set to converge on Mars - claiming they will have a greater presence there than the U.S.! Britain is selecting a landing site for their "Beagle 2" lander, set to launch in 2003.

Concern is building over Russia's decision to extend their use of their aging Mir station. The U.S. feels that they should be concentrating on the ISS instead.

ISS managers will travel to Moscow for a Joint Program Review this Thursday. We predict a tense meeting!


bullet5 February - Will the U.S. launch its own crew module for the as-yet uninhabited ISS? NASA may have to, if Russia does not hold up their end of the bargain.

NASA's budget for next year will include increased funding for safety, new space vehicle development, and space science.

More on the recently-published Hubble photos of the "Keyhole Nebula" [see also 3 Feb].

Scientists in Britain, The Netherlands, and possibly Italy, are pitching in to listen for possible signals from the Mars Polar Lander - signals so faint and distant, it's like trying to detect a cell phone call placed from the Red Planet! No new signals have been detected, but analysis of the huge data-stream is underway.

So how does Russia make that inflatable heat shield work?

Japan and the U.S. are launching another orbiting X-ray telescope, known as Astro-E. It will use a super-cooled sensor to detect individual X-ray photons. It will be the coldest object in space - 460° Fahrenheit below zero! (Didn't we tell you space was cool?) The launch will take place on Monday, 7 Feb at 8:30PM EST aboard Japan's M-5 solid-fueled rocket.


bullet4 February - Will China launch their Shenzhou spacecraft with a human crew aboard? They may join the exclusive "club" very soon!

NASA chief speaks out on Russia's Mir launch! U.S. politicians are peeved, too. Can our Russian partners support two space stations?

A rock-hound's find of 20 years ago turns out to be a rare meteorite from Mars!

Endeavour's faulty avionics module has been swapped out and is being tested. The Shuttle is set to launch this Friday on its Radar Mapping mission, with a crew of 6 aboard (including astronauts from Germany and Japan).

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama is getting ready to choose a new CEO.

Spain launches third HISPASAT comm satellite from Cape Canaveral's Pad 36B. An Atlas IIAS rocket lifted the bird into orbit at 6:30PM EST. ¡Arriba España!


bullet3 February - The latest date for Endeavour's launch is now next Friday, 11 February 2000. The mission was originally scheduled for 31 January, but a computer problem (along with nasty weather) kept the Shuttle on the ground. NASA had hoped to launch on 9 February, but there are too may rocket launches scheduled at The Cape. Who knew there would be traffic jams to get to space?

The Russian Progress supply ship has docked with the Mir space station today. The unmanned space tug is loaded with supplies for a planned 45-day mission that will see two cosmonauts boarding the now-empty station in March. Their first order of business will be to seal the air leak that is allowing precious oxygen to vent to space at 1% per week! An orbital docking with no one aboard, remote controlled - those guys are good! [see also 1 Feb].

Unmanned cargo ships aren't the only spacecraft Russia is launching: a Zenit-2 rocket carried a super-secret military satellite into orbit today. 

NEAR space probe prepares for rendezvous with asteroid this month [see also 23 Jan].

More striking photos from Hubble - this time, from April 1999. It is back online, generating new images as well.

The Dutch were unable to hear any signals from the Mars Polar Lander - possibly due to interference from all the audio/video gear and cell phones from the swarm of news media at the observatory. Now the British are going to give it a try, with their super-sensitive Jodrell Bank radiotelescope (once the world's largest!). 

More news from Europe: the giant orbiting XMM X-ray telescope has captured its first images since its launch in December.

Today In Space History: The first-ever soft landing on the moon was made 33 years ago today, when the Soviet Luna 9 probe touched down at the Sea Of Storms on 3 Feb 1966, after a 3-day voyage. [source: Tipworld/John S. Miller]

Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the STS-63 Shuttle mission, where Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a Space Shuttle (Discovery). She would go on to command 1999's STS-93 mission to deploy the Chandra X-ray telescope. [source: AP]


bullet2 February - KSC personnel prepare to swap out the faulty computer controller from Endeavour's aft engine compartment.

The Galileo spacecraft is still exploring Jupiter and its moons!

