November 2003 Top Story Archives



Extraterrestrial Enigma: Missing Amino Acids in Meteorites »» Extraterrestrial Enigma: Missing Amino Acids in Meteorites

[Monday, November 03, 2003] Amino acids have been found in interstellar clouds and in meteorites but with some enigmatic omissions and tantalizing similarities to life on Earth.

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NASA Begins Process of Soliciting Orbital Space Plane Designs »» NASA Begins Process of Soliciting Orbital Space Plane Designs

[Monday, November 03, 2003] NASA/MSFC intends to negotiate additional scope under existing contracts, and solicit and consider proposals under a limited competition for the design, development, test, delivery, and flight certification of an Orbital Space Plane (OSP)

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New Solar Flares Send Material Toward Earth »» New Solar Flares Send Material Toward Earth

[Monday, November 03, 2003] The series of solar storms that have pummeled Earth continues. Three more explosions on the sun occurred during the past 24 hours. The largest flare produced a coronal mass ejection that could strike Earth's magnetic field by midday Monday.

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World's Single Largest Telescope Mirror Moves To The LBT »» World's Single Largest Telescope Mirror Moves To The LBT

[Monday, November 03, 2003] The world's most powerful optical telescope took a giant step closer to completion late last week when the first of its huge 27-foot diameter mirrors inched up a tortuous mountain road to its new home at Arizona's Mount Graham International Observatory

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University of Hawaii Astronomers Release First Image from Gigantic New Infrared Camera »» University of Hawaii Astronomers Release First Image from Gigantic New Infrared Camera

[Monday, November 03, 2003] Astronomers from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy today released the first image from a gigantic new 16 Megapixel infrared camera recently mounted on the UH 2.2-meter (88-inch) Telescope on Mauna Kea.

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Hydrogen sulfide, not carbon dioxide, may have caused largest mass extinction »» Hydrogen sulfide, not carbon dioxide, may have caused largest mass extinction

[Monday, November 03, 2003] While most scientists agree that a meteor strike killed the dinosaurs, the cause of the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, 251 million years ago, is still unknown, according to geologists.

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Letter from U.S. House to President Bush Urging Support for NASA »» Letter from U.S. House to President Bush Urging Support for NASA

[Tuesday, November 04, 2003] "We are writing to you as Members of Congress to express our strong support for a robust future for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

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Astronomers Find Nearest Galaxy to the Milky Way »» Astronomers Find Nearest Galaxy to the Milky Way

[Tuesday, November 04, 2003] An international team of astronomers from France, Italy, the UK and Australia has found a previously unknown galaxy colliding with our own Milky Way. This newly-discovered galaxy takes the record for the nearest galaxy to the centre of the Milky Way.

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Extreme Solar Flare Alert for Planet Earth »» Extreme Solar Flare Alert for Planet Earth

[Tuesday, November 04, 2003] Region 486 has produced one of the most intense solar flares ever measured. This flare produced a category R5 (extreme) radio blackout. All short-wave communications through the sunlit hemisphere of the Earth experienced complete blackout conditions.

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Rosetta Ready to Land on a Larger Comet »» Rosetta Ready to Land on a Larger Comet

[Wednesday, November 05, 2003] In May 2003 engineers were presented with a new challenge when ESA's Science Programme Committee announced that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would replace comet 46P/Wirtanen as Rosetta's objective.

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NASA's Voyager Approaching Solar System's Final Frontier »» NASA's Voyager Approaching Solar System's Final Frontier

[Wednesday, November 05, 2003] NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is about to make history again. It is the first spacecraft to enter the solar system's final frontier, a vast expanse where wind from the sun blows hot against thin gas between the stars: interstellar space.

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Debate on Space Tourism Heats Up In Congress »» Debate on Space Tourism Heats Up In Congress

[Wednesday, November 05, 2003] Commercial human space flight (space tourism) is a burgeoning industry in need of some degree of government regulation and oversight a panel of witnesses told the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee today.

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»» "Dark matter" forms a ghost universe that mirrors our own, new theory shows

[Wednesday, November 05, 2003] The dark matter comprising a still-undetected part of the universe is not a uniform cosmic fog, says a UC Berkeley, astrophysicist, but instead forms dense clumps that move about like dust motes dancing in a shaft of light.

