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News briefs: November 15
Posted: Fri, Nov 16, 2001, 10:24 AM ET (1524 GMT)
  • The Kennedy Space Center may offer buyouts to up to 75 civil service employees in order to make room for new workers in more critical areas, Florida Today reported Thursday. The newspaper cited a memo by KSC director Roy Bridges, who said that such a buyout would allow the center to hire people in critical areas which are facing skills shortages without changing the center's budget. The plan, which must be approved by NASA Headquarters, could begin next month.
  • The tiny Pacific island nation of Niue is planning its own communications satellite, according to AFP. The country, home to just 1,600 people, is seeking American partners to build and operate the satellite, which would be placed in a geosynchronous orbital slot controlled by Niue. The country would receive a share of the profits of the operation of the satellite, and may operate call centers for the satellite there.
  • Rocket pioneer Max Hunter passed away November 10 in California. In the mid 1950s Hunter led the development of the Thor missile, which later evolved into the Delta launch vehicle still in use today. Hunter also designed and advocated single stage to orbit (SSTO) launch vehicles. One such SSTO design, known as SSX, became the basis for the Delta Clipper DC-X in the early 1990s.
  • The Clarke Gala, an event to honor science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, will be webcast live Friday night. The event, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, will feature guests ranging from former astronauts Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell to actors Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman. The webcast will begin at 8pm PST (11pm EST, 0400 GMT Saturday) at
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