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News briefs: April 23
Posted: Wed, Apr 24, 2002, 8:16 AM ET (1216 GMT)
  • XCOR Aerospace announced Tuesday that it had acquired a number of intellectual property assets of Rotary Rocket Company, a startup that had tried to develop a reusable launch vehicle. The assets purchased by XCOR include full exclusive rights to all of Rotary's technology as well as a number of patents. XCOR, founded by a number of former Rotary employees, develops reusable rocket engines and rocket-powered vehicles.
  • NASA's Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft was shipped to Cape Canaveral Tuesday for launch later this year. CONTOUR, built by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University as part of NASA's Discovery program, will be launched July 1 on a Delta 2. The spacecraft will fly by two or more comets to study their nuclei.
  • Congress is considering adding funding to NASA's budget for missions to Pluto and Europa, SpaceRef reports. A "loose bipartisan consensus" is taking shape in the House to add $60 million for the New Horizons mission to Pluto as well as add language to restore the Outer Planets Program in an effort to revive a Europa mission. NASA provided no funding for either mission in its proposed fiscal year 2003 budget.
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