Aug 2000

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Space News August 2000...

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Mars 2003 Rover. Computer graphic courtesy of NASA

Twin Mars rovers for 2003!
Space Station docking!

Russian Proton rocket getting ready to launch Zvezda last month. Photo courtesy of NASA.


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31 August 2000 - NASA is getting ready for the next mission to the ISS. Station Status report here. NASA states:

International Space Station flight controllers are making final preparations for the arrival of STS-106 and its seven-member crew. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, controllers will conduct a final rehearsal of station activities before the docking which is scheduled for Sept. 10. Atlantis is scheduled to launch on Sept. 8. While at the station, the STS-106 astronauts and cosmonauts will deliver supplies, unload the Progress vehicle, outfit Zvezda and a perform a space walk in preparation for the Expedition 1 crew.

Shuttle provisions continue for next week's Atlantis launch to the ISS, as well as October's Discovery flight and Endeavour's November flight. Latest KSC Shuttle Status here. NASA reports:

Launch preparations for STS-106, a mission to prepare the space station for the arrival of its first crew, are on track. Workers complete solid rocket booster closeouts on Atlantis.

Water, water, everywhere - but can it be found in interstellar space?

The U.S. defended its Missile Defense plan to the recent U.N. Conference on Disarmament.

 

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30 August 2000 - A U.S. government report claims that Shuttle safety may be threatened by staff cuts at NASA. Senator John McCain commissioned the report last year, after the Shuttle fleet was grounded due to wiring problems. The report cites the loss of seasoned engineers and an increasing workload. Download or view the report here (requires Adobe Acrobat viewer).

NASA Flight Readiness Review confirms next Shuttle launch: Press Release here. The countdown starts:

NASA officials announced Friday, Sept. 8 as the launch date for Space Shuttle Atlantis. The launch window for STS-106 is less than five minutes and is set to open at 7:45 a.m. CDT at Kennedy Space Center, or KSC, in Florida. The STS-106 astronauts and cosmonauts will spend 11 days in orbit and will open the doors to the International Space Station's newest component, the Zvezda Service Module. Atlantis is scheduled to land at KSC on Sept. 19 at 2:54 a.m. CDT. Meanwhile, STS-106 mission preparations continue at KSC.

NASA also promises clean, safe spacesuits for this mission, after last month's revelation that an oily residue in the oxygen system posed a fire hazard.

A new, polar-orbiting weather satellite is due to be launched on 20 September.

Today In Space History - Today brings two Shuttle anniversaries. 17th anniversary of STS-8 (Shuttle Challenger) launch, the 8th shuttle mission - Mission Fact sheet here - Crew info here. Colonel Guy Bluford became the first African-American in space on this mission - this was also the first time a Shuttle was launched and landed at night.
Today is also the 16th anniversary of STS-41-D (Shuttle Discovery) launch, the 12th shuttle mission. Mission Fact sheet here - Crew info here. This was Discovery's maiden flight.

 

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29 August 2000 - The controversial auction of a piece of Apollo 11 hardware could be nullified, if NASA gets its way. One of the 4 EVA grab-handles from the Command module that first went to the moon sold for over $34K on Sunday. The handle was released by NASA in 1973 for a long-term radiation study (it contained small radioactive disks to make it visible to spacewalking astronauts). 

A former sailor was convicted of trying to sell a piece of Challenger wreckage. Unlike the Apollo artifact in the story above, it is a federal crime to possess a piece of Space Shuttle debris.

Russia's launch of a military satellite yesterday was a success.

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA officials are expected to name Friday, Sept. 8 as the launch date of STS-106 and its seven-member crew. Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off next week from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

Rural schoolchildren in Mexico could be without televised classes for weeks, after the Solaridad I satellite failed.

Do you want to send a message into the future? You can - the KEO orbiting time capsule is designed to stay in space for 50000 years! Enter your words here.

Easy come, easy go: 88 satellites, comprising the Iridium telephone system, are set to be de-orbited as the bankrupt mobile phone venture announced plans to crash the birds as early as next month.

 

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28 August 2000 - Russia is set to launch a military satellite today. A different Russian launch, for commercial satellites, is facing repeated delays.

What spacecraft has observed 200 comets? It's SOHO!

