Spaceflight Now: Breaking News
Sunday: March 12, 2000  1740 GMT
Today's mission by a Sea Launch Zenit rocket has failed, sending the first ICO communications spacecraft into the Pacific Ocean about 4,300 km downrange from the equatorial launch site.
Taurus rocket launches experimental satellite
An Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket launched a research satellite for the U.S. Dept. of Energy today. Liftoff occurred at 0929 GMT (4:29 a.m. EST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Russian Proton rocket blasts off with Express-6A
A Russian telecommunications satellite was placed into space today by a Proton rocket following liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, news reports said.
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
Thiokol's boosters criticized -- (Deseret News) Questionable quality control in a Utah company making solid rocket fuel for the space shuttle booster rockets may have been a "major potential risk area," concludes an independent technical review ordered by NASA. But more frequent test firings, ordered recently, might be part of the solution.

Unpublished NASA report says all-woman flight isn't necessary -- (UPI) An unpublished NASA report on using space missions to study women's health explicitly rejects the need for a space flight with a crew composed solely of women. The report, obtained by UPI, was written by 12 space medicine experts assigned by NASA's National Space Biomedical Research Institute to study the value of space research focusing specifically on women's health issues.
Saturday: March 11, 2000  0417 GMT
Taurus rocket poised for California liftoff on Sunday
The Launch Readiness Review was completed on Friday at Vandenberg Air Force in California, clearing an Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket for liftoff early Sunday morning carrying an experimental satellite for the U.S. Dept. of Energy.
NASA's Terra spacecraft returns first images to Earth
After eleven weeks of on-orbit checkout and verification and a series of orbital ascent maneuvers, the Terra satellite has reached its final orbit. This marked a culmination of years of work for the Terra team with the acquisition spacecraft's first engineering images.
Boeing offers to pay NASA for lost space station tanks
As an investigations continues, Boeing officials have offered to reimburse the government the full cost of the missing International Space Station tanks regardless of any responsibility determinations.
NASA gearing up for next shuttle mission to ISS
U.S. and Russian teams are preparing for the launch of Atlantis next month on the STS-101 mission, the first shuttle flight to the ISS in almost a year. Six astronauts and a veteran Russian cosmonaut will spend six days docked to the station to conduct maintenance work.
STS-101 patch
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
Actor's Mir mission still in doubt -- (AP/Yahoo!) It could be a hair-raising moment even for the crisis-ridden Mir space station - an actor alone in the orbiting vessel as his two crewmates go for a spacewalk. But Vladimir Steklov, set to be rocketed to Mir on April 3 to film scenes for a movie, says he's ready for anything in Russia's latest effort to keep the aging space station going by attracting private funds.

Seismologists count sound waves to detect disturbances -- (San Francisco Examiner) Like doctors X-raying a patient, astronomers can now see clear through the sun to its hidden side. As a result, they can see early warning signs of solar storms - namely, sunspots on the far side of the sun, invisible to ordinary telescopes and the naked eye.
Friday: March 10, 2000  0510 GMT
A view inside Mars shows rapid cooling, channels
Some of Mars' best kept secrets, long buried beneath the surface of the red planet, were recently revealed by instruments on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
Hubble surveys dying stars in nearby galaxy
From ground telescopes, the glowing gaseous debris surrounding dying, sun-like stars in a nearby galaxy -- the Large Magellanic Cloud -- appear as small, shapeless dots of light. But through the "eyes" of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, these bright dots take on a variety of shapes, from round- to pinwheel-shaped clouds.
Large Magellanic Cloud
SOHO sees through sun, finds storms on other side
A week's advance warning of potential bad weather in space is now possible thanks to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. With a technique that uses ripples on the Sun's visible surface to probe its interior, SOHO scientists have, for the first time, imaged solar storm regions on the far side of the Sun, the side facing away from the Earth.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Galileo spacecraft to fly with a friend, earn bonus miles -- NASA plans to renew the solar system passport of the Galileo spacecraft by extending the mission exploring Jupiter and its moons through the end of 2000, when Galileo may embark on a joint scientific expedition with another solar system explorer, the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft.
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
New light on dark matter -- (BBC) Astronomers have obtained the first-ever glimpse of the distribution of the Universe's mysterious "dark matter" over a large region of the sky - a major advance in astronomy and cosmology. The results give cosmologists their first clear window into the possible roles of dark matter in the evolution of the Universe.

