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News briefs: April 15
Posted: Tue, Apr 16, 2002, 7:59 AM ET (1159 GMT)
  • ESA and Rosaviakosmos will announce this week that Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne will fly to the International Space Station on a Soyuz taxi flight this fall, RIA Novosti reported Monday. The flight will be part of an ongoing agreement to fly European astronauts to the station; Claudie Haignere flew last fall and Roberto Vittori will fly later this month on other taxi missions. The agreement is scheduled to be signed Thursday.
  • China is likely to launch its first humans into space by 2003, and will be able to launch small space stations into orbit later this decade, reported. The article speculated that a fourth successful unmanned test flight later this year could set the stage for a human mission by late this year or early 2003. Meanwhile, China is developing a new booster, the Long March 2EA, that would be powerful enough to launch small space labs into orbit.
  • Physicists have come up with an alternative explanation for evidence that has been used to support claims that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Scientists at Los Alamos and Stanford suggest that the anomalous dimming of supernovae could be explained if photons from the supernovae turn into hypothetical particles called axions en route to the Earth. The dimming of distant supernovae has been one of the key pieces of evidence to suggest that some kind of "dark energy" is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.
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news links
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