Retired astronaut Joe Allen met with third graders at Challenger Elementary School in Huntsville, AL to talk about space travel and their city's role in space exploration.

February SPACEWARN bulletin (listing spacecraft launches) here.

Russia, working with ESA, is testing an inflatable device to let spacecraft make a soft Earth re-entry!

Just like "Down The Shore": Sand avalanches and dunes spotted on Mars!


bullet1 February - NASA has decided to scrub today's Shuttle launch, because they are not satisfied that one of the two Master Event Controller computers, which failed a pre-flight test yesterday, is ready to go. The next launch opportunity will be 9 Feb.

More on the now-international search to discern faint signals from the Mars Polar Lander.

Want to make your own black hole? Find out how here!

Russia has launched an unmanned supply ship to the vacant Mir space station. Do they still care about participating in the ISS?


bullet31 January - UPDATE - Shuttle launch scrubbed for today - another attempt will be made tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:44PM EST. The flight was postponed due to heavy rain and low clouds, along with a last-minute computer glitch. Florida Today reports that the Mission Management Team will meet at 2:30AM EST (Tuesday morning) to decide if the launch will happen this week. NASA shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore claims that the risk of a defective engine seal is very low. The Shuttle has not launched on time since John Glenn's STS-95 flight in 1998.

31 January - Endeavour to launch today at 12:47PM EST - if the weather holds up! Watch it live on NASA TV!

Today in Space History - Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1, America's first satellite. The flight, on 31 Jan 1958, came almost 4 months after the Soviet launch of the world's first satellite, Sputnik 1, and followed a failed U.S. attempt to launch a different satellite called Vanguard. Explorer 1 was launched by a U.S. Army Redstone booster (AKA Jupiter C/Juno I) from Cape Canaveral's Pad 26, and was America's entry into the space race. It discovered the Van Allen radiation belts that surround the Earth. The spacecraft orbited our planet until 1970.

Today is also the 29th anniversary of the Apollo 14 moon launch.  On 31 January 1971Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell rode a Saturn V rocket from KSC, on their way to the moon. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. AS-14 - the first mission after the Apollo 13 accident - made the 3rd lunar landing on 9 Feb 1971. Shepard, who died of leukemia in 1998, became the first American in space on his 1961 Mercury 3 flight and was the oldest man to walk on the moon.


bullet30 January - 8PM EST - FLASH! NASA declares Shuttle engines safe, decides to press on with tomorrow's launch. Follow the action at Florida Today's Launch Journal. Let's hope they're right - and that the weather co-operates.

30 January - More on Endeavour's engine problems. It seems that a defective part of a turbopump seal, which should have been discarded, somehow found its way into Discovery's final flight hardware. It was actually used in 5 or 6 previous launches, including last month's Hubble repair flight! NASA wants to ensure that the same thing did not happen with Endeavour.

On top of everything else, the weather may interfere with tomorrow's Shuttle launch.

If you're watching the Superbowl today, keep your eyes peeled for an ad promoting the upcoming movie, "Mission To Mars"!


bullet29 January - Memorial service held in Florida to honor the fallen astronauts of Apollo 1 and Challenger.

Weather and a possible engine flaw threaten Endeavour launch date. A decision on whether to delay tomorrow's launch is expected today.

China denounces U.S. anti-missile testing, citing concern over the militarization of space. How about pointing your nukes somewhere else, then?!?!?

Russia is planning an unmanned Mars probe! [scroll to middle of page]. Hope they have better luck than us!!

The renewed search for the Mars Polar Lander goes global as NASA asks radio-astronomers in three other countries to help listen for possible faint signals from the lost spacecraft.


bullet28 January - Shuttle Endeavour's launch may be delayed due to the discovery of a damaged engine seal! The Earth-mapping mission is scheduled for 31 January.

Mir operations could resume as early as February, with an unmanned supply ship scheduled for launch early on the 1st.

John Glenn's 1998 Shuttle mission earned him high marks for his physical endurance. Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth (1962), was 77 when he returned to space as part of the STS-95 flight.

Will orbiting hotels be in our future? Maybe - if you have the bucks!