Chaucer's celestial secrets -- (Sydney Morning Herald) In what might be called The Scientist's Tale, an academic pilgrimage into the works of Geoffrey Chaucer may have solved an astronomical mystery at the heart of one of The Canterbury Tales.

Space Center CEO enlists Army man for quality control -- (The Huntsville Times) The U.S. Space & Rocket Center has hired another career Army man as a top executive. Larry Capps, the new chief executive officer of the center and former commanding general at Redstone Arsenal, recommended Wednesday that Clifton J. Broderick be hired as executive manager of the center.
Thursday: March 9, 2000  1800 GMT
Taurus rocket launch never threatened populated island
In an extraordinary turn of events, a Taurus rocket has been cleared for launch on Sunday after the U.S. and Tahitian governments determined a South Pacific island isn't threatened by falling parts of the booster after all.
Big differences seen between Mars' polar caps
New from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft comparing the ice caps at the North and South poles show the difference between the two regions is in the "cheese." The North polar cap has a relatively flat, pitted surface like cottage cheese. The South cap has larger pits, troughs and flat mesas like Swiss-cheese.
Cratered terrain on Eros
A mosaic of two images from NASA's NEAR asteroid probe shows a cratered region of Eros located at the elongated end of the space rock.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Canada plans satellite for ozone depletion research -- The Canadian Space Agency announced Wednesday two contracts to build an all-Canadian science satellite to be launched in 2002. SCISAT-1 will study ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
Space Shuttle Independent Assessment Team report issued -- (NASA) The report of the Space Shuttle Independent Assessment Team, chartered in September 1999 has been released. The technical team was asked to study Space Shuttle maintenance and operations processes, provide a perspective of best practices in the aviation industry, and where applicable or appropriate apply those practices to the Space Shuttle Program.

Merit found in Gore's NASA mission -- (AP/Yahoo!) A space mission proposed by Vice President Al Gore and nearly killed by House Republicans has been assessed by independent experts as a potentially valuable scientific project. A task force of the National Academy of Sciences said in a report Thursday that a satellite in space to focus on the Earth could provide important data about environmental events.

Liberty Bell 7: Loose cash, trash and history -- (Discovery Online) After 38 years at the bottom of the Atlantic and six months in a Kansas workshop, the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule is within a week of being fully restored, according to Karen Seibert of the Kansas Cosmosphere.
Wednesday: March 8, 2000  0539 GMT
Launch of U.S. spy satellite aboard Atlas rocket delayed
A Lockheed Martin Atlas rocket is being disassembled and removed from a Cape Canaveral launch pad this week after its clandestine spy satellite payload was grounded until December due to a classified problem.
Interesting structural features seen on Eros
NASA's NEAR asteroid probe has returned an image of the interior of Eros' saddle area showing grooves, a prominent ridge and boulders.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Bold ideas short-listed for future ESA science projects -- Six proposals, ranging from a visit to the Asteroid Belt to amazingly sensitive gyroscopes, will undergo close examination during the next six months, as the European Space Agency's science advisors move towards the selection of Flexi-missions for launch between 2005 and 2009.

100th Delta rocket rolls out of Boeing Colorado site -- The 100th booster built in a southeastern Colorado facility for Boeing Delta rockets is being readied for delivery to Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla. The Pueblo plant opened in April 1987.
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
Mars-Jupiter-Saturn lineup will again take center stage -- (Houston Chronicle) The three planets that have dominated the evening sky draw ever closer together in March for the best conjunction of the year. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are crowding together above the western horizon. And on March 8, March 9 and March 10, the crescent moon will stop by each planet in turn.

