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NASA's twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Dec 2, 2003 Boeing chairman and CEO Phil Condit announced his resignation this week after a flurry of scandals rocked the company over the last few weeks. His departure follows the company's CFO, Michael Sears, who was investigated for unethical conduct in the hiring of an Air Force official this year. Boeing was also hit with ethics violations from the Pentagon after it was revealed that the company had stolen a competitor's documents during a bid for space launch services. Condit himself isn't under investigation, however.
Dec 2, 2003 NASA's twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are still on track to reach the Red planet in early January. Spirit, which launched first, is scheduled to arrive on the evening of January 3, 2004 near the centre of Gusev Crater, which might have held a lake in the past. The spacecraft will jettison its cruise stage 15 minutes before hitting the top of the Martian atmosphere, and then will slow down to only 1,500 kph before deploying its parachute. 20 seconds later its retrorockets will fire and the spacecraft will cushion its final few metres with an airbag. The rover will then spend three months exploring the Martian surface.
Dec 2, 2003 NASA's Stardust spacecraft took this photograph of its target, Comet Wild 2, while it was still 25 million kilometers away. The spacecraft is on track to reach the Comet on January 2, 2004 when it will pass only 300 km away and capture particles of its tail to return to Earth for analysis - the best photographs are still to come. Mission planners will use these early images to help fine-tune Startdust's trajectory to give it the closest possible approach to Wild 2's centre.
Dec 2, 2003 An Atlas IIAS rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California this morning at 1004 UTC (5:04 am EST), carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. Although no details about the payload were disclosed, industry experts believe it was probably contained two or three Naval Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) spacecraft, which track and identify boats on the ocean. This was the 67th consecutive successful Atlas flight.
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