Hope continues to build that faint signals may have been detected from the Mars Polar Lander. Even if the spacecraft is intact, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to carry out its original mission.

Today in Space History - Today marks the 14th anniversary of the biggest tragedy in the history of the Space Program: The Challenger disaster.  On 28 January 19867 astronauts lost their lives when Shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after launch. Mission Fact sheet here; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. STS-51L was the 25th Shuttle mission and carried the first "Teacher In Space", Christa McAuliffe. Challenger, (OV-99), was the second orbiter built, and had completed 9 successful missions (starting with STS-6 in 1983) before the terrible incident, which was caused by O-rings in the right solid rocket booster becoming brittle in the winter cold. The Challenger Learning Centers, dedicated to space science education, were founded in their honor. Remember the brave men and women of Challenger and Apollo 1!


bullet27 January - The JAWSAT satellite was launched successfully last night from California. The launch is significant because the rocket used was made partially of "recycled" Minuteman II missiles. It's good to see a weapon of war being converted to peaceful scientific use!

Almost all of John Glenn's medical tests on STS-95 were successful! Glenn became the oldest person ever to travel in space (77) in 1998.

NASA may launch an extra Shuttle mission to the ISS in April, if Russia is unable to launch the crew module by mid-year. The flight would be a new mission for Atlantis, but will retain the STS-101 designation.

Stunning photos of the recent lunar eclipse are emerging.

Chinese students to conduct experiment on a future Shuttle flight. 

Endeavour's crew arrives at KSC for STS-99 mission (the same day as a private memorial service for the Apollo 1 astronauts was being held)! Liftoff is scheduled for 12:47PM EST on Monday (31 Jan 2000)

Today in Space History - Today marks the 33rd anniversary of a tragic day in the race for the moon: the Apollo 1 fire.  On 27 Jan 1967, three astronauts lost their lives on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral during a test procedure in preparation for what would have been the first mission in the lunar program. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished when a spark ignited the pure-oxygen atmosphere of the Apollo Command Module at Pad 34. Details here [requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]; Crew info here; Image collections here and here. The loss of AS-204 caused a delay of nearly two years in the Apollo program, resulting in many changes to the spacecraft design. In December 1997, nearly 31 years after the accident, President Clinton awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to the fallen astronauts (their families accepted the medals). Never forget the heroes of space exploration!


bullet26 January - Yesterday, the Mars Society's home page had a link to the Denver Post's story on the possibility that the Mars Polar Lander may not be dead after all. More details are emerging - the weak signals were picked up by the radio antenna at Stanford last month, but it was only after a review of the data that the remote prospect was raised. Commands to reply at a specific time have been beamed to the Red Planet to test the possibility, but it will be a few days before results are known.

Shuttle Endeavour is ready to go for Monday's mission.

More on the possible demise of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which may have to be scuttled in the Pacific in order to prevent a random crash back to Earth. CGRO just observed a gamma-ray burst in real time - maybe the old bird is worth saving? [see also 19 Jan & 14 Jan].

Could life exist on Jupiter's moon Europa? More pieces of this puzzle are falling into place!

NASA tests space dust left by last week's Yukon meteor blast.

Russia's Mir space station had its orbit adjusted yesterday, in preparation for a new crew in April.

NASA and the U.S. Army will be working together to develop simulation technologies for training soldiers and astronauts.


bullet25 January 2000 - The Hubble Space Telescope is back on-line, returning its first images since last month's repair mission. The stunning pictures reveal the distant Eskimo Nebula, as well as a "cosmic magnifying glass" demonstrating gravity's ability to bend light like a lens.

How is NASA using 1997's wildly successful Mars Pathfinder probe to help find the corpse of the failed Polar Lander? 
FLASH! Feeble signals may have been picked up! Could MPL be alive? Don't get your hopes up!!

Last night's satellite launch was a success! The Galaxy XR comm satellite went aloft at 8:04PM EST from Arianespace's facility in French Guiana, aboard their Ariane 42L booster. Video clip here.

CBS reports on last week's Lunar eclipse [See also 21 Jan].

