Note: The links below will
open up in one new browser window. For best viewing, size the two web
browsers so that they don't take up the entire screen - this way, you will be
able to go back and forth to all the stories without losing your place.
Did you know? NASA has flown an experiment nicknamed "Planet
In A Test Tube" which simulates atmospheric currents under
micro-gravity conditions. This is like a miniature man-made
planet. The experiment, officially called the Geophysical
Fluid Flow Cell, can be tailored
to simulate the interior of the Sun, conditions on early Earth, or the atmospheres of other planets.
27 June 2000 - Finally! Russia
has set a date for the launch of the "Zvezda" component of the
International Space Station. A Proton Rocket will loft the ISS crew quarters
from Baikonur on 12 July 2000. American astronaut Bill Shepherd will command
the first expedition, due in October.
have seasons, too! The NEAR
spacecraft, the first ever to orbit an asteroid, is busily photographing the
Manhattan-sized Eros, as "summer" begins on its southern half.
Break out the barbeque grill! Hit the beach!!
26 June 2000 - Here's an article about a new
commercial rocket base in Kodiak, Alaska. Just a little chillier than Cape Canaveral, eh?
When the USSR
broke up in 1991, Russia found its primary launch facility (the Baikonur
Cosmodrome) outside of its borders, in neighboring
Kazakhstan. Relations between the two former Soviet states have sometimes
been uneasy, but on Monday, they came to an agreement on continued
cooperation regarding the space base.
The privately-financed, remote-controlled Lunar Rover due to go up in
2003 will have a familiar
sponsor - Radio Shack! [See also 16
People in Huntsville, Alabama who worked with Wernher von Braun in the
50s and 60s have good
memories of the German rocket team - and defend their reputations
against those who claim that they were just evil scientists doing Hitler's
bidding in the V-2 rocket factories during World War 2.
Did you know that back in the 80s, the Soviet Union copied the
unclassified plans for America's Space Shuttle? Only one of their 4 "Buran"
orbiters ever flew in space (remote-controlled and unmanned - and with
some improvements over NASA's design). One of the
others, which has flown in atmospheric tests, is now in Sydney,
Its fate? A tourist attraction!
19 June 2000 - NASA to launch deep-space
probe to "eavesdrop" on early universe.
This week's full moon will appear larger than usual - find out why here.
Could a plasma-powered
spacecraft cut the time it would take to get people to Mars? NASA is
teaming up with a private company to
find out. Dr.
Franklin Chang-Diaz, the head of plasma propulsion research at NASA
Houston (and a Shuttle veteran), says that NASA could conduct an orbital
test flight "as early as 2004".
With the addition of mission STS-106 to the International Space Station
Assembly sequence, the assignments originally planned for STS-101 were split
between the two missions. While at the International Space Station, the
STS-106 astronauts will conduct at least one space walk to perform tasks
linked to the presence of the service module. Also, they will transfer
various supplies to outfit the station in preparation for the first resident
crew, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 30.
Keep your eyes on the prize - the X
Prize, that is! The $10 million award goes to the first team that can
put a spacecraft 100 kilometers up, with a crew of 3 aboard - and do it
twice within 14 days!. CNN
reports on some of the entries.
Workers removed the SPACEHAB module from Atlantis' payload bay on Monday at
Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Workers have also removed the main engine heat
shield. Atlantis' three main engines are scheduled to be removed Thursday
night. Over the weekend, workers will drain residual reactants from the
orbiter maneuvering system and auxiliary power unit lines. Atlantis is
slated to launch no earlier than Sept. 8 on STS-106.
6 June 2000 - Scientists from all over the U.S. are meeting at
NASA Huntsville this week to discuss, among other topics, how astronauts on missions to the Moon or Mars
could be more self-sufficient and "live
off the land".
OK skywatchers, this week is your big chance to catch a glimpse of Mercury. The closest planet to our Sun is usually masked by sunlight, making
it difficult to spot. This
article gives tips for viewing planet
Mercury. NASA plans to launch
there in 2004.
At Kennedy Space Center, technicians begin preparations to remove Space Shuttle
Atlantis' three main engines, which will occur later this week. Also,
post-flight evaluations show that the orbiter's auxiliary power converter
unit No. 1 does not need to be replaced. Atlantis will launch on STS-106 no earlier than Sept. 8.
Workers disconnected the payload from the
shuttle over the weekend, removing the payload yesterday.
Space Shuttle Atlantis debuted its hi-tech "glass cockpit" on
its recent flight. Read about how the 1970s-era mechanical gauges and green
screens were replaced with new color flat-panel displays here.
Latest Shuttle Status report here.
We agree that risk to civilians should be minimized - it's just that the spacecraft was
functioning perfectly, aside from the failure of 2 of its 3 stabilizing
gyros. Couldn't NASA have sent up a repair mission - or is the discovery of
black holes, and the violent radiation bursts produced by dying stars, a
harder sell than the spectacular images produced by the Hubble
[See also 3 June, 2 June &
28 May 2000].
4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 3:00AM EDT - SPLASHDOWN! CGRO
up in the Earth's atmosphere, and debris continues to fall harmlessly in
the target area (nice shot, guys!).
There will be a NASA press conference at 6AM EDT (possibly carried on NASA TV).
We're signing off for tonight - check back later today for
4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 2:25AM EDT - The crew at
NASA Goddard are saying their goodbyes and congratulating
themselves, as NORAD confirms that
has re-entered the atmosphere. One software engineer quipped that it was
only the first time that the on-board computer had ever taken a hit!
Astronomers lamented the loss of the satellite, but agreed that safety
factors demanded its destruction.
4 June 2000 - Compton Update - 2:10AM EDT - NASA reports that
is now tumbling in a controlled (???) descent, with the spacecraft heating up from friction with the atmosphere.
It is breaking up, and reentry is expected within 10-20 minutes!
NORAD is monitoring the
falling debris (as well as looking out for incoming nukes!)
KSC is getting ready for the next Shuttle mission,
STS-106. NASA reports:
for STS-106, a mission to the International Space Station. The seven-member
crew is scheduled to launch no earlier than Sept. 8 on Space Shuttle
Atlantis. Meanwhile, Atlantis is in the Orbiter Processing Facility
undergoing post-flight inspection.
You think it's tough sending rockets into space? Try it when you have to
worry about thieves
stealing metal from your launch site!
Following the visit by Space
Shuttle Atlantis, the International Space Station continues to orbit the
Earth in excellent shape. Zarya's four new batteries and two existing
batteries are working normally. Zvezda is scheduled to launch from the
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan between July 8 and 14. A final launch date
will be determined later in June. Friday, the Proton rocket that will carry
Zvezda into orbit will arrive in Baikonur by train.
Preparations continue for STS-106,
the next shuttle mission to the International Space Station. The STS-106
crew will fly aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis and will launch no earlier
than Sept. 8. STS-106 will follow the arrival of the Zvezda Service
Module, which is scheduled to launch in July.
On Monday, Atlantis completed
STS-101, which was also a mission to the station. Atlantis is in the
Orbiter Processing Facility and routine post-flight inspections and
vehicle safing continue on schedule.