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The Complete Book of Spaceflight.


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Book Review - The Complete Book of Spaceflight

Jun 1, 2003 - The Complete Book of Spaceflight ($24.50 US from Amazon.com) by David Darling is exactly that, an encyclopedia of space exploration, from Apollo to zero gravity. I have to be honest though; I didn't read this book cover to cover. It's got 3,000 detailed listings in alphabetical order, so it's not exactly light reading material - imagine reading an encyclopedia. I have; however, been using it as a reference book for several months, and it's in that capacity that it really shines...

Image credit: ESA
Mars Express is Ready For Launch

Jun 1, 2003 - Europe is ready to begin this summer's invasion of Mars with the launch of its Mars Express spacecraft, due to lift off on June 2. The spacecraft is currently packed safely away on top a Soyuz-Fregat rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. If all goes well, the rocket will lift off at 1745 GMT and then deploy Mars Express 90 minutes later. The first critical hurdle for the mission will be three days after launch when the spacecraft needs to release the launch clamps holding the Beagle-2 lander so that it can be deployed in December when they reach Mars.

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Image credit: NRAO
Closest Gamma Ray Burst Ever Discovered

Jun 1, 2003 - Gamma ray bursts (GRB) are the largest known explosions in the Universe; immensely powerful, quick to fade, but usually incredibly far away. Astronomers with the National radio astronomy Observatory got lucky, though, when they analyzed a recent GRB and discovered it was only 2.6 billion light-years away (most are usually 4 times more distant). What causes these bursts is a mystery, but the theories usually incorporate black holes in some catastrophic way - colliding into another black hole; wrapping a magnetic field like a spring, etc. This close burst didn't answer the mystery, but it did allow the Astronomers to rule out one idea, that material from a GRB blasts out like "cannonballs".

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Image credit: Olivier Staiger
Northern Europe Treated to Eclipse Show

Jun 1, 2003 - Skywatchers in Northern Europe were treated to a show on Saturday, May 31 when the Moon passed in front of the Sun and created an annular eclipse. Astrocameras at the Copernicus Public Observatory in the Netherlands and the Mira Public Observatory in Belgium caught the whole event live, and dozens of amateur Astronomers across Europe have submitted their own photos as well. The next solar eclipse will be on November 23, but will only be visible from Antarctica.

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Image credit: NASA
ISS Moves to Avoid a Satellite

Jun 1, 2003 - The International Space Station made a pre-planned orbit shift to give the Italian Megsat 0 satellite a wide berth on Friday. The station was raised 1.8 kilometres over the course of 7 minutes using the Progress cargo ship which is currently attached. This is the sixth time the station has been repositioned since construction began - NASA originally thought it would have to happen twice a year, but it's actually been less than that.

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