Not so fastski! Kazakhstan has not yet permitted Russia to continue their Proton rocket launches. Two mishaps there last year prompted the former Soviet republic to ban further launches until Russia cleans up the toxic mess. Moscow had announced the resumption of launches earlier this week. They are planning a satellite launch next month [See also 29 Oct 1999 and 1 Aug 1999].

A panel of journalists at KSC claim that the space program "needs to ignite excitement" for the public to be more interested.

Shuttle status from KSC...

John Glenn would love yet another return to space (but his wife wants him home!)


bullet24 January - Rocket launch tonight! Arianespace is launching a comm satellite on a 42L rocket at 8PM EST, from their launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana (South America). Minute-by-minute launch coverage here.

NASA clears Endeavour for next Shuttle flight on 31 Jan! The mission could have been delayed over concerns about the spacecraft's heat shield [See also 19 Jan].

Despite recent disappointments, NASA dreams big for future missions.

The rusting Saturn V rocket at JSC has been declared a national treasure by the Smithsonian, and will be restored for a museum at the Houston space facility. (How about firing it up for a ride to the moon?)

Want to chat with the experts on the ground working with the next Shuttle mission? Find out how here!


bullet23 January - NASA is holding its second annual Mars Settlement Design Competition next month. The competition to design a Mars colony, in recognition of National Engineers Week, is open to high school students and takes place at JSC in Houston, TX on 11-13 Feb.

Did a prehistoric shift in the Earth's internal structure cause its axis to wobble millions of years ago?

JPL awards half-million dollars for Solar System Educators Program to help teachers and their math & science students.

NASA's NEAR probe is set to rendezvous with an asteroid next month!

More on Friday's launch of an Air Force DSCS III satellite [see 20 Jan 2000].


bullet22 January - NASA will scale back the ambitious Shuttle flight due to launch in 10 days. The U.S. government does not want to risk losing a 200-ft (60m) radar mast (to be the longest fixed object ever deployed in space) that will be used to receive high resolution signals for the mapping mission.

Longtime space engineer is looking for his old buddies.

Where is the best place to launch the next generation of space vehicles? Florida!

A British school teacher who organized radio monitoring of secret Soviet space missions, is dead at 76.

Russia assures U.S. that, despite their plans to keep the abandoned Mir station going, the ISS still remains their top priority. They plan to resume launches of their Proton rocket as early as next month.

Independent Mars assessment team visits with prime contractor Lockheed Martin.


bullet21 January - Was that red moon cool, or what? Yesterday's lunar eclipse was a big hit around the world.

Upcoming events at the National Atomic Museum, operated by Sandia Laboratories, include "Women and Flight", featuring photos, profiles, and bios of 37 women aviators and astronauts. The exhibit starts Monday and is on through 5 March 2000 in Albuquerque, NM.

The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, site of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, may lift its ban on Russian rocket launches, in effect since two Proton boosters crashed there last year. 

Did NASA have a secret meeting with Russian space experts to plan a manned Mars mission? NASA Watch thinks so!


bullet20 January - REMINDER: There will be a lunar eclipse tonight, although most of the American Northeast will have their view spoiled by overcast skies. The event, which will cause the moon to appear red, starts at 10:01 EST, with the full eclipse becoming visible an hour later. Folks in the Southeast and Midwest should expect a great show. If the view isn't so good where you live, stay warm and watch it live here, here or here [see also 11 Jan & 18 Jan].

Russia will keep their aging Mir space station in orbit until August, using hardware previously allocated for the still-unmanned International Space Station. They still plan to launch the Zvezda living quarters of the ISS, with that flight scheduled for July

Tuesday's test of the National Missile Defense system was apparently going well until the final seconds. The Pentagon believes that infrared sensor failures caused the "Kill Vehicle" to miss its target, an unarmed ICBM, by 140 miles. Wednesday's briefing here [see also 19 Jan].

An Atlas 2A rocket carried a Defense Satellite Communications System III bird into orbit this evening. It was the first launch from The Cape this year (century, whatever...). Florida Today's launch journal here.