The late Robert Gilruth, whose efforts for NASA helped America reach the moon, was honored at Houston's Johnson Space Center. Video here

NASA feature - The Past as Prelude: Apollo-Soyuz 25 Years Later

Image of the three US astronauts in flight suits - courtesy NASA Decades before work began on the International Space Station, a rendezvous 140 miles above the Atlantic Ocean saw then-confrontational nations, who were locked in the middle of the Cold War, make history as partners. It was 25 years ago that Tom Stafford, Vance Brand, and Donald "Deke" Slayton astronauts docked with the Soviet Union's Soyuz to forge the framework for future partnerships in space with Russia and other nations. On the anniversary week of that mission, Brand, who now is deputy director of aerospace projects at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, CA, retold the tale of that historic mission. (Full Story)

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.

 

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27 August 2000 - Florida Today and NASAwatch link to a story about a piece of Apollo 11 that got away from NASA - and it's going up for auction - if NASA doesn't intervene.

On TV This Week: We just found out that TLC is showing a series called "The Detonators" - basically about different ways of blowing stuff up! One episode, "Sheer Force," contains a segment on the launch of a Delta II rocket carrying GlobalStar satellites. Some nice launch footage - it's worth checking out. Several repeats this week.

Today In Space History - It's the 15th anniversary (27 Aug 1985) of the STS-51I (Shuttle Discovery) launch, the 20th shuttle mission. Mission Fact sheet here. Crew info here
Also:
Mariner 2, the first spacecraft to successfully fly by another planet (Venus), was launched on this date in 1962.

 

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26 August 2000 - NASA's Galileo probe to Jupiter may have produced evidence of liquid water elsewhere in the Solar System: Jovian moon Europa. First Mars, and now this - it's getting to be pretty wet around here! Could an ocean on Europa harbor life?

UPI: World's first space tourist passes exams. Does he have too much money? 

 

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25 August 2000 - How can zero-gravity conditions help with the production of antibiotics? Read here!

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA states:

Kennedy Space Center is no longer in any "Hurricane Condition" as a result of Hurricane Debby taking a more westerly turn overnight and being downgraded to a tropical wave. Shuttle managers will monitor tropical weather activity as work at the pad continues on schedule. Prelaunch hypergolic propellant loading operations continue today [Thursday]. Preparations are also under way for a scheduled hot fire of Auxiliary Power Unit No. 1 on Friday.

UPI: US to discuss N.Korean missile proposal.

UPI: Russia delays launch of satellites.

 

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24 August 2000 - Latest ISS Status Report here. NASA states:

International Space Station flight controllers resumed the transfer of propellants this week from tanks aboard the Progress cargo supply craft to tanks aboard the station's Zvezda module and made other preparations for the planned arrival of the Space Shuttle Atlantis early next month. One set of fuel and oxidizer tanks aboard Zvezda is now full following the unloading of propellants from the cargo craft. Propellants will be transferred from the Progress tanks to a second set of tanks on Zvezda this week. The transfer of propellants was interrupted last week due to a sensor problem that was quickly resolved.

NASA managers have decided that Hurricane Debby is not a big enough threat to Space Shuttle operations, and are leaving Atlantis on the launchpad. Shuttle Atlantis is due to lift off on 8 Sep 2000 on mission STS-106 to the International Space Station.

Ancient observatories pose a mystery...

 

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23 August 2000 - Hot X-Rays from a cold comet? The Chandra telescope (wrapping up its first year in orbit) gets to the bottom of this mystery.

Rare papers from 17th-century physicist Sir Isaac Newton (you know, the gravity guy) are up for sale. 

The Delta III launch was a success! [See yesterday's story].

 

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22 August 2000 - Here's more info on last week's successful launch of a "secret" recon satellite.

Latest Shuttle Status report here. NASA states:

Tuesday, Kennedy Space Center began taking precautions to weather any effects from Hurricane Debby. A decision to rollback Atlantis will not be made before Wednesday. Meanwhile, preparations for Sept. 8's launch continue. Technicians mated the SPACEHAB payload to Atlantis. The payload interface verification testing and Helium Signature Test continue. Prelaunch fuel loading is slated to begin Wednesday.

A Boeing Delta III rocket is sending a "simulated payload" into space tonight (Wednesday morning, actually) at 4AM EDT to test booster operations. The new model's two missions have both ended in failure, and Boeing is out to prove the reliability of Delta III, the largest rocket they make. Weather at Cape Canaveral may delay the launch (and may force the Shuttle to be removed from its launchpad until things blow over).

