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Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission Receives Funding

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Initial funding for a NASA mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt of frozen objects at the outskirts of our solar system received formal approval President Bush quietly signed an omnibus bill last week. Pluto is the only planet in our solar system yet to be visited by a spacecraft.

More: - Pluto Mission a Go! Initial Funding Secured

Link: New Horizons - A Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission Study

Farewell to Pioneer 10

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

After more than 30 years, it appears the venerable Pioneer 10 spacecraft has sent its last signal to Earth. Pioneer's last, very weak signal was received on Jan. 22, 2003. NASA engineers report Pioneer 10's radioisotope power source has decayed, and it may not have enough power to send additional transmissions to Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) did not detect a signal during the last contact attempt Feb. 7, 2003. The previous three contacts, including the Jan. 22 signal, were very faint with no telemetry received. The last time a Pioneer 10 contact returned telemetry data was April 27, 2002. NASA has no additional contact attempts planned for Pioneer 10.

More: NASA - Pioneer 10 Spacecraft Sends Last Signal

Memorial Service for the Astronauts of Shuttle Columbia

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

A memorial for the astronauts of the Shuttle Columbia was held at the Johnson Space Center. President Bush attended and gave a speech honoring the astronauts. A quote from his speech:

"This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt."

The STS-107 crew were Commander Rick D. Husband, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Pilot William C. McCool, Mission Specialists David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark and Michael P. Anderson, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

More: Whitehouse - Transcript of the President's Remarks

Shuttle Columbia and Seven Crew Members Lost

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Saturday morning over north central Texas, the Space Shuttle Columbia and all seven astronauts were lost during reentry from orbit. Columbia was returning to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. after a 16-day scientific research mission, STS-107.

Link: NASA - Information about the Shuttle Columbia, her crew, the mission, and the ongoing investigation