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News briefs: April 2
Posted: Wed, Apr 3, 2002, 8:46 AM ET (1346 GMT)
  • Chinese officials said Tuesday that a space station would be their next major program after they succeeded in launching humans. The People's Daily newspaper said that after China starts launching humans on its Shenzhou spacecraft, it will follow up those flights by missions to "space labs" that will be manned for short periods of time. Those labs will be followed up by a permanently-manned space station. No timeline for any of those milestones were given.
  • A planetary science advisory committee is recommending that NASA review its plans for planetary missions, SPACE.com reported Tuesday. In a letter to NASA, the Space Science Advisory Committee recommended that the agency restore funding for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and rethink the scientific requirements of a future Europa orbiter mission. The committee also said there were "serious questions" about the viability of NASA's Mars exploration program after 2009.
  • NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe plans to outline the agency's mission in a speech April 12 at Syracuse University, NASA announced Tuesday. O'Keefe has already publicly stated that his vision for NASA would have the agency focus more on solving specific problems in space exploration, like propulsion and radiation protection, rather than focus on a particular destination. O'Keefe was a faculty member of Syracuse's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs before joining the OMB, and later NASA.
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