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EXPLORATIONS - October 15, 2003: Space Digest - 2003-10-14


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VOICE ONE:

This is Phoebe Zimmermann.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Richard Rael with EXPLORATIONS from VOA Special English. Today we tell about the planned launch of the new crew of the International Space Station on October eighteenth. We also tell about the birthday of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Our report begins with the last days of the Galileo spacecraft.

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VOICE ONE:

The Galileo spacecraft flew into the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter on September twenty-first. NASA experts say the extreme pressure of Jupiter’s atmosphere destroyed Galileo, breaking it into small pieces. NASA’s Deep Space Network communication’s station in Goldstone, California received the last message from Galileo at twelve-forty-three in the afternoon, Pacific Daylight Time.

Hundreds of former Galileo project team members and their families were present at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. They came to honor and celebrate the Galileo spacecraft and to say goodbye.

VOICE TWO:

NASA officials directed Galileo into Jupiter’s atmosphere because its fuel was almost gone. Without fuel, the spacecraft would not have been able to change direction or to point its communications equipment toward Earth. And NASA scientists did not want Galileo to crash into Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

One of Galileo’s many discoveries was evidence of an ocean under the surface of Europa. Scientists did not want to take the chance that Galileo could damage Europa’s environment. Galileo also created so much scientific interest in Europa that plans have already been made to return to this moon.

VOICE ONE:

Galileo was launched from the cargo area of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in nineteen eighty-nine. It has been one of the most successful spacecraft ever launched. The discoveries made by Galileo began even before it reached Jupiter.

For example, in nineteen-ninety-one, Galileo took the first close photographs of a huge space rock, named Gaspra. In nineteen-ninety-four, Galileo made the only direct observation of a comet hitting a planet. The comet was Shoemaker-Levy. The gravity of Jupiter broke apart the comet and huge pieces exploded into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The photographs of that event were among more than fourteen-thousand that Galileo sent back to Earth. The spacecraft provided thousands of photographs of Jupiter and its moons. Among these were photographs of huge storms on Jupiter that carried fierce lightning. They also included photographs of active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon, Io, and the unusual surface of the moon Europa. Galileo sent back huge amounts of scientific information about Jupiter and its moons.

VOICE TWO:

The idea for Galileo was first proposed in nineteen-seventy-seven. Scientists spent more than twelve years planning and building Galileo. After its launch in nineteen-eighty-nine, it took six years to travel to Jupiter.

Galileo arrived at Jupiter on December seventh, nineteen-ninety-five. It made thirty-five orbits around the huge planet. Galileo remained in orbit around Jupiter for almost eight years. Galileo project officials say it traveled more than four-thousand-million kilometers.

NASA says the working time for Galileo should have ended six years ago. However, NASA extended its life three times. This was done because it was still returning very valuable scientific information.

The spacecraft kept working even after it suffered four times the amount of radiation that experts thought possible. The only thing that stopped it was the end of its fuel supply.

Torrance Johnson is a Galileo project scientist. Mister Johnson said that Galileo’s end does not mean that NASA has lost a spacecraft. It means they have progressed a step further into the future of space exploration.

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VOICE ONE:

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is expected to be launched from Kazakhstan on October eighteenth. It will link with the International Space Station on October twentieth. The Soyuz will carry the two men who will be the eighth crew to live and work on the Space Station.

The crewmembers are Commander and NASA Station Science Officer Michael Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri. Both men have a great amount of experience. Astronaut Foale has spent one-hundred-seventy-eight days in space. Cosmonaut Kaleri has spent four-hundred-eighteen days in space.

VOICE TWO:

European Space Agency Astronaut Pedro Duque will also fly as part of the team. However, he will return to Earth with the seventh Space Station crew. They are Expedition Seven Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Ed Lu. They have lived on the International Space Station since April.

The new crew is to spend almost two-hundred days on the International Space Station. Their work will begin after the Seventh Expedition crew has returned to Earth.

Astronaut Foale and Cosmonaut Kaleri will begin science research and experiments. They will also carry out education activities and Earth observations.

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VOICE ONE:

This month is the forty-fifth birthday of NASA. On July twenty-ninth, nineteen-fifty-eight, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On October first of that year, the new agency began the work of civilian research linked to space flight and aeronautics.

Humans have always wanted to travel to the moon and other planets. A major step toward that goal was the first successful launch of a liquid fuel rocket. It took place on March sixteenth, nineteen-twenty-six. That rocket was launched by Robert Goddard, near the American city of Auburn, Massachusetts. Experts say it was as important to space flight as the Wright Brothers’ first flight was to the beginning of aviation.

VOICE TWO:

Six days after President Eisenhower signed the law creating NASA, the new agency began work on a study that would result in a human space flight project.

It was later named Project Mercury. That project continued for almost five years. NASA successfully launched Alan Shepard into space on May fifth, nineteen-sixty-one. His flight lasted only fifteen seconds. Project Mercury ended with the thirty-four hour flight of Astronaut Gordon Cooper on May fifteenth, nineteen-sixty-three.

Project Mercury was only a beginning. On July twentieth, nineteen-sixty-nine, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon.

VOICE ONE:

NASA has had many other successes in its forty-five years of effort. It has placed advanced communications satellites in space that provide immediate television and voice communications around the world. NASA placed in orbit the Hubble Space Telescope which has extended our knowledge of our solar system and the universe. The Hubble Space Telescope has provided thousands of photographs. Some of these are of objects that are millions of light years away.

Anyone with a computer than can link with the Internet can see thousands of these photographs. Like the Hubble photographs, NASA provides much of its work to scientists and the public around the world.

VOICE TWO:

NASA helped build the International Space Station. The crews on the station continue to do experiments in medicine, agriculture, space science and many more subjects.

NASA successfully landed exploration vehicles on the planet Mars. Two more of these exploration vehicles are now on their way to the red planet. The Mars exploration vehicles will provide information that may make it possible for human exploration in the future.

VOICE ONE:

NASA is already planning a human space flight to Mars. Scientists are working on the technical problems that must be solved before people can travel to, and live safely on, Mars. NASA says the technical problems in traveling to Mars will be solved in the very near future.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says it has always worked toward the future. NASA says it will continue in this effort.

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VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. This is Richard Rael.

VOICE ONE:

And this is Phoebe Zimmermann. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in Special English on the Voice of America.

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