Sunday: May 20, 2001  0514 GMT
Comet LINEAR splits further
New images from the European Southern Observatory show that one of the two nuclei of Comet LINEAR, now about 100 million km from the Earth, has just split into at least two pieces. The three fragments are now moving through space in nearly parallel orbits while they slowly drift apart.
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LINEAR
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Future weather satellite imager being developed -- NASA has awarded ITT Industries' Aerospace/Communications Division an $8 million contract for formulation phase work on an advanced imager for the next generation of geostationary weather satellites operated and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Saturday: May 19, 2001  0001 GMT
Delta 2 lofts spy satellite technology demonstrator
A $130 million experimental laser communications testbed spacecraft launched Friday could pave the way for quicker transmission of reconnaissance information from U.S. spy satellites back to Earth.
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Delta 2
NASA dishes out first Space Launch Initiative contracts
NASA awarded contracts worth up to $767 million Thursday to being developing the technologies needed for a new generation of reusable launch vehicles that could eventually replace the space shuttle.
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2nd RLV
Nest of tight binaries revealed in dense cluster
Scientists have gazed into an incredibly dense star cluster with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and identified a surprising bonanza of binary stars, including a large number of rapidly rotating neutron stars. The discovery may help explain how one of the oldest structures in our Galaxy evolved over its lifetime.
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Chandra
Friday: May 18, 2001  0122 GMT
Delta 2 rocket poised for liftoff with NRO craft
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket is set for launch from Cape Canaveral today carrying an experimental spacecraft to test laser communications for the National Reconnaissance Office -- the agency that controls the U.S. spy satellite fleet.
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Delta 2
Comet LINEAR's missing pieces puzzle astronomers
Astronomers analyzing debris from a comet that broke apart last summer spied pieces as small as smoke-sized particles and as large as football-field-sized fragments. But it's the material they didn't see that has aroused their curiosity.
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LINEAR
Dying comet's kin may have nourished life on Earth
A comet that shattered on its approach to the Sun breathed new life into the theory that comet impacts provided most of the water in Earth's oceans. The same NASA observations of the Comet LINEAR, also support the idea that comet impacts furnished a significant amount of the organic molecules used in life that later arose on Earth.
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LINEAR
SOHO's unique view of a comet that fell to pieces
When Comet LINEAR was first found to be breaking up last summer, the SOHO spacecraft had already been watching it. SOHO scientists reported Thursday that their observations showed four major outbursts in June and July.
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LINEAR
Massive water erosion of Mars' highlands, study says
Massive erosion shaped the surface of Mars, according to planetary scientists at Washington University. They suggest that western Arabia Terra, an area the size of the European continent, experienced an extensive erosion event caused by flowing water.
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Mars
Thursday: May 17, 2001  0148 GMT
Is a young star belching spheres of gas?
A young star more than 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus may be belching out spheres of gas, say astronomers. Not only is the star ejecting spheres of gas, the researchers say, but it also may be ejecting them repeatedly, phenomena not predicted by current theories of how young stars shed matter.
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Cepheus
Space station crew put new robotic arm in motion
Expedition Two crew activities aboard the International Space Station this week are focusing on the arrival of two spacecraft -- the next Russian Progress supply vehicle early next week and Space Shuttle Atlantis in a month.
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ISS
Delta 2 rocket launch of GeoLITE satellite delayed
Boeing has postponed Thursday's planned launch of the Delta 2 rocket with the NRO's GeoLITE communications technology demonstration satellite so workers can replace suspect hoses on the vehicle's first stage main engine.
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Delta 2
Micro-thruster built by TRW fires on sub-orbital test
A micro-thruster array measuring one-quarter the size of a penny, designed by a TRW-led team for use on micro-, nano- and pico-satellites, has successfully demonstrated its functionality in a live fire test aboard a Scorpius sub-orbital sounding rocket.
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MEMS
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X-40A performs sixth flight -- The X-40A vehicle successfully performed a sixth free flight test Wednesday at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif. The test repeated complex maneuvers from an earlier free flight, monitoring vehicle performance during pitch adjustments when the nose is raised and lowered.
Wednesday: May 16, 2001  0314 GMT
What is Saturn's moon Titan really made of?
Scientists expect to have a much clearer vision of the surface of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, when the Huygens probe touches down on its surface in 2004. In the meantime, both ground-based telescopes and space observatories are contributing to the growing body of information on the nature of Titan's surface.
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Titan
Delta 2 rocket to launch GeoLITE on Thursday
A $130 million National Reconnaissance Office satellite designed to test an experimental laser communications system for relaying intelligence information is set for launch Thursday aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket.
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Delta 2
X-37 reusable spaceplane achieves milestones
Boeing announced Tuesday it has made substantial progress toward key milestones in the X-37 reusable spaceplane program, initiated under a cooperative agreement signed with NASA in July 1999.
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X-40A
NASA to fund unmanned aerial science missions
NASA has selected two research proposals to demonstrate the capabilities of uninhabited, high-altitude aircraft as aerial platforms for Earth science and commercial applications.
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UAV
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A gift to the next generation of astronomers -- Dozens of young scientists from all over Europe have gathered this week for intensive briefings on ESA's next star-mapping satellite, Gaia.
Tuesday: May 15, 2001  0930 GMT
Proton lofts international communications satellite
A telecommunications spacecraft that will orbit above the Indian Ocean to serve an area where 80 percent of the planet's population resides and replace an ailing sister-satellite was successfully delivered into space today by a Russian Proton rocket.
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Proton
Report forecasts decline in commercial launch market
A report issued last week by government and industry officials forecasts sharply reduced demand for launches of some types of commercial satellites over the next decade and only modest growth in geosynchronous communications satellites, the staple of the commercial launch industry.
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Satellite
Chandra examines black holes in nearby galaxy
Probing a large, nearby galaxy in the constellation of Circinus, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory presents a new view of both the galaxy's supermassive black hole and a host of potential smaller black holes sprinkled throughout its spiral arms. The results include the first detection of a black hole's periodic variability in X-rays outside our galactic neighborhood.
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Chandra image
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Galileo to make flyby of Callisto later this month -- As Galileo closes in on Callisto, preparations heat up. Activities this week include a test of the on-board gyroscopes and a change to a new sequence of commands to operate the spacecraft. And while all this is going on, playback of previously recorded data continues.
Monday: May 14, 2001  0346 GMT
Commercial Proton rocket prepared for launch
The 20th Proton rocket to be flown under the joint Russian-American International Launch Services banner is poised for blastoff carrying a PanAmSat telecommunications satellite destined to serve three continents in a 30-million square mile footprint. Launch is set for 9:11 p.m. EDT tonight (0111 GMT Tuesday).
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Proton
Peroxide engine being developed for spaceplane
Aerojet has received a contract from the Air Force to develop the propulsion engine for the Air Force's Space Maneuvering Vehicle, a small reusable craft that could perform a variety of missions for the Department of Defense.
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SMV

Earlier news
May 7-13: Harsh destiny of a planet revealed; Heart of Boeing's Delta 4 rocket put to the test; Sea Launch rocket lofts second XM radio satellite; Pentagon announces military space reforms.

April 30-May 6: Space vacation ends for Tito with Soyuz ride home; Endeavour departs station and lands safely; Big Bang evidence found; Pioneer 10 probe lives on; Odds of planet formation in Orion Nebula reduced.

April 23-29: Tito's tourist trip blasts off; Serious computer problem strikes space station; Robot arm attached to station by shuttle crew; Hubble makes popular observation for its birthday; Mars Odyssey takes snapshot of Earth.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.


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