Former NASA worker, Chet Lee, dies -- (AP/Yahoo!) Retired Navy Capt. Chester Lee, who was mission director on the NASA teams that launched six Apollo moon missions, has died at Washington hospital from complications following open heart surgery. He was 80.

Pentagon defends missile-defense -- (AP/Yahoo!) The Pentagon defended its missile-defense program against accusations that TRW, a top contractor in developing the system, faked results of important tests and overstated a vital component's effectiveness.
Tuesday: March 7, 2000  0433 GMT
Stunning new views of Io and Europa from Galileo
NASA has released new images of two of Jupiter's moons -- Io and Europa -- taken by the Galileo spacecraft during encounters late last year. The images show volcanic features on Io and the side of Europa that faces Jupiter.
This week on Galileo
Galileo spends the week playing back science data that is stored on its onboard tape recorder from seven science instruments. The data were acquired when the spacecraft flew past Jupiter's moon Io on February 22.
SpaceDev, Univ. of Arizona make deep space camera
SpaceDev, the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, announced Monday it has finalized an agreement whereby the University of Arizona will furnish a multi-band imaging camera designed and built by Peter Smith of the Mars Pathfinder team.
Space probe
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Scientists listen to rain for clues about climate change -- Those noisy raindrops that keep you awake at night may provide one of the best clues to how much rain falls over the ocean, an important factor in figuring out the Earth's complicated climate system.
NEWSWIRE  Links to news across the internet
Iridium gets $3 million to operate -- (Reuters/Yahoo!) Iridium LLC will get $3 million from its lenders, giving the $5 billion satellite phone operator on the brink of liquidation 11 more days to keep its satellite network operating and push ahead its desperate search for another backer, a bankruptcy court ruled on Monday.
Monday: March 6, 2000  1810 GMT
Atlantis antenna damaged
A communications and radar antenna aboard space shuttle Atlantis was damaged by workers inside the ship's Florida hangar on Sunday evening. The incident occurred during routine pre-flight preparations for Atlantis' planned mid-April launch to the International Space Station.
Dish deployed
Beal Aerospace test fires engine for BA-2 rocket
The largest liquid rocket engine built since the Apollo moon program was fired on Saturday by Beal Aerospace. The engine will be used by Beal's forthcoming BA-2 heavy-lift launch vehicle to debut in 2002.
Engine test
Lockheed Martin building Atlas 5 rocket launch site
Amid an outpouring of fanfare and celebration, the ceremonial last steel beam was hoisted atop Lockheed Martin's new Atlas 5 rocket assembly building on Friday at Cape Canaveral.
SLC 41
NASA's Earth-watching Aqua gets instruments
TRW Inc. has completed the complex task of integrating all six science instruments onto the Aqua spacecraft, the second in NASA's series of Earth Observing System satellites.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
NASA experiment aims to revolutionize new spacecraft -- An experiment that could lead to a breakthrough in the design of space vehicles successfully completed its final design review in February and is planned for flight demonstration in June aboard a Minuteman 3 missile.

Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed directly to your desktop (free of charge).

Your e-mail address:


Earlier news
Feb. 28-March 5: Boeing looks at air-launched rocket; New Boeing and Lockheed Martin launch pads; Images released from Chandra, Hubble, Mars Global Surveyor and NEAR.

Feb. 21-27: Safety of Pacific Island grounds U.S. rocket launch; Shuttle Endeavour comes home; Galileo completes encounter with Io; NEAR moves closer to Eros.

Feb. 14-20: NEAR enters orbit around asteroid Eros; Mir leased commercially; Endeavour radar mapping mission continues; Ariane 4 rocket launches Japanese TV satellite.

Feb. 7-13: Shuttle Endeavour launches on radar mission; Astro-E X-ray observatory lost in Japanese launch failure; Proton rocket returns; Delta completes Globalstar constellation.

Jan. 31-Feb. 6: Endeavour launch delayed by hardware and weather problems; International search underway for possible Mars lander signals; Atlas rocket launches Spanish satellite; Progress cargo ship sent to Mir.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.

Contact us
If you have a comment or question for Spaceflight Now, just send us an e-mail.