Happy 70th birthday to Buzz Aldrin!


bullet19 January - Missile Defense test fails! An unarmed Minuteman II ICBM was launched last night at 9:19 PM EST from the U.S. Air Force's Vandenberg AFB in California. An "Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle" launched from the U.S. Army's Kwajalein Missile Range in the Marshall Islands missed its target, and failed to intercept the dummy warhead. The cause may be a failure of the EAKV's heat sensor. The sub-orbital flight was the first space launch of the century. [see also 12 Jan & 18 Jan].

Lunar eclipse tomorrow night will be the first total one in four years!

A meteor exploded in mid-air over Alaska yesterday.

Despite the abandonment of efforts at radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander, NASA will continue to attempt observations of it from the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor.

Concerns about heat shield tiles falling off may delay Endeavour's STS-99 mission! Discovery STS-103 lost a tile when it returned from its Hubble Servicing Mission last month. Endeavour may still launch on 31 Jan if NASA managers can determine that the proper amount of adhesive was applied to the tiles, which protect the spacecraft from the intense heat of atmospheric re-entry. [see also 28 Dec Shuttle page]

More on the possible ditching of the orbiting CGRO telescope into the Pacific ocean [see also 14 Jan].


bullet18 January - Another test of the National Missile Defense system is happening tonight (launch window from 9PM to 1AM EST) at California's Vandenberg AFB [see also 12 Jan]. Background briefing here. The rocket will be an unarmed Minuteman II ICBM.

Don't forget about Thursday's lunar eclipse! The moon will appear to turn red over North and South America, (as well as much of Europe and Africa) starting at 10PM EST (it will take about an hour for the effect to be most visible). The eclipse ends at 1:25AM EST (Wednesday morning). No need for welder's goggles or special gear - just get outside (it's cold here - wear your woolies!) and enjoy!

More riches from the AAS Conference last week: Astronomers announced that the Keck Observatory in Hawaii has captured images of giant storms on Neptune (the eighth planet in our solar system), and evidence of hydrocarbon oceans on Saturn's moon Titan. The Chandra X-ray telescope has found a "cool" black hole in the Andromeda galaxy.

Back to the drawing board: NASA officially gave up the search for the Mars Polar Lander yesterday. The probe has not been heard from since its began its descent to the Martian surface on 3 December 1999.

More on Hubble's "Cosmic Bubble"... [see yesterday]


bullet17 January - What's on tap for the next Shuttle mission? STS-99 going up at the end of this month.

Scientists have found remnants of a 1000-year-old supernova, churning out elements essential to life! The announcement was made at the AAS conference last week.

Hubble bubble? Space telescope images the Bubble Nebula, revealing new information about the complex structure.

What is the piece of subatomic matter known as "The God Particle"?

What's next for Mars exploration?


bullet16 January - More from last week's AAS conference: Astronomers unveil a wealth of new knowledge, courtesy of the orbiting Chandra X-ray telescope.

The Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability at Colorado's Peterson AFB, a joint U.S.-Russian facility intended to monitor Y2K-related missile accidents, has closed its doors, with nothing to report. Talk about dodging a bullet!

Surprise, surprise: NASA will officially end the search for the Mars Polar Lander tomorrow.


bullet15 January - Last night's JAWSAT rocket launch was scrubbed when low voltage was detected in the on-board batteries. It was to have been the first space launch of the new millennium, but it has been re-scheduled for 22 January.

Pentagon acknowledges that October's missile-defense test was not as perfect as they had said. [See also 4 Oct 1999].

Black holes at our doorstep? Yeek!

Two members of the recent Hubble servicing mission, speaking at an American Astronomical Society conference, stated that the space telescope should be able to give another decade of spectacular observations. Astronauts Grunsfeld and Nicollier also claimed that HST will begin new observations this week.

More from the AAS conference: Hubble reveals planetary disk of dust around a star 78 light-years away, and the observation of "infant stars" in a globular cluster.

Alabama's Army and NASA facilities tell of a good 1999 and look forward to 2000.


bullet14 January - 9PM EST - REMINDER: Rocket launch tonight at 9:54PM EST - This is not NASA TV - you must register.

