In March last year, the unmanned X-37B US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November "as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1. [more inside]
It was bound to happen eventually - Richard Branson announced the launch of Virgin Galactic, a joint venture between Virgin and Mojave Aerospace Ventures, the company responsible for SpaceShipOne. They expect to send up to 3000 people into suborbital space over five years for £115k each (around $200k)and the first ship will be named the Virgin SpaceShip VSS Enterprise (well, I guess he can name it what he wants...). It's all immensely exciting, but personally I think Virgin Spacelines sounds classier.
Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
Lance Bass of N'Sync is to be the youngest person ever to fly in space. The flight is expected to cost $20 million and will involve a flight on a Soyuz taxi mission to the ISS in November 2002. And no, it is not the first of April.