Spaceflight Now: Breaking News
Sunday: January 7, 2001  0402 GMT
Space shuttles that repair technical glitches on the fly
Ever stop and think about the millions of dollars spent on fancy space equipment that breaks down? If you are millions of miles away orbiting the Earth, there's no repairman available to fix the problem. The answer: machines that are smart enough to learn from experience, detect problems and fix themselves.
Russian government official signs off on Mir deorbiting
Space station Mir's destruction upon burning up during re-entry seems even more certain with the announcement by a Russian Space Agency spokesperson that the Russian Prime Minister has signed an order mandating the deorbiting late next month.
Australian salt lake helps test NASA 'sky eye'
A team of scientists has just spent a week in a huge barren salt lake in Australia's interior helping to test a new NASA satellite -- the Earth Observing 1 technology demonstrator.
Saturday: January 6, 2001  0212 GMT
Seasons greetings from the Martian North Pole!
As many children across the U.S. and elsewhere anticipating an annual visit from a generous and jolly red-suited soul from the Earth's North Pole, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor was busy acquiring new views of the region around the Martian North Pole.
Shuttle crew visits launch pad, trains for emergencies
The Atlantis astronauts reviewed emergency procedures at pad 39A Friday, fielded questions from reporters and geared up to strap in Saturday for the final hours of a dress-rehearsal countdown. They are scheduled for blastoff January 19.
NASA's Stardust probe on track for Earth flyby
The Stardust comet-catching spacecraft performed a trajectory correction maneuver on Friday, adjusting its interstellar course to pass close by Earth on January 15 for a needed boost in speed.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Sea Launch drops anchor for Monday blastoff -- The Sea Launch vessels arrived at the equator on Friday, completing a 3,000-mile journey from their home port to the designated spot in the Pacific where a Zenit 3SL booster will blast skyward Monday carrying the first digital broadcasting spacecraft for XM Satellite Radio.

European Ariane 4 rocket nears first launch of 2001 -- Workers at the Arianespace launch base in South America have a busy weekend ahead of them as they ready an Ariane 4 rocket for launch Monday after a one-month delay to conduct extra inspections on the Eurasiasat 1 satellite cargo.

Friday: January 5, 2001  0521 GMT
Planets orbiting other stars could be more plentiful
The number of stars with extrasolar planets may be much larger than previously thought, scientists studying several nearby stars concluded this week. Research shows that clouds of molecular hydrogen gas, the raw material for gas giant planets like Jupiter, may last millions of years longer than once believed, making it much easier for such planets to form.
Beta Pictoris
NASA mulls options for future low-cost explorer
On beat with its "faster, better, cheaper" rhythm, NASA on Thursday announced the selection of three proposed low-cost missions for further in-depth study, including one that seeks to find habitable planets outside our solar system.
Completely dark galaxies
The universe could be harbouring numerous galaxies that have no stars at all and are made entirely of dark matter. Astronomers may ultimately discover that completely dark galaxies outnumber the familiar kind populated by shining stars and gas, perhaps by as many as 100 to 1.
UGC 10214
Cassini probe keeps its scientific eye on Jupiter
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has continued collecting new scientific information from Jupiter's environs every day since making its closest approach to the giant planet on Saturday, and is scheduled to keep studying the Jupiter system for another three months while proceeding on toward Saturn.
Thursday: January 4, 2001  0601 GMT
Hubble: X marks the spot of star formation glow
The saying "X" marks the spot holds true in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image where Hubble-X marks the location of a dramatic burst of star formation, very much like the Orion Nebula in our Milky Way galaxy, but on a vastly greater scale.
Hubble image
Massive gas cloud found near young galaxy
A massive gas cloud with the raw materials to form 100 billion stars could reshape theories of galaxy formation. Astronomers say a distant young galaxy harbors a unexpectedly massive cloud of hydrogen gas that may fuel a burst of star formation.
Shuttle Atlantis arrives on seaside launch pad
After a day's delay because of computer troubles, space shuttle Atlantis made a 3.5-mile, six-hour crawl to launch pad 39A Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis is being prepared for blastoff later this month to carry the $1.4 billion U.S. Destiny laboratory module to the international space station.
Boeing wins potential $1.3B for six military satellites
Boeing has been picked to led the charge in developing the U.S. military's next-generation Wideband Gapfiller Satellite communications network, which could lead to the company building as many as six spacecraft for the system.
DAILY BRIEFING  Other stories making news today
Arianespace sets Monday launch date for stalled Ariane 4 -- Activity at Guiana Space Center's Ariane 4 launch pad is once again bustling as Arianespace has announced that Flight 137 is back on track for blastoff next week after a month-long delay caused by the rocket's Turkish communications satellite cargo.

