The comet bound spacecraft Stardust successfully completed a deep space maneuver, by putting itself on a position to run into the comet Wild 2 in January, 2004 and take dust from the comet. On January18th at exactly 1:56 PM stardust fired its engines for 111 seconds to boost the speed of the space craft. The space craft responded exactly as planned but communication was tricky. It is currently the farthest solar powered object from the sun. It is 245 million miles away from the sun. The signal saying that it had successfully completed the maneuver took about 30 minutes to reach earth. In January, 2004 it will begin its return to earth.
Around the end of the Apollo space program, NASA officials were looking at the future of the American space program. At that time, the rockets used to place astronauts and equipment in outer space was a one-try disposable rocket. What they needed was a much cheaper reusable rocket that was more reliable. The idea of a reusable space shuttle that could launch like a rocket but land like an airplane sounded good and would be a huge technical achievement.
Astronauts on the international space station can now call home. They are using phone software on flight approved lap tops. The first flight test calls were made from spacecraft Atlantis in February, 2001. It is being tested for use on the International Space Station in the future. The ISS astronauts will use new software to keep in touch with their families. "The private calls to their families have psychological benefits for the astronauts," expert Matthew Bordelen saysUntil now, astronauts communicated through the Mission Control center. The only problem with this new system is a delay of a few seconds.
Astronauts have to be able to talk with flight controllers on the ground daily for the operation of the mission. NASA's Mission control will send signals to a radio antenna to a test facility in New Mexico. It will then send signals to the space shuttle. It also works in reverse. This is how you communicate.
In 2001 the first phase of the International Space Station was compleated. The space station will make a string of six missions in 2002. During 2002, shuttles will add more than 50 tons of components to the station. They also will work on the Hubble Space Telescope and will conduct a research mission.
NASA will break a record for most space walks conducted in a single year. There will be 7 space walks by the International Space Station. The record for most space walks will be shattered. Space official Heflin said it will never become routine.