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News briefs: January 31
Posted: Fri, Feb 1, 2002, 10:15 AM ET (1515 GMT)
Artemis spacecraft illustration (ESA)
  • Spacecraft controllers will initiate a series of maneuvers February 5 designed to put ESA's Artemis spacecraft into geostationary orbit. Artemis was launched on an Ariane 5 in July 2001 but was placed in a lower-than-planned orbit because of a problem with the Ariane's upper stage. Artemis has been using its on-board ion thrusters to gradually raise its orbit; the final series of maneuvers, delayed a week to correct software problems, will take six months to complete. Although the maneuvers will use a significant fraction of the spacecraft's propellant, ESA believes Artemis will have enough to operate in geosynchronous orbit for at least five years.
  • A building at the Kennedy Space Center was closed for several hours Wednesday after a suspicious brown powder was found on six envelopes, Florida Today reported. The powder, on a number of envelopes sent to KSC employees from a New Jersey company, was found to be nontoxic, although investigators were not able to determine the composition of the powder or how it got on the envelopes.
  • XM Satellite Radio has corrected a technical glitch that prevented some listeners from receiving some channels Wednesday. reported that the problem was with "back-office equipment" at XM, and not a problem with XMs two satellites. While some users reported outages lasting minutes, XM officials said the affected channels were off the air for only a few seconds.
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