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News briefs: May 1
Posted: Thu, May 2, 2002, 7:56 AM ET (1156 GMT)
  • US Senator Barbara Mikulski said at a hearing Wednesday that she plans to work to restore funding for a Pluto mission into NASA's 2003 budget. The agency deleted funding for the mission from the budget, saying it preferred to wait a decade or more until better propulsion technologies are developed that could shorten the flight time of such a mission. Mikulski (D-MD) has been one of strongest proponents of a Pluto mission on Congress, in part because the New Horizons spacecraft would be built in her home state, at the Applied Physics Lab or Johns Hopkins University.
  • Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque may visit the International Space Station next year as a member of a Soyuz taxi crew, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday. Spain would have to pay the estimated 14 million euros (US$12.7 million) for the flight, scheduled for next spring. Duque flew on the STS-95 shuttle mission in 1998.
  • SpaceDev announced Wednesday that it won a $1.6-million contract from the Air Force Research Lab to develop a shuttle-compatible propulsion module. The module would be used to deploy Hitchhiker-class payloads as well as satisfy Air Force Space Test Program requirements. The total contract value is open-ended. SpaceDev has already completed design work for a Maneuver and Transfer Vehicle that would be used to deploy microsatellites launched as secondary payloads from expendable launch vehicles.
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