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News briefs: May 8
Posted: Thu, May 9, 2002, 11:49 AM ET (1549 GMT)
  • The German space agency DLR has asked NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe to clarify his position regarding the fate of the X-38, a prototype of a proposed ISS crew return vehicle, Space News reported Wednesday. NASA has planned to kill the X-38, but apparently provided no advance notice of its plans to its European partners. Germany has funded work on some of the subsystems of the X-38.
  • Arianespace, the leading company in the commercial launch industry, is feeling the pinch from reduced demand for launches, AFP reported Thursday. Arianespace managing director Jean-Marie Luton said that the next three years will be "critical" as the commercial launch market shrinks and new vehicles enter service. Luton said that while Arianespace's order book looks good for 2002 and 2003, there are "holes" starting in 2004 as the company scrambles to compete with American and other companies for a diminished number of commercial launches.
  • An Israeli scientist has concluded that gamma-ray bursts from collapsing supermassive stars will "sooner or later" wipe out nearly all life on Earth, the BBC reported Thursday. Arnon Dar believes that such bursts of gamma rays and accompanying energetic particles, while rare, would be powerful enough to wipe out life even deep in the ocean and underground. "The few who might survive will wish they had died," said Dar. "They will struggle, forlornly, on a wrecked planet."
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news links
Thursday, November 16
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Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram — 12:02 am ET (0502 GMT)


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