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Submission + - Farewell, Rocketplane (personalspaceflight.info)

DynaSoar writes: Farewell RocketPlane, We Hardly Flew You...

What started out as a dream of rockets in the Oklahoma sky and money flowing from space enthusiasts has finally ended. George French Jr., owner of Rocketplane Global, decided a mountain of debt and expectations of the same altitude were too much to burden and filed for bankruptcy http://www.personalspaceflight.info/ .

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers were filed June 15, one each for three separate companies — Rocketplane Inc., the parent company, and its subsidiaries Rocketplane Global and Rocketplane Kistler — and a personal bankruptcy filing by French himself. Rocketplane Global was the space tourism company, while Rocketplane Kistler was set up to handle a NASA contract to build a rocket ship for carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The company was awarded the contract in 2006, but NASA pulled the contract a year later due to the company’s failure of meeting financial deadlines.

The news was made public immediately, of course. But it spread very slowly, taking 3 weeks to make it to 'enthusiasts' media. This is probably because it was no surprise — the financial woes were public all along. Also, Kistler, despite marvelous design and prototype work, tended towards this same end. In fact it's how Kistler, Inc. became as subsidiary of Rocketplane. http://www.space.com/news/rocketplane_022606.html


Submission + - Rosetta To Probe "Pioneer Anomaly" (esa.int)

DynaSoar writes: On Friday November 13th, ESA'a Rosetta probe will get its third and final gravity assist slingshot from Earth on its way to it primary targets, the asteroid Lutetia and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But the slingshot itself will allow ESA scientists to examine the trajectory for unusual changes seen in several other probes' velocities. An unaccountable variation was first noticed as excess speed in Pioneers 11 and 12, and has since been called the Pioneer Anomaly. More troubling than mere speed increase is the inconsistencies in the variations. While Galileo and NEAR had appreciable speed increases, Cassini and Messenger did not. Rosetta itself gained more speed than expected from its 2005 fly by, but only the expected amount from its 2007 fly by. Several theories have been advanced, from mundane atmospheric drag to exotic variations to special relativity, but none are so far adequate to explain both the unexpected velocity increases and the lack of them in different instances. Armed with tracking hardware and software capable of measuring Rosetta's velocity within a few millimeters per second while it flies past at 45,000 kilometers per hour, ESA will be collecting data which it hopes will help unravel the mystery.

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