NASA may have to bring down the huge (bigger than Hubble) Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in March, in a controlled de-orbit into the ocean - otherwise, nobody will know where it will crash! Funding for this orbiting telescope is at low levels, and it was not designed to be "field serviced" like Hubble was.

Thursday's announcement at the American Astronomical Society: black holes may not be as rare as previously believed.

Testing on Lockheed Martin's X-33 space plane will be delayed, because the fuel tanks, made of a graphite-epoxy composite, are leaky, and may have to be replaced with aluminum tanks.


bullet14 January - More on today's Florida Space Summit at KSC [see yesterday's story].

More details are emerging about the plan to save the aging Mir space station. It could become a space hotel!

It's official: the next Shuttle mission (STS-99) launches 31 January 2000!

Pentagon announces that faulty Y2K fixes caused data interruption from spy satellite!

Boeing gobbles up Hughes satellite division for $3.75 billion.

Mars Polar Lander mission status (yes, it's still lost!). NASA is investigating the cause of the loss and will officially end the search Monday.


bullet13 January - The Kennedy Space Center will host the first Florida Space Summit tomorrow - the event is open to the public!

The Russians seem confused about what to do with Mir. One idea? A tourism destination! (No thanks - Iet's go to Space Camp instead!)

Could microbes from Mars have seeded life on Earth?

U.S. Postal Service unveils Space Shuttle stamp.

Arianespace announces 11% revenue drop, expects to bounce back.

The U.S. government is suing Shuttle contractors Boeing, Rockwell and United Space Alliance for alleged fraud against NASA. Anybody need a $700 hammer?

Studies find that some black holes wander through the galaxy. Just don't wander by my house!

Are female astronomers discriminated against? The AAS thinks so.

Hawaii's Keck Observatory, high atop Mauna Kea, has observed a volcano erupting on Io, one of Jupiter's 16 moons.

More on Endeavour's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission to map the Earth...


bullet12 January - ISS delays will mean less Shuttle flights in 2000.

Study recommends that ISS research be privatized.

Dan Goldin outlined NASA's role in study of Earth's climate at the American Meteorological Society's conference Monday.

Upcoming rocket launches at Vandenberg AFB in California - JAWSAT on an Orbital Suborbital Program Space Launch Vehicle (OSPSLV, a combination of refurbished Minuteman II ICBM and Pegasus XL rocket stages), this Friday (14 January 2000 @ 9:54PM EST - the first space launch of the century!). Watch launch here (registration required); Another unarmed Minuteman II on Tuesday, 18 Jan (9:01PM EST); and a Taurus rocket carrying the Multi-Spectral Thermal Imager satellite, on 8 Feb @ 3:08AM EST.

President to ask Congress for $2.2 billion in missile-defense funds.

Always wanted a robot sidekick? NASA is working on a floating "Personal Satellite Assistant" to help astronauts on space missions.

Why does of halo of superheated gas surround our galaxy? NASA's FUSE observatory may reveal the answer.

Preparations continue for Shuttle Endeavour's STS-99 mission, as well as for Atlantis's STS-101 ISS flight, and Discovery's STS-92 ISS flight.

Johns Hopkins University launches solar observatory balloon over Antarctica.

Threat of near-Earth asteroids is still real, but not as bad as previously thought.


bullet11 January - Russian rocket delays will push back ISS timetable till August! The station will wind up 2 years behind schedule, at this rate.

More on the probable discovery of liquid oceans on Europa, a satellite of Jupiter [see 10 Jan and 13 Oct].

New York's Hayden Planetarium is re-opening next month - tickets can be reserved on 17 Jan. 

NASA releases 1997 Hubble photos showing star births.

SeaWinds ocean-observing satellite is back on-line.

Total Lunar eclipse coming on 20 Jan. Enter the American Association of Amateur Astronomers' photography contest here.


bullet10 January - NASA may fly the same crew on back-to-back Shuttle missions to repair the ISS!

More on the impending solar flare cycle...

An American company, Golden Apple (Gold & Appel?), is offering $20M to fund another mission to Russia's aging Mir space station, abandoned since August. (Other science stories in BBC link). The U.S. would prefer that Russia focus on the ISS.

