Money Woes Delay Mir Relief Crew

Two Russian cosmonauts currently aboard the space station Mir will have to spend up to two extra months on board the space station as money problems have delayed the launch of a relief crew.
[Image of Mir]     Valery Korzun and Alexander Kaleri had planned to return to Earth when their relief crew arrived in mid-December, but financial problems have created delays in the production of the Soyuz rocket that would be used to launch the relief crew.
     The relief crew of two Russians and German cosmonaut Reinhold Ewald will now be launched in February, according to Russian press reports.
     "Ewald will not yet achieve his dream of celebrating Christmas and New Year in space," Tass wryly noted.
     American astronaut John Blaha will remain on the station until early next year, when the shuttle Atlantis next docks with Mir. He will be replaced at that time by astronaut Jerry Linenger.
     To make matters worse for the Mir crew, part of the station's waste processing system, which recycles bodily fluids into the cooling system, had broken down.
     The crew was using backup waste containers, but those were running out. A supply ship will bring more to the station, but it won't be launched until November 20. It had been scheduled for a October launch but was delayed by funding problems.

Mars 96 Set for Launch

The Mars 96 spacecraft, Russia's contribution to the flotilla of spacecraft headed to Mars this year, is ready for launch as scheduled on November 16.
[Image of Proton for Mars 96 launch]     The 6,000-kg (13,200-lbs) Mars 96 spacecraft will be launched on a Proton rocket from the launch facility at Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 3:03pm EST (2003 UT) on November 16. The launch window opened on the 12th but the 16th is the optimal day to launch.
     Mars 96 is a multipurpose spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, two small landers, and two penetrators that will burrow as deep as 6 meters (20 feet) into the Martian surface.
     Twelve science experiments designed for studying the Martian surface and atmosphere are on the Mars 96 spacecraft. An additional seven instruments will study the plasma environment in space around Mars and three other experiments will perform astrophysical experiments.
     Over twenty countries are participating in the Mars 96 mission including the United States, which is supplying an experiment for the landers that will study the oxidation rate of the Martian environment.
     A second U.S. experiment on board the orbiter will measure radiation encountered by the spacecraft on its mission, for use in determining the radiation hazards for future manned missions to Mars.

Ariane Launches Two Communications Satellites

An Ariane 4 rocket launched two communications satellites for the Arab League and Malaysia on November 13th in the fifth launch since the Ariane 5 accident.
[Image of Ariane launch]     The Ariane 44L lifted off from the Ariane launch facility at Kourou, French Guiana, at 5:40pm EST (2240 UT) on the evening of November 13. The launch took place without incident.
     The Ariane rocket carried the Arabsat 2B communications satellite, for use by the Arab League. It also carried the MESAT 2 communications satellite, the second in a series of Malaysian communications satellites.
     The launch was the fifth since the June 4 explosion of the new Ariane 5 rocket on its maiden launch. The Ariane 5 will next be launched early next year.

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