June 21 News Items

Repaired Satellite Launched By Sea Launch at Baikonur (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
A Malaysian communications satellite began its journey to orbit Sunday after spending nearly an extra year on the ground for repairs to damage caused by a launch site crane accident last August. A Land Launch Zenit 3SLB rocket lifted off at 2150 GMT (5:50 p.m. EDT) Sunday from Complex 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The first phase of the launch was successful, placing the launcher's upper stage and the MEASAT 3a satellite in a temporary parking orbit about 12 minutes after liftoff, according to the launch provider. (6/21)

France Seeks "Ariane-6" Rocket Upgrade (Source: Lunar Networks)
France wants Europe to start looking into a space rocket launcher to replace Ariane 5 at some point between 2020 and 2025, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said. The Ariane-5, which is billed as a cost-effective launcher for large satellites, has launched satellites for European telecoms operators, telescopes and scientific space observatories. But it was time to start working on Ariane 6, the president's office said in a statement.

"Ariane 6 should be a very robust launcher with modules and optimized in terms of cost in order to best respond as much to government and commercial needs in a context of increased competition." A strong euro has led many European operators to launch aboard American and Russian rockets offering lower prices than Europe's Ariane rocket series. Space launch company Arianespace is owned by 24 shareholders from 10 countries including European aerospace group EADS and its space unit Astrium, Belgium's Sabca and French industrial gases group Air Liquide. (6/21)

Brooklyn Couple Exchange Vows During First Wedding in Zero Gravity (Source: New York Daily News)
Brooklyn sci-fi addicts Erin Finnegan and Noah Fulmore were walking on air as they exchanged vows aboard a Zero Gravity Corp. jet flight from Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. They became the first people on the planet to tie the knot while weightless. Space tourist and adventurer Richard Garriott, the son of an astronaut, officiated at the ceremony, and the couple exchanged vows, smooched as husband and wife and tossed the bouquet to the bridesmaids while literally walking on air. Click here to view a photo. (6/21)

Field of Secrets: The Santa Susana Field Lab Cleanup Saga Hits 20 (Source: LA Daily News)
Before the spring of 1989, all most people knew of the Santa Susana Field Lab were the occasional rocket tests that sent a thundering boom across the Valley and shook the homes in West Hills, Chatsworth and Simi Valley, near the hilltop facility. The sprawling 2,859-acre lab built during the Cold War developed and tested rocket engines that powered missiles and, eventually, the Apollo and space shuttle missions. But 20 years ago last month, the Daily News obtained and reported on an environmental survey that, for the first time, revealed extensive toxic and radioactive contamination from a 290-acre U.S. Atomic Energy Commission nuclear research facility located at lab. Click here to view the article. (6/21)

Sea Launch Prepares for Land Launch of Malaysian Satellite (Source: Itar-Tass)
Preparations are underway for tomorrow's Zenit-3SLB launch of a Malaysian satellite (MEASAT-1R) from the Baikonur spaceport. The three-stage launch vehicle Zenit-3SLB, developed by Ukraine's Yuzhnoye Design Office, resembles the Zenit-3SL, which is used by Sea Launch for missions from its Odyssey ocean-going launch platorm. The launch of MEASAT-1R under the Land Launch program had been initially planned for Aug. 22, 2008. However, a launch date was later repeatedly shifted over damages to the spacecraft while transporting and preparing it at the assembly and testing facility at Baikonur. (6/21)

Apollo ... The Dream That Fell to Earth (Source: Guardian)
It is 40 years since the words, 'The Eagle has landed,' sent a thrill around the world. The Apollo moon missions were to herald a new dawn of space exploration, of lunar bases, manned missions to Mars, and more. But in the decades since - and after the Shuttle disasters - America's appetite for interplanetary flight dwindled. The moon landings marked not the beginning, but the end, of our space dreams. Click here to view the article. (6/21)

After 40 Years' Reflection, Laser Moon Mirror Project is Axed (Source: Guardian)
An experiment, begun when Apollo astronauts left a mirror on the lunar surface 40 years ago to allow Earth-based astronomers to fire lasers at it, is coming to an end. The National Science Foundation (NSF) last week wrote to scientists working at the Texas-based McDonald Observatory to tell them the annual $125,000 funding for their project was going be terminated following a review of its scientific merits. Among the project's unlikely achievements has been the discovery that the moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of two-and-a-half inches a year. The mirror's existence, and the fact that astronomers can bounce lasers off it and detect the returning beam, has provided scientists with compelling evidence to refute the claims of moon-landing deniers who claim the Apollo lunar missions were hoaxes filmed in an Earth-based studio. (6/21)

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