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S P E C T R U M

news about our universe

January 7, 1999
Web posted at: 5:11 p.m. EDT (1711 GMT)


graphic
Artist's rendering of Deep Space 1   

Deep Space probe takes measure of solar wind

(CNN) -- NASA's futuristic Deep Space 1 mission -- now more than 22 times as far away from Earth as the Moon is -- continues to successfully demonstrate new experimental space flight technologies, NASA said in a statement.

In December, spacecraft activated an instrument called the Plasma Experiment for Planetary Exploration and demonstrated its ability to measure both electrons and ions in the solar wind. The new-generation instrument combines several functions into a unit of lower mass and lower power consumption than on traditional science missions.

Deep Space 1, launched October 24, is the first mission under NASA's New Millennium Program testing new technologies for use on future science missions. Among its 12 new technologies are a xenon ion propulsion system, autonomous navigation, a high-efficiency solar array and a miniature camera/spectrometer.


China aims to put man in space

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- China has announced plans to carry out its first manned space flights "by the end of this century or the beginning of the next," the official Liberation Daily reported Tuesday.

Success would make China the first country in more than 30 years to join the United States and Russia -- including the former Soviet Union -- in the exclusive club of manned mission launchers.

But in its inaugural launch in early 1996, the country's largest and most advanced rocket, the Long March 3B, exploded shortly after liftoff, killing three people and injuring 57 on the ground.

Since then, a series of six successful commercial launches in 1998 restored some confidence in the program.


Closeout completed for Stardust mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- NASA technicians have completed closeout and encapsulation of the Stardust spacecraft, scheduled for liftoff February 6 from Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The unmanned Stardust probe will attempt to capture comet particles flying off the nucleus of comet Wild 2 in January 2004, plus collect samples of interstellar dust. The spacecraft will then return the collected samples to Earth for analysis.

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