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News briefs: February 13
Posted: Thu, Feb 14, 2002, 8:49 AM ET (1349 GMT)
  • NASA is "one significant problem away" from delaying the STS-109 shuttle mission scheduled for launch February 28, reported Wednesday. The current schedule has been strained by problems loading propellant into the shuttle as well as the need to add extra equipment to be installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the mission. Engineers are also looking into problems into hydraulic pumps in Columbia's auxiliary power units. A flight readiness review for STS-109 is scheduled for Thursday.
  • European astronomers believe they have observed for the first time a newborn millisecond pulsar. Hubble observations of pulsar PSR J1740-5340 reveal that the pulsar has absorbed material from its companion star, a red giant, spinning it up to rotate 274 times a second. Because the companion star is a red giant and not a white dwarf, as seen around other millisecond pulsars, astronomers conclude the pulsar is very young.
  • The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama has reversed a decision to include a collection of papers by Wernher von Braun as collateral for a line of credit, the Huntsville Times reported Wednesday. The center had included the papers as well its property and trademarks when it refinanced its line of credit earlier in the week, but withdrew the papers a day later after protests from the community. The financially struggling center needed to refinance the credit line in order to continue operations.
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