 

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21 August 2000 - The world's largest steerable dish antenna will be dedicated this week. The National Radio Astronomy Observatoryís newest radio telescope is taller than the Statue of Liberty!

Did galaxies form billions of years earlier than previously thought?

A cold war relic - a Minuteman ICBM launch site in North Dakota - has been demolished according to treaty. 

Latest Shuttle Status report here. NASA states:

At Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the seven-member STS-106 crew completed the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test in preparation for Sept. 8's scheduled launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts returned to Houston, Texas, on Friday. Workers installed the SPACEHAB payload into Atlantis' payload bay on Thursday. Technicians will perform routine payload testing Tuesday, and prelaunch fuel loading will begin Wednesday.
Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery was rolled from OPF bay 1 over to OPF bay 3 on August 21 to allow workers to begin planned modifications inside bay 1. See photos.....

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.

Today In Space History - 35th 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)? That capsule was probably built for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a military space-station project that was cancelled in 1969.

 

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20 August 2000 - Huntsville, Alabama is the site of this week's Space and Missile Defense Conference and Exhibition.

NASA research, video games, fighter pilots, and children's health - what do they have in common? Find out here!

Today In Space History - Twenty-three years ago today (20 Aug 1977), the US launched Voyager 2, an unmanned space probe designed to explore the outer Solar System. A Titan 3E rocket boosted the probe into space from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral.

 

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19 August 2000 - NASA celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Chandra space telescope this week. The orbiting X-ray observatory, which was launched last July aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, came on line on 17 Aug 1999. 

Today In Space History - Eighteen years ago today (19 Aug 1982), the USSR launched Soyuz T-7 to the orbiting Salyut 7 space station. 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 Soviet Union, eventually evolving into today's Mir space station.
America's first space-woman, Dr. 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.

 

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18 August 2000 - The advanced propulsion system on the Deep Space 1 probe has been going strong for a record-setting 200 days. NASA states:

NASA's Deep Space 1 probe, en route for an encounter with Comet Borrelly, has run its unique propulsion system for more than 200 days -- longer and more efficiently than anything ever launched. The almost imperceptible thrust from the system is equivalent to the pressure exerted by a sheet of paper held in the palm of your hand. The ion engine is very slow to pick up speed, but over the long haul it can deliver 10 times as much thrust per pound of fuel as more traditional rockets.

Space weather? Why does it matter?

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA states:

Preparations continue for the arrival of STS-106 in September. Controllers have pressurized and checked for leaks in the vestibule between the station's Zvezda Service Module and the Progress supply ship that will be unloaded by the STS-106 crew. Controllers have successfully transferred fuel from the Progress to Zvezda on Aug. 10, but the transfer of oxidizer on Aug. 11 was automatically stopped due to a suspected instrumentation problem. The transfer is expected to resume this week.

Pioneering NASA engineer Robert Gilruth passed away this week at age 86. His career spanned most of the space program, including service as director of the Manned Spaceflight Center (now JSC) during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects.

 

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17 August 2000 - Latest Shuttle Status Report here. Latest ISS Status Report here. NASA states:

U.S. and Russian International Space Station flight controllers pressurize the "front porch" of the Progess vehicle that will allow the STS-106 astronauts and cosmonauts to unpack supplies when they arrive in September. Progress' thrusters were used to test [a] change [to] the station's speed by 3.2 kilometers per hour (2 miles per hour). Another thruster firing is scheduled for Aug. 17.

Get to bed! NASA research shows that kids don't get enough sleep. Maybe an astronaut could read you a bedtime story?

NASA has built a new training simulator for the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas.

 

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16 August 2000 - ISS - It ain't just the Yanks and the Russkies - NASA explains:

Today workers at the Kennedy Space Center are mating the Canadian Space Agency's first contribution to the International Space Station, the 56-foot-long Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), to its payload carrier in preparation for launch in April 2001. The SSRMS is the primary means of transferring payloads between the orbiter payload bay and the Space Station during assembly. You can watch the process live via webcam.

Russian, American, and Canadian personnel are arriving in Russia for training exercises to rehearse for a rescue operation from the International Space Station. 

Those sneaky guys at the National Reconnaissance Office (the spy satellite people) are launching a secret sat tonight at 7:45PM EDT from Vandenberg AFB in California, atop a Titan IV rocket booster. You didn't hear it from us...

