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News briefs: January 9
Posted: Thu, Jan 10, 2002, 10:32 AM ET (1532 GMT)
  • Loral and the US Justice Department have reached a settlement in an investigation into Loral' involvement in a review of a Chinese launch failure in 1996. Loral agreed to pay a $14 million fine to the State Department, which will be paid over seven years. The company will pay the fine with admitting or denying the government's charges that it transferred sensitive technology to the Chinese while aiding in the investigation of a Long March launch failure.
  • Motorola will have to pay back a $300 million loan that Chase Manhattan Bank gave to the former Iridium venture, a federal court ruled this week. Motorola had guaranteed the loan, but said that Iridium had released it from the guarantee in 1999. The court ruled that Iridium provided false information to Chase when it released Motorola from the guarantee, so Motorola is still required to pay back the loan. The current operators of the Iridium system, Iridium Satellite, are not parties to the loan since it is a separate company established after the original Iridium went bankrupt.
  • The launch of Shenzhou 3, a prototype of a Chinese manned spacecraft, could come any time this month, according to reports by SpaceDaily and SPACE.com. Both reports say that a Long March 2F carrying the spacecraft is ready for launch, and that the launch could come within days and almost certainly by the end of the month. This launch, like previous ones in late 1999 and early 2001, is expected to be unmanned, but could set the stage for a manned flight in late 2002 or early 2003.
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