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News briefs: December 3
Posted: Tue, Dec 4, 2001, 8:08 AM ET (1308 GMT)
Sean O'Keefe (Syracuse Univ.)
  • Sean O'Keefe, President Bush's nominee to become the new administrator of NASA, will appear before a Senate committee Friday for his confirmation hearing. O'Keefe is scheduled to answer questions from members of the Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee on Friday morning. His nomination appears to be on a fast track for confirmation, contrary to earlier expectations, and O'Keefe could be in office before the end of the year.
  • NASA's Genesis spacecraft has started collecting solar wind samples from its position at the Earth-Sun L1 point, the space agency announced Monday. Genesis will remain at L1 until April 2004, when it will depart for Earth. A return capsule carrying the solar wind samples will reenter the Earth for a midair capture by helicopter over Utah in September 2004.
  • A Japanese remote sensing spacecraft reentered over the south Atlantic Ocean on Monday. The JERS-1 spacecraft, also known as Fuyo No. 1, is believed to have completely burned up with the exception of two titanium propellant tanks, weighing 7 kg.
  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully tested an upgraded rocket engine on Sunday, according to Space News. The new version of the Vikas engine, which powers the second stage of the Polar Space Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), produced 11 percent more thrust that the current Vikas engine in the test. The Vikas engine will be flight tested on the second GSLV test flight in 2002.
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