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Archive for June, 2001

08-Jun-01 | NASA approves MESSENGER

Another NASA go-ahead for full-scale development has been announced, this time for MESSENGER, a $256 million mission that will be the first to orbit the planet Mercury. Mariner 10, the only other spacecraft to study Mercury, made three fly-bys in 1974-75. MESSENGER, which will spend one Earth year in orbit to compile a complete global map of the Sun’s closest neighbour, is scheduled to launch in March 2004 aboard a three-stage Delta II using the higher-powered GEM-46 booster motors of Delta III. (NASA Press Release, 07-Jun-01, refers to this as the seventh NASA Discovery mission, a distinction arguably held by Deep Impact.* Ultimately this discrepancy will be resolved by which program suffers fewer delays and launches first.)

08-Jun-01 | Boeing to change the Delta vehicle numbering system!

One of the curators of the Deep Impact web site has passed along the following, which she received while following up on an e-mail I sent correcting the use of 2925 as the Delta II vehicle designation:

This author has mixed feelings about the change, though I can concede the new system may reduce confusion in the user community. It remains to be seen how the four-digit system will be used to describe the various models of the Delta IV.

06-Jun-01 | Delta reentry debris lands in science museum; Air Force wants it back reports (3 June 2001) that the U.S. Air Force has requested the return of three pieces of debris from a 1996 Delta II launch that survived reentry over South Africa and which are currently on display in a Cape Town science museum. The parts are likely from the Aerojet second stage of one of three Global Positioning System launches that occurred that year. Just why the innocuous, micrometeorite-scarred fragments are important to the USAF is not mentioned.



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