Galileo's recent flyby of Jovian moon Europa bolsters theory of liquid oceans there. Anyone for a swim? Fishing, maybe?


bullet9 January - CNN's Miles O'Brien writes of the woes facing NASA and the ISS this year (see 5 Jan 2000). Delays (some due to recent problems with Russia's Proton rocket) may leave our Shuttle fleet all fixed up with no place to go.

NASA assembles rainfall figures for the past 2 decades, to shed light on the El Niño phenomenon.

This Week In Space History - Five Shuttle Anniversaries (coming soon to the Shuttle Page).


bullet8 January - NASA scientists claim they knew about the deep valley where the Mars Polar Lander may have met its doom (see 6 Jan 2000).

NASA scientists analyze rocket-fuel behavior under high pressure.

Did you know there is a Martian flag? It was designed by the Mars Society, and was carried aboard the recent Discovery Shuttle mission.


bullet7 January - How did Snoopy help NASA make it to the Moon? Here's the story!

Lockheed Martin announced that they received three more Russian-built rocket engines for their Atlas IIIA/IIIB and Atlas V boosters.

Today In Space History - Today marks the 22nd anniversary (7 Jan 1968) of the launch of Surveyor 7, the last of a U.S. spacecraft designed to soft-land on the Moon and return data to Earth, in support of later manned missions. [Source: AP]


bullet6 January - The Denver Post reports that Mars Polar Lander may have landed in a canyon and broken up! NASA calls the theory premature, and the search continues...

Air Force urges further testing of laser weapons against orbiting satellites, to determine U.S. vulnerability.

Icy eruptions spotted on Pluto's moon Charon!

No Y2K problems on the International Space Station.

More on the Antarctic expedition of ex-astronauts Jim Lovell and Owen Garriott - the harsh environment is not unlike that of Mars. [see also 21 Oct 1999].


bullet5 January - NASA may fund an extension to Galileo's mission to Jupiter.

The U.S. may launch an extra Shuttle mission to repair the International Space Station's Russian-built Zarya module. (WHAT!!!??!? It's not even finished yet!!! It's already broken???!?)


bullet4 January - The Galileo spacecraft, still kicking after a decade in deep space, flies by another Jupiter satellite - this time, it's Europa, which may have liquid oceans (where there's water, there's life?)...

NASA releases short "movie" showing what Mars would look like from a spacecraft near the surface.

The U.K. is appointing a commission to assess the hazards of near-earth asteroids. You never know...

Remembering the last Moon launch [editorial]...


bullet3 January - NASA systems largely unaffected by Y2K bug.

Can solar storms be predicted?

Texas rocket company, facing rejection from Virgin Islands to build factory there, may set up shop near Cape Canaveral. [See also 27 Oct 99]

President Clinton expresses interest in space travel (But does he have to come back? Just kidding!!)


bullet2 January - Were you hunkered down in your Y2K bunker New Years' Eve? You should have been partying with the astronauts at Pad 14!

NASA reviews its Top Ten achievements of 1999.

Latest SPACEWARN bulletin (listing spacecraft launches) here.

Orbital search turns up no sign of Mars Polar Lander - more opportunities next week.

This Week In Space History - 3 Jan 1999 - The ill-fated Mars Polar Lander  (with its two microprobes) was launched a year ago from Cape Canaveral's Pad 17B aboard a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft lifted off successfully, but it is presumed lost during its descent to the Martian surface. [Source: NASA news site]

Today marks the 41st anniversary (2 Jan 1959) of the launch of Luna 1, the first man-made object to exceed escape velocity and leave the Earth's orbit. The Soviet space probe was designed to crash-land on the lunar surface, but missed and went into a solar orbit instead (becoming, accidentally, the first man-made object to orbit the sun and to discover the solar wind). [Source: The Last Frontier]


bullet1 January 2000 -  Happy New Year Again!!!   Can you believe it's "The Year 2000"? (Why didn't we used to say, "The Year 1978"? oh, well). So where's my George Jetson flying car? Where's my moonbase??? Hey, I'm just happy to be here.


To keep going back in the timeline, check the Space News Archive for Oct - Dec 1999 and before.

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