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International Space Station on board a Soyuz rocket.
A NASA X-43A prototype scramjet aircraft performed a successful test on Saturday, reaching a top speed of Mach 7. The X-43A was mounted to the front of a Pegasus rocket which was dropped from a B-52 bomber. The rocket carried it to an altitude of 29,000 metres and then the X-43A fired its scramjet for 10 seconds, extinguishing its Hydrogen fuel supply. It flew for a few more minutes to record aerodynamic data. Another test flight is scheduled for later this year.
Once Spirit wraps up its observations of Crater Bonneville, it will begin the long journey to reach the Columbia Hills, located 2.3 kilometres away. The trip is likely to take 2-3 months, because the rover will stop along the way to analyze anything of interest; some potential targets are a few smaller craters and some trails left by dust devils. The rover's final task at Bonneville will be to analyze some light-coloured rock on the crater's rim. Spirit has been on the surface of Mars for 12 weeks now.
Space Adventures announced today that Gregory Olsen will be their next private space tourism client. He's expected to launch for the International Space Station on board a Soyuz rocket some time in 2005, maybe before. Dr. Olsen is the head of Princeton-based Sensors Unlimited and paid an estimated $20 million for the trip. Olsen is hoping to do some science while on board the station, testing his company's equipment and performing some experiments on crystal growth; but his main goal is to use the trip to help build enthusiasm for Space exploration with young people.
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