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Astronomers Break Ground on Atacama Large Millimeter Array »» Astronomers Break Ground on Atacama Large Millimeter Array

[Thursday, November 06, 2003] Scientists and dignitaries from North America, Europe, and Chile broke ground today (Thursday, November 6, 2003) on what will be the world's largest, most sensitive radio telescope operating at millimeter wavelengths.

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NASA Releases Implementation Plan for International Space Station Continuing Flight »» NASA Releases Implementation Plan for International Space Station Continuing Flight

[Thursday, November 06, 2003] NASA: "A periodically updated document demonstrating our commitment to application of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board recommendations in support of safe continuing flight of the International Space Station."

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Hubble Photographs Turbulent Neighborhood Near Eruptive Star »» Hubble Photographs Turbulent Neighborhood Near Eruptive Star

[Thursday, November 06, 2003] A small portion of the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of swirling dust and gas near one of the most massive and eruptive stars in our galaxy is seen in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image.

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Biggest solar X-ray flare ever is classified as X28 »» Biggest solar X-ray flare ever is classified as X28

[Friday, November 07, 2003] It has just been announced that the massive solar X-ray flare which occurred on 4 November was, at best estimate, an X28. We have a new number 1 X-ray flare for the record books, the most powerful in recorded observational history.

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ESA: The affordable Cosmic Vision »» ESA: The affordable Cosmic Vision

[Friday, November 07, 2003] Due to the current financial exigencies and an outlook with no budget increase or other relief, the SPC was forced to cancel the Eddington mission and rescope the BepiColombo mission.

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NASA Names Crew Members for Shuttle Return to Flight Mission »» NASA Names Crew Members for Shuttle Return to Flight Mission

[Friday, November 07, 2003] The STS-114 crew, augmented by 3 new members, is in place for the Shuttle's Return to Flight mission. Three Mission Specialists have been added to the 4 astronauts already in training for the mission now planned for launch no earlier than Sep. 2004.

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Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #14: Last Letter »» Ed Lu's Journal: Entry #14: Last Letter

[Saturday, November 08, 2003] "Hopefully, what we are doing up here will someday help us to explore deep space, as we revisit the moon, go on to explore asteroids, and one day settle on Mars."

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Antimatter mystery at the center of our Galaxy »» Antimatter mystery at the center of our Galaxy

[Tuesday, November 11, 2003] ESA's gamma-ray observatory Integral is poised to give astronomers their truest picture yet of recent changes in the Milky Way's chemical composition. At the same time, it has confirmed an 'antimatter' mystery at the center of the Galaxy.

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European Commission Adopts Space Action Plan »» European Commission Adopts Space Action Plan

[Tuesday, November 11, 2003] A policy paper on "Space: A New European Frontier for an Expanding Union" has been presented by the European Commission in Brussels today. The policy paper was developed in close co-operation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and calls for substantial

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XCOR Submits First »» XCOR Submits First "Sufficiently Complete" RLV Launch License Application

[Tuesday, November 11, 2003] This significant regulatory milestone means that AST has committed itself either to issue a launch license to XCOR within 180 days or notify Congress that it failed to do so.

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Bush Space Policy: Will America (Finally) Go Somewhere Once Again? »» Bush Space Policy: Will America (Finally) Go Somewhere Once Again?

[Wednesday, November 12, 2003] The Bush Administration is nearly finished with an internal effort to develop a new space policy for America. Meanwhile, rumors of an imminent announcement are taking on a life of their own.

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No Ice at the Lunar Poles »» No Ice at the Lunar Poles

[Wednesday, November 12, 2003] "If there is ice at the poles, the only way left to test it is to go there directly and melt a small volume around the dust and look for water with a mass spectrometer," says Bruce Campbell.

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Gamma-ray Bursts, X-ray Flashes, and Certain Supernovae Are Related »» Gamma-ray Bursts, X-ray Flashes, and Certain Supernovae Are Related

[Wednesday, November 12, 2003] A new study demonstrates that gamma-ray bursts, X-ray flashes, and certain supernovae of type Ic are in fact connected by their common explosive energy, suggesting that a single type of phenomenon, the explosion of a massive star, is the culprit.

