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Future Mars rover
NASA's next mobile rover that will be sent to the Red Planet is Mars Science Laboratory. Roughly the size of a Mini Cooper car and designed to operate on the Martian surface for two Earth years, this large rover is scheduled for launch in 2009. Project manager Richard Cook unveils a model of the rover and talks about the mission in this video clip.

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Mars rover anniversary
The remarkable rovers Spirit and Opportunity remain alive and well on the surface of the Red Planet, far outlasting their planned 90-day missions. On Jan. 24, the second anniversary of Opportunity's landing, project officials and scientists held this celebration event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Launch of New Horizons
The New Horizons spacecraft begins a voyage across the solar system to explore Pluto and beyond with its successful launch January 19 aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Stardust comes home
NASA's Stardust spacecraft returns samples of cometary dust to Earth with its safe landing in Utah on January 15.

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NASA administrator
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and his deputy Shana Dale hold a news conference at Kennedy Space Center in the final hours of the countdown to the New Horizons launch. Questions from reporters ranged from the Pluto-bound mission, the agency's budget and the space shuttle program.

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STS-49: Satellite rescue
If at first you don't succeed, keep on trying. That is what the astronauts of space shuttle Endeavour's maiden voyage did in their difficult job of rescuing a wayward communications satellite. Spacewalkers were unable to retrieve the Intelsat 603 spacecraft, which had been stranded in a useless orbit, during multiple attempts using a special capture bar. So the crew changed course and staged the first-ever three-man spacewalk to grab the satellite by hand. The STS-49 astronauts describe the mission and narrate highlights in this post-flight presentation.

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First satellite repair
The mission for the crew of space shuttle Challenger's April 1984 flight was two-fold -- deploy the experiment-laden Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) and then track down the crippled Solar Max spacecraft, capture it and perform repairs during spacewalks. Initial attempts by the astronauts to grab the craft while wearing the Manned Maneuvering Unit spacewalk backpacks failed, but the crew ultimately retrieved Solar Max and installed fresh equipment while it was anchored in the payload bay. The crew narrates this post-flight presentation of home movies and highlights from mission STS-41C.

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Delta rocket workers set to vote on ending strike
Posted: January 28, 2006

A strike by Boeing machinists that has grounded the Delta rocket fleet for nearly three months could be edging closer to resolution. Negotiations between the company and union leaders have resulted in a revised contract offer that will be put to a vote on Wednesday.

This Delta 4 rocket is one of three Boeing boosters waiting on launch pads for the strike to end. Photo: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers at the Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base launch sites, the rocket manufacturing plant in Alabama, the Delta program engineering headquarters in California and other Boeing locations will decide whether to accept the new contract or else remain on strike.

"We are nearing three months on strike," union spokesman Bob Wood said Saturday. "We have a duty to send this to the membership for a vote. It's democracy at its finest. The strikers at Boeing have the final say on whether to keep striking or not."

Workers voted in late October to reject Boeing's offer for a three-year contract, citing the company's plan to cut retiree health care coverage for future workers, among other complaints. Boeing said the contract included pay hikes. The strike began on November 2.

The two sides finally held talks on Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama. The negotiations yielded a "revised" contract that Wood says has "substantive, not substantial," changes.

"There was some movement on the part of the company in insurance premiums and deductibles, as well as caps on premium costs," said Wood. "Boeing offered the establishment of a committee to find ways to reduce retiree health care costs for future hires."

Accepting the new contract would end the labor dispute that has stopped all Delta rockets from launching, including three standing on their pads in Florida and California.

A Delta 4 at Cape Canaveral has the civilian GOES-N weather satellite already mounted aboard for launch. It was supposed to fly last summer but encountered technical problems that put the mission on hold. The satellite will orbit 22,300 miles above the planet, becoming the first in a new series of U.S. weather observatories with advanced instruments to improve forecasting.

Vandenberg Air Force Base has a Delta 2 vehicle waiting to carry a pair of environmental research satellites into orbit for NASA. That launch had been scheduled for November 7 only to be called off in late October when the strike was looming. NASA's CloudSat will use radar to study clouds and attempt to determine how rain and snow are produced; the joint U.S./French CALIPSO satellite will examine the impacts that clouds and aerosols have in changes to the Earth's climate.

Also at Vandenberg is a larger Delta 4 rocket that is supposed to haul a top-secret U.S. National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite cargo into space.

A Boeing spokesman said last week that the GOES-N launch would be the first to fly, perhaps in early March if the strike ended soon, followed later in the month with the CALIPSO/CloudSat mission. An Air Force Delta 2 launch from the Cape with the next Global Positioning System satellite could go in mid-April, although that rocket hasn't been assembled on the pad yet. The Vandenberg Delta 4 flight would slot in sometime around late April.