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Archive for May, 2001

24-May-01 | NASA approves Deep Impact

NASA has approved development of Deep Impact, a robotic spacecraft which will attempt to collide a probe with a comet nucleus in order to study the comet’s interior. A $279 million mission, the seventh* in NASA’s Discovery Program, Deep Impact is slated to launch aboard a Delta II rocket sometime around January 2004. (NASA Press Release, 24-May-01)

22-May-01 | Delta flight 285 – GeoLITE

On Friday, 18 May, Delta flight 285 launched the Geosynchronous Lightweight Technology Experiment (GeoLITE), a test payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. This was the first flight for NRO by a Delta. Delta’s predecessor and sibling, Thor-Agena, was the workhorse for NRO’s Corona program from 1960 to 1972. (As I was out of town during this launch, I recommend you check out Justin Ray’s coverage for Spaceflight Now.)

11-May-01 | GOES-2 shuts down

GOES-2 has been moved into a graveyard orbit and was commanded to shut down its communications system on Saturday, 5 May 2001. Part of the world’s first operational, geosynchronous meteorological satellite system, GOES-2 (Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellite) was launched aboard Delta 131 on 16 June 1977 and was operated by NOAA until 1993. (Spaceflight Now, 8-May-01)

07-May-01 | RXTE finds evidence of frame dragging

An astronomer at Goddard Space Flight Center using the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer has found observational evidence that rotating black holes create a whirlpool effect, essentially twisting the fabric of spacetime around them. (NASA Press Release, 30-Apr-01) This may sound like old news, as LAGEOS-1 helped scientists determine much the same thing about the Earth, albeit on a lesser scale, some three years ago. RXTE was launched on Delta 230 in December 1995. (LAGEOS dates back to 1976, aboard Delta 123.)



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