 

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15 August 2000 - Japan has revealed plans to launch 4 spy satellites in 2003.

Shuttle gets to launchpad, crew arrives at KSC. NASA reports:

Space Shuttle Atlantis is now at Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The crawler transport began moving the orbiter out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at 10:20 p.m. CDT Sunday, and Atlantis was in place at the pad at 8:30 a.m. CDT Monday. Currently, workers are installing the SPACEHAB payload into Atlantis, and shuttle main engine flight-readiness testing continues. Also, the seven-member STS-106 crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center Tuesday for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, which is scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

No light from an extrasolar planet: researchers could not confirm seeing reflected light from a planet orbiting a star many light-years away.

Meteor showers and Northern lights gave stargazers a treat this week.

 

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14 August 2000 - Who wants to be a cosmonaut? A TV game show, to be called "Destination: Mir," will offer contestants a chance to visit Russia's 14-year-old space station.

The old planetarium ain't what it used to be: New state-of-the-art facilities are opening around the US.

But do you have to be in the Bricklayers' Union? Researchers at The College of William and Mary are formulating a way to make a brick-like building material that would allow explorers on Mars to build a shelter using Martian soil mixed with chemicals brought up from Earth. The "Mars bricks" are designed to shield astronauts against harsh radiation, which the thin Martian atmosphere lets through.

Atlantis crawls its way to the launchpad, taking 9 hours to make the trip from the massive Vehicle Assembly Building - at 1 mile an hour! NASA reports:

Space Shuttle Atlantis arrives at Launch Pad 39B, and the seven-member STS-106 crew arrives at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, which is scheduled to begin Thursday, Aug. 17.
Atlantis took a planned detour on its way out to Launch Pad 39B to prepare for the STS-106 launch. Read more.....    See photos.....

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.

 

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13 August 2000 - Here's more on the 2003 mission to Mars. NASA is sending 2 unmanned rovers, much bigger than 1997's model, to explore the surface and look for evidence of past (or present!) life on the Red Planet.

More NASA news from KSC:

For the first time in Space Shuttle history, a fully stacked Shuttle rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building's high bay 2 on the building's west side on Saturday, Aug. 12. Read more.....   See photos.....

If you can't train for your space mission in zero-G here on Earth, what's the next best thing?  Hit the water at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory!

The US is planning to build a radar base for the National Missile Defense system in Greenland - but is there a "lost nuke" there from a 1968 bomber crash?

 

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12 August 2000 - Can you see the International Space Station from where you are? Maybe, but there's plenty of other orbiting space stuff you can spot.

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA states:

At Kennedy Space Center, Fla., preparations continue for the launch of STS-106, which is scheduled for Sept. 8. Atlantis has been connected to the external tank and the solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Atlantis was scheduled to begin the move from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B on Sunday night. The SPACEHAB payload is scheduled to be installed into the orbiter Tuesday and the Countdown Demonstration Test is slated for Thursday and Friday.

If anybody wants to send people to Mars, better get moving - the next opportunity for launch may be in 2014.

Today in Space History - It's the 23rd anniversary of the first free flight of Space Shuttle Enterprise (yes, it's named after the ship from Star Trek !). On 12 August 1977, the first Space Shuttle, designated OV-101, was carried aloft on the back of a modified 747 airliner (the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and released to glide to a landing at Edwards AFB. This mission was part of the Orbiter Approach and Landing Test (ALT) Program, and counted Apollo 13  veteran  Fred Haise among its crews. Shuttle Enterprise was built as a test vehicle - it was never intended for space flight. It is currently in storage at the National Air and Space Museum's Dulles Center (the "attic" of the NASM) - currently under construction as a second museum site, scheduled to be completed in 2001 and fully open to the public by Dec. 17, 2003, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight.

More Space History - Today also marks the fortieth anniversary of the launch of the world's first communications satellite, Echo 1. It was basically a giant balloon with an internal telemetry system for tracking. it relayed signals by simply reflecting them off its silvery surface. Echo 1 launched from Cape Canaveral on 12 August 1960 aboard a Delta rocket.