Wednesday: January 3, 2001  0520 GMT
Computer trouble forces halt to Atlantis rollout
A problem with the main computer inside the crawler-transporter Tuesday forced NASA to stop the rollout of space shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to the seaside launch pad 39A. Atlantis was returned to the VAB for swapout of the crawler. Rollout is now set for Wednesday.

More mission coverage here:

Next test flight of Chinese capsule expected soon
Amid much speculation regarding a possible launch date for China's second prototype manned spacecraft, called Shenzhou, the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper is reporting that workers are readying the spacecraft for a launch some time in early January, possibly this week.
Black holes in distant galaxies measured
Two astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin, working with an international team of collaborators, have shown that they can provide reliable measurements of black hole masses for active galactic nuclei such as quasars even at great distances.
Black hole
Tuesday: January 2, 2001  0237 GMT
Shuttle Atlantis goes for six hour ride to pad today
Rolling along at speeds reaching one-mile per hour, space shuttle Atlantis will be transported from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building to the seaside launch pad 39A after sunrise today. Atlantis is due for blastoff later this month on a space station assembly mission.

More mission coverage here:

Sea Launch to loft radio broadcasting satellite
The Sea Launch command ship and Odyssey platform are sailing to the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean for next week's flight of a Zenit 3SL rocket with the first of two broadcasting spacecraft for XM Satellite Radio.
Sea Launch
Monday: January 1, 2001  0350 GMT
Station skipper writes poem to usher in the new year
The international space station's Exedition One commander, Bill Shepherd, has written a poem capturing his thoughts and reflections, as he and Russian shipmates, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, usher in 2001.

More mission coverage here:

Despite pummeling, early Earth conditions ripe for life
Even during an extraordinarily violent era in Earth's early history, when our young planet was being whacked by asteroids and comets so frequently that scientists refer to it as "Late Heavy Bombardment," conditions most of the time at the Earth's surface were quite hospitable for the microbes that lived here, according to new research.

Hubble poster
The Hubble Space Telescope's majestic view of the Eskimo Nebula. This spectacular poster is available now from the Astronomy Now Store.

Earlier news
Dec. 25-31: Cassini and Galileo space probes double-team Jupiter; Brief loss of contact raises fears about Mir; Surprise switch for Mir emergency crew; Cargo ship redocks to international space station; Contact restored with new amateur radio satellite; Six Russian satellites lost as rocket fails; Out-of-this-world holiday greetings from ISS crew.

Dec. 18-24: Problem hits Cassini's pointing system; NASA revives Pluto mission; Landing site selected for Beagle 2 mission to Mars; Booster repairs delay next shuttle launch; Ariane 5 hoists cargos for Europe, U.S. and Japan; Europe will build new Vega rocket.

Dec. 11-17: Ocean believed hidden on Jupiter's moon Ganymede; Shuttle returns to Earth; China pledges development of manned space program; New report offers evidence of primitive life on Mars; More pictures from Cassini of Jovian system.

Dec. 4-10: Astronauts spread solar wings of international space station; Evidence of ancient Martian lakes, shallow seas found; Four more moons discovered orbiting Saturn; U.S. military buys airtime on Iridium; Atlas rocket launches classified cargo.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.

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