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TEST - Short List

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TEST - NASA delays shuttle finale until 2011

  • 29
  • January
    2010

By Irene K.

CAPE CANAVERAL | Fri Jul 2, 2010 9:03pm EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL Florida (Reuters) - NASA on Thursday postponed the final two missions of the space shuttle program until November and February due to delays preparing the last load of spare parts for the International Space Station.

Shuttle Discovery's launch on a cargo resupply mission will be postponed from September to November 1, under a plan approved by NASA managers.

Sister ship..., carrying the $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector, is now set to fly on February 26 on the program's 134th and final mission.

NASA initially planned to retire its three-ship fleet by the end of 2010. Congress is, however, expected to give the space agency a $600 million cushion to ease its deadline pressures.

NASA has also managed to trim the program's $200 million monthly costs to extend shuttle operations into March 2011.

The United States is retiring the shuttles primarily due to high operating costs. The Obama administration is pushing for Congress to approve a controversial plan to fly astronauts on commercial spacecraft, freeing NASA to focus on developing bigger rockets and new technologies needed for future missions to asteroids, Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

NASA also had to pick launch dates that did not conflict with Russian, European and Japanese missions to the station or previously scheduled rocket launches and other activities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which provides critical support services for shuttle flights.

"There's so much traffic around the station it ultimately made the most sense to pick November 1," said NASA spokesman Kyle Herring. Discovery's delay, in turn, bumped... flight from November to February.

A proposal for an additional station cargo run on shuttle Atlantis, which will be prepared as an emergency rescue vehicle for the... crew, is pending, with a decision expected in August, Herring said.

(Editing by Todd E.)

TEST - Aircraft completes first solar-powered night flight

  • 29
  • January
    2010

By Vincent F.

... | Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:22pm EDT

... Switzerland (Reuters) - A giant glider-like aircraft has completed the first night flight propelled only by solar energy, organizers said on Thursday.

Solar Impulse, whose wingspan is the same as an Airbus A340, flew 26 hours and 9 minutes, powered only by solar energy stored during the day. It was also the longest and highest flight in the history of solar aviation, organizers said.

Bertrand..., the Swiss president of the project, best known for completing the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon in 1999, said the success of the flight showed the potential of renewable energies and clean technology.

"We are on the verge of the perpetual flight," he said.

Jubilant pilot Andre... told Reuters television: "It was unbelievable, success better than we expected. We almost thought to make it longer, but ... we demonstrated what we wanted to demonstrate so they made me come back, so here I am."

..., a former Swiss air force pilot who has flown for 40 years, returned to a hero's welcome at... air base in the northwestern canton of..., where hundreds gathered at dawn to watch the aircraft glide onto the Tarmac at 0700 GMT (3 a.m. EDT).

The carbon-fiber aircraft reached a maximum speed of 68 knots (ground speed), an average speed of 23 knots and a maximum altitude of 8,564 meters above sea level, a statement said.

"The success of this first night flight by a solar-powered plane is crucial for the further course of the Solar Impulse project," it said.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 64.3-meter (193-foot) wings, is a prototype for an aircraft that its creators hope will carry out its first circumnavigation of the globe from 2012.

The next milestone will be crossing the Atlantic using a second prototype which goes into construction soon.

Weighing just 1,600 kg (3,500 lb), as much as a medium-sized car, the plane powered by four electric motors is designed to save energy from its solar cells in high-performance batteries.

Sponsors of the project, whose budget is 100 million Swiss francs ($95 million), include Belgian chemicals company... SA, Swiss watchmaker Omega, part of the Swatch group, and German banking giant Deutsche Bank. France's... is the project's engineering partner.

(Additional reporting by Jesse Morgan; Writing by Stephanie N.; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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