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Not-Yet-Turned-On Star is Forming Jupiter-like Planet »» Not-Yet-Turned-On Star is Forming Jupiter-like Planet

[Wednesday, November 12, 2003] Astronomers not only confirmed that the young star does have a protoplanetary disk -- the stuff from which solar systems are born -- but discovered a gap in the disk, which is strong evidence of a forming planet.

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Pleiades in Rare Interstellar Three-Body Collision »» Pleiades in Rare Interstellar Three-Body Collision

[Thursday, November 13, 2003] New data obtained at Kitt Peak National Observatory suggest that the Pleiades are actually encountering two clouds, giving rise to an extraordinary and previously unknown occurrence: a three-body collision in the vast emptiness of interstellar space.

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Quest Begins to Unmask Dark Matter and Perhaps Supersymmetry »» Quest Begins to Unmask Dark Matter and Perhaps Supersymmetry

[Thursday, November 13, 2003] Using detectors chilled to near absolute zero half a mile below ground, physicists of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search have announced the launch of a quest that could lead to solving two mysteries that may turn out to be one and the same.

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Delta-like Fan on Mars Suggests Ancient Rivers Were Persistent »» Delta-like Fan on Mars Suggests Ancient Rivers Were Persistent

[Thursday, November 13, 2003] Newly seen details in a fan-shaped apron of debris on Mars may help settle a decades-long debate about whether the planet had long-lasting rivers instead of just brief, intense floods.

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Detailed Cassini Portrait of Jupiter Released by NASA »» Detailed Cassini Portrait of Jupiter Released by NASA

[Thursday, November 13, 2003] NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, captured the most detailed global color view of Jupiter ever seen, during its closest approach to Jupiter.

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Stardust Encounter Preparations with Comet Wild 2 Begin »» Stardust Encounter Preparations with Comet Wild 2 Begin

[Friday, November 14, 2003] Over the past week, the spacecraft's first approach optical navigation images were taken. From now until December these images will be taken twice a week, then their frequency will increase until after encounter.

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Gravity Probe B Launch Preparations Continue »» Gravity Probe B Launch Preparations Continue

[Friday, November 14, 2003] Gravity Probe B will be launched into a 400 nautical-mile-high polar orbit for an 18-month mission on 6 December 2003. The spacecraft will test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity that he advanced in 1916.

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Mars in True Color (almost) »» Mars in True Color (almost)

[Friday, November 14, 2003] This spectacular view of the sunlit cliffs and basaltic sand dunes in southern Melas Chasma shows Mars in a way rarely seen: in full, realistic color.

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CRS Report: China's Space Program: An Overview »» CRS Report: China's Space Program: An Overview

[Friday, November 14, 2003] This October 2003 report on the past, present, and future of the Chinese space program was written by the Congressional Research Service for use by members of the U.S. Congress.

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You Can't Explore the Universe if You Sit on Your Hands »» You Can't Explore the Universe if You Sit on Your Hands

[Sunday, November 16, 2003] The White House is considering possible new directions for NASA. Part of the equation is going to have to do with whether the President feels that NASA is up to the task. Not everyone in a position to have a say in advising the President thinks NASA is.

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Bakeout explored for Chandra's  Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer »» Bakeout explored for Chandra's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer

[Monday, November 17, 2003] Possible 'bakeout' explored for NASA Chandra Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer

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NASA's Chandra Sees Most Distant X-ray Jet Yet Discovered »» NASA's Chandra Sees Most Distant X-ray Jet Yet Discovered

[Monday, November 17, 2003] Extending more than 100,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole powering the quasar, the jet of high-energy particles provides astronomers with information about the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation 12 billion years ago.

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Launch of NASA's Gravity Probe B Postponed »» Launch of NASA's Gravity Probe B Postponed

[Tuesday, November 18, 2003] After a review of test data, a decision has been made to reschedule the launch of Gravity Probe B (GP-B). The launch had been scheduled for Dec. 6 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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NASA Cassini Significant Events for 05/27/04 - 06/02/04 »» NASA Cassini Significant Events for 05/27/04 - 06/02/04

[Tuesday, November 18, 2003] NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the new NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), which includes nine distinguished members and a new charter. The initial meeting of the new panel is expected soon.

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»» "Fastest Man Alive" Recalls 50th Anniversary of Historic Flight

[Wednesday, November 19, 2003] On Nov. 20, 1953, shortly before the 50th anniversary of powered flight, A. Scott Crossfield piloted the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket research aircraft to Mach 2, twice the speed of sound, and became the "fastest man alive."