 

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11 August 2000 - NASA Shuttle news:

STS-106 and its seven-member crew will be the next visitors to the International Space Station in September. While at the station, Atlantis' five astronauts and two cosmonauts will deliver supplies, unload the Progress supply vehicle, outfit the Zvezda Service Module and perform a space walk in preparation for the arrival of the Expedition 1 crew in early November. After STS-106, the next shuttle mission to visit the space station in the assembly sequence will be STS-92, which will deliver four moment control gyros, an additional conical docking adapter and the Z1 Truss. STS-92 is scheduled to launch Oct. 5.

Is astronomy a science? (Hey, we don't want a bunch of angry guys with slide rules coming around here!)

NASA says that they won't mess up this Mars mission - they've learned from their mistakes. Here's hoping!

 

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10 August 2000 - NASA has announced that they are sending not one, but two rovers to Mars in 2003. The missions will launch next spring, and target different areas of the Red Planet. The six-wheeled robotic explorers will look for signs of past or present life and send back images of the surface. Press conference video here.

 

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9 August 2000 - Latest ISS Status Report here. NASA states:

A Progress supply vehicle docked with the International Space Station on Tuesday at 3:13 p.m. CDT, or 20:13 GMT. The Progress, which is attached to the station's Zvezda Service Module, delivered clothing, computers, personal hygiene items, office supplies, food and fuel for the first permanent residents of the station. The Progress will be unloaded by the seven-member STS-106 crew when it arrives at the space station in September.

ESA has launched two more "Cluster" satellites to monitor solar flares.

On TV Tonight: We just found out that TLC is showing back-to-back space-related TV shows - "Extreme Machines: Ultimate Space Machines" tonight at 8PM EDT/PDT, repeated at 11PM. Their episode description: "The International Space Station, or ISS, is the biggest and riskiest engineering project of all time, testing the limits of technology and the endurance of the astronauts who operate it". Immediately following is "Space: The Final Junkyard," and then "Exodus Earth". Check tonight's schedule for repeat times. After the second showings (11-2), there's a Star Trek special on for us sci-fi fans. Set your VCR to tape 11PM EDT for 4 hours of space TV!! WooHoo!!

 

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8 August 2000 - Russia launched an unmanned cargo ship to the ISS on Sunday. It is due to dock with the Station today at 4:14PM EDT. NASA TV will provide live coverage starting at 4PM. [See also  6 August 2000]
UPDATE: Docking successful! ISS Status Report here. NASA states:

A Russian Progress resupply ship docked with the International Space Station Aug. 8. The STS-106 crew will unload the Progress vehicle, which contains clothing, computers, personal hygiene items, office supplies, food and fuel.

A Russian space official revealed that they were so nervous about the recent Zvezda launch to the ISS, that they were considering cutting funds for further Station work. Come on, guys, you did fine!

Space Shuttle Atlantis is heading to the VAB. NASA reports:

At Kennedy Space Center, Fla., workers began rolling Space Shuttle Atlantis out of the Orbiter Processing Facility. Atlantis will be moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, where it will be connected to the external tank, which is slated to begin Tuesday. On Thursday, the shuttle will go through the Shuttle Interface Test. Sunday night at about 10 p.m. CDT, Atlantis is scheduled to begin roll out to Launch Pad 39B. STS-106 and its seven-member crew are scheduled to launch Sept. 8 at 7:31 a.m. CDT.

Photos at Florida Today (3/4 down the page) and NASA KSC.

Today in Space History - 11th anniversary of the launch of STS-28 (Shuttle Columbia), a classified mission for the DoD.

 

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7 August 2000 - Astronomers have recently discovered nine more planets orbiting distant stars, bringing the total number of extrasolar planets to 50. The announcement will be made at the IAU conference this week. [See also related story from 4 August 2000]. Counting the close one recently discovered, that makes 10.

UPI: Cohen- Not yet decided on missile defense.

Wrap up last week's space news at Florida Today.

Today in Space History - Third anniversary of the 7 Aug 97 launch of STS-85 (Shuttle Discovery).

 

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6 August 2000 - The next step in the construction of the International Space Station is in Progress: An unmanned cargo ship, launched from a Russian Soyuz-U rocket, has successfully launched from Baikonur to deliver supplies to the ISS. It is due to dock with the still-vacant station this week. NASA reports:

The International Space Station awaits the arrival of its next visitor, a Russian Progress cargo ship, that launched Sunday at 1:26 p.m. CDT, or 18:26 GMT. The liftoff occurred at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, and the launch vehicle was a Russian Soyuz rocket. The ship is carrying clothes, computers, food and other supplies for use by the first permanent crew of the station. The Progress is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 3:14 p.m. CDT, or 20:14 GMT.

