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News briefs: March 2-3
Posted: Mon, Mar 4, 2002, 7:58 AM ET (1258 GMT)
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin wants to beef up military space programs to prevent the nation from becoming "blind and deaf" in military intelligence, Aviation Week reports. Those efforts will require increasing the launch infrastructure at Plesetsk and the development of a new series of spacecraft with double the 4-5 year design life of most existing military spacecraft.
  • Russia is planning four launches in March 2002, Itar-Tass reported Friday. A Rokot booster will launch the two GRACE earth-observing satellites from Plesetsk on March 16, with a military launch from Plesetsk planned for March 26. A Progress launch to ISS, delayed by funding and technical issues, is now scheduled for March 21 from Baikonur, followed on March 30 by the Proton launch of the Intelsat 903 communications satellite.
  • Comet Ikeya-Zhang is now visible to the naked eye, Sky and Telescope reported Friday. Observers in Europe and Africa reported seeing the comet with the naked eye on the night of February 28. Astronomers believe the comet, low on the horizon for most northern hemisphere observers now, is brightening on schedule and may reach magnitude 3 by the end of the month.
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