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Prometheus Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter.
NASA has chosen Northrop Grumman Space Technology to build its upcoming Prometheus Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) spacecraft, and awarded them a $400 million contract to cover costs up to 2008. JIMO will use a nuclear-powered ion engine to go into orbit around each of Jupiter's icy moons: Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. Once in orbit, the spacecraft would be able to examine each of the moons in great detail with a suite of instruments to try and understand their composition, history, and if there could be conditions for life.
SpaceDev, the company that designed and built the hybrid rocket engine for Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne, announced that they've entered discussions with NASA to design a low-cost suborbital spaceship. The SpaceDev Dream Chaser would take off vertically, and carry up to three people to an altitude of 160 km (100 miles). If everything goes well, the spacecraft would be built by 2008, and would demonstrate a set of launch and flight technologies. Further versions of the spacecraft would eventually be able to go into orbit and transfer crew to and from the International Space Station.
This is an image of Saturn's tiny Moon Prometheus, which shepherds the inner edge of Saturn's F ring. The irregular Moon is only 102 km (63 miles) across but its gravity defines the edge of the ring, essentially keeping it in line. The image was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on August 5, when it was 8.2 million km (5.1 million miles) from the planet.
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