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Binary pair of objects back to the original stellar nursery.
Astronomers have tracked a fast moving binary pair of objects back to the original stellar nursery that they were ejected from 1.7 million years ago. The binary is classified as a microquasar, where a regular star 17 times the mass of our Sun is orbiting a neutron star or black hole. The regular star in this pairing exactly matches several other stars in a nearby cluster of stars, so the Astronomers are fairly certain that's where they originated. It's believed that that black hole or neutron star was much more massive than the companion star, but it exploded as a supernova millions of years ago.
Scaled Composites has announced that they will make an attempt win the $10 million X Prize with SpaceShipOne on September 30, 2004. In order to win the prize, the spacecraft will need to be carrying the equivalent of 3 people, reach an altitude of 100 km (62.5 miles), and then do it again by October 13th. SpaceShipOne will launch from the Mojave airport again, and Scaled Composites will attempt to complete a second flight within just 5 days. Designer Burt Rutan said that he's fixed the problems that hampered the previous flight, so they shouldn't be a factor.
NASA engineers have approved the design for a new way to attach the Space Shuttle to the external fuel tank; one of the key milestones required to get the shuttles flying again. The accident that caused the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia happened because the previous attachment was covered in foam to prevent ice building up - foam fell off and struck the shuttle's wing during launch. The new design uses heaters to keep it free of ice, so no foam is required. This new design will be retrofitted to all 11 external fuel tanks, and be used when the first Space Shuttle flies again in early 2005.
This image of Saturn's Moon Titan, taken by Cassini, was taken July 3; one day after the spacecraft made its relatively close flyby. This natural colour image was taken when Cassini was 790,000 km (491,000 miles) away from the foggy moon.
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