U.S. Defense Secretary Cohen will back the Missile Defense plan.

This week in Space History - Forty-one 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 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. Another anniversary is the 7 Aug 1997 launch of STS-85 (Shuttle Discovery).

 

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5 August 2000 - Russia's Progress supply ship heads to the ISS tomorrow, with automated docking scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Just how empty is the vacuum of space? Well, it's a little dusty...

The Russian Space Agency has signed an agreement with the government of Spain to arrange for cosmonauts to vacation in the sunny Canary Islands after they complete their missions. Beats Siberia!!

 

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4 August 2000 - An unmanned Russian supply ship heads to the ISS Sunday. Some astronauts think the station needs a catchier name. No kidding!

Latest Shuttle Status Report here. NASA states:

At Kennedy Space Center, Fla., workers are making final preparations to roll Space Shuttle Atlantis out of the Orbiter Processing Facility on Monday. Roll out is slated to begin at about 8:30 a.m. CDT. Atlantis will be transferred to the Vehicle Assembly Building, where it will be mated to the external tank and the solid rocket boosters. Atlantis is scheduled to be rolled out to Launch Pad 39B on Aug. 13 with launch on Sept. 8.

Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting a star only 10 light-years away - the nearest extrasolar planet yet detected. It is so close that it may be possible to make visual contact with the Hubble Space Telescope - a tremendous scientific landmark. Up to now, these planets outside our solar system have only been indirectly observed via gravitational disturbances in the stars (which we can see) they orbit. 

 

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3 August 2000 - This Sunday, the ISS will await its first visitor since the docking of the Zvezda service module. NASA reports:

The next mission to the International Space Station will be a Russian Progress resupply vehicle that will launch Aug. 6 at 1:26 p.m. CDT, or 18:26 GMT, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz rocket. The Progress vehicle is scheduled to dock with the space station on Aug. 8 at 3:14 p.m. CDT, or 20:14 GMT. Then, the STS-106 crew will transfer the supplies from the Progress vehicle to the station. STS-106 is scheduled to launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis on Sept. 8.

What distant star is only as large as a city on Earth, yet weighs more than a million times what Earth does? A super-dense neutron star!  A new one has been discovered in deep space - but this one has a wobbly spin that distorts its shape.

Scientists at UCSD have discovered evidence of changing oxygen levels in 2-billion-year-old rocks. This provides a clue into the early atmosphere of the Earth.

 

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2 August 2000 - NASA's 2003 Mars rover will have some company - Britain's 2004 Beagle 2 mission (first reported here almost exactly 1 year ago) will share some time on the surface with the American rover! Our spaceprobe can kick your spaceprobe's butt! (Just Kidding!!) The spacecraft will be on different parts of Mars, and their experiments will complement each other, say scientists.  [See also 30 July, 27 July 2000].

Florida Today reports that India is indeed planning a mission to the moon - but get this - it won't be some remote spaceprobe - they plan to send astronauts!!! [See also 1 Aug 2000].

Today in Space History - Ninth anniversary of the 2 Aug 91 launch of STS-43 (Shuttle Atlantis). 

 

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1 August 2000 - China may launch a second unmanned orbital mission, on their way to becoming the 3rd spacefaring nation on Earth - but no one knows when they will take that step.

Will India launch a mission to the moon?

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, along with former MS bigwig Nathan Myhrvold, are putting up millions of dollars to support a radiotelescope array to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

The Russian-made Zvezda module, which recently linked up to the International Space Station via remote control, has now assumed computer control over the entire orbiting complex (no, it wasn't a hostile takeover!).

Latest ISS Status Report here. NASA states:

The Zvezda Service Module's computers took control of the International Space Station operations over the weekend. Also, leak checks have been performed to verify the seal between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module. Now, flight controllers will turn their attention to the arrival of a Progress supply vehicle. The supply ship is scheduled to launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket at 1:30 p.m. CDT, or 18:30 GMT, on Aug. 6 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, and dock with the station at 2:46 p.m. CDT, or 19:46 GMT, Aug. 8.

UPI: Russia launches U.S. satellite.

To keep going back in the timeline, check the Space News Archive for July 2000, June 2000, Apr - May 2000, Jan - Feb 2000Oct - Dec 1999, and before.

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