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News briefs: August 16
Posted: Sat, Aug 17, 2002, 10:50 AM ET (1450 GMT)
  • The Defense Department awarded TRW a contract late Friday to build the first two of a new generation of missile early warning spacecraft. The $868-million contract calls for the first two Space-Based Infrared System Low (SBIRS Low) spacecraft to be built in time for launch in 2006 or 2007. The satellites, designed to detect the launch of missiles, are considered an integral part of any future missile defense system. In April the DoD named TRW as head of an industry team for SBIRS Low that includes Raytheon, Spectrum Astro, and Northrop Grumman — the company that is acquiring TRW.
  • The flight last month of a scramjet has been declared a success by the scientists involved. The HyShot scramjet was tested on a sounding rocket launched in July 30 from Woomera, Australia, and briefly achieved supersonic combustion during the 10-minute flight. The experiment was the first flight test of a scramjet, a technology that could have future applications in launch vehicles.
  • A near-Earth asteroid will pass close enough to the Earth late Saturday to be visible in binoculars. Asteroid 2002 NY40, discovered earlier this year, will pass 527,000 km from the Earth late Saturday night. The asteroid will be best seen by observers in Europe, Africa, and the Americas; it will be a fast-moving object peaking at magnitude 9 or 10.
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Tuesday, August 21

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