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SOHO Reveals that the Sun Sheds its Skin and Flips »» SOHO Reveals that the Sun Sheds its Skin and Flips

[Wednesday, November 19, 2003] SOHO has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun's magnetic field every 11 years. This factor in the Sun's magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand Coronal Mass Ejections.

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International Space Station Marks Five Years in Orbit »» International Space Station Marks Five Years in Orbit

[Wednesday, November 19, 2003] The first Space Station element, the Russian Zarya control module, was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Nov. 20, 1998. Two weeks later, the Space Shuttle Endeavour delivered the second element, the U.S. connecting module called Unity.

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A Cheap Method for Solar System Hunting »» A Cheap Method for Solar System Hunting

[Thursday, November 20, 2003] Astronomers have invented an inexpensive method to determine if other solar systems like our own exist. The McDonald Observatory astronomers' novel search method uses a Depression-era telescope mated with today's technology.

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New evidence says Earth's greatest extinction caused by ancient meteorite »» New evidence says Earth's greatest extinction caused by ancient meteorite

[Thursday, November 20, 2003] Long before the dinosaurs ever lived, the planet experienced a mass extinction so severe it killed 90 percent of life on Earth, and researchers at the University of Rochester think they've identified the unlikely culprit.

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NASA Successfully Tests Ion Engine »» NASA Successfully Tests Ion Engine

[Thursday, November 20, 2003] NASA's Project Prometheus recently reached an important milestone with the first successful test of an engine that could lead to revolutionary propulsion capabilities for space exploration missions throughout the solar system and beyond.

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A Supercomputer Bargain at NASA »» A Supercomputer Bargain at NASA

[Friday, November 21, 2003] It would seem that NASA is hoping on the same bandwagon as Virginia Tech and looking at how off-the shelf clustered applications can produce world-class computing capabilities at a miniscule cost when compared to 'traditional' supercomputing behemoths.

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Forty Years Ago Today »» Forty Years Ago Today

[Friday, November 21, 2003] This Nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it. Whatever the difficulties, they will be overcome. Whatever the hazards, they must be guarded against.

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Next International Space Station Crew Named »» Next International Space Station Crew Named

[Friday, November 21, 2003] Veteran NASA astronaut William S. McArthur Jr., a retired U.S. Army colonel, and Russian Air Force Colonel Valery I. Tokarev are the next crew for the International Space Station.

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New Horizons mission team plans Jupiter encounter »» New Horizons mission team plans Jupiter encounter

[Friday, November 21, 2003] The main goal of NASA's New Horizons mission may be to explore Pluto-Charon and the Kuiper belt beginning in 2015, but first the mission plans to fly by the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, during February-March 2007.

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SOHO Tracks Recent Stormy Regions on Sun's Far Side »» SOHO Tracks Recent Stormy Regions on Sun's Far Side

[Friday, November 21, 2003] Scientists using the SOHO spacecraft have been able to monitor the activity of the recent powerful solar magnetic active regions that were hidden on the far side of the Sun as they rotated with the Sun to face the Earth again.

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Space Shuttle Enterprise Has a New Home »» Space Shuttle Enterprise Has a New Home

[Saturday, November 22, 2003] After 18 years in a non-descript hangar at Dulles International Airport, just outside Washington DC, Space Shuttle Enterprise has moved to its new home. Instead of sitting in dark, unglamorous storage, Enterprise is now in a bright place of honor.

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NASA Scientist Says Weak Microwaves Do Not Affect Plant Growth »» NASA Scientist Says Weak Microwaves Do Not Affect Plant Growth

[Monday, November 24, 2003] A NASA scientist has discovered that future solar-power satellite systems designed to harvest sunlight, convert solar electric energy into weak microwaves and beam them down to Earth to make electricity, are not harmful to green plants.

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NASA Releases First Update to Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and Beyond »» NASA Releases First Update to Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and Beyond

[Monday, November 24, 2003] NASA has released the first update to its Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight. Changes include NASA responses to the CAIB, cost estimates, and progress in meeting RTF actions.

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SMA Dedication Opens Elusive Frontier For Exploration »» SMA Dedication Opens Elusive Frontier For Exploration

[Monday, November 24, 2003] The Submillimeter Array was dedciated today on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. SMA is the world's first imaging telescope array that views the universe at submillimeter wavelengths.

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Final Death Throes Of Nearby Star Witnessed First-Hand »» Final Death Throes Of Nearby Star Witnessed First-Hand

[Monday, November 24, 2003] Astronomers have caught a dying star in the act. This nearby star, called V Hydrae, has been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in the last stages of its demise, just as material has begun to shoot away from it in a high-speed jet outflow.

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As Universe Comes Undone, Electrons Cling More Tightly to Protons »» As Universe Comes Undone, Electrons Cling More Tightly to Protons

[Monday, November 24, 2003] Two scientists propose that the bond between electrons and protons, called the fine structure constant, or alpha, may not be constant and may have been 200,000 times weaker about ten billion years ago.

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Severe Solar Weather Once Again »» Severe Solar Weather Once Again

[Tuesday, November 25, 2003] Space weather during the past week reached severe levels. Early in the week, a category G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm was in progress due to high speed solar wind impacting Earth.

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EC and ESA sign historic co-operation agreement »» EC and ESA sign historic co-operation agreement

[Wednesday, November 26, 2003] European space policy has taken another giant leap forward with the adoption of a new European Community (EC) and European Space Agency (ESA) Framework Agreement.

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Gravity Probe B Launch Delayed »» Gravity Probe B Launch Delayed

[Wednesday, November 26, 2003] Gravity Probe B is in a spacecraft processing facility. Because decisions remain to be made on what will be necessary to restore Gravity Probe B to flight readiness, it is not possible at this time to determine a new launch date.

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Hubble to Observe Saturn's Aurora As Cassini Arrives »» Hubble to Observe Saturn's Aurora As Cassini Arrives

[Wednesday, November 26, 2003] At the request of the Cassini Project Scientist, investigators from Boston University have been granted observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope to view Saturn's aurora around the time of Saturn orbit insertion next July.

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Unexplained Noises Aboard Space Station »» Unexplained Noises Aboard Space Station

[Thursday, November 27, 2003] As reported yesterday, the crew reported an unusual sound in the SM at 2:59am EST, which they described as a "whumping sound" similar to when a thin sheet of metal is shaken. Nothing amiss has been found as yet, and analysis is continuing.

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SpaceX Falcon Begins Flight to Washington DC »» SpaceX Falcon Begins Flight to Washington DC

[Friday, November 28, 2003] The transport, carrying an actual Falcon space vehicle, will cross the U.S. and will be formally unveiled by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and a crowd of Washington, DC dignitaries on December 4th near the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall in DC.

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YOU can vote to put Mars on the cover of  the Jan 2004 issue of National Geographic »» YOU can vote to put Mars on the cover of the Jan 2004 issue of National Geographic

[Friday, November 28, 2003] One of the articles in the upcoming issue of National Geographic deals with the search for life on Mars. Vote now to help make sure that a picture of Mars is on the cover!

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Final Planning for New National Space and Satellite Alliance Almost Complete »» Final Planning for New National Space and Satellite Alliance Almost Complete

[Friday, November 28, 2003] The National Space and Satellite Alliance would be comprised of the Space Foundation, National Space Society, Satellite Industry Association, Washington Space Business Roundtable, Space Day, and the Aerospace States Association.

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Launch Failure of JAXA's H-IIA »» Launch Failure of JAXA's H-IIA

[Saturday, November 29, 2003] During launch today from the Tanegashima Space Center, an H-IIA vehicle failed to jettison one of its two Solid Rocket Boosters and was consequently destroyed by a destruction command from the ground.

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Sea Recons Readied: NRO to bolster space-based ocean surveillance to track suspicious ships »» Sea Recons Readied: NRO to bolster space-based ocean surveillance to track suspicious ships

[Saturday, November 29, 2003] A National Reconnaissance Office secret space mission, important for tracking potential terrorist movements involving ships, is poised for liftoff this week from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

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Bush to Charge NASA with Implementing Broad Space Vision to Dominate Cislunar Space »» Bush to Charge NASA with Implementing Broad Space Vision to Dominate Cislunar Space

[Sunday, November 30, 2003] President Bush will propose a sweeping new vision of U.S. space leadership that will call for use of the Moon for technology development and partnerships between NASA and DoD to make maximum